Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy

Human Rights Update and Archives

June 2000

"Patriotic Re-education" campaign results in one death and 25 arrests  [ read ]
Canadian officials report worsening religious rights in Tibet  [ read ]
Tibetan woman official recounts her experience  [ read ]
Forceful evacuation in Gangchen Monastery  [ read ]
Prison sentence doubled for nine monks in the aftermath of Kandze arrest  [ read ]
Strict measures to enforce birth control  [ read ]
Life in Drapchi Prison  [ read ]
Patriotic education in Dechen Choekhorling Monastery  [ read ]
Detention and arrest while attempting to escape  [ read ]
A glimpse of a Chinese-administered school system  [ read ]
Imprisoned for pro-independence protest  [ read ]

"Patriotic Re-education" campaign results in one death and 25 arrests

TCHRD has first-hand information that Tashi Rabten, the Treasurer of Thenthok Monastery, died, and five other monks were arrested during the "Patriotic Re-education" campaign launched by Chamdo Religious Department Officials. Subsequently, Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials arrested 20 lay people from the locality and imposed strict surveillance to the entire area.

On 1 May 2000, a 30-member "work team" officials from Chamdo Religious Department visited Thenthok Monastery in Dzogang County, Chamdo, Tibet Autonomous Region, to launch "Patriotic Re-education" campaign. During the campaign, officials ordered the monastery to remove all pictures of the Dalai Lama. This was ensued by a strong protest from the monks. In retaliation, three monks were severely beaten with one sustaining broken ribs. Furthermore, the officials confiscated all the pictures of the Dalai Lama.

Tashi Rabten was interrogated and forcefully led to the private hall, which is on the third floor of the monastery to search for Dalai Lama's photos. Soon after, fellow monks discovered Tashi lying on the ground floor in a critical condition. He had reportedly fallen from the third floor under suspicious circumstances. Tashi Rabten died immediately despite efforts by monks to save him.

The following night on 2 May 2000, a group of monks pasted independence posters in the monastery. Inscriptions such as Tibet is independentí appeared on the walls of the main prayer hall. Subsequently, PSB officials from Dzogang County in collaboration with the local officials conducted a joint investigation resulting in five arrests. Among those arrested were Jamyang Tashi (28), Tenpa (25), Tsultrim Jinpa (20), Tsering Chonden (22) and Yeshi Nyima (25). They are currently incarcerated in Dzogang County Detention Centre.

On 3 May 2000, the PSB officials announced that heavy prison sentence will be imposed on anyone who dares to blame the local officials for the death of Tashi Rabten. They denied any responsibility of Tashi Rabtenís death and described his death as a case of suicide. Members of the locality speculated that the death of Tashi Rabten was a pre-meditated murder. Some of the householders who live nearby the monastery even asked the authorities for clarification and displayed strong resentment. Fearing a possible outbreak of violence, more forces were deployed and security tightened in the area. About 20 civilians were detained in Dzogang County Detention Centre on 3 May 2000 as an additional security measure.

Since the launch of this campaign in April 1996, a total of approximately 13,333 monks and nuns have faced expulsion and 596 arrested in Tibet. A total of 20 religious institutions have been closed down by chinese authorities of which two occurred as recent as this year.

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Canadian officials report worsening religious rights in Tibet

Canadian Cabinet member Raymond Chan recently toured China and was allowed to visit Drapchi, the No.1 Prison in Tibet. The Canadian Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific was given a rare opportunity to look at the treatment of incarcerated Tibetan dissidents. Mr.Chan said he was not allowed to talk to the prisoners during his visit.

"The control on religion is getting worse," Chan said in a telephone interview from Beijing as reported in The Globe and Mail. "On the surface you won't see much, but below the surface there are concerns. And I think it's important for us to know that", he added. He felt that religious repression is worsening in Tibet, where government officials are being refused the right to practice as Buddhists and aging monks are being forced from the monasteries.

He said the main complaints are that Tibetan government officials are not allowed to "openly preach the philosophy of Buddhism to the public, and that the number of monks in the monastery is decreasing." He was told that "there's not enough people to pass on the knowledge." This observation is a clear contradiction to the Chinese White Paper entitled, "The Development of Tibetan Culture" issued by the Information Office of the State Council which was released on 22 June 2000. It claims that Tibetan religion and culture are relatively progressing and being preserved over the years.

