03/21/2017, 17.47
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Police arrest hundreds of Tibetans in the wake of Pema Gyaltsen’s self-immolation in Kardze

by Christopher Sharma

Fifty-eight years after Tibet’s uprising, protests continue in favour of the freedom of the Tibetan people and the return of the Dalai Lama. India and China are in a standoff over the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Nothing is known of the conditions of Pema Gyaltsen, who sacrificed himself in a week-end protest.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nearly 200 Tibetans in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi), in the Tibetan part of  Sichuan, were arrested following the self-immolation of Pema Gyaltsen, a 24-year-old Tibetan farmer.

The young man set himself on fire last Saturday calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for his homeland’s freedom.

His action attracted the attention of many people, sparking the intervention of the police, who cleared the area and took into custody supporters and by-standers.

The authorities took Gyaltsen, but his conditions remain unclear at a Chengdu hospital.

“Nearly 200 Tibetans who attempted to support Gyaltsen in his protest by raising cries in solidarity were taken away,” a source said, adding, “Police also confiscated the mobile phones of many of those who were detained.”

Freedom for the Tibetan people and the return of the Dalai Lama from India are the main causes of protests. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism fled his homeland following China’s bloody crackdown of Tibet’s 1959 uprising.

At present, more than 2,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal for fear Chinese repression. In fact, “Chinese suppression is not just limited in Tibet. It has great influence in Nepal,” said Gyalbo Lama, a Tibetan refugee living in Nepal.

Meanwhile, China has formally warned India against allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Bihar, which borders China, where the spiritual leader is expected to speak at a Buddhist International Seminar.

“India is asking for trouble, worsening the bilateral relations and impeding normal bilateral discussion,” a Chinese official said.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said the government’s position is clear and consistent, and that it cannot ban the spiritual leader from carrying out his activities.

Protests in favour of Tibet’s freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return occurred in China as well. Last week, police in Ngaba County (Sichuan) proceeded to arrest a Tibetan monk and a woman in separate incidents. Both were protesting in favour of Tibet’s freedom.

In the first case, Lobsang Dargye, a monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, began shouting slogans on the main street in the country seat, but was quickly overpowered by police and taken away, a local source said.

The incident took place last week, a few days after 10 March, anniversary of the 1959 uprising, in the presence of a large contingent of security forces.

On 10 March 1959, anger boiled over in Tibet against Chinese repression almost ten years after Beijing invaded the Himalayan nation. An estimated 87,000 people are said to have died in the uprising.

In recent years, fearing protests, Chinese authorities deployed extra security forces before and after the anniversary.  Security measures in Ngaba are expected to last until 25 March, a source told Radio Free Asia.

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