Tibet: protests, repression continue —outside media spotlight

While the world media have moved on, Tibetans continue to defy authorities by launching protests in their homeland. According to “confirmed information” received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), several local Tibetans have been severely beaten and detained by the Chinese security forces for staging peaceful protests in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, in recent days.

On June 21, a Tibetan youth named Dragu of Khashul village, Dado township, Kardze TAP, was detained by the People’s Armed Police (PAP) after he entered Kardze county’s main market wearing a white headband with the words “Bod Rangzen” (Free Tibet) and Tibetan flags painted on both of his cheeks. On June 22, several monks from Kardze’s Khangmar Monastery held public prayers for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and were arrested and beaten by the PAP. (TCHRD, July 5)

Tibet now only garners a few back-page headlines concerning the Dalai Lama’s talks with Beijing—which have failed to produce results. At the most recent round, the two sides only agreed too meet again in October—after the Beijing Olympics. “There is some widespread belief that they are only meeting because of the Olympics,” the Dalai Lama’s special envoy Lodi Gyari told reporters in Dharamsala after returning from Beijing July 5. “It will be important to see what would be their attitude after the Olympics.” He added: “I personally told my Chinese counterparts very candidly that if the talks do not make any tangible results, there is no point in wasting each other’s time.” (Phayul, July 5)

Tibetan armed resistance remembered —in Queens
On June 28, aging exiled veterans of the Chushi Gangdruk, the Tibetan armed resistance movement, met to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the organization’s founding at a hall in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria, New York City. Among the speakers were founding members Drawopon Rinchen Tsering and Doma Norbu, who said, “Chushi Gangdruk was formed for the protection of sovereignty and religion of Tibet.” (Phayul, July 1)

The Chushi Gangdruk was founded after the Khampa insurgency in eastern Tibet had been brutally put down by Chinese forces, with widespread reprisals against monasteries and the civil population. The Chushi Gangdruk (meaning “Four Rivers, Six Mountains,” a reference to the geography of the Kham region) was formed by Khampa veterans who sought refuge across the border in Mustang, Nepal, and began receiving clandestine aid from the CIA. A group of Chushi Gangdruk fighters were flown to Colorado for secret CIA training in the early ’60s, but aid declined in subsequent years and came to a complete end when the US established ties with the People’s Republic of China in 1974. Despite hardship and privation in Mustang, the Chushi Gangdruk continued to make sporadic raids into Tibet to harass Chinese military forces until renouncing armed resistance and accepting the Dalai Lama’s strategy of nonviolent struggle in the 1970s. (“History leading up to March 10th 1959,” Tibetan Government in Exile; “Tibet, 1950-1974,” Acig.org; Times of India, March 30)

Riots in Guizhou
More than 150 people, including more than 100 police, were injured in riots in Weng’an county, Guizhou province, late last month. Provincial authorities said police had showed “great restraint” in face of the attacks with bricks and bottles. The violence was sparked by a police report on the death of a 17-year-old girl, finding she had drowned herself. Her family insisted she was raped and killed (presumably by a local official, or someone favored by the bureaucracy). But provincial Communist Party chief Shi Zongyuan acknowledged that disputes over local mineral exploitation and relocation of residents for construction projects fueled popular anger. (China Daily, July 1)

Guizhou province borders Sichuan on the southeast, but is well outside the Tibetan ethnic area. The unrest there shows the potential for a general social explosion in China—as the Olympic Torch, now within PRC territory and far from media-driven protests, makes its way towards Beijing…

See our last post on China and Tibet.