Chinese authorities have rejected the request by Mr. Chan to see the Panchen Lama, but he was told that the boy was in good health. The Chinese authorities refused to provide further details. The Chinese government has once again refused to let an international delegation see the 11-year-old Panchen Lama, a high-ranking Tibetan Buddhist boy, who has not been seen in public since his disappearence in May 1995. However, Mr. Chan affirmed that such human-rights violations would not stop Canada from investing in Tibet. Raymond Chan is the first Canadian Cabinet member to travel to Tibet since the Chinese invasion in the 1950s.

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Tibetan woman official recounts her experience

Khando Kyi was born in 1971 in Akham township, Ngaba County, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Sichuan Province. At the age of six, she attended a local primary school; where she studied for eight years. She later went to lower middle school at Marthang County for three years. After completing lower middle school, she did vocational training in veterinary science for another four years in Ngaba Prefecture.

In 1992, Khando was appointed to the post of Secretary in the township office and received a monthly salary of 300 yuan. Her job involved distribution of important documents and pamphlets within the township, preparing speeches for township officers and organising meetings and gatherings. She was promoted in 1995, as an important official of Akham township, which made her responsible for women's welfare in the three units and some villages that come under Akham township. Khando worked in the Family Planning Department of Akham township. Her responsibilities included: generating awareness and monitoring birth control policy, and to oversee that the laws on Marriage and Mother and Child Care are being implemented.

Official notifications were issued, which placed limits of three children for nomads and farmers. Those who exceed the official limit would be fined upto 3,000 yuan as punishment. The department also carries out inspection in the villages every March, and impose fines for those who procured extra child.

Furthermore, fines were imposed on spacing between children. If a second child is born within the three years period from the first child, the family will be fined around 80 yuan. The total annual fee and fines from the families would come around 2,000 to 3,000 yuan. The government provides monetary incentives of 12 yuan per month to a one-child family until that child reaches 16 years of age.

Khando describes that the majority of Tibetans are steeped in poverty. Except for the distribution of official notifications and proclamations concerning family planning policy, the Family Planning Department never caters to developing and improving the necessary infrastructure. On January 2000, it was decided that the fines of 200 to 800 yuan would be collected from community fund for any excess child from the village.

There is only one primary school in the township and three categories of primary schools in the villages. The students pay 24 yuan for textbooks and they are taught mainly communist ideology and Chinese language. The Tibetan officials at the township level have to attend political education class once a week.

The main criteria for selection of Tibetan officers in the government entails opposing splittist, striving for the unification of the motherland, and having communist ideological stand. The person should have clean political background and must not have any religious inclination. The township authorities convenes public meeting every winter, during which people are involuntarily forced to sit through political education. The total population of Akham township is estimated at 2,180. In 1998, Khando was promoted to the post of Deputy Head of township, where her wage was 800 yuan per month.

The villagers have to travel as far as one day by motor vehicle to reach a hospital, in which there is no qualified physician or nurses. There is hardly any well-equipped and standard hospital in Khando's area. The medicines available in the hospital are either outdated or of poor quality. Despite her official position, Khando reports that she could not exercise any extra authority. As there is lack of freedom to practise one's religion and preservation of one's culture, she fled into exile, reaching Dharamsala on 27 May 2000.

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Forceful evacuation in Gangchen Monastery

Sonam Wanglak from Shigatse, Saga County, Drashuk township, reached Nepal on 30 May 2000. He is a 32-year-old former monk of Gangchen Monastery. Born into a farming family in Gangchen village of Drashuk township, Saga County, Sonam never had any schooling opportunities as there were no schools in his village.

In Gangchen village, there are 53 Tibetan families and most of them are farmers. Of these, 37 families face cereal shortage due to small landholdings, unfavourable climate and heavy taxes. At the age of 20, Sonam became monk of Gangchen Monastery, located in Saga County of Shigatse Prefecture and did intensive study of religious scriptures since then. Gangchen Monastery suffered complete destruction during the Cultural Revolution, and saw renovation in 1987 when local Tibetans and some elder monks took collaborative actions. Until March 1997, Gangchen Monastery had 29 monks, but the number has now reduced to 12 monks. In 1997, Sonam was appointed as a member of the Democratic Management Committee and tru-ren (Vice-President) of the Religious Committee of Gangchen Monastery. A six-member work team came to the monastery in March 1997, and stayed for three and a half months to conduct re-education. The members banned the pictures of the Dalai Lama and set a limit of 19 monks. No arrests were reported at the time. In June 1997, Gangchen Lama, a close associate of the Chinese authorities, visited the monastery. He called a special meeting of the monks whereby he gave instructions on showing loyalty and patriotism for PRC.

