By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, NOV. 20: Four Tibetan monks were arrested by Chinese authorities earlier this month for scattering leaflets calling for independence in the courtyard of a Chinese government office in Sershul County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Kunsal (20), Tsultrim (18), Tamey (18) and Soeta (18) were arrested from their monastic quarters at Dza Wonpo Ganden Sherab Monastery in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Yonten, a monk living in India told the Radio Free Asia (RFA)
citing sources in the region. The group allegedly scattered hundred of leaflets in the premises of the Chinese administrative office in Dza Wonpo village.
“Besides calling for freedom for Tibet, the leaflets called for human rights in Tibet, and especially for respect for the rights of local Tibetans,” Yonten said, adding, “They also called for an end to the illegal acts of local officials and for an end to the stage-managed political campaigns that were disrupting the lives of the local people.”
Police later detained the monks’ religious instructor, Shergyam Yang, a teacher at Dza Wonpo Ganden Shedrub Monastery but released him after detaining him for 11 days. Another monk, still unidentified, was taken into custody on 18th November.
The protest is believed to be prompted by propaganda performances imposed by local authorities on nomads who were forced to leave their lands and moved to resettlement towns. Yonten said, “The nomads’ livelihood have gone from bad to worse, and without any sources of income, they have to depend solely on government subsidies for their survival.” These performances are filmed and recorded during visits by Chinese officials showcasing praises of China’s ruling Communist party in public speeches and eventually distributed to Chinese media.
“But many nomads have also refused to participate in these government propaganda exercises, saying they will not take part, even at the cost of their lives, and this has caused tensions between the Tibetans who take part and those who refuse,” he said. This has created divisions among Tibetans in the local community.
Dza Wonpo monastery drew increased police scrutiny in 2012 when monks refused to hoist Chinese national flags on the monastery’s rooftop, ensuing crackdown on monks, and scores of arbitrary detentions and arrests.