08/18/2012, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Mystery surrounds the fate of five Tibetan monks arrested by Chinese police

Three young monks were detained on 12 August; two more were taken 16 August. All were arrested in their monastery. Police action stems from their alleged involvement in recent self-immolation. The TCHRD reports a situation of extreme tensions.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - The fate of five young monks detained during night raids at the Gyalrong Tsodun Monastery in Barkham County (Ngaba, Sichuan Province) remains unknown. Lobsang Sangay, 19, Yarphel and Namsay, both 18, were taken into custody by security personnel on 12 August 2012 from their cells. Nothing is known of their current condition and whereabouts. On Thursday, two more monks, Thupwang Tenzin, 20, and Asong, 22, were also taken from the same Buddhist monastery.

Sources told Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD that the monks were arbitrarily detained on the suspicion that they were involved with the recent self-immolation protests that occurred at Tsodun Monastery in March and August this year. However, it is not clear on what charges were laid against the five young monks. There is also no information on where they are being held.

Last Monday, two young monks set themselves on fire to protest against Beijing. In view of the situation, Chinese authorities have increased their security presence and enhanced surveillance around Tsodun monastery, which is home to about 300 monks.

Special military and police forces have been deployed in and around the site with heavy restrictions placed on the monks' movements. The situation as "tense and urgent," this according to eyewitness accounts.

Ongoing protest and appeals by foreign organisations and governments have not influenced Chinese police, which continues to arrest and detain anyone who demonstrates.

Beijing's grip on the Tibetan people has instead been tightened, leading some scholars to say that Tibetans are victims of what amounts to outright colonisation.

In fact, not only have Chinese authorities banned the teaching of the Tibetan language and religion, but they have also imposed unfair development policies that favour ethnic Han settlers and continue their attacks against Tibet's cultural and intellectual elites.

This has pushed dozens of young Tibetans, both monks and not, to choose self-immolation as an extreme form of protest. Since the start of this year, dozens have chose fire as a means to protest against Beijing's dictatorship and demand the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Contrary to Beijing's attacks that describe the Dalai Lama as supporting "terrorists, criminals or mentally ill people," the Tibetan spiritual leader has never encouraged such extreme forms of revolt. He has however praised the "courage" of those who make the ultimate sacrifice, which is the result of the "cultural genocide" currently taking place in Tibet.

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