Gangchen Lama visited the monastery again on 3 December 1999, and instructed the monks to worship shugden deity (Shugden is a spirit which the Dalai Lama discourages to propitiate). He claimed himself as the re-incarnation of Panchen Sang Tashi, the founder of Gangchen Monastery, and called the monks to respect and worship him. He distributed booklets to the monks that has detailed explanation about his re-incarnation. However, no monks accepted him at the time.

Later, Gangchen Lama called 10 officials from the County Religious Department and PSB to instruct the monks to worship shugden and to respect him. A meeting was held in the monastery that very same day where the officials threatened the monks with arrest, detention and imprisonment if they oppose Gangchen Lama. Furthermore, refusal on the monk's part would be deemed political and they would be investigated for crime against the nation. Since the beginning of 1999, Gangchen Lama had started building a new monastery of his own on the northen valley of Gangchen Monastery. The officials of County Religious Department and PSB forcefully evacuated the monks of Gangchen Monastery to the new monastery on 27 December 1999. Two new statues of the shugden deity placed in the prayer hall by Gangchen Monastery were met with protest by the monks. The statues were later taken by the monks who hid them in a nearby cave, which was used for meditation. There has been no history of shugden worship by the monks of Gangchen Monastery.

Owing to constant pressure to worship the deity and orders to carry out the instructions of Gangchen Lama, seven monks fled the monastery. Sonam fled from his monastery on January 1999, and stayed in Shigatse for two months. He escaped to Nepal in a group of eight Tibetans by paying 1800 yuan to a guide. He wishes to join a monastery in India.

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Prison sentence doubled for nine monks in the aftermath of Kandze arrest

Reliable sources confirm that soon after the recently-concluded 56th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the prison term of the nine Tibetans who were arrested during the mass demonstration in Kandze on 31 October 1999 were further raised by five years.

On 31 October 1999, approximately 3,000 protestors demonstrated in front of the Kandze County People's Government and Kandze Detention Centre. The protestors were demanding the release of Geshe Sonam Phuntsok (48), Sonam Choephel and Agya Tsering who were arrested on 24 October 1999. The three monks were arrested for their alleged involvement in pro-independence activities. The demonstration was quelled by the Public Security Bureau officials who fired openly at the unarmed demonstrators. At least 10 Tibetans were reported to have been arrested on that day, of these, nine were initially sentenced to five-year imprisonment by the Kandze County Peopleīs Court in February 2000. These nine Tibetans were paraded around their village to intimidate the other Tibetans of such consequences. During that time, two of them were severely beaten.

Currently, TCHRD is unable to discern the reason and charges for the additional prison term. Despite international scrutiny of China's human rights record, China continues to disrespect international norms by imposing arbitrary and dispropotionate heavy prison sentences. Lobsang Nyandak, the Executive Director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy observes that "the failure of the UN to censure China on its human rights record is responsible for such flagrant violation of human rights in Tibet."

Following are the names of the seven Tibetans available (out of nine): Chemi Tsering (56) and Pema Tso (55) both from Rego, Jampa Sod (38) from Sadhu, Chemi Gyaltsen (33) from Shigatse, Sonam Yeshi (32) from Kharghang, Ani Khalu (35) and his girl friend whose name is not known both from Golo, Bheshe Tsewang Wangdu (43) and his brother from Dhura, whose name is not known.

Series of other arrest have also been reported leading to the arrest of the prominent monk Geshe Sonam Phuntsok and his two friends. In June 1999, Gonpo Lhudrup (24) from Kandze Monastery was arrested for pasting posters and the banned Tibetan national flag in his residence and around Kandze County. He was detained in Kandze Detention Center for some days and was later shifted to an unknown destination. His sentence and whereabouts is not yet known.

