By Tenzin Monlam
Chinese security forces at Kumbum monastery in Qinghai province. Photo-RFA
DHARAMSHALA, FEB 15: The Chinese authorities in Qinghai have deployed a large number of security personnel at Kumbum Monastery in what some say is a show of force and intimidation during a major religious gathering.
Observed each year, the Chotrul Monlam at Kumbum Monastery that features display and procession of huge butter sculptures, also faced similar harassment last year with huge number of Chinese police deployed around its vicinity.
“On February 11, the government sent a large number of uniformed paramilitary police to Kumbum in a show of intimidation,” a source told RFA on condition of anonymity. “It is really inappropriate for such a show of force to be made during a religious gathering.”
The source added that the deployment of force has made the Tibetan pilgrims very uncomfortable, and has provoked anxiety and fear in the daily lives of ordinary Tibetans.
Another source said that many Tibetans including children and elderlies are anxious and scared with the authorities allowing Chinese tourists see the sculptures on payment of fee and making the Tibetans stand in queue for hours.
“While Tibetan pilgrims are being held further down the road and have to wait in long lines. Chinese visitors paying 100 Yuan for tickets are allowed to view the display without waiting,” the source added.
Last year’s festival was also marred by the deployment of security personnel within the monastery and amidst devotees during the proceedings.