December 2, 2005
The Dharamsala-based Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said five monks at the Drepung monastery, on the outskirts of the capital Lhasa, were expelled and detained after refusing to sign a document denouncing the Dalai Lama as a separatist.
In protest, more than 400 monks staged a sit-in in Drepung's main courtyard on November 25, refusing to denounce the Dalai Lama and accept that Tibet is a part of China and calling for the release of the five monks.
The Dalai Lama, the Buddhist spiritual leader of Tibet, has lived in exile in the Indian town of Dharamsala since fleeing after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, nine years after Communist troops invaded the remote, mountainous region.
He has since been branded a traitor by Beijing but he is still revered in Tibet as a god-king despite a government system that enforces political study alongside religion to keep the monasteries in check.
"According to reports from Tibet, monks at Drepung (monastery) expressed resistance last week to the denunciations of the Dalai Lama required during the patriotic education campaigns," the Washington D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement.
The army, police and security personnel quashed the protest and monks who resisted were beaten, the Dharamsala group said, adding that no one had been allowed to enter or leave the monastery since then.
The director general of the Information Office in Tibet said he was unaware of any unrest.
"We haven't heard of it and if it really happened like you said, the related departments will go to investigate. But we are not clear about the situation so far," Thondrup Dorje said by telephone from Lhasa.
The political campaign and crackdown on the monks coincides with a trip to China by Manfred Nowak, the U.N. envoy on torture, who is to visit both Tibet and Xinjiang during his two-week stay.
Both are border regions with large ethnic minority populations and some of the country's most high-profile political prisoners, accused of instigating separatism or opposition to Chinese rule.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said the
latest political education campaign in Tibet had been going on since October.
One recent visitor to the area said officials had denied the existence of such
campaigns or of political interference.