As the crackdown in Ngaba deepens (1), more than 300 monks were forcibly removed from Kirti monastery between 9 p.m. and 3:10 a.m. local time, 21-22 April 2011. Their well-being is unknown. Local people, mostly elderly women who had been acting as a human-shield were violently removed beforehand. In the course of the crowds being forcibly removed, two people died. The following night (22 April) buses, with identifying symbols masked, returned to the monastery. Local eye-witnesses suspect that more monks were to be removed.
Monks first heard rumours that the government planned to detain monks on the evening of 21 April and gathered together inside Kirti monastery for their own protection. But their concerns were placated when a Tibetan Ngaba Prefecture Official was sent to the monastery and advised them that the authorities had no such plans and that they should return immediately to their individual houses within the monastery complex.
Mobile telephone and internet communications were cut in the town and remained cut until the same time the following day (22 April 4 p.m.)
From approximately 9 p.m. individual teams of up to thirty police, army and government officials began to attend the individual houses within Kirti monastery and forcibly removed at least 355 monks. There were taken from the monastery in buses, more than 10 were counted by eye witnesses and the last vehicle departed at 3:10 a.m. on 22 April.
The monks were advised to leave their personal belongings behind and that there was no need to take any money. The monks’ houses within Kirti monastery are now boarded up and doors daubed with signs reading “Do not open”.
Outside the monastery, local people, mostly elderly women (aged in their 50 and 60’s), who had attempted to form a human shield at the gates of the monastery to prevent the military from entering the complex and to help prevent monks being removed, were violently removed from the scene and put into four army trucks.
Crying and wailing for the monks not to be taken away, some had cloths forced into their mouths to silence them.
In the course of the crowds being forcibly removed from the entrance of the monastery, two people died, Dhunko (male) from Ngaba town aged 60 and Sharkyi (female) aged 64 from Nagtsang, Ja township, Ngaba county. Free Tibet is unable to confirm the cause of their deaths.
Two of the army trucks released those detained at an open area at Riwong, on the outskirts of Ngaba. The other two trucks proceeded to Ngaba County Army Camp approximately 1.5 kilometres from the monastery. Some of those detained were released at 9 a.m. the following day (22 April) but reported that some of the younger members of the crowds, those in their 20-30s, were still being detained. Free Tibet is unable to provide any further details.
Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden said “China cannot be allowed to continue to act with impunity in Ngaba. Free Tibet has serious concerns for the well being of all those who have been removed and whose well-being and whereabouts remain unconfirmed. Scores of Tibetans still remain disappeared since the protests in 2008, there is a real risk the monks from Kirti and the local population could suffer a similar fate. Two people have now died –the international community must publicly call for restraint, for access to independent observers and the media and for all those who have been detained to be released.”
Notes to editor
(1) This most recent crisis in Ngaba was prompted by the self immolation of a 21 year old monk on 16 March 2011. There has been an increasing and overt military and police presence on the streets in Ngaba town and in surrounding counties, curfews imposed, and restrictions on freedom of movement, house searches and arbitrary detentions.
For more detailed information about the unfolding events see
Images are available of the military build-up, plain clothed police armed with wooden batons, check points here http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/first-photographs-ngaba-expose-how-situation-far-%E2%80%9Charmonious%E2%80%9D
Undercover footage is also available on request from the 16 March, following Phuntsog’s self immolation and the subsequent deployment of police and troops onto the streets of Ngaba.
Kirti monastery home to over 2,500 monks, and the surrounding Ngaba County have witnessed regularly intensified security since Chinese armed police fired into a crowd of unarmed protesters in Ngaba town on 16 March 2008, killing at least 13 civilians.
Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.
For further information, interviews and access to film footage please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden
Mobile: +44 (0)7971 479515