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Chinese police today shot a burning Tibetan monk before they put him out, the Free Tibet campaign said.

The monk had set himself on fire in a protest over Tibetan new year rituals in Aba county, Sichuan province, the group said. The area saw some of the worst unrest during Tibetan protests last March.

Free Tibet said witnesses saw Tabe, a monk aged in his 20s, walking from Kirti monastery into town this afternoon. He was carrying a hand-drawn Tibetan flag with a picture of the Dalai Lama at its centre.

“He doused himself in petrol. The armed police could not get near him because he was burning,” said Matt Whitticase, a campaign spokesman. “Witnesses heard three gunshots fired. The monk fell to the ground and the police managed to put the flames out. He was immediately put into a van and taken to an undisclosed location. His present condition is unknown.”

The claims could not be confirmed independently, but Whitticase said the group had indirect accounts from three witnesses. Tibetans have been heavily punished for passing details of incidents to outsiders.

Free Tibet said up to 800 monks had reportedly gone to Tabe’s home village of Trinkin to say prayers, believing him to be dead.

The group said Tabe’s protest followed an attempt by almost 1,000 monks at Kirte to use a prayer hall to observe the Monlam festival – part of Tibetan new year – despite being told not to do so. They were told to return to their rooms.

The authorities have been angered by some Tibetans deciding to boycott new year celebrations other than religious rituals as a mark of protest against Chinese rule.

Last year, Tibetan exile groups said police shot dead several protestors in Aba county. The campaigners released graphic photographs of bodies and the names of five alleged victims.

Chinese state media subsequently said that officers shot and wounded “rioters” in self-defence.

More than 100 monks from the Lutsang monastery in Qinghai province held a candlelit vigil and protest march on Wednesday, the US government-funded Radio Free Asia reported today.

By Woeser, translated by High Peaks Pure Earth

Losar is almost upon us and, as we all know, Tibetans have very different feelings towards this year’s Losar. The concerned authorities took notice of this very early on. Party Secretary Zhang Qingli has repeatedly given the orders, saying “playing the first move of the chess well, and wage a war on one’s initiative well”. Various state media have attributed this “Not celebrating Losar” to the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Tibetan Youth Congress. In reality, “Not celebrating Losar” was first proposed by Tibetans in Tibet and originated out of spontaneous wishes. Nobody organized Tibetans “Not celebrating Losar”; nobody called on Tibetans “not to celebrate Losar”, no, no. However, the impact is tremendous, everyone is aware of this great ‘civil disobedience’ all over Tibet.

Some say that this kind of “civil disobedience” is only at a low-level, that it is merely not celebrating and nothing more. They maintain that it is a safe action which ends on the individual level, is short-term and does not entail much great risk. In fact, this is not true. Over the past year, the military might all over Tibet has been so great that all Tibetan areas have become prison-like. In today when you could even be arrested for listening to music, “not to celebrate Losar” has been regarded as a serious “separatist” activity, so much so that some Tibetans have been accused of spreading “not to celebrate Losar” rumours and been arrested. In fact, ‘civil disobedience’ in Tibetan areas is even more difficult to carry out than in other places, therefore any kind of result obtained is worth paying attention to.

The way this government treats Tibetans is inhuman. Any kind of Tibetan demands have been trampled on contemptuously. All Tibetan hopes have been shattered contemptuously. The Dalai Lama has not been able to return to his own homeland for fifty years. The Panchen Lama has been missing from the world for thirteen years. It has been ten years since the Karmapa left his home…there is also the wrongly imprisoned Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, how many elderly people in Kham called out his name as they breathed their last words, and they all died with the injustice unaddressed. Those locals haven’t been celebrating any festivals or holidays for the last few years…Many predictions have become an alarming reality, the thirteenth Dalai Lama once said: “Tibetan people will be stripped of their rights and property, and we will become the slaves of the invaders…” One of my monk friend’s 70 year old mother took to the streets last year to protest. Later, a working group went from door to door to investigate why they had participated in protest, were they not demanding “Tibetan Independence”? The old woman said: “Independence or no independence, I don’t know, neither do I understand it, but I know very well that we don’t have freedom, we don’t have rights, I took to the streets, and what I want is freedom and rights.”

