In contrary to what the Chinese authorities are proclaiming about the calm and normalcy restored in Lhasa city, the reality in the area underlines that severe restriction and mass detention are continuing especially in monasteries which were proactive in the recent series of demonstration in Lhasa and other parts of Eastern Tibet. In the latest series of major clampdowns on monastic institutions, around 70 Tibetan monks from Ramoche Temple were known to have been detained on the night of 7 April 2008, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
On 7 April 2008, around 70 monks from Ramoche Temple were detained by the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials during the midnight raid carried out in the monks’ residences. The detained monks were taken away to an unknown location, according to reliable sources. At present only a few monks are left in the Ramoche Temple, which previously housed around a hundred monks, with scores detained and taken away in the midnight raid. There is no immediate information on the condition and whereabouts of those detained. The Chairman of the “Tibet Autonomous Region” government, Qiangba Puncog, said at a press briefing of the State Council information office this morning, that police have detained 953 suspects involved in the ’14 March violence’ in Lhasa.
Severe restrictions have been imposed on the movement of the monks of Ramoche Temple since 14 March protest in Lhasa. Credible sources confirmed a case of one monk, Thokmey, committing suicide in Ramoche temple following massive crackdowns by the PAP and PSB on 22 March 2008.
A similar restriction was imposed on all the major monasteries of Tibet including Drepung, Gaden and Sera, with all access to these monasteries severely restricted with 24X7 monitoring by a heavy presence of PAP and PSB officials since the demonstration broke out on 10 March in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet.
As reported in China’s official mouthpiece, Xinhua, on 1 April 2008, to the question raised by one visiting foreign journalist on a state-sponsored media tour on 27 March, Lhasa City Mayor, Duoji Cizhu, defended the deployment of the PAP and PSB into three major monasteries around Lhasa, by stating that the authorities had undertaken this measure in order to investigate the suspects involved in the recent ‘unrest’ and to avoid further protest by the agitated monks.
On similar showing of official support, on 8 April 2008, Zhu Wei Qun, Vice Minister of the United Work Front Department (UWFD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee accompanied by Lobsang Gyaltsen, the head of the “TAR” United Work Front Department paid a visit to PAP and PSB personnel stationed at Gaden Monastery to boost their morale and appreciate their good work. According to reliable sources, all three major monasteries around Lhasa were virtually sealed off with a heavy presence of PAP and PSB personnel.
TCHRD is concerned that under the pretext of restoring order, the Chinese authorities have resorted to measures such as unnecessary and excessive use of force, including lethal force, arbitrary detentions and intimidation, which violate international human rights law and standards. TCHRD believes that while such a response may quell protest in the short term, it is highly concerned that such violations will only stoke up further resentment, compromising any future effort to address legitimate grievances held by many Tibetans over official government policy in the region.