Dharamsala. April 30 – Chinese authorities in Tibet’s Ngaba County have on Thursday arrested 5 Tibetan monks of Kirti monastery where Chinese work team officials have been stationed since April 12 to carry out “Patriotic Reeducation Campaign,” said Kanyag Tsering, a monk at the exile based Kirti monastery here.
Lobsang Kunchok, 28, and four other monks of Ngaba Kirti monastery were arrested on Thursday and their current whereabouts are not known.
Another monk of Kirti monastery, Tsering Damdul has been arrested a few days earlier for his alleged role in bringing Phuntsok’s body to the monastery on March 16, 2011.
Meanwhile, relatives and family member of monks from Chikdril County arrested among the 300 monks earlier on April 21 drove to Ngaba County to seek their release but were stopped 5 kilometers outside Ngaba by Chinese troops. The relatives and family members were handed over to the Chikdril County Public Security Bureau.
The monks of the Monastery have been firmly resisting China’s state-mandated “re-education” campaign. The monastery is among the biggest and one of the most prominent centres of learning in the region.
3 elderly people have reportedly died in clashes with armed security forces as 300 monks of Kirti monastery were being forcefully taken in military trucks to an undisclosed location on April 21. However, China has denied the deaths saying only an 84 year-old woman died of lung disease.
China has long considered religion as a key element of Tibetan identity and monastic institutions as hotbed of political dissidence.
Reports have surfaced in recent years of monks taking extreme measures like suicides in the aftermath of political indoctrination classes and in the face of growing religious oppression in the monasteries.
The situation around Kirti Monastery has remained extremely tense following the death of one of its monks, Phuntsok, who set himself ablaze on March 16 to protest against Chinese rule.
Following the incident, China stepped up security in the region and cordoned off the Monastery, putting some 2500 monks of the monastery at risk of starvation.
The Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, the Tibetan government in exile and Tibetan rights groups have urged China to exercise restraint in dealing with the situation in Ngaba.