And Tibetans have never stopped voicing their demands and protesting: major episodes of dissent occurred in 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999… and right up until last year when the scale of demonstrations shocked the world. Of course, the inhumanness of the authorities once again became reality: its response is still heavily armed military police, armoured vehicles and jails. It has always been nothing but “strike hard” campaigns. People who live under such state violence usually fear the violence, and they have to be silent because of their fear. It is a long-term silence and a silence in which people are leading a befuddled life. It is also a silence in which “people are deeply grateful”; and it is a silence in which they can only prostrate, hang up prayer flags and distribute lungtas (wind-horses)… This is not something one can not understand. But this time it is different.

A Tibetan went back to Lhasa from the west and after spending a short time very cautiously, he returned to the free world. He sent me a letter and said that when he went back before, he was always disappointed with what he found. He said people only talked about money or having fun. But this time when he went back he felt there was hope because it was totally different. I also have a Tibetan friend who went back to Amdo from a Chinese area. This friend visited cities and towns and villages and he was encouraged by everyone he met: everyone from government officials to herdsmen from his hometown. So he told me: “I have been surprised again. Last year Tibetans surprised everyone, and this year it’s the same. This is so great, we are of one mind. It gives people hope.”

What’s striking here is that these two friends independently expressed to me their hope. And this struck me as unusual. It reminded of a Czech intellectual who once commented on the relationship between the citizens and the unjust authorities: The more one acts like a slave and a servant, and is full of fear, the less seriously the authorities will take you. Only if you have them understand that injustice and despotism can not proceed without obstruction, will you have some hope that they will restrain themselves to some extent. People must forever keep their dignity, not to be scared of threat, not to servilely beg others, and only to tell the truth. In doing so, people can create a kind of pressure because all these are acutely set against the actions of the authorities.”

19th February, 2009, Beijing

There are hundreds of Tibetan Political Prisoners held in horrendous conditions by the Chinese. These are just a handful of those who are dead or missing. There were and are many others…

This year marks 50 years of resistance to the Chinese occupation of the Tibetan homeland, but like the flowers that grow on the barren mountainside, the Tibetan people will not give up the fight until Tibet is Free!

Bhod Rangzen!

I wrote the poem at the start of the video. I’m no one special and it’s nothing much–but this is my way of paying tribute to those who have lived and died for Tibet.

Music – Yunghen Lhamo

From the International Campaign for Tibet:

An anonymous Tibetan blogger posted the following on a Chinese-language, Tibetan-run website recently:

“The 2009 Losar was always going to be unusual because so many people have been killed. In our family, our father can never come back, our mother has visibly aged, uncles and brothers have been detained—some of whom we still don’t whether they’re dead or alive. Last night, the eldest brother in the neighbor’s family was taken away…

“I myself will not be celebrating the new year because those who died were my compatriots, and I knew several of those who died—they were shot dead. I haven’t dared call home since March of last year because I don’t want to cause them any trouble. And so I don’t know how they are. I’ve had no information on them, and just hope they’re okay.”

In a posting entitled “Let Us Make Lamp Offerings and Light Candles to Commemorate the Souls of the Deceased,” the Tibetan writer Woeser wrote:

“…let us light butter lamps to make offerings in memory of the deceased, whose exact number we still do not know, in the corners where the video surveillance can not reach. Furthermore, those of us who live in alien lands and do not have butter lamps to offer, let us light candles for those deceased whose exact number we still do not know.”

China has ordered government and security forces in Tibet to crush any signs of support for the Dalai Lama, AFP reported a Chinese state media in Tibet as saying Thursday.

A conference of Chinese Communist leaders ordered authorities to “mobilise and fully deploy” to maintain stability, the Tibet Daily reportedly said.

The move has been descibed by AFP as “a possible indication China fears unrest ahead of the March 10 anniversary”.

