“Tibetans Gather To Promote Values”

An interesting piece from RFA about a meeting in Lithang, one of the most important towns in Kham and one of the birthplaces of Tibetan organized resistance to Communist Party rule:

Defying orders from Chinese authorities, more than 5,000 Tibetan monks, nuns, and laypeople gathered last week at a monastery in southwestern Sichuan province for talks to promote Tibetan cultural values and national unity, a Tibetan source living in India said.

The gathering—the fourth in a series of annual regional meetings—ran from July 15-24 and was held at Lithang Gonchen, the main monastery of Lithang county, in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Chinese authorities had at first attempted to limit the numbers of those attending, but finally declined to interfere, though security forces remained camped nearby throughout the event, said Atruk Tseten, a member of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies in Tibet’s India-based exile government.

Along with religious discussions, participants heard talks relating to social and cultural issues, including the importance of preserving the Tibetan language and the unity of Tibetans living in Tibet’s traditional three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo— all now ruled by China.

At the beginning of the meeting, monastery officials instructed Tibetan laypeople attending to speak only in Tibetan and to wear traditional Tibetan dress, and levied fines on those heard using Chinese words in conversation.

Meeting organizers also discouraged civilian officials in the Lithang county seat from entering the monastery grounds, saying, ‘We will be doing some things you won’t like,’ Atruk Tseten said.

‘And if you do come, wear proper Tibetan clothing, and speak only in Tibetan or keep quiet,’ Tseten said the officials were told.

Tseten noted that Lithang Gonchen, the monastery hosting this year’s meeting, had sent invitations to over 100 other monasteries—both in Kardze and in neighboring prefectures—to take part, and that from 40 to 50 of these had sent participants.

Told by Chinese authorities that “no more than 1,000” Tibetans would be allowed to gather, Tseten said, Lithang monastery organizers replied that the invitations had already been sent and that no one would be turned away.

And though authorities sought to prevent participation by monks from restive Kirti monastery, also in Kardze, a delegation from that monastery also attended, Tseten said.

Certainly a picture of the evolving nature of Tibetan resistance- and also a potential good example for Beijing. Notice how police didn’t start any fights, and things therefore remained orderly? Perhaps police from Lithang should hold a conference with police from other Tibetan areas, to teach them how to not cause problems.

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