01/03/2014, 00.00
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Tibet: repression continues in Driru with two monasteries shut down and monks arrested

Communist authorities have Drongma and Rabten monasteries surrounded and closed. The county is under the government's 'special watch'. Afraid of instability and a possible domino effect, the authorities continue to crack down, a source said.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - Tibet's Communist rulers have forcibly shut down Drongma and Rabten monasteries in Driru County, theatre a few months ago of a resistance campaign against government heavy-handedness.

Local security forces surrounded the two places of study and worship, and arrested eight monks. In November 2013, the authorities already had the leaders of Drongma Monastery detained, including Venerable Kalsang Dhondup, one of the elders, who is still in jail.

Jamyang Geshe Ngawang, a monk and scholar much loved by locals, comes from the same county. He was beaten to death in jail after he was arrested in November along with two friends whilst on holiday in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

The county is as a hotbed of resistance against Beijing new loyalty rules. Chinese authorities "fear that instability in Driru could cause ripple effect in other areas in the TAR. Therefore, they have been engaged in forcing Tibetans in Driru to [undergo a] rigorous 'Thought Education Campaign' since September," a source told Phayul.

Since the campaign began, local authorities warned of "harsh punishment" against those who refuse to comply with certain obligations, like displaying China's flag or not upholding the ban on the Tibetan language.

If apprehended, protesters could be expelled from school or lose their job; they could also be denied medical treatment and the right to grow medicinal plants, a major source of income in the district.

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