The warning also comes amid a widespread movement to boycott festivities during the coming Tibetan New Year next week. The movement aims to use the occasion as a silent protest to mourn Tibetans who were killed during the government crackdown last March and express concern for those arrested or tortured.

“The meeting called on the party, government, military, police and public in all areas… to firmly crush the savage aggression of the Dalai clique, defeat separatism, and wage people’s war to maintain stability,” the paper said of the meeting in Lhasa.

The report, however, reportedly gave no details on any security measures.

It said the order was aimed at ensuring stability for the 50th anniversary of social reforms introduced to supplant the Dalai Lama-led Buddhist system. However, those reforms followed the failed uprising that began on March 10, 1959, and forced the Dalai Lama to flee into exile.

China is maintaining ultra-tight security on the Himalayan region ahead of the anniversary of the uprising, which was crushed by Chinese forces. The Tibetan government-in-exile says the Chinese army killed 87,000 people in the crackdown. China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to invade the region.

The security meeting in Tibet said the overarching task for Tibetan authorities this year was to “resolutely go toe-to-toe in a battle against all destructive separatist activities to maintain stability.”

A separate editorial by the Tibet Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s main mouthpiece in Tibet, also called for a toughened stance, according to the AFP report.

“We must maintain heavy pressure on criminal violators from start to finish,” said the editorial, which focused on the “separatist” threat.

Exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama this month warned of a possible uprising in his homeland amid anger over a Chinese crackdown put in place after widespread anti-China riots erupted across Tibet on last year’s anniversary.

“It is so tense that the Chinese military have their hands on the trigger when they carry weapons… So long as there is a Chinese military presence, there will be tension,” the Tibetan leader said in Germany while accepting a media prize.

Dharamsala, February 19: A communist Party in Official in Tibet has warned Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns against political activity in the run-up to the first anniversary of last year’s massive unrest against Beijing’s rule in Tibet, according to a report by AP Thursday.

The warning also comes just little less than three weeks before the 50th anniversary of the abortive Tibetan uprising against China’s rule which forced Tibetan leader Dalai Lama to flee into exile in India in 1959.

The warning from Lobsang Gyaincain, published in the China’s official Tibet Daily on Thursday, followed a reported crackdown earlier this week on Tibetan protesters in Lithang, a volatile traditionally Tibetan region of Sichuan province.

Lobsang Gyaincain, who is a member of the standing committee of the regional Communist Party, also demanded that monks and nuns recognize what he called the “reactionary nature” of the Dalai Lama clique, as well as plots to use temples and clergy to carry out “infiltration and disturbances,” Tibet Daily reported.

Clergy must “refuse to take part in activities aimed at splitting the motherland, and not take part in illegal marches, demonstrations and other activities that disrupt social order,” it quoted Lobsang as telling a meeting of clergy on Wednesday.

The official also heads the regional party committee’s United Front Work Department, which is in charge of directly supervising Buddhist temples and clergy.

Chinese authorities in Tibet have also come with a fresh order calling on local nuns and monks to reject the Dalai Lama and separatist activities at an annual meet this week, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday.

Monks and nuns should “safeguard social stability, the socialist legal system and fundamental interests of the people”, and should “consciously keep themselves away” from separatist activities and illegal demonstrations that impair social order, Xinhua quoted the new order as saying.

It asked Tibetan Buddhist monks to “see clearly that the 14th Dalai Lama is the ringleader of the separatist political association which seeks ‘Tibet independence’, a loyal tool of anti-China Western forces, the very root that causes social unrest in Tibet and the biggest obstacle for Tibetan Buddhism to build up its order”, the agency said.

The authorities had also awarded 36 monks and nuns and 10 monasteries with the title of “patriotic and law-abiding” models,Xinhua said.

China, which sent military troops to forcefully occupy Tibet in late 1949, regularly vilifies the 73-year-old Dalai Lama, who remains widely popular among Tibetans 50 years after fleeing to India and is revered by them as their supreme leader.

Beijing accuses elements of the Dalai Lama’s self-proclaimed government in exile of organizing last year’s anti-China unrest in Tibet, and claimed they “clear evidence” to prove the allegations.

