09/26/2008, 00.00
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More than a thousand monks and many civilians have disappeared since the March crackdown

by Nirmala Carvalho
Whether they were arrested in March or simply disappeared thereafter, their relatives and friends are in the dark as to their whereabouts or even if they are still alive. An appeal is made to foreign governments, international agencies and the United Nations not to forget them.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – More than a thousand Tibetan monks have vanished in the hands of Chinese police since last March crackdown, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reported. The fate of a handful is known but the whereabouts of all others remains a mystery.

Some 80 monks from Drepung Monastery, which is located on the outskirt of Lhasa and played a key role in the protests, have disappeared since March.

The Chinese-installed government of Tibet especially targeted monks visiting from other regions like Amdo and Kham, which are outside China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Lobsang, a monk from Lhatse County (Shigatse Prefecture), was among those detained in Drepung. He vanished in March and no one knows his current whereabouts.

On 7 April monks Thabkhey and Tsundue from  Labrang Monastery approached foreign journalists in Sangchu County (or Xiahe Xian) in Gansu Province. The latter had been brought in from Beijing to see that all was well and back to normal. The monks instead told them a different story and for their pains they too vanished. Police told their relatives that they had not been arrested and had no information about them.

The TCHRD has also reported the disappearance of students and ordinary citizens, like Migmar Dhondup, a school graduate (1995) from Dingri County (Shigatse), who worked in Lhasa as a tourist guide. He too disappeared in March without leaving a trace.

A little is know of what happened to some in arbitrary detention. Guru, a 25-year-old nun from Samtenling Nunnery, also known as Watak Nunnery, in Drango County (Sichuan), disappeared after taking part in local protests in June. She was reported dead when two other nuns, Tsering Tso and Ugyen Lhamo, were tried and sentenced to two years in prison.

In light of this situation the TCHRD has expressed “its deepest concern over the fate of those Tibetans who were arbitrarily detained and who disappeared since the March protest in Tibet.”

The centre has called on the international community and the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (UNWGEID) to press the government of the People's Republic of China to provide information about those who disappeared and to stop this cruel practice meant to silence Tibetan dissidents and their families.

The Tibet question enflamed the Olympic torch relay in April and May, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets of London, Paris, San Francisco and elsewhere in protest against China’s crackdown. However, that controversy now seems all but forgotten even though Tibetan monks and protesters still languish in jail.

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