By Kalsang Rinchen
Dharamsala, April 22 – Chinese government has ordered monasteries to recall their monks who have been helping in relief and rescue effort in Yushu County (Kyegudo in the traditional Tibetan Province on Kham) which was hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake on April 14, according to the Associated Press. Survivors of the deadly earthquake say the Tibetan monks helped first, bringing food, pitching tents, digging through rubble and cremating bodies.
“Now the Buddhist monks who responded first are being pushed out of the disaster area and off of state media — apparently sidelined by Beijing's unease with their heroism and influence”, reported the AP.
Yet state-run broadcasters and news agency have given scant attention to the Tibetan monks and instead highlighted the hard work of the military and the People's Armed.
Woeser, a noted Tibetan writer and poet based in Beijing, told the AP, citing her Han and Tibetan friends in the quake hit area that the monks were upset and not willing to go but had no choice.
"A clear reason for the order wasn't given but it was very strict," Woeser was quoted as saying. "Local officials told them through translators in Tibetan 'You've done everything already. You've done too much. You have to leave Yushu now, otherwise there will be trouble.'"
Woeser further said local Tibetans were frustrated because they believe the monks are still needed to help dig out the dead and perform funeral rites.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities in Driru County have stopped 14 trucks loaded with relief materials from heading to the quake hit area of Kyegudo, said Ngawang Tharpa, an exile Tibetan with contact in the area. 18 Tibetan businessmen from Driru County including Drukla, Thukje Kyap, Drotse, Lhadruk and Punkar had raised around one million Chinese Yuan for the relief materials to be delivered to the quake hit area. The Tibetans were told by the authorities that the relief materials must be channelled through the County Administration.
In Sog County, the Chinese authorities have stopped monks of Sog Tsenden monastery from heading to Kyegudo with money collected as donations for the quake survivors, the same source said. After being pressurised by the County authorities, the monks had no option but to leave the money at the County administration.
Chinese government's official figures put the quake death toll at 2064 but exile Tibetans contend that close to 10,000 people have died in the earthquake.