March 16 - According to the confirmed information just received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), on 16 March 2008, a fresh protest broke out in Rong Gonchen Monastery, Rebkong County (Ch: Tongren xian), Malho Prefecture (Ch: Huangnan) "Tibet Autonomous Prefecture", Qinghai Province.
According to reliable sources within Tibet, around 300 monks of Rong Gonchen Monastery conducted Sangsol Prayer (Incense burning ritual) on the hill just behind the monastery during the early hours of the day. It was known that the monks performed Long Life Prayer Ceremony for the Dalai Lama. Shortly after the end of the prayer ceremony, the monks started peace march towards the government headquarters of Rebkong County which is located in the downtown market area which was later joined by lay people of the County.
However, in minutes' time they were confronted and blocked by the security personnel from continuing the demonstration. Source says that the monks are currently stranded at the monastery courtyard surrounded by a heavy presence of paramilitary troops. In a course of time, more and more ordinary people flock in to join the monks protesting inside the monastery courtyard. The situation is said to be extremely tense. The source also says that the security personnel have already started firing tear gas on the crowds to disperse them. At the moment, the arrests, and deaths of the protestors could not be ascertained.
TCHRD expresses its serious concern on the well being of the protestors and urge the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint in responding to continuing protests in the light of numbers of confirmed death surfacing from the area who are peacefully expressing their views and exercising their freedom of expression, association and assembly. TCHRD is closely monitoring the situation and will issue fresh updates as more news and confirmations surfaces.
Tashi Choephel/Tenzin Norgay/Tsering Agloe (English)
Jamphel Monlam (Tibetan and Chinese)
Phone Number: +91-1892-223363/225874/229225