Heavy security deployment at Kumbum Monastery

Security forces at Kumbum Monastery
Security forces at Kumbum Monastery
9th March 2018

Chinese authorities have sent in security forces to monitor Tibetans as they observe butter sculpture festival 

A heavy presence of Chinese security forces has been reported at Kumbum Monastery in Amdo, during a peaceful religious festival earlier this month.

Forces from the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) were seen parading around the monastery on 2 March, the 15th day of the Tibetan new year festival Losar, as Tibetans gathered to witness the butter sculpture offerings. 

While the Chinese Communist Party controlled media outlet People’s Daily reported on the festival, and the beauty of the butter sculptures, they did not mention the security build-up around the monastery.

However, Free Tibet's research partner Tibet Watch has obtained and verified videos which show military-clad soldiers alongside blue-uniformed security officials flanking large lines of devotees.

The first video shows a butter sculpture encircled by a line of security personnel. It appears that the monastery has been fortified by Chinese security forces.

A second video shows the extent of the military deployment to the monastery. While military and security personnel are present in large numbers, few devotees can be seen.

Another video show armed security officials accompanied by police trained dogs patrolling the festival. 

The level of security demonstrates the increasingly tight controls within Tibet and the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to control Tibetan cultural and religious practices. Last year Free Tibet received footage from Kumbum Monastery during the butter sculpture festival, showing hundreds of armed troops deployed outside in what appears to have become a regular occurrence. Tibetans at the festival have described feeling intimidated and impeded by the soldiers sent to monitor such festivals.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch