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Radio Free Asia

Chinese Police Swarm Tibetan Township After Independence Protests

2019-11-25 -- Chinese security forces, many in plain clothes, have poured into a Tibetan township in Sichuan's Kardze prefecture following protests last week calling for Tibet's independence from rule by Beijing, Tibetan sources say.

Arriving in Sershul (in Chinese, Shiqu) county's Dza Mey township in a large convoy, armed police have now fanned out across Dza Mey, patrolling the streets in police vehicles, a Tibetan monk living in South India told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"Disguised as businessmen, beggars, and ordinary people, Chinese police have also spread out across the town to spy on local people's activities and sentiments," RFA's source named Jampa Yonten said, citing contacts in the region.

"Under such tight surveillance by Chinese police, local people's routines have been severely disrupted," Jampa Yonten said.

The heightened security measures in Dza Mey–a Tibetan town of shops, restaurants, and small businesses–follow separate protests this month in the township's Dza Wonpo village in which small groups scattered pro-independence leaflets in the courtyards of Chinese government and police offices.

On Nov. 21, authorities detained two men identified as Yonten and Choegyal after the pair scattered leaflets calling for Tibetan independence and posted messages of support online for four Tibetan monks detained in a similar protest two weeks before.

"After their protest, the two youths were held for two days in Dza Mey, during which they were severely beaten by police," Jampa Yonten said.

"On Nov. 23, police took them to the Sershul county seat," he said.

Before launching their protest, the two men prepared video clips showing exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, together with the words "Independence for Tibet" written out multiple times in black and red ink, and posted them on the popular social media platform WeChat, sources told RFA in an earlier report.

Monks also held

Also posted by the men were verses of support for four Dza Wonpo monks detained on Nov. 7.

The monks–identified as Kunsal, 20, Tsultrim, 18, Tamey, 18, and Soeta, 18–were seized by police in their rooms at Dza Wonpo Ganden Shedrub monastery and are now in custody, sources said.

Police also detained the monks' religious instructor, Shergyam Yang, a teacher at the monastery, but released him after holding him for 11 days.

Another monk, named Nyime and identified as the brother of Choegyal, was taken into custody on Nov. 18 after posting online expressions of support for those still held.

Already tightly restricted following widespread protests in Tibetan regions in 2008, Dza Wonpo monastery drew increased police scrutiny in 2012 when monks refused to hoist Chinese national flags on the monastery's roofs, and an ensuing crackdown led to scores of arbitrary detentions, arrests, and searches of Tibetan homes, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Tibetans say Chinese authorities regularly restrict their political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity in the Tibetan region, and subject them to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Sonam Lhamo for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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