China detains 32 monks of Ratoe Monastery in Chushul Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centre, according to reliable information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
According to multiple sources, the monks of Ratoe Monastery staged a major peaceful protest on 14 March 2008 in Nyethang Township, Chushul County, Lhasa Municipality, “Tibet Autonomous Region” (“TAR”).
The peaceful protest was initially led by a group of monks of Ratoe Monastery but later joined by ordinary Tibetans. The protesters marched for about two and half kilometers heading to the Township government head office demanding “Freedom in Tibet”, “Independence for Tibet” and “Long Live Dalai Lama”.
When the protesters neared the Township government head office, they were halted and blocked by the Chinese security forces. The peaceful protesters were defused and sent back to their respective places. No arrests of protesters were made by the Chinese security forces at that time.
However, later the Chinese authorities came to Ratoe Monastery and stepped up intense political and “patriotic re-education” campaigns against what the Chinese authorities describe as inroads made by the “Dalai Clique and separatist forces” in the monastery. At the same time the monks were repeatedly pressed by the Chinese authorities to surrender before them. Apparently not a single monk surrendered and relented to the dictat issued by the authorities.
On 16 April 2008, the incident took a surprise turn when hundreds of Chinese security forces consisting of Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) surrounded the Ratoe Monastery around 4.30 AM in the morning (Beijing Standard Time). Shortly afterward, the security forces raided the monks’ residences to search for weapons and other incriminating materials.
However, during the raid, no guns, weapons and other incriminating materials were found in the monks’ residences. The photos of the Dalai Lama and mobile phones were confiscated by the Chinese security forces during the raid.
In the ensuing moments, the Chinese security forces arrested 50 monks of Ratoe Monastery for taking part in a peaceful protest on 14 March 2008. They were detained in Chushul PSB Detention Centre. However since then arrest, 18 detainee monks had been released. Currently 32 monks of Ratoe Monastery are detained in Chushul PSB detention centre.
Most of the detainee monks are in early twenties. A former political prisoner Namkar, 45, was among the detainees. He had earlier served two years imprisonment term in Drapchi Prison for taking part in Pro-independence Uprising of 1989 in Lhasa. Ironically, one of the arrestees was also identified as a 38 year-old Thupchok, a prominent Democratic Management Committee (DMC) “work team member” of Ratoe Monastery. As a DMC “work team members” he had been directly responsible for implementing the controversial and much resented “patriotic education” campaign in his own Ratoe Monastery.
The situation in Ratoe Monastery is currently said to be calm and restricted. It is said that there are around 90 monks in Ratoe Monastery. The Chinese authorities have denied total visitation rights to the 32 detainee monks. There has been no further information about their present condition and well being.
The Centre expresses its serious concern at the continuous detention of monks, whose only crime had been to express their grievances in a peaceful manner. The constitution and law of China guarantees its citizen the right to freedom of expression and opinion. In this context, TCHRD believes the monks of Ratoe Monastery have not violated the laws of land and had resorted to any action that undermined the Chinese constitution. TCHRD therefore appeals to the Chinese authorities to immediately release all the detained monks and also to ensure a speedy restoration of normalcy in Ratoe Monastery. The Centre also calls upon UN and international bodies for an immediate intervention in releasing the detained monks