By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, September 4: In growing cases of arbitrary detention of Tibetans by Chinese authorities, five more monks in eastern Tibet have been detained on unknown charges.
In reports received by Phayul, five monks of the Nyitso Zilkar Monastery in Tridu region of eastern Tibet were detained on September 1 from the monastery in a surprise raid by a large number of Chinese security personnel.
Lobsang Sangyal, a monk in south India, with contacts in the region identified the arrested monks as Sonam Sherab, 45, Lobsang Jinpa, 30, Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, Ngawang Monlam, 30, and Sonam Yignyen, 44.
“Monastery officials were informed by the local Chinese authorities that they will be visiting the Zilkar Monastery regarding certain government houses built after the earthquake that hit in the region in 2009,” Sangyal told Phayul. “But instead they arrived with a large number of armed security personnel and raided the monastery.”
Sangyal said power supply to the Monastery was cut off and electronic items of the monks were confiscated.
“The quarters of the five arrested monks were raided and their computers and CD’s were confiscated,” the same source said. “When other monks of the Monastery pleaded for the release of those arrested, they were severely beaten as well.”
The conditions and whereabouts of the arrested monks remain unknown.
Sangyal added that the Zilkar Monastery is currently under strict surveillance.
Earlier this year in February, three Zilkar monks Sonam Gyewa, Lobsang Samten, and Lobsang Nyima were arrested on suspected charges of their roles in a massive protest that rocked the region.
Thousands of Tibetans in Tridu area had led a peaceful protest, carrying banners demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and respect for Tibetan lives, coinciding with the global solidarity vigil on February 8, called by the elected leader of the Tibetan people, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay.
Around 400 monks from the Zilkar monastery had led the protest march to Dza Toe town, which later swelled to over a thousand.
The monks unfurled banners, written in blue and red ink, symbolic of the two protector deities of Tibet, calling for the Dalai Lama’s return, release of Tibetan political prisoners including the XIth Panchen Lama and respect for Tibetan lives.
Again in June, more than 800 Chinese security personnel were deployed in and around the Zilkar Monastery and Zatoe town to block local Tibetans from paying their last respects to Tenzin Khedup, who set himself ablaze with Ngawang Norphel, on June 20 calling for Tibet’s independence and long-life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
However, monks from the Zilkar Monastery went against the official decree and attended the cremation in their hundreds.