March 17, 2009
Below is an article published by: Straits Times
Authorities in north-west China have taken more than 100 Tibetan monks away from their monastery for political re-education after they held a peaceful protest, an activist group said Monday [16 March 2009].
The US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said the monks were 'taken for study' from Lutsang monastery in Qinghai province's Guinan county last week, and others had suffered interrogation, torture and beatings.
'The phrase 'taken for study' means that the monks will be taken to a location such as a military camp or prison where they will undergo political education classes,' the activist group said.
This came after the monks marched to local government headquarters on February 25 - the first day of the Tibetan New Year - where they called for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet, the group quoted Radio Free Asia as saying.
The monks' detention also coincided with the 50th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule last week that led to the escape into exile of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for his Himalayan homeland. He denies this, saying he wants meaningful autonomy under Chinese rule and an end to widespread repression.
The ICT, citing a Tibetan source in exile with connections in the area, said tensions were high in Qinghai and that people were being forbidden to travel from one village to another. Tibetan students have also had their mobile phones confiscated by police in an apparent attempt to stop any information from leaking out, the activist group said.
The Guinan government and police refused to comment about the situation when contacted by AFP.
It has been extremely hard to confirm information independently in Tibetan-populated areas of China in recent weeks as they have been sealed off to foreign journalists. AFP reporters who travelled to Qinghai last week were repeatedly blocked by police from entering these areas.
Officially, however, foreign reporters are allowed to visit Tibetan regions of western China such as Qinghai, and are only banned from travelling independently to the Tibet Autonomous Region.