Tibet Update (4) April 29 – 30

These updates of recent events in Tibet and Tibetan areas of China have been posted on Woeser’s blog (Chinese). They have been provided by sources inside China and have not been independently verified.

Since her blog being attacked in April 26, Woeser now publishes her updates at here and here on overseas Chinese news website Boxun.com:

April 30

Yesterday in Lhasa the authorities announced the sentences for thirty people who were accused of violent actions in March 14 Lhasa “riot”, and the government institutions subordinate to the government, the party committee and the People’s Congress as well as neighborhood committees gathered people to attend the court hearing. Before they entered the courtroom, they were strictly examined. While their I.D. cards were checked, they were also given the relevant documents. Inside and outside of the courtroom filled with the police. It is reported that all thirty Tibetans who were sentenced had been tortured to make them confess. Some of them were propped up by the police while walking into the courtroom. One of them could not stand up, and he probably had a broken leg as a result of beating. Those who attended the court hearing said that the trial itself was “what the authorities say goes.” The trail process was simple. There were no lawyers to defend the defendants, neither were there any statements made by the defendants. The normal procedure was reduced. Due to the fact that the judge’s speech in Chinese needed to be translated into Tibetan, and many mistakes were made in the translation, those attended the court hearing frequently broke into laughter. It is said that judging from the laughter, it seems that people were venting their resentment. Otherwise, how could people laugh at such an occasion. But all the defendants could only put up with these in silence. It is learned that in recent few days the authorities will sentence more people, and there is the tendency to sentence them more severely or sentence them to death.

Because the journalist group including foreign journalists arrived at Tibet and tourists from mainland have started to come to Tibet, and the key issue is that Beijing Olympic torch relay will be arriving at Mt. Everest, therefore, all soldiers who are on duty in Lhasa have changed into civilian clothes. Those who do not know the ins and outs will think that the troops have already evacuated, in fact, the armed forces have been increased, and it is just they have been disguised.

Since yesterday, the soldiers who are on duty at Ramoche Temple and other neighboring areas have all become tourists wearing red sun helmets; the soldiers on other streets became tourists or labor workers, who are in small groups. If one pay close attention to them, one will see some of them have walkie-talkies in their hands. Tibetans remind the journalists to pay attention to groups of people in sun helmets, who, in fact, disguised themselves as tourists. The soldiers who are surrounding Sera Monastery have also changed into civilian clothes, and they each have a badge with words “ safety patroller” on their chest. The streets of Lhasa are filled with undercover agents in civilian clothes. Among the pilgrims who go on circumambulation and engage in religious activities every day one will find undercover agents in civilian clothes and informers who have been bought, and some retired cadres from public security bureaus, the protocuratorates and courts are also working as part-time undercover agents. However, not long ago when Tibet Television Station and Lhasa television Station were broadcasting the most wanted list and claimed that one would receive 20,000 yuan as reward for reporting the suspects to the authorities (in fact it is said that only 2,000 Yuan were given), indeed there were people who telephoned the authorities for reward when they saw monks and nuns were outside.

April 29

The group of journalists consisting of those from Reuters, CNN and the Japanese newspaper and the official Chinese journalists, has already arrived at the base camp at Mt. Everest, and are planning to interview the Beijing Olympic torch relay. Lhasa is displaying a false appearance of harmony with dazzling red. The red flag with five stars is hanging on top of the Potala Palace and the houses of Tibetan residents. Red lanterns are hanging on the gates of many stores and even on trees on the roadsides. Many Chinese official media reported that today Sera Monastery completely opened to the public, and claim that “the believers are devotedly worshipping in various shrines,” however, according to some Lhasa people, the so-called “common believers” are mostly Tibetans chosen by the authorities to pretend to be the believers. What is worth noting is that when Tenzing Namgyal, the party secretary of the Party Committee of TAR Committee of Nationality and Religious Affairs, gave an account of the current situation of Sera Monastery, he said that “the various religious activities in the monastery has already been carried out as planned, and the Buddhist activities have also already restored to normal. The life and practice of over 500 monks has also restored to normal.” In reality, the number of monks in Sera Monastery is not over 500, in fact, it is over 1,000, over half of whom are monks who come to study in Sera Monastery from Amdo and Kham. This has been the tradition over 500 years since the monastery was founded in 1419, but the CCP official in charge of monasteries claims that there are over 500 monks in Sera Monastery, does it mean that the punishment meted out to the monasteries this time include greatly reduce the number of monks and expel monks from regions outside of TAR? If the authorities take this measure, it proves that the religious tradition of Tibet is suffering serious damage. In addition, does it also mean that over half of the monks are still in custody? I appeal to the outside world to pay attention to the situation.

What I need to point out is that up to now we can not get any calls through to the monks in Sera Monastery, and in fact the life of the monks has not returned to normal yet. Neither can any calls get through to monks in Drepung Monastery nor has the monastery opened to the public. It is very likely that the condition for the monastery to open to the public is to imitate Sera Monastery by purging all the monks from other Tibetan areas outside of TAR. Up to now the monks in Jokhang Temple are still not allowed to leave the monastery, and though one can get calls through to Sera Monastery, all the calls are monitored. Furthermore, all Tibetan households in Lhasa have all been registered, and they were required to hand in a copy of the I.D. card, the household registration and a photo. The police stations have also sent policemen to the various working units to investigate repeatedly.

The Official Chinese newspaper Xinhua News Agency reports as follows: “The Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People’s Court public pronounced the judgment of 30 people who have been accused of violent actions during March 14 Lhasa riot. These people were sentenced between three-year fixed term of imprisonment and life imprisonement. This is the first such sentence in Lhasa since March 14.” The thirty people who were sentenced first are all Tibetans. Among them six are monks, one of whom was sentenced to life imprisonment, two for 20 years and three for 15 years respectively. When they announced the sentences, one person could not stand, and had to sit on the bench. He probably suffered torture in the hands of the police who were extorting confession.

Today Tibet Daily, the official newspaper of CCP Tibet, published three articles of lofty tone, which are all “ violent attacks and unscrupulous bombing” against the Dalai Lama. They are “Dalai: Even if he has Ever-changing Tricks it is still Hard to Conceal his Reactionary Evil Intent ⎯⎯ No. 6 of the Series of Editorials Exposing and Criticizing the Counter-Revolutionary Nature of the Dalai Separatist Clique”, “ Expose Dalai’s Lies to Deceive the World with Firm Evidence” and “Splitting the Home Land will definitely Doom to Fail.” We find such a stark contrast when we compared these articles with the news that China would hold talks with the Dalai Lama published four days ago, and what does this mean? A Tibetan named Jigme Namgyal wrote an article to analyze the situation. He points out that it is due to the obstruction by the interest group who has benefited from “the struggle against separatists” for a long time, and “there are people or groups which pursue material gain within the Chinese Central Government, and it is more likely to have them in Tibet,” and “they have managed Tibet for many years, and Tibet is the treasure site for their official careers and material interests. If the Chinese authorities hold talks with the Dalai Lama, then if the Dalai Lama comes back, the concept of administration of society will change accordingly and the national and religious policies will be transformed, too. Then they will have nowhere to go, thus, they will madly defend [the status quo]. This analysis hits the nail on the head. From Beijing to the various Tibetan areas a great number of Chinese and Tibetan officials who make a living by “opposing separatism”, who are promoted because of “opposing separatism” and who have become rich as a result of “opposing separatism.” It is them who are the obstruction to solving the “Tibet Issue.”

Read also Tibet Update (1), Tibet Update (2) and Tibet Update (3) April 15 – 27.

May 1, 2008 9:42 AM
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Categories: Politics