By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, February 21: Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet arrested six Tibetan monks on the eve of Tibetan new year for their alleged involvement in a protest calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and independence for Tibet.
According to exile sources, monks of the Drakdhib Monastery in the Markham region of eastern Tibet, staged a protest on February 10 after Chinese authorities restricted them from performing religious rituals and carried out forced patriotic re-education at the monastery.
The monks then carried out a protest, raising slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and Tibet’s independence, following which all of them were detained by Chinese security forces.
However, after protests by local Tibetans, all the detainees were released except for the six monks on February 13.
Further details on the six detained monks and the protest are currently unavailable due to severe clampdown on the internet and phone lines in the region, sources added. The current condition and whereabouts of the monks also remain unknown.
Following the protest, a large number of Chinese security forces have been deployed in the region, blocking all roads to and from the Monastery.
In August last year, Chinese security personnel in the same region shot dead a Tibetan man
for taking part in an anti-mining protest.
Around a thousand Tibetans had marched to the Chinese-owned mining site in Markham mid-August, protesting the large-scale operations, which they said was environmentally hazardous. Chinese security personnel responded by firing tear gas and live rounds on the protesters, leading to the death of the Tibetan male identified as Nyima and the arrest of six others.
Many areas of Tibet continue to remain under a state of undeclared martial law following the ongoing wave of self-immolation which has witnessed 104 known Tibetans living under China’s rule set themselves on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet.