DHARAMSHALA, January 30: In an alarming development, Chinese authorities in central Tibet have reportedly detained some of the senior most monks, including abbots and chant masters of the three principle monastic seats of Sera, Ganden, ad Drepung.
According to Swiss based Tibetan, Sonam, the high-level monks, in total 16, were whisked away on the pretext of a meeting by Chinese officials in the Lhasa region on January 14.
The condition and whereabouts of those disappeared remain unknown, giving rise to anxiety and tension among the monastic community around Tibet’s ancient capital city.
Those disappeared have been identified as abbot Jampel Lhaksam, chant master Ngawang, teachers Ngawang Dhonden, Ngawang Pelsang, and Samten of the Drepung Monastery; disciplinarian Migmar, chant master Samten, teachers Ngawang, and Tashi Gyaltsen of Sera Monastery; and Kalden and Lobsang Ngodup of Ganden Monastery.
Also disappeared were Lhasa Tsug-la Khang’s Lhundrub Yarphel, Tseten Dorjee, and Ngawang Lophel.
Speculations are rife that the senior monks were first taken against their will to conduct ‘patriotic re-education campaign’ at monasteries in the nearby Nagchu region of Tibet.
However, there has been no further information on their whereabouts.
Following the disappearance of the abbots and teachers of the monastic universities, the academic curriculum of the monks has become a matter of great concern.
A report on enforced disappearances in Tibet, titled ‘Into Thin Air – An Introduction to Enforced Disappearances in Tibet’ released in October last, stated that disappearances are “prevalent and commonplace” for Tibetans living under Chinese rule.
“While there is a growing movement to ban enforced disappearances in any form or justification, the Chinese government has for the past many decades used enforced disappearances as a tool to suppress dissent and criticism, by disappearing and detaining incommunicado persons deemed threats to the PRC’s ‘unity’ and ‘stability,’” Dharamshala based rights group TCHRD said.
“Security officers in Tibet, particularly the Public Security Bureau and the People’s Armed Police, use enforced disappearance to terrorize and intimidate the disappeared person, his or her family members, as well as the entire community."
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elecetd head of the Tibetan people, while releasing the white paper, 'Why Tibet is Burning?' earlier this week had said the current critical situation in Tibet is being "fuelled by China's total disregard for the religious beliefs, cultural values and reasonable political aspirations of the Tibetan people.”