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China’s restive Tibetan regions: No mercy

posted Nov 12, 2011, 4:14 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Nov 13, 2011, 12:08 PM ]
Excerpt from The Economist:

[Chinese] Officials have reason to be fearful.  For Tibetans, self-immolation is a new form of protest. Such acts are difficult for the authorities to prevent, and images of them can have a powerful psychological effect among sympathisers.  Eleven Tibetans have tried to kill themselves this way since March. Six have succeeded, the latest a 35-year-old nun in Ganzi on November 3rd. [...]

Fire extinguishers have become standard for police patrols in Tibet (shown here in Lhasa)

But Aba and Ganzi share an additional layer of resentment. Both prefectures saw the only well-documented cases of police firing on demonstrators in 2008 (20-30 people may have been shot dead in Aba town). Unlike Songpan county, where monasteries are small and scattered, Aba’s main monastery, called Kirti, is large and central. Monks at Kirti have been particularly prominent in the prefecture’s unrest, and the monastery is now under heavy police guard.

Woeser, a Tibetan blogger in Beijing who closely monitors the region, says the authorities inadvertently exacerbated Sichuan’s instability by expelling hundreds of visiting monks from monasteries around Lhasa after the 2008 unrest. Many of these monks were from Sichuan, and they returned to their monasteries with tales of Lhasa’s upheaval and the recriminations that followed. Others, barred from their original monasteries, became wandering malcontents. In Ganzi, Woeser says, passions have been stoked by the hardline fulminations of the prefecture’s ethnic-Han party chief, Liu Daoping. (Aba has a Han party secretary too, as, invariably, does Tibet itself.)

The authorities have tried to intimidate Sichuan’s Tibetans into giving up their protests by imposing heavy sentences on monks accused of involvement in the immolations. Free Tibet, a London-based NGO, says six have been jailed so far. Whose side the judiciary is on is clear from the title bestowed on Songpan’s county court: “Advanced Collective Engaged in the Task of Opposing Separatism and Preserving Stability”. Not much subtlety or accommodation there. Sichuan’s restive monks can expect no mercy.

The full Economist article is available (click here).

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