DHARAMSHALA, December 4: The situation in the restive region of Rebkong, eastern Tibet continues to remain tense with arbitrary arrests of Tibetans and increased surveillance and restrictions imposed by local Chinese authorities.
In the latest incidence of arrest, four Tibetans were detained by Chinese security personnel for storing images of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama in their mobile phones.
According to exile sources, Tamding Gyal, Dhundup, Chakdha Gyal, and Yarkho were arrested during a routine search for having stored pictures of the Dalai Lama in their cell phones.
Following the series of self-immolation protests in the area, Chinese authorities have been inspecting electronic devices of local Tibetans to check whether they have tried to make any contacts outside the region. Local authorities have regularly used tactics such as communication blackouts and inspections of electronic devices in an attempt to contain the spread of information.
In the month of November, as many as ten Tibetans set themselves on fire in the Rebkong region, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile. Thousands of Tibetans, including school students reacted with widespread protests in the region against the occupying Chinese forces.
Earlier on November 16, two Tibetan monks were arrested in the same region for reportedly being friends with Tibetan self-immolator Kalsang Jinpa.
Tsundue Choeden, 18 and Kunchok Sonam, 21, both monks of the Rongwo Monastery, were arrested by Chinese security forces on their way to the Monastery from the nearby Dowa town.
Local Tibetans have told exile sources that the arrests of the monks were connected with the self-immolation protest by Kalsang Jinpa. The two monks reportedly shared a friendly relation with the self-immolator.
Kalsang Jinpa passed away in his fiery protest against the Chinese government in front of the Rongwo Monastery on November 8. He raised a white banner with slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s return and the rights of the Tibetan people before setting himself ablaze.
The current condition and whereabouts of the arrested monks remain unknown.
The Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in a release today said that an unknown number of detentions related to self-immolations are being reported from Tibet.
The group noted that many of those detained in the aftermath of a self-immolation protest are family members and relatives of the self-immolators, who find it difficult to report fearing further official retribution.