Monday, June 06, 2005

(More) Buddhist Monks in Jail

There was much reaction to the writing of the story of the two brothers, who I met in Dharamsala last month. (please see "the brothers" on this blogsite; posted May 8, 2005)

While monks in Tibet, these brothers had been imprisoned by the chinese for posting "pro-Dalai Lama" flyers at their monastery. Their three-year imprisonment included beatings, torture, hard labor and under-nourishment. Upon their release they escaped from chinese-ruled Tibet, making their way to Nepal and ultimately India.

One of the points they wanted most to communicate was that stories similar to theirs are continuing to be played out on a regular basis in Tibet, regardless of the "good public face" the PRC has been trying to put on their occupation of Tibet.

The following item crossed my desk desk this morning. Dated May 2005, it came to me from the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and is chilling in its familiarity.

Monks Sentenced for Displaying Posters

Two Tibetan Buddhist monks were sentenced to three years in prison by the People's Republic of China (PRC) for pasting posters on walls near their monastery in eastern Tibet.

Kunchok Tenpa and Tsundue Gyamtso are from Sichuan Province in eastern Tibet. They resided at Taktsang Lhampo Kirti Monastery located in Dzoge County of the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) in Sichuan Province. (The TAR was Tibet before the Chinese occupation.)

In 2004 they were sentenced to three years imprisonment for allegedly pasting pro-independence posters on walls near their monastery. They are currently incarcerated in a prison located in Mong County, Sichuan.

According to the information recieved, there were three posters pasted in 2002 and 2003; the first was a pro-independence poster, the second was critical of the corrupt practices prevalent among the higher Chinese officials, and the third called for Tibetans to boycott shops and restaurants owned by Hui Hui Chinese muslims.

One early morning in January 2003, 20 Public Security Bureau Officers (PSB) officers from Dzoge County, raided Kirti Monastery to search for incriminating political materials in Kunchok Tenpa's room. During the search, the officers came across some drafts related to new poster designs. Tenpa was immediately arrested at gunpoint and taken to Dzogey Police Station, which is about a two-hour journey from the monastery.

Tsundue Gyamtso secretly fled to Lhasa after Tenpa's arrest. He planned to escape to India, but could not do so because of financial problems. After staying in Lhasa for a month, he went underground in Meru-Nyin-sip Village, Junan County, Kansu Province, for several months. Later, he shifted his hideout to Omey Khog, a nomadic area, near Dzogey County. Chinese officials in Dzogey came to know about his hideout after nearly a year of disappearance and he was arrested in mid 2004.

Kunchok Tenpa (ordained name), 24 years old, is originally from Phentsu Village, Lhamo Township, Dzogey County. Tenpa was studying Buddhist Dialectics in the monastery. Tsuendue Gyamtso (ordained name), 23 years old, is from Dhongkha Village, Dzogey County. He too was studying Buddhist Dialectics in the monastery.

The conditions of the two are still unknown to their family members. The authorities have not provided visiting rights to their families as of May 2005. Tibetan support groups are gravely concerned about their well-being and health condition.

In recent years, Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery has fallen under the Chinese authorities' heavy surveillance and control.

In 2002, Kirti monastery faced the danger of being closed by Chinese authorities when the local populace appealed to the authorities to allow the exiled-based Kirti Rinpoche, in Dharamsala, India
to visit his hometown in Tibet. The appeal was rejected and Kirti Rinpoche was labeled as a "reactionary".

On 29 July 2003
, Chinese authorities closed down a branch school of Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery, named Kirti Monastic School, and the monastery's benefactor, Soepa Nagur, disappeared 31 July 2003.