Authorities have ramped up restrictions at an already tense Tibetan monastery in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, detaining a prominent monk and his brother more than two months after another local monk burned himself to death in a protest challenging Chinese rule.
Gelek, a disciplinarian at Akyong monastery in Pema (in Chinese, Banma) county in the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was taken into custody by police on Jan. 18, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.
“Police came to the monastery, called him to the police station for questioning, and then detained him,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“His younger brother Tselha Kyab was also detained on the same day while receiving [medical] treatment in Barkham city,” in Sichuan province’s Ngaba (Aba) prefecture, the source said.
Gelek and Kyab are still being held, he said.
Others also held
Chinese security forces have imposed tight restrictions on Akyong monastery neighboring villages ever since Tsering Gyal, a 20-year-old Akyong monk, set himself on fire in protest on Nov. 11, 2013, RFA’s source said.
Gyal, who had called for freedom for Tibetans and an end to Chinese rule as he burned, died en route to a hospital in Qinghai’s capital city Xining after a local hospital found it was unable to treat him.
Following Gyal’s protest, “[Chinese police] detained many monks and laypersons from neighboring villages in Pema county … and though three of the Tibetans who were detained were recently released, another 17 are still being held,” RFA’s source said.
Detentions and restrictions have continued in the new year, with three unidentified Tibetans recently detained, and another, named Tsekyab, taken into custody and then released, he said.
The atmosphere at Akyong monastery is now “very tense,” the source said.
“The monks are afraid to talk about those who have been detained, and phone conversations are reported to be bugged and monitored,” he said, adding that while the Chinese crackdown began to slow slightly at the end of last year, “local Tibetans are fearing another wave of crackdowns and restrictions this year in March.”
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the area in 2008.
A total of 125 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom since February 2009, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.