Woeser: Tibet Update (May 21)
(A profile of Woeser, written by Washington Post’s Beijing correspondent Jill Drew is here.)
It is learned that after the protest in Lhasa, some Tibetans in Kham (Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province) were also arrested. At present some of them have been released one after another. It is said that the reasons for their arrests are either because they browsed some banned websites, or they know many foreigners, or they were sold out by their friends. Comparatively speaking, the arrested Tibetans were well treated in the Tibetan area in Yunnan Province, and some Tibetan prison guards also looked after them out of sympathy for them. But Tibetans who are working in Lhasa public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts disclosed that the order concerning the treatment of the arrested Tibetans received by Lhasa police is “ to beat them until they confess.”
In Ganzi County in Kham (Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province), around 4:30 am on May 18, the local police suddenly broke into Purpu Tsering Rinpoche’s residence, and arrested him. Purpu Tsering Rinpoche is the fourth Purongnang Rinpoche of Ganzi Monastery, and he is also the head of Pangri Nunnery and Yatseg Nunnery. He also established an old people’s home, and he is a revered religious figure. The arrest of the well-known religious figure caused much anger and questioning among the people. His arrest has something to do with the protest against the implementation of “ the patriotic education campaign” by over 60 nuns from Pangri nunnery in the county seat of Ganzi County. At that time, over 50 nuns were arrested. Around 10 o’clock on the morning of May 18, many monks and lay people held a protest in the county seat of Ganzi County, shouting such slogans as “Tibet Independence” and “Long Live the Dalai lama”. They were beaten by the CCP military police; the following monks from Ganzi Monastery were arrested: Jampa Dorjem Palden Triley, Jamyang Tsering, Kunga Triley and Tsewu Gelek.
In Tawu (Ch. Daofu) County (Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province), for the past 15 days, many owners of trucks who are engaging in transporting goods have stopped driving their trucks so as to show their dissatisfaction with the authorities’ suppression of Tibetan people. It is learned that there are altogether over 2,000 domestic transportation trucks in Tawu County, and at present several hundred of them have stopped engaging in transportation. Monks from the local monasteries donated money and presented the ceremonial scarves (khata) to Tibetan common people who were injured by the military police in the peaceful protest not long ago. At the same time, the powerful monks of the monasteries announced in the monastery and among the people that due to the undue actions of two Tibetan cadres (one of them is called Yeshe) in the work team which carried out the “Patriotic Education Campaign” in the monastery, from now on the most severe religious punishment known as “Kyidu Lepere” will be imposed on these two cadres and all their relatives. This punishment means that from now on no monks or believers will ever hold any religious ceremonies or any religious activities for them or their relatives, including funerals. It is said that this is the most terrible punishment for the local Tibetan Buddhist followers.
In Lhasa, the Jokhang Temple which had been closed since March 10, opened to the public on May 16. Up to now, except Drepung Monastery and Ganden Monastery which are still closed to the public, Sera Monastery, Ramoche Temple and the Jokhang Temple have already opened to the public.
The TAR authorities claim that TAR tourism industry will be able to receive foreign tourists in the last ten day period of June. It is learned that the time for receiving foreign tourists is after the Olympic torch relay in Lhasa. However, even if Tibet is open to foreign tourists, there will still be many restrictions on such aspects as the citizenship and itineraries. They will mainly receive tourists from Southeast Asia. According to people who participated in cross-county car race and went to Lhasa, Lhasa has almost become an empty city under the military control, and everywhere one will see military cars and trucks whose license numbers are covered by camouflage. There were not many tourists in Lhasa, so the hotel whose rate used to be 600 or 700 a night reduced its rate to 100 yuan a night. But when one enter Lhasa Railway Station, one must go through a temporary building used for security =-check. This is a building with an area of 100 square meters, in which 60 or 70 husky special police were checking the passenger’s identification card. They treat the Han Chinese fine, but if one is Tibetan, they will even check your hair.
On the evening of May 19, when the Literature and Art Channel of TAR Television Station and Lhasa Television Station were repeatedly broadcasting news about the earthquake, they suddenly started to announce arrest warrants. The arrest warrants, which were stopped issuing for a month, continued to be proclaimed, but they are not new warrants. They are arrest warrants issued to those people who are on the most wanted lists but have not been captured yet, and the amount of reward has also been increased. There are altogether seven people on the most wanted list, and they are all common Tibetans. Among them, the amount of reward for No. 1 person on the most wanted list is 50,000 yuan, and that for No. 13, No. 18, No. 19, No. 45, No. 54 and No. 63 is 20,000 yuan each. The arrest warrants, which raised the amount of reward, was issued on May 18 by TAR Public Security Bureau and have been broadcasted at least twice on T.V.
