TibetWatch: April 26

Not as big of a day as yesterday, but a major protest in Derge is definitely news:

About 3,000 to 4,000 Tibetans led by monks protested Wednesday in front of a township police station and government center in China’s Sichuan province, condemning a security crackdown on a local monastery and demanding the release of a nine people who had been detained, sources said.

The protester at the Zogchen township in Dege county in the Tibetan-populated Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture were angry at a series of raids conducted by security forces on the Zogchen Monastery from Sunday to Tuesday, during which monks were severely beaten, interrogated, and taken away, the sources said.

Wednesday’s mass protest was peaceful but protesters demanded that the crackdown should stop and all security forces in the monastery be pulled out.

“They told the officials that if there was no withdrawal, things could turn ugly,” one caller from inside Tibet told RFA. “The people were disgusted that the police could enter the monastery and assault the monks, including one 13-year-old monk,” said the caller, identified as Tashi.

Reuters has news about continuing unrest in Yushu and Jyekundo, where earthquake recovery plans look set to ignore the overwhelming Tibetan majority in the region:

For two years after a cataclysmic earthquake struck a remote and wild part of China’s northwestern Qinghai province, Baobao and 29 other homeless ethnic Tibetan residents occupied the area outside several government buildings to denounce a land grab.

But no officials in Gyegu – known in Chinese as Yushu – would listen to their pleas, said Baobao, 41, a burly Tibetan odd-job labourer, who goes by only one name.

“What we don’t understand is why the officials’ homes can be left alone, but the ordinary people’s homes have to be snatched away,” he told Reuters in the tent he set up next to his home that is still standing.

“There must be two kinds of policies: one for officials and another for ordinary people.”

Land disputes are common across China, but the issue takes on new ramifications in areas dominated by ethnic Tibetans.

An official with the prefecture government said he had no knowledge of the situation.

Officials had first promised Amdo a free house and money in 1995 in exchange for him giving up his herd and relocating to the nearest town. He moved but got nothing in return.

“I petitioned the government to solve my housing problem but there was no effect,” said Amdo, dressed in a sheepskin robe.

Trinley Palmo, 56, another nomadic herder, said the authorities tore down her house in the grasslands after the earthquake, citing safety concerns. Her family was moved into an 80 square-metre (850 sq.foot) brick home in a resettlement area on the outskirts of Gyegu – one of almost 70,000 such households.

An official with Gyegu’s Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Department said resettlement “should not have any detrimental impact” on the nomads’ cultural and religious beliefs.

“Most of the farmers and herdsmen are still in favour of resettlement,” the official, identifying himself by his surname Li, said by telephone.

Many residents said they had seen no benefits. Tashi Nyima, 35 and a former herder, worried about feeding his family.

“If the government policy changes, I would go back to herding,” he said, after trading goods outside a storefront.

After snowstorms last week, Jamdrol said life was tough in the two-room 20 sq. metre tent pitched outside his house. The interior was lined with wooden benches, with strips of carpet on them. His wife, Tselha, was chopping firewood for warmth.

The government may seize his land, but he says he is unafraid.

“I will persist in telling the government the land belongs to me,” Jamdrol said. “Even if they want my life, I’ll never give it up,” he said, moving his finger across his throat.

Finally, Beijing is trying to use the World Buddhist Forum it created to elevate the fake Panchen Lama it created:

China’s disputed selection as the Panchen Lama has espoused Buddhist philosophy in a speech that was his first appearance outside the mainland and showed greater efforts by Beijing to gain acceptance of its rule over Tibet.

The Panchen Lama is Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest spiritual leader, but followers of the exiled Dalai Lama do not recognise China’s choice.

He spoke at the third World Buddhist Forum in Hong Kong, a showcase for China’s cultural diplomacy attended by more than 1,000 monks, nuns and scholars from 50 countries. China holds the forum every three years and the Panchen Lama’s attendance was aimed at burnishing his religious credentials.

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Filed under disasters, ethnic conflict, protests, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

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