A Tibetan Monk arrested in Lithang

The Chinese authorities have arrested a Tibetan monk of Lithang Monastery in conjunction with the ongoing massive “Patriotic Education” launched in the first week of September in Lithang area, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

According to the confirmed information, Lobsang Phuntsok, a monk of Lithang Monastery was arrested on 15 September 2007 following sudden raid carried out in his monastery residence by Lithang County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials. Lobsang Phuntsok, 30 year-old, was born to Wangchuk Gonpo (Father) and Ashe Doenkyi (Mother), and was a native of Dekyi Village located on the periphery of Lithang Monastery, Lithang County, Kardze “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’).

Although it was unclear on what charges Lobsang was arrested but according to sources, photographs of the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Karmapa were forcibly removed and confiscated by the county PSB officials from his room altar placed for religious purpose. According to another source, Lobsang Phuntsok was arbitrarily arrested by the Lithang County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials on suspicion of being closely associated with the Tibetan artiste Kunkhen, who was earlier arbitrarily arrested on 22 August 2007 by the Lithang County PSB officials for unknown reason.

Lobsang Phuntsok was ordained as a monk at the Lithang Monastery in his teens and has worked for the monastery undertaking numerous responsibilities. He was known to be very good in his monastic studies and has even excelled in the art of monastic dance (Tib- Cham) that he was later appointed as the leader of the Cham troupe of the Lithang Monastery.

Well known for his physical agility required in performing Opera dance, Lobsang has even performed in Opera dance for the Lithang Monastery and earned adulation and appreciation of natives of Lithang. For his colleagues, Lobsang Phuntsok is a very humble, honest, polite and man of few words.

In the light of recent open public protest led by Ronggye A’drak in Lithang and subsequent arrests and detention of his supporters, the Chinese authorities have resorted to imposing restrictions and beefing up the security measures in Lithang and surrounding counties and summoned the leaders of townships and monasteries in and around Lithang to commence the Patriotic Education Campaign in the first week of September 2007 which will be carried out over a period of three months.

The Chinese authorities continue to reinvigorate the “patriotic education” activities for monks and nuns at a regular basis at monasteries in Lithang and surrounding areas. In the recent times, credible reports filtering from Tibet indicates ‘work teams’ conducting mandatory political training for monks and nuns, making them among other things, to write essays denouncing the Dalai Lama. This campaign also entails a five point requirement, including the acceptance of Tibet as an inalienable part of China, as well as attempts to cultivate the love of mainland under the slogan “Love Your Country Love your Religion”, recognizing the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama and finally, denouncing the Dalai Lama as a traitor/splittist. The government continued to oversee the daily operations of major monasteries. Although the government do not contribute to the monasteries’ operating funds, it retain management control of monasteries through the Democratic Management Committee (DMC) and local Religious Affairs Bureaus(RAB).

Under the banner of ‘Patriotic Education’ campaign, all monks and nuns are required to register with the DMC officials, those who do not possess a registration card or stay permit, are expelled from the monasteries.

Furthermore, the monasteries and nunneries have a required “ceiling” of monks and nuns who are allowed to legally stay and study at the monasteries. Moreover, monks and nuns who have not registered with the DMC and those who have resisted the patriotic education classes, are forced to leave the monasteries, or go into hiding when “work teams” visit their monasteries.

The Chinese authorities have not only banned the display of the picture of the Dalai Lama in monasteries but also in the monks’ residences. Under this campaign, the Chinese authorities forcefully order the monks below the age of eighteen to leave the monasteries and to return to their respective homes. In earlier report, even school which falls under the administration and management of the Lithang Monastery, was closed down and the school children were sent back to their respective homes.

Earlier this month, thirty People’s Armed Police (PAP) raided a monk’s residence with no warning during the night and was beaten and tortured.
Along with that incident, the PAP also forcefully seized a few residences of monks who have no connection with political activities.

TCHRD expresses its deepest concern at the arbitrary arrest of Lobsang Phuntsok and call upon the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to immediately release him and Kunkhen. The Centre also calls upon the PRC to immediately put an end to the campaign under the name of “Patriotic Education” across all religious institutions in Tibet.

The Centre calls upon the PRC to stop the practice of arbitrary arrest and detention of Tibetans. The Centre urgently seeks the intervention and support of the international civil society groups and the relevant UN mandates on promotion and protection of human rights in securing their early release.

The PRC should ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by her. The Centre deems that case as arbitrary arrest and PRC should take prompt action in order to locate Lobsang Phuntsok and Kunkhen, make public their whereabouts, and ensure their immediate release since their detentions are arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning their human rights activities

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