Around 2000 Tibetans carrying out a protest in Malho demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet on March 18, 2012.
DHARAMSHALA, March 19: In reports coming out of Tibet, thousands of Tibetans carried out a massive protest in Malho, eastern Tibet, calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
Around two thousand Tibetans led by monks from the Tsang monastery took out a protest march in Malho town at around 7.30 am yesterday, sources in exile with contacts in the region said.
“The streets in the town were filled with Tibetans raising slogans for the Dalai Lama’s return and freedom in Tibet,” sources told Phayul.
After about an hour of protest, Chinese security personnel arrived at the site and arrested 17 Tibetans on suspicion of “instigating” the protest.
“Soon after the arrest, the protesting Tibetans headed to the local police station and demanded their release,” the same sources affirmed.
“After the Chinese authorities refused to attend to their demand, the protesters broke down the main gate of the police station.”
Fearing further escalation in tensions, Chinese authorities released the 17 arrested later in the evening but concerns for their re-arrest are rife as Malho town in currently reeling under a heavy military lockdown.
Yesterday’s protests came days after another massive demonstrations in Rebkong on March 17, following Sonam Dhargey’s fiery death.
Sonam Dhargey, a father of three, was the 30th Tibetans since 2009 to set himself on fire demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.
In the biggest ever gathering of Tibetans in Rebkong, around 8000 people had gathered to pay their last respects to Sonam Dhargey and led a protest march to Rongwo town centre calling for freedom and for the long life and return of the Dalai Lama.
The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration in a release yesterday blamed “severe repressive measures imposed on both the lay and monastic communities” for the current situation in Rebkong.
CTA noted that large numbers of Chinese government officials have been stationed in the region and local Tibetan government officials and students have been warned with dismissals in the event of more demonstrations.
“There is also unprecedented restriction on the freedom of movement and gathering of Tibetans in the region,” the release said.
CTA expressed its “extreme concern” for the well-being of Tibetans in Rebkong in view of “further provocative measures” from the authorities and security forces while reiterating its appeal to the Chinese leadership to end repressive policies, and address the long-standing grievances of Tibetans through peaceful dialogue.
“We hope the authorities in Qinghai, with its large Tibetan population, will demonstrate a more peaceful way of responding to these protests than what we have seen so far in Sichuan,” said Dicki Chhoyang, Kalon for the Department of Information & International Relations.