By Kalsang Rinchen
People's Armed Police and plain-clothed police on Ying Xiong Avenue near the main market in Ngaba Town, around 5pm on 16 March 2011, just after protests took place following Phuntsok's self-immolation/FTC/File
Dharamsala, April 20 – As China denied reports of tensions in Tibet’s Ngaba including Kirti monastery, an exile based right group has acquired what it claims to be the first pictures from the area and said the situation on the ground is far from what Chinese government’s spokesperson described at a regular press briefing in Beijing.
People's Armed Police on Ying Xiong Avenue on 16 March 2011, FTC/File
London based Free Tibet Campaign said the images
acquired by it confirm eye witness accounts of plain-clothed police, armed police and the deployment of riot police onto the streets of Ngaba town and check points manned by the army.
Stephanie Brigden of FTC said the so-called patriotic re-education campaign in Kirti monastery violates not only the right to freedom of religion but also the right to freedom of thought. “The image showing an army check-point outside Kirti monastery testifies that ‘local social order’ is far from normal as Beijing would like the international community to believe.”
Checkpoint controlled by the army in front of Kirti Monastery on 19 March 2011, the day Phuntsok was cremated/FTC/File
Meanwhile, a Tibetan source with contacts in Ngaba told phayul
that the monks of Kirti monastery continue to be subjected to rigorous sessions of patriotic reeducation campaign by Chinese work team officials as hundreds of armed soldiers and police stand vigilant in and around the monastery. He said Chinese work team officials accompanied by around 10 armed soldiers patrol the monks’ living quarters randomly asking questions to the monks who often were manhandled or beaten up.
The source said local Tibetan civilians numbering around 200, mostly senior citizens, have been camping near a road close to the monastery since last Tuesday despite being threatened by Chinese soldiers to leave. “The Tibetans mostly above the age of 60 were keeping a close watch on the soldiers to ensure that no monks are taken away from the monastery,” he said, adding that more troops are camping on grasslands near Meoruma township, Raru township and Chashang township since April 12, when Chinese troops being brought into Kirti monastery had confrontation with local Tibetans outside the monastery.
A Tibetan monk named Lobsang Gelek, 27, was detained from the monastery on April 8 and his current whereabouts are unknown, said the source.
Monks of other monasteries in Ngaba are also being locked up an their movements are strictly being monitored, said the source.
The situation around Kirti Monastery, one of the most prominent monasteries in Ngaba region, has remained tense following the death of a Tibetan monk Phuntsok, who set himself ablaze in protest on March 16 - marking 3 years since Chinese armed forces cracked down heavily on Tibetan protesters in the region in 2008.