By B. Raman
Reports received from the Sichuan province of China speak of the arrest of about 300 Buddhist monks belonging to the Kirti monastery in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of the province for protesting against forcible re-education classes organized by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, China’s internal intelligence agency, for the monks in the monastery.
The re-education classes were organized by the Ministry of Public Security following the self-immolation of a monk on March 17, 2001, to protest against the Chinese colonization of the Tibetan areas. Before committing self-immolation, the monk reportedly shouted slogans in praise of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and called for the return of His Holiness to Tibet.
Thereafter, Chinese police and para-military forces occupied the monastery, seized and destroyed any literature praising His Holiness and pictures of His Holiness. They also forced the inmates of the monastery to attend re-education classes during which they were asked to shout slogans condemning His Holiness and praising the Communist Party of China.
On April 21, 2011, the Ministry of Public Security officials arrested about 300 protesting monks and forcibly removed them in police vehicles to camps set up in the nearby counties of Wenchuan, Mao and LI which the Tibetans call Lunggu, Maowun and Tashiling respectively. When the local residents heard of the arrest and removal of the monks to detention camps, some of them protested and tried to prevent their forcible removal. Two elderly local residents were reportedly killed when the police and para-military forces used force to disperse them.
The Chinese also arrested 200 local residents for trying to prevent the arrest and removal of the monks and shifted them to a military camp. Many of them have since been released, but the younger elements have been detained. The Chinese seem to be worried about the likely reaction of the Tibetan youth to the developments and they are being kept under close watch.
Meanwhile, in a letter dated April 14, 2001, addressed to the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Tibet’s exile parliament has drawn the attention of the UN to “the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet.” The letter said: “The security, dignity and human rights of over 2,500 monks of Kirti monastery, one of Tibet’s most important monasteries, stand critically threatened.” The U.S. State Department has said that it had raised the issue of the Kirti developments with Chinese officials. Mark Toner, a spokesman of the Department, said: “China’s actions are inconsistent with internationally recognized principles of religious freedom and human rights we continue to monitor the situation closely and are obviously concerned by it.”
The monastery normally has about 2500 monks. About 300 of them, who are looked upon by the Chinese as the ringleaders of the protest movement, have been forcibly removed by the Chinese to detention camps. About 200 are reported to have escaped from the monastery and taken shelter in the adjoining villages of Tibetan herdsmen. About 2000 monks are reported to be still in the monastery. Reliable source reports say that they are facing acute food shortage since the Chinese have curtailed the supply of food articles to the monastery in an attempt to force the monks still in the monastery to attend re-education classes and condemn His Holiness.
Following the attempt of some local residents to prevent the arrest and removal of 300 monks, the Chinese have also started re-education classes for the local residents, most of whom are herdsmen.