“Large groups of soldiers in camouflage carried automatic rifles, metal rods with spiked tips and fire extinguishers, while police buses, trucks and armoured personnel carriers blocked the streets.”
These lines describing the current situation in Ngaba, eastern Tibet are the first on ground reporting done by foreign journalists since the fiery episode of self-immolations began in Tibet.
Hours after Tenzin Wangmo, a 20 year-old nun from Mamae nunnery in Ngaba district set herself on fire protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet on Monday, two AFP journalists “gained rare access to the town”.
Robert Saiget, a reporter for Agency France Presse in a story filed today from the distraught region of Ngaba, says that “police, many carrying riot shields and armed with clubs and iron, lined the streets of the town”.
Although the reporters were unable to gain access to the under siege Kirti monastery, but Saiget confirmed that large groups of police were stationed outside the monastery.
These latest revelations by AFP come as a serious challenge to China’s claims of “normalcy” and “harmony” in the region.
Seven out of the nine Tibetans, who have self-immolated in Tibet since March this year, demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile, were either monks or former monks of the Kirti Monastery.
Saiget said that they were briefly detained by Chinese police who “confiscated one camera and deleted photographs of police and the military presence”.
“You can take pictures of all the scenery you want, but you cannot take pictures here,” Saiget quoted one policeman as telling him. “You are free to leave. You must not stop until you have left (Aba) county,” the policeman told the AFP reporters.