I met two Beijing lawyers, and they told me that though they are not among the 21 lawyers who sign their names to express that they were willing to provide legal assistance to the Tibetans, their law offices have been notified that their annual inspection has been postponed. They said that this is related to those lawyers who signed their names on the petition. They resent the authorities practice of implicating other lawyers. But they also disclosed that some lawyers who have been implicated do not criticize the government who use their power to interfere legal issues, instead, they complain about these 21 lawyers. It is learned that 21 lawyers who signed their names come from 10 law offices, and this mean that these law offices and all lawyers working for them will be greatly impacted.
It is learned that all the projects in Tibetan areas sponsored by NGOs in China and abroad are basically stagnant, and they are even under complete control. A few NGOs whose projects have not finished yet will not continue to sign the contract once the current contract expires. On May 15 the Trace Foundation in U.S. issued a statement refuting the Chinese media’s continuous accusation of the Trace Foundation’s involvement with Tibet’s alleged crimson revolution.
According to the report on May 18 by Xinhua News Agency, four nomadic counties, including Ngawa (Aba) County, Dzoge (Ruo-er-gai) County, Mewa (Hongyuan) County and Dzamtang (Rangtang) County, were not impacted by the great earthquake centered in Wenchuan. Qin Dalin, the deputy governor of Ngawa Prefecture, said that these four countries are located in the northwestern part of Ngawa Prefecture and are comparatively far away from the earthquake epicenter. In addition, they are not located on the zone of Longmen Mountain Belt, and they are not within the range of over 60,000 kilometers covered by the earthquake zone. However, according to the report, some Tibetans in Wenchuan County, Li Xian County, Pingwu County and others also suffered greatly in the earthquake. In Si-er Tibetan township in Pingwu County there are over 300 Tibetans, whose houses were all collapsed. Six of them were serious injured, and they were saved after being trapped for five days.
Many monasteries and monks in Tibet held religious ceremonies for victims and the injured during the great earthquake one after another, and also donated to the victims. The Jokhang Temple which just opened to the public also held the religious ceremony and donated to the victims. Khaso Rinpoche of Rongwu Monastery in Amdo (Rebgong [Ch. Tongren] County in Tsolho [Ch. Huangnan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province), who was seriously injured as a result of being cruelly beaten by the military police, donated 10,000 yuan. The monks from Rongwu Monastery also donated about 50,000 yuan to the victims, and every day they recite scriptures for the victims.
A few days ago when the Dalai Lama was visiting Europe, he had a special interview with the Times. During the interview, the Dalai Lama, for the first time, raise the four conditions for him to return to Tibet. First, the Chinese government must allow foreign media to enter Tibet and give them free rein to report; Second, the Chinese government should allow Tibet to accept foreign medical aid; third, he appeals to the Chinese government to release all political prisoners who have protested peacefully, and meanwhile, there should be fair and open trials for those who engaged in criminal activities; Fourth, there need to be substantive discussions with a view to satisfying the Tibetan people’s aspiration to exercise their basic human rights. This is the first time when the Dalai Lama openly raises the four pre-conditions for him to return to Tibet.
But, on May 20, the Xinhua network published the party secretary of China Tibetology Research Center under the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department Zhu Xiaoming’s article entitled “The Central Government’s Policy toward the Dalai Lama Changed from ‘Two Approval’ to ‘Three Adhering.” The conclusion the article reached about the Dalai Lama is as follows: “The words and deeds of the Dalai Lama around March 14 Incident further prove that he stubbornly adheres to his political standpoint which sets himself against all Chinese people including Tibetan people, and willingly serves as the loyal tool for the western anti-Chinese forces.” It emphasizes that “the struggle between splitting Tibet and anti-separatism will continue to exist. We must sharpen our vigilance and do our job well so as to completely crush the attempt of the separatists’ to split our country and firmly safeguard the national unity.” Judging from this speech, it might be possible that the Sino-Tibetan talk in June will not improve much.