On 20 July 1999, PSB officials arrested 11 monks from Kandze Monastery after discovering pro-independence slogans on the walls of the monastery. The monks were charged with inscribing "Tibet is independent" with red paint on the gates and walls of the monastery. The details of their identification and whereabout are not yet known.

Again in September 1999, a monk named Tashi Nyima (27) from Kandze Monastery was arrested on charges of political activities. Information about his sentence and his whereabouts is still unknown.

This report is a clear indication that Geshe Sonam Rinchen is not released as reported earlier in the February issue of Human Rights Update which was based on unofficial sources.

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Strict measures to enforce birth control

Tenzins is a 21-year-old former monk of Hortsang Kirti Monastery (a branch of Kirti Monastery). His parents are farmers in Marthang township of Lhabrang County, Khenlo TAP, Gansu Province. Tenzin became monk of Hortsang Kirti Monastery at the age of 14 years. The current strength of Hortsang Kirti Monastery is approximately 50 monks.

Tenzin reported that a two-child birth control policy is strictly implemented in Lhabrang County. The County authorities call regular meetings to generate awareness among the people on the new birth control policies of the Chinese government. Every married and sterilized women are issued with a yellow-coloured certificate by the County authorities and were required to be present during every meetings. There were regular inspections by the officilas on the Tibetan families. The families are instructed to hang the yellow birth control certificate at a visible spot in their house so that the inspecting officials could easily see it. Such inspections usually entail showing their children and certificates to the officials.

A penalty of 500 to 2000 yuan is imposed on the families with more than two children. Failure to pay the penalty results in confiscation of animals and properties. In 1999, four Tibetan women from Marthang township of Lhabrang County were fined for violating the official policy.The authorities would give birth control education on a regular basis for those Tibetan women who have more than two children. The yellow certificate stipulates that any Tibetan women having two children shall undergo sterilization at the county or township hospital.

Tenzin always wanted to study in India. He escaped to Nepal through Dram border by paying 1500 yuan to a guide. He reached Nepal on 15 May 2000. He now wants to join school or a monastery in India.

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Tibetan nomads lack basic amenities

A 45-year-old nomad (anonymous for security reasons) of Pongkhor township of Lithang County Kandze TAP, arrived on 19 May 2000. He plans to return to Tibet after admitting two of his children, aged six and nine respectively to schools in India.

In 1998, he sent his eldest son to India to join a monastery. Most of the residents in the village of Pongkhor township are nomads. The eight villages in Pongkhor township are inhabited by Tibetan nomads. With no educational facilities available, the nomadic children are deprived of their primary education and opportunities. The only school available is outside of Pongkor township but the teachers are not qualified and the school facilities are poor. Only about 20 students from nearby villages attend this school. The parents however, cannot afford to send their children to this school because of the long distance and high expenditure incurred in school fees. Approximately 90% children from his village are deprived of basic education with no schools located nearby.

The villages do not have proper electricity, roads, clinics or even a traditional doctor. They have to go to far-off county hospital for major treatments which depends on the family income and expenditure involved for treatment and transportation for the nomads. Many poor Tibetan people prefer to die in their home than get treated in the county hospital due to the high expenditure.

Despite the general poor condition of the nomads in the villages, the Chinese authorities have collected taxes since 1992 on butter, cheese, meat, animal skin etc. For instance, the authorities annually collect 10 gyama of butter from his family depending on the number of animals they own. He further reported that the authorities do not allow more than three children per family.

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Life in Drapchi Prison

Passang Lhamo is a 24-year-old born in Phenpo Lhundup County, Tsoding township, Thrukgye village. She had been to a Mangtsuk (Public) school for one year when she was 13 years old. All of her family members work as farmers except for her eldest brother who works as a Tibetan medical doctor in Men-tse Khang (Medical and Astro Institute) of Lhasa. Though Lhamo became nun of Garu Nunnery at the age of 15 years, she was registered after one year. She stayed in the nunnery for two years studying religious scriptures. She can not recall the total strength of the nunnery at the time of her admission.

