By Kalsang Rinchen
Dharamsala, April 12 – China has stepped up security in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet’s Ngaba region that has remained tense since a Tibetan monk set himself ablaze in protest on March 16 marking 3 years since bloody crackdown on Tibetan protesters in 2008, a Tibetan right group based here said.
According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Chinese security forces have cordoned off Ngaba Kirti monastery and additional troops were called in over the weekend.
“Monks are not being allowed to move freely, gaps in the barbed wire towards north of the monastery have been filled up with concrete,” said the centre alleging that the restriction on the monastery has led to shortage of food supplies for the monks who have been largely dependent on voluntary offerings from local Tibetan civilian population for the last few days. Chinese authorities have warned Tibetan civilians against offering any food to the monastery.
The centre says the current tense situation could lead to mass starvation in the monastery and eventual protests by the monks. “That will give an excuse for the Chinese authorities to resort to extrajudicial killings as they did on March 16, 2008,” fears Tenzin Norgay of TCHRD.
The senior monks and monastery officials so far have maintained peace in the monastery by advising the monks to remain calm despite provocation, added Tenzin.
Chinese security forces who were earlier patrolling outside the monastery boundaries have now entered the monastery campus, the centre said. “They don’t allow elderly monks from even walking the outer circumambulation path (Kora), and have installed watchtowers equipped with binoculars on stepped platforms in the monastery.”
The centre said 33 people were arrested since the protests following Phuntsok’s self-immolation. 11 people have been released and 22 (8 monks and 16 civilians) continue to be under detention.
“We appeal the international community and the United Nations mandates on human rights to urgently issue their intervention in order to stop the ongoing security clamp down and arbitrary arrests and detentions of Tibetans and the overall deplorable human rights situation in Ngaba County,” the centre said.