04/12/2011, 00.00
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Ngaba monastery besieged by the Chinese: 2500 monks risk starvation

The monastery is one of the young Monk Phuntsok, who set himself on fire March 16, to commemorate the victims of 2008 Chinese repression in Ngaba. The monks can not pass in or out, and police block food supplies. An appeal to the United Nations and the international community from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Chinese police are laying siege to the Ngaba Kirti monastery in Tibet, and 2500 monks risk starvation. The monastery of Kirti was home to the monk Phuntsok who set himself on fire 16 March 2011 coinciding with the third anniversary of the 2008 revolt of (17/03/2011 Young Tibetan monk sets fire to himself in memory of the dead of March 2008). According to the latest local news, the Chinese security forces have completely surrounded the monastery, and on April 9 about 800 more armed police officers arrived to totally surround the site.

The movements of the monks are totally blocked, and no one is allowed to enter or exit. Gaps in the barbed wire barrier, in the north of the monastery were closed with concrete walls. The authorities are preventing the Tibetan faithful from bringing food offerings to the monks, who can neither  leave to obtain food. If the situation does not change, local sources say that faced with the prospect of the monks starving to death there will be a mass uprising, which could be as fatal as that of March 16, 2008. The lamas of the monastery and officials have so far been able to keep the peace by advising the monks to remain calm, despite the increased repression.

Immediately after the self-immolation of Phuntsok, and the solidarity shown towards him by his brother monks, the authorities have taken drastic measures to get control over the monastery. Since the beginning of April officers have begun patrolling the area, and have prevented the senior monks from walking the path around the monastery (kora), they have constructed observation posts and have raised guard platforms. More than 33 people were arrested, of which 22 (eight monks and 16 lay people) are still in custody. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has appealed to the international community and the United Nations to intervene to stop this gross violation of human rights, and arbitrary arrests and detentions, and restore freedom of movement. (N.C.)

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