Dalai Lama and the Tibet’s Government in exile rejected the accusations as baseless and unfounded, and openly challenged Beijing to produce evidence, if any. The Tibetan government also repeatedly urged Beijing to allow international monitoring body to independently assess the situation in Tibet and the nature of the unrest.

However, Beijing did not show any response to such calls, despite some international insistence also.

Wednesday’s meeting is a further sign of official nervousness ahead of the protest anniversary, particularly as next month also marks 50 years since the Dalai Lama’s flight abroad, AP said in its report.

Chinese security forces on Sunday and Monday swiftly broke up the protests in Lithang. At least 21 people were detained and troops were reportedly searching for others who might have joined in the demonstrations in which protesters shouted slogans calling for Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet and demanded “independence for Tibet.”

According to media reports, Lithang, like other Tibetan regions, has been practically sealed off from the rest of China by road blocks and travel bans.

According to additional information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) from reliable sources regarding the protest demonstration by 15 Tibetans in Lithang County yesterday, Sonam Tenpa, 29 years old and Lobsang Tenzin, 23, in particularly sustained severe injuries from the brutal beating at the site of the demonstration and the whereabouts of Gelek Kunga, still remains unknown.

According to sources, “following a peaceful protest by fifteen Tibetans in the streets of Lithang main market, they were later joined by few Tibetan onlookers in the street. The Lithang County Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) detained five more Tibetans along with 15 other known Tibetans who staged a peaceful protest demonstration in Lithang on 16 February 2009 and were brutally beaten, manhandled at the site of the demonstration before being forcibly loaded into military trucks. They are, Damdul (only one name) the head of Dekyi Village, Lithang County, two other Tibetans whose identities could not be ascertained at the moment, and two Tibetan nomad ladies of Sako Village in Lithang County, Yanglo and Dolma.” The latter two were known to have been released last evening.

The total number of Tibetans known to have been detained, since 15 February solo protest by Lobsang Lhundup of Nekhor Monastery and subsequent peaceful on 16 February, has reached 21.

According to some close associates, “Lobsang Lhundup is currently detained at Lithang County PSB Detention Centre whereas other Tibetan detainees are currently held in Lithang Tsagha PSB Detention Centre.” According to sources, on learning about their detention at Tsagha PSB Detention Centre, the family members and relatives went to visit the detainees, however, to their shock, Gelek Kunga who was detained along with other Tibetans was nowhere to be seen in the detention centre. Many fear for the safety and the well being of Gelek Kunga since his detention and disappearance.

“The Shops and restaurants remain closed yesterday following the peaceful protest in Lithang town. The vehicular traffic movement between Lithang and Bathang, which is around 6-7 hours journey distant, was brought to a grinding halt after the protest and subsequent deployment of massive troops into the areas to check further Tibetan protest,” sources added.

TCHRD calls upon the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to immediately locate the whereabouts and safety of Gelek Kunga and in all circumstances guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all the detainees, and should guarantee immediate and unconditional access to legal representation, their families and any medical attention required for the injured detainees. The Centre deems the case as an outright clampdown on the freedom of opinion and expression in Tibet.

The Chinese government has banned foreigners from entering Tibet and large swathes of its surrounding provinces ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile.

China has tightened its grip on Tibet ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile on March 10 (Photo: AP)
China has tightened its grip on Tibet ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile on March 10 (Photo: AP)
Tourist agencies were contacted on Wednesday by officials and told to cancel all trips for the foreseeable future. “We had a meeting with the tourist bureau and were asked to stop all groups from entering Tibet for at least the next couple of months,” said Wan Feng, at Tibet Yak Travel.

Foreigners require a permit to enter Tibet, but Youth Travel Service, one of the largest travel agencies, said few, if any, permits were being issued.

“It is very very difficult to get a permit at the moment. We will have to wait and see when they become available again,” said a spokesman.

Another company, Tsedang China Travel, said it was unsure whether travel would even be possible in April. Mr Wan said the ban on foreigners was for “sensitive, political, reasons”.

