Spate of arrests in Tibet as China celebrates 50th anniversary of TAR

As the Chinese government celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetans continued to demonstrate against decades of repressive policies and the lack of human rights. Despite a major security crackdown to prevent unrest around the 8 September anniversary, at least five Tibetans have been arrested for daring to express themselves in public.

Jampel Gyatso I Lobsang Kalsang I Dorje Drolma I Lobsang Thubten I Woekar Kyi

Jampel Gyatso
Jamphal-Gyatso-protest-2015-09-11On 9 September, Jampel Gyatso, a 21 year-old monk from Kirti monastery, was arbitrarily arrested following a solo protest (pictured right) along the main road of Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) town, Amdo (now incorporated into China’s Sichuan province). He began his protest at approximately midday, holding aloft a photo of the Dalai Lama and calling for freedom for Tibet and for the long life of the Dalai Lama.

Jamphal-Gyatso-2015-09-11According to Radio Free Asia, many Tibetan bystanders shouted their support for the protest. Jampel (pictured left) was quickly detained by police, and the Tibetan Centre of Human Rights and Democracy (TCHD) reported that his living quarters at the monastery were “broken into” following his arrest. His current condition and whereabouts are not known.

Further reading: RFA I TCHRD

Lobsang Kalsang
Lobsang-Kalsang-2015-09-11On 7 September, Lobsang Kalsang (pictured right)carried out a solo protest in Ngaba. The 19 year-old Kirti monk displayed a portrait of the Dalai Lama and called for freedom for Tibet as he walked along the main street in Ngaba. He was arrested by Chinese security personnel and taken away.

Video footage of his protest and arrest has since been received by exile sources (see below), which also shows large numbers of police in riot gear gathering to prevent further unrest. Tibetans can be heard calling out in support of the protest and against the arrest; one woman can also be seen remonstrating with the police. According to Radio Free Asia, a Tibetan woman can be heard shouting “Look at this! The Chinese are not letting us live in peace!” as Lobsang is arrested.

Sources also report that a layman who attempted to interfere with the arrest was also taken into custody. Lobsang Kalsang and the layman’s whereabouts and condition remain unknown.

Video footage of protest and arrest courtesy of Radio Free Asia (2 minutes, with Tibetan commentary).

Further reading: RFA I TCHRD

Dorje Drolma
Dorje-Dolma-2015-09-11Dorje Drolma (pictured right), a young Tibetan woman, protested in Ngaba at around 8.30am on 20 August, before being quickly detained by about 10 police officers. According to Radio Free Asia, her solo protest is thought to have been “against Chinese policy”, but given the time of her protest and her quick arrest few people heard her slogans.

Dorje is from Meruma township in Ngaba County. Her current whereabouts and condition are unknown.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul

Lobsang Thubten
Lobsang-Thubten-2015-09-11Lobsang Thubten (pictured left), a 17 year-old nomad, was arrested on 18 August but was not identified for nearly a week. He staged his protest outside a police station in Trungtrung Karmo, Lithang (Ch: Litang) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganze) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China’s Sichuan province).

During the protest, Lobsang carried a large portrait of the Dalai Lama and shouted slogans including “Tibet needs freedom” and “His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be invited to Tibet”. He was immediately arrested and taken to the Lithang County Detention Centre, where, according to TCHRD, he “continues to be detained, interrogated and tortured.”

Lobsang, from Yonru township, Lithang county, is understood to have studied Buddhism at Lithang monastery.

The Lithang region is known to have subjected to increased security measures recently, including a large presence of armed forces(pictured right, combat vehicles in Lithang). It is possible these were contributing factors to Lobsang’s protest.

Further reading: TCHRD I Tibet Post

Woekar Kyi
Woekar-Kyi-2015-09-11Woekar Kyi, a 23 year-old nomad and mother of one child, undertook a solo protest on 15 August in her home township of Meruma in Ngaba county. During her protest, Woekar shouted slogans calling on the Chinese authorities to grant freedom to Tibet and allow the Dalai Lama to return home. According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, she also shouted, “The repression on us has gone beyond limit!”

Woekar was immediately arrested by Chinese police. Her condition and whereabouts are not known.

Further reading: Phayul I TCHRD