In the first major Tibetan protests since last year’s Lhasa uprising, hundreds of local residents in Ragya township, Golog “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,” Qinghai province, attacked a police station March 22, leading to the arrest of nearly 100 monks from the Ragya Monastery. Some 2,000 ethnic Tibetans took to the streets of Ragya after word spread that a monk had taken his own life after being arrested for possession of “separatist” literature. Authorities said several police were “slightly injured” in the clash.
The monk, 28-year-old Tashi Sangpo (also rendered Zhaxi Sangwu) apparently hurled himself into the Machu River after authorities found leaflets and the banned Tibetan flag in his room at the monastery. Police issued a statement to the official news agency Xinhua saying the protesters had been “deceived by rumors” about the incident, but offered no details. Ragya monastery has remained under police occupation since March 10, when the Tibetan flag was hoisted atop the main prayer hall as a peaceful protest.
The new protests come as China is celebrating the 50th anniversary of what it calls the liberation of Tibet from serfdom this March. Tibetans traditionally hold protests to mark the date when China took control over the country and forced its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to flee into exile in India.
China has sealed off Tibet with troops and demanded that the international community recognise the legitimacy of Beijing’s historical claims over the Himalayan plateau. “It is impossible for any western country to not interact with China. However, it is [also] impossible for the West to cooperate with China unless it develops an objective and unbiased stance on Tibet,” said an editorial last week in the Communist party’s flagship publication, the People’s Daily.
The ultimatum comes as Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi urged foreign governments “not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit their countries” and “not to allow their territories to be used by him to separate Tibet from China.” (Phayul, PTI, NYT, BBC News, March 22; IPS, March 11)
See our last post on Tibet.