The ban extends into some parts of the three provinces surrounding Tibet where ethnic Tibetans live. Officials in Gansu confirmed that tourists are now being turned away from Tibetan areas until further notice, while officials in Sichuan said tourists travelling along the road to Tibet were being stopped. In Qinghai, officials said foreigners have always been banned from areas where Tibetans live, including Qilian mountain, one of China’s most beautiful landmarks.

China has tightened its grip on Tibet ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile on March 10. Last year, a peaceful protest by around 200 monks to mark the anniversary spiralled into violent riots. The Chinese government says 22 people died during the protests, but human rights activists believe many more were killed by police.

Tensions this year are already high. Chinese security forces have already allegedly beaten and arrested up to 24 Tibetans for protesting in Lithang County, a Tibetan area of Sichuan. The protests started last Sunday when Lobsang Lhundup, 39, a monk from Nekhor monastery, held up a picture of the Dalai Lama in the main market and shouted “Free Tibet!”

Many Tibetans also refused to take part in Chinese New Year celebrations this year, adding to the tension with the Han Chinese living in Tibet. There have also been several reports of Chinese soldiers being posted to monasteries and one witness said snipers had been placed on the roofs of important temples in Lhasa.

Previously, the Chinese government said that foreign journalists would be welcome in Tibet in March in order to cover the event that it has dubbed “Serf Liberation Day”. The government said the exile of the Dalai Lama marked the moment when Tibet entered the modern era, abolishing feudalism and leading to millions of slaves being freed. However, attempts by journalists to arrange trips to Tibet over the anniversary period were firmly rebuffed.

Dharamsala, Feb. 13: The US Wednesday expressed its concern on situation in Tibet, but did not specify if the issue would definitely be taken up by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to China later this month, according to a media report.

“You know, the situation in Tibet is something the US government has been concerned about for some time. We’ve raised that issue with the Chinese in the past,” PTI reported the State Department spokesperson, Robert Wood, as saying.

“The Secretary (of State) will be having a wide-ranging discussion with the Chinese when she is in China. I am not going to get beyond what we have said publicly about our engagement with China,” he said.

“But human rights issues are something that will be at the top of the Secretary’s agenda, no matter where she goes,” Wood said.

Wood was reportedly responding to a question about the latest statement from the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama that the situation in Tibet is very tense and there could be a popular uprising any moment.

“The issue could very well come up. I just don’t want to get into specific subject areas at this point. But you can expect that the Secretary is going to be bringing up human rights issues throughout the trip, where she deems it necessary to do so”, he said when asked about whether the issue would come up or not.

Mrs. Clinton, only a month into the job, as announced by the State Department last week, would be travelling on her first overseas trip in this position to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China during her week-long trip beginning February 15.

Meanwhile, seven prominent organizations, mostly based in US, Tuesday issued a joint press statement asking Mrs Clinton to put Human Rights on top of the agenda in her visit to Beijing next week.

In the statement, Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, and Reporters Without Borders urged Secretary Clinton to speak publicly about Tibet and Xinjiang, torture in police custody, domestic press censorship, extrajudicial detention, and abuses of human rights defenders.

The statement recalls the secretary’s own past comments on human rights in China, in which she stressed: “not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions.”

“If Secretary Clinton remains silent on these issues – as the US did earlier this week during China’s review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva – the Chinese government is likely to get the wrong message,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

“We ask the secretary to stress human rights, the rule of law, and protections for civil society as a centerpiece of US policy going forward,” she said.

This year no Losar.

Last year was washed by blood.

In Lhasa countless compatriots

were fallen under a piercing arrow.

This year no Losar for us.

In Szechuan, countless people buried

under the earth.

This year no Losar for us.

There is only the word “No” on your lips,

We are speechless.

You are filled with anger.

We have no bitterness.

For the sake of the deceased,

valiant heroes,

Let us offer our regrets.

For the deceased people,

Let us make offerings.

– By an anonymous Tibetan blogger (heard on Students for a Free Tibet “Our Nation”).