03/21/2012, 00.00
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Drango: ten Tibetans arrested for demanding the return of the Dalai Lama go missing

The whereabouts of leaders of a local monastery are unknown. They had fled a clampdown in January. Local authorities tighten security to prevent more demonstrations.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - Ten Tibetans arrested by Chinese police last month for participating in peaceful protests in Kardze (Drango County, Sichuan) in January to demand the return of the Dalai Lama have gone missing. During the clampdown, six people were killed and dozens more were wounded, some to the legs and stomach. About 100 people were arrested, including some of the wounded.

According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights Defender (TCHRD), sources told them that Chinese police went house to house to arrest those who had fled the scene of the crackdown. Many found refuge in the mountains. Many of the wounded stayed clear of hospitals because of heavy security forces presence.

Police began their search on 9 February, starting in the nomadic villages of Topolung, Gathag and Gyekong-gang. In searching one house, they killed Yeshi Samdrup, 42, and his brother Yeshi Rigsel, 40, a monk at Drango Monastery. Their death by gunshot wounds was reported in the Chinese government-owned Ganzi Daily News. However, the paper did not report that other members of the family were wounded, including five children. The mother of the two dead men was also wounded and had to have arm amputated.

Tsering Gyaltsen, a 40-yr-old monk at Drango Monastery, was also arrested on 9 February and taken to an undisclosed location. His condition and whereabouts remain unknown.

Those arrested include Shonu (aged 42), a monk at Drango Monastery; Gyaltsen (aged 32) from Yunyiwa village; and Sherkyam (aged 53), Peydor (aged 35), Gyekyap (aged 27), and Khendor (aged 23) from Norpa village.

In the same month, some high-ranking monastic officials at Drango Monastery were also arrested. They include Tulku Lobsang Tenzin (aged 40), a reincarnated lama, and Geshe Tsewang Namgyal (aged 32). The monastery's shop manager Thinlay (aged 42) and its accountant, Drapla (aged 31), were arrested at an internet café in Tridu (Aba County).  

According to local sources, residents now live in a very tense atmosphere. The authorities have deployed more security forces to the area and set up checkpoints to prevent further demonstrations.

On 2 March, the authorities also launched a re-education campaign in local monasteries and villages, warning locals that there would be a price to pay if subversive acts destabilised the region.

In the recent past, Tibetan-inhabited areas have seen demonstrations against Chinese domination as well as acts of self-immolation by Buddhist monks. (N.C.)

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