China detains dozens of Tibetan monks after protest

March 11th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, March 11 (DPA) Chinese police have detained dozens of Tibetan monks who undertook a protest march demanding the release of imprisoned supporters of the exiled Dalai Lama, US-based Radio Free Asia said Tuesday. The monks were among up to 300 who left Drepung monastery Monday to walk 10 km into Lhasa, the capital of China’s Tibet region, the broadcaster quoted local sources as saying.

The monks planned to march to Lhasa’s Potala Palace, the traditional home of the Dalai Lama, to demand the release of monks arrested in October for celebrating the award of a US Congressional Gold Medal to the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Between 50 and 60 monks were detained by dozens of police and soldiers who used trucks to block the road at a checkpoint on the way to Lhasa, one source told the broadcaster.

Another source said more vehicles later blocked the access road to Drepung, which is one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist centres in the region.

Paramilitary units surrounded other monasteries in the Lhasa area and arrested nine monks from the Sera monastery and two civilians who made a separate protest in Lhasa Monday, Radio Free Asia said.

Contacted by telephone, officials from the Lhasa city government, the local police and Drepung monastery all denied knowledge of the protests and refused to comment.

But foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said later that some monks were involved in “illegal activities” in Lhasa.

“Some monks conducted some illegal activities that can harm social stability and have been dealt with according to the law,” Qin said when asked about the report of protests in the city.

Qin declined to give further details and did not say how many people were arrested. Monday was the 49th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule that was crushed by troops, after which the Dalai Lama fled to India.

In a statement Monday to mark the anniversary, the Dalai Lama said Tibetans in China were living under “increasing repression”, with “gross violations of human rights, denial of religious freedom, and the politicisation of religious issues”.

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