03/08/2020

Tibetan monks missing since April raid

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Sonam Rabgyal
Sonam Rabgyal

Five monks have gone missing since the raid by Chinese security officials on Ramoche Temple following protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March 2008.

According to information received by TCHRD, the whereabouts of Ramoche monastery’s Chagzoe (manager and treasurer) Sonam Rabgyal and four other monks cannot be ascertained. The monks were arrested during a midnight raid in monks’ residence on 7 April 2008.

Sonam Rabgyal, 39, a native of Markham County, Chamdo Prefecture, “Tibet Autonomous Region” (‘TAR’), Damdul, Rabgyal and two others of Ramoche Temple located in Lhasa came under the suspicion of Chinese police for engaging in pro-Dalai Lama activities. The monks held a long-life prayer ceremony to the Dalai Lama and read aloud requests for prayer offerings (Tib: Kyabtho) making direct reference to the Dalai Lama’s long life and quick resolution of the Tibet issue during the annual Great Prayer Festival (Tib: Monlam Chenmo) on 14 February this year.

Sources told TCHRD that the “work team” under the “patriotic education” Campaign stationed inside the temple knew about their action and interrogated the monks for many days.

On 7 April 2008, around 70 monks of Ramoche Temple were detained after the Public Security Bureau and People’s Armed Police forces carried out midnight raid in monks’ residences. Although most were released after days of interrogation the whereabouts and conditions of the five- monks still are not known.

Sources also said religious artifacts made of gold and silver had disappeared after the raid. Severe restrictions still continue to be put on the movement of the monks of major monasteries since protests broke out in March.

Even today China has the major monasteries around Lhasa virtually sealed off though officially declaring them reopened to tourism and pilgrimage.

Ramoche Temple has 115 monks, a mandatory limit set by the Chinese authorities.