In May/June of 1994, Lhamo with four other nuns of Garu Nunnery staged a peaceful pro-independence demonstration in Barkor. The five nuns gathered in Lhasa Tsuk-lha-khang (Central temple) and raised slogans like "Free Tibet", "Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama" and "Give Rights and Freedom to Tibetans". The demonstration lasted only for about 15 minutes when the security personnel of Barkhor Police Station saw and immediately arrested the five nuns. Around 20 security personnel took the five nuns to the nearby Police Station where they were interrogated and beaten brutally. Later, they were taken to Gutsa Detention Centre in a police vehicle. Besides Passang Lhamo, the four other nuns were Lobsang Dolma (27) from Drikung Meldo Gongar County), Phuntsok Pelyang (33)from Toelung Dechen County), Yangkar (24) from Phenpo Lhundup County and Dekyi Nyima(26), from Lhoka Tsonak County.

The five nuns were detained for six months in Gutsa Detention Centre. During that period, the nuns were routinely interrogated except on weekends. The prison authorities regularly interrogated them about the demonstration, and beat them with whatever they could lay their hands on in order to extract confessions. The nuns were given one tingmo (steamed dough) in the morning and a bowl of rice for lunch.Then, at a trial conducted by Lhasa Intermediate Court in the presence of seven judges, the nuns were prosecuted under the charges of "propagating counter-revolutionary activities". The court sentenced Lobsang Dolma and Phuntsok Pelyang to six years' imprisonment and two years' deprivation of political rights. Both are presently imprisoned in Drapchi Prison. Yankar, Dekyi Nyima and Passang Lhamo were sentenced to five years' imprisonment and one year deprivation of political rights. The three nuns were released from Drapchi Prison on 25 May 1999.

In November 1999, the five nuns were taken to Drapchi Prison and kept in the 3rd unit of the prison where they were forced to participate in rigid exercise sessions.The sessions involve standing in the sun with a book placed on their head and a piece of paper placed under their armpits for about nine hours a day. Many times, the nuns fell down unconscious because of heat and pain, but the prison authorities ignored their pleas and forced them to stand in the sun. Lhamo reported that from February 1995 to May 1998, the prisoners were forced to exercise like military men, as they were made to run for almost the whole day with only an hour break from 1 to 2pm. The prison exercise was mainly running all day within the prison premise. During the May 1998 protest in Drapchi Prison, Lhamo and other inmates in the 3rd unit were beaten severely by the prison guards with belts, iron rods and electric cattle prods. After the protest incident, the prisoners were confined in their cells for the whole day, and it became impossible for them to know the condition of other inmates confined just near them. The prisoners were forbidden to talk or look outside their cell window as surveillance cameras and bugs were installed in each cell for vigilance. The prisoners suffered from isolation and, suffocation due to long period of confinement in their small cells. Only once a month, for a period of 10 to 30 minutes, they were allowed to meet their relatives.

When Lhamo was released from Drapchi on 25 May 1999, a team of three PSB officials came to the prison from Phenpo Lhundup County to take her. Upon leaving Lhamo with her parents, they instructed them not to let her move out of home to any other places. Lhamo had once visited Lhasa for a medical check-up. When the county PSB learned about her visit, they interrogated her parents and Lhamo was ordered to instantly return without getting a medical check-up.

Lhamo believes that she was constantly scrutinised and harassed by the PSB. Unable to bear such restrictions, Lhamo took permission from the county PSB to go on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. Lhamo left Lhundup County on 1 April 1999 with three other former political prisoners of Drapchi Prison and escaped to India. They paid 900 yuan to a guide who took them through Solukhumbu border to Nepal where she finally reached on 11 April 2000.

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Patriotic education in Dechen Choekhorling Monastery

Karma Choedak is a 25-year-old ex-monk of Ngari Dechen Choekhorling Monastery. Choedak spent most of his childhood years in Lukhang township, Gergye County, Nagchu Prefecture. His parents are nomads. There are seven monasteries in Gergye County namely Tashi Choekhorling Monastery, Dragya Monastery, Kyawo Lhakang Monastery, Gonkhor Ling Monastery, Khorkhang Monastery, Dira Monastery and Dechen Choekhorling Monastery. Tashi Choekhorling Monastery is one of the biggest monastery in Gergye County and with only 25 monks in the monastery.

Choedak first came to Dechen Choekhorling Monastery in 1996. At that time, there were 35 monks. From 1996 to 1998, the "work team" officials visited the monastery about four times and conducted "re-education" to the monks. The officials imposed a ban on the pictures of the Dalai Lama and set a limit of 14 monks resulting in 20 monks being gradually expelled from the monastery till 1998. The registered monks in the monastery were issued with passes, and admission of new monks in the monastery was restricted in all the monasteries of Gergye County. Likewise, "work team" official had visited six other monasteries in Gergye County for re-education, banned pictures of the Dalai Lama, limit for the monks and expelled many monks. Karma's family consist of ten members who are nomads in Bartso Drongtso in Gergye County. They have 500 sheep, 400 goats, and around 100 other cattle. The Chinese authorities collect taxes annually on grass, meat, butter and other animal products based on the size of family annually. The annual tax collection comes to 3000 yuan per year. The 10 villages in Lukhang township of Gergye County are inhabited by Tibetan nomads and farmers. Only one lobchung (primary) school provides education for all these villages and the township authorities collect around 500 yuan per year as school fees from the Tibetan parents, despite their poor living conditions.

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Detention and arrest while attempting to escape

Tashi Sangpo, a 27-year-old monk of Tashi Cho-Gang of Chushul township inDulan County, Tsonub Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province recounts his detention and arrest while trying to flee Tibet. As a youth, Tashi did not attend school because his parents needed his help at the farm. At the age of 16, Tashi joined Tashi Cho-Gang Monastery. When he joined the monastery, there were 50 monks in the monastery. In 1995, seven work teamí officials visited the monastery continuously for six months with two visits a month. During the time, the monks were asked to be poltically clean, and the officials threatened the monks with imprisonment if they disrespect their order. The monks were told to be patriotic, love the religion, and the country. A similar campaign was continued both in 1996 and 1997.

In 1998, the campaign became more rigorous with visits by "work team" officials once or twice a month throughout the year. The officials later banned the photos of the Dalai Lama and told the monks to denounce the Dalai lama. The monks were forced to accept the Panchen Lama selected by the Chinese government. Novice monks below the age of 18 were expelled from the monastery.

In 1999, all monks were issued with a pass, costing them 23 yuan per pass. These pass restricted the monks from travelling beyond the County. Those monks who wishes to visit beyond their area had to get a permit from the county authority. The officials placed a ceiling of 25 monks in the monastery. On 7 June 1999, eight (PSB) officials visited the monastery to search the monk's rooms. In the ensuing search, they discovered a Tibetan national flag in Tashi's room. He was immediately taken and interrogated amidst a big congregation of monks. Tashi was asked, "Don't you know that it is forbidden to possess the Tibetan national flag, and do you know its implications?" Tashi responded that it is just a drawing and nothing else. The following day, a police vehicle carrying five PSB officials drove into the monastery and arrested Tashi. Immediately after arresting him, he was asked to make thump imprint on the letter accepting all charges. Soon after Tashi was driven to County Detention Centre. At the detention centre, two officials came with the flag found in Tashi's room and severly interrogated him. On several occasions the Chinese officials tied wire around his ear to pass electric current through him. "I fell unconscious on the ground," said Tashi, when the electric current was passed through him. During Tashi's interrogation sessions, he was kept leaning against a wall, with his hands behind him, and then they stamped on his toes. The interrogation sessions would last from 12 noon to 7 pm. He was then detained in a cell along with eight people.

"I was initially told that I would be detained for a year, but because of the appeal and assurance from the head lama of the monastery I was released after 17 days," reported Tashi. One of his friends was also detained for 17 days, but his name is kept confidential for security reasons. Since the release of Tashi and his friends, the authorities constantly watched them and their movements. Unable to withstand such an atmosphere, Tashi left for Lhasa on 10 December 1999. After staying in Lhasa for 20 days, along with 27 people he left for India. Tashi and the other refugees paid their guide 700 yuan to bring them to freedom. When they reached Chushul County, they were arrested by the Chushul PSB. Except for Tashi, the rest were taken to Lhasa and detained at the local police station. However, Tashi was held for the night at Chushul, because the officials thought he was the guide.

"The next day, I was shifted to Lhasa and detained with the rest of the group. The following day we were all transferred to Gutsa Detention Centre for three months and nine days. In Gutsa, they identified the guide and he continues to be held there."