Monk Detained in Lone Protest


Chinese police tighten security in a restive Tibetan county following a solitary protest.

Chinese police have detained a Tibetan monk and tightened surveillance of his monastery after he staged a solitary protest in front of government offices in Tibet’s Chamdo county, a source in Tibet told RFA on Friday.

“Karma Rabten, a monk from Chamdo Rata monastery, protested in front of the Chamdo government offices and walked to a nearby square, shouting pro-Tibet slogans, on June 5,” the source said.

“He was immediately detained and taken away by police. No one knows where he is now.”

Karma Rabten’s monastery belongs to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and both the monastery and its surrounding area are now under strict surveillance, the source added.

Chamdo county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has been under tight security controls since the bombing of a government building there in October last year and the self-immolation in December of a former monk.

The Oct. 26 blast in Chamdo’s Dzagyu Karma township struck government offices in the early morning hours and caused no casualties, a source in Tibet’s India-based exile parliament said, citing contacts in Tibet.

Walls of the building had been painted with slogans in red calling for independence for Tibet, and leaflets had been scattered in the area, the source added.

Monks harassed

Monks in the nearby Karma monastery were immediately confined inside their compound on suspicion of possible involvement in the blast.

“Chinese police, armed public security, and government officials have been coming to Karma monastery every day,” one resident told RFA in an e-mail a few days later.

“They have taken each monk’s photo and fingerprints and collected blood samples from each monk. They have also forced each monk to provide three writing samples.”

Most monks fled the facility a few days later to escape harassment, a source said.

A little more than a month later, on Dec. 1, a former Karma monastery monk, Tenzin Phuntsog, 46, set himself ablaze in the first self-immolation protest reported inside the TAR, a Tibetan living in exile said.

A second source, calling from Tibet, confirmed the incident and said that Tenzin Phuntsog had discussed “the status of Tibet and the Tibetan people’s welfare” with family and friends a few days before his fiery protest.

“He was very frustrated by the recent imposition of restrictions on Karma monastery and by the detention of so many monks.”

“Before he set fire to himself, Tenzin Phuntsog shouted slogans and scattered leaflets,” he said.

Reported by Tseten Dolkar for RFA’s Tibetan service. Written in English by Richard Finney.