Tibetan monks stage protest in China: Report

February 27th, 2009 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Feb 27 (DPA) Paramilitary police Friday sealed off a monastery in western China after more than 100 Tibetan monks staged a protest outside local government offices, US-based Radio Free Asia reported.
The Buddhist monks from Lutsang monastery in Qinghai province marched to the offices in Guinan county (Mangra in Tibetan), issued a demand for greater government understanding and held a 30-minute candlelit vigil, local residents and a former monk told the broadcaster.

The brief protest took place early Wednesday morning, on the first day of the traditional Tibetan lunar new year festival, or Losar, the report said.

The broadcaster showed a photograph on its website of hooded monks holding candles under a gate bearing the Chinese and Tibetan sign “Qinghai Province Guinan County People’s Government”.

It said police issued a notice Friday ordering the leaders of the protest to surrender to local authorities and threatened to deal more severely with those who failed to turn themselves in.

The broadcaster quoted an unidentified source as saying Lutsang monastery was “surrounded by a force of the People’s Armed Police” and that no one was allowed in or out.

Many monks in Qinghai and other Tibetan areas of China appear to have heeded calls by Tibetan exile groups to boycott this year’s Losar celebrations.

Chinese authorities have increased security in many Tibetan areas in the run-up to the anniversaries of widespread rioting last year and the 50th anniversary of the flight into exile of the Dalai Lama.

Several other small protests were reported in Tibetan areas this month.

Police in Litang town, which is part of Ganzi in Sichuan province, last week arrested about 20 people after small protests, a Tibetan exile group said.

Last year’s protests began in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, on March 10, the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

The government said 19 people were killed in the rioting but the Tibetan government-in-exile said up to 200 people were killed, most of them Tibetans shot by Chinese paramilitary police.

Last week China said 76 people were sentenced to prison for their role in the Lhasa rioting.

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