By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, December 14: In continuing crackdown on the spate of self-immolation protests inside Tibet, Chinese authorities have arrested seven Tibetans from the Dokarmo region of eastern Tibet in separate incidents.
Those arrested include relatives and friends of Tibetan self-immolators. The region has witnessed four self-immolation protests, including the latest by a teenaged schoolgirl, Bhenchen Kyi, who set herself on fire calling for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.
Speaking to Phayul, Shawo Dorjee, a Tibetan living in Switzerland said local Chinese officials arrested five Tibetans on December 12, days after Bhenchen Kyi’s
fiery death on December 9.
Those arrested have been identified as Tsundue, 49, a monk at the Dorjee Dzong Monastery; Chagthar, 47, a tantric practitioner; Shawo, head of a local religious center; Choedron, a nun who is in charge of discipline at a local nunnery; and nun Rigshe, who is the sister of self-immolator Sangay Dolma
Family members have not been told the reason for the arrests even as the well-being and whereabouts of the five Tibetans remain unknown.
According to the same source, two Tibetans were arrested earlier in separate incidents from the same region on charges of having acquaintances with Tibetan self-immolators.
“Gobhey, 22 went missing after the self-immolation of Sangdag Tsering
,” Dorjee said citing sources in the region. “It was later found that he was arrested by Chinese security personnel for having ‘acquaintance’ with the Tibetan self-immolator.”
Sangdag Tsering, 24, father of a three-year-old son, passed away in his self-immolation protest on November 17 in front of a local Chinese government office in Dokarmo town, the same place where Chinese authorities had summoned a large meeting of local Tibetans earlier in the day and spelled out clear orders, barring them from visiting families of self-immolators to pay their respect and condolences.
Another Tibetan, Kelsang Dorjee, 26, was arrested following the self-immolation of Tamding Dorjee
, 29, on November 23 near the entrance of the local Chinese administrative office of Dokarmo.
According to Chinese authorities, Kelsang was with Tamding Dorjee a day before his fiery protest.
The arrests come after local Chinese officials in the region issued a five-point notice giving stern orders to officials to punish self-immolators and their families; including those who offered condolences and prayers to the bereaved family members and relatives. The notice further announced the cancellation of government aid to families of self-immolators as well as development projects in villages where similar protests have taken place.
China recently announced that it will press murder charges against anyone caught aiding or inciting self-immolations.
A total of 95 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated since 2009 protesting China’s rule and demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.