Tibetan unrest spreads from Sichuan to Qinghai
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By B Raman
Issue Net Edition | Date : 16 Mar , 2012

The Tibetan unrest against the repressive policies of the Chinese authorities has spread from the Tibetan areas of Western Sichuan to Qinghai. According to details received late, Qinghai has been in a state of growing unrest since the beginning of February with large numbers of Tibetan monks and students frequently protesting in the streets—separately as well as jointly. The situation in Qinghai since February last is slowly getting to resemble that in Western Sichuan since March last year.

The spreading wave of unrest started in the Nangchen county in Qinghai province’s Yulshul prefecture on February 8, 2012. At a local stadium, a large number of students and other civilians gathered and shouted slogans such as “Freedom for Tibet” and “Long Live the Dalai Lama.” The same day, another large group of Tibetans, including many monks, gathered in the main monastery in Nangchen town, and chanted prayers for the return of His Holiness.

The Chinese authorities did not intervene against the protesters, but allowed the demonstrations to take place, but subsequently they have been rounding up people who participated in the demonstrations. They have also circulated leaflets calling on people who joined the demonstrations to voluntarily surrender to the police.

On March 13, 2012, about 4,000 middle school students held demonstrations in Rebkong and in neighboring Tsekhog (in Chinese, Zeku) county in protest against the replacement of Tibetan by Chinese as the medium of instruction in the local schools. Similar demonstrations on the same issue had taken place in October 2010.The Chinese authorities have reportedly closed down the schools where demonstrations took place on March 13 and detained the suspected participants in the school premises pending investigation by the police.

The next day, a 30-year-old Tibetan monk tried to commit self-immolation at a monastery in Qinghai’s Rebkong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The Chinese intervened and put out the fire. He survived with severe burns.

According to one report, when the Chinese tried to take him to a local hospital for admission, hundreds of Tibetans rescued him from Chinese custody and took him back to his monastery. Demonstrations against the Chinese authorities were held in the town. Further details are awaited.

In the meanwhile, the Chinese have reportedly expelled about 100 out of the 200 monks in the Karma monastery in Chamdo county in the Tibet Autonomous Region on the ground that they did not have valid identification papers. They have been asked to go home and the remaining 100 monks who have been allowed to stay in the monastery have been forced to attend re-education classes to re-affirm their loyalty to the Chinese Government and Communist Party. The Chinese have stepped up surveillance of the monastery since October last when there was an explosion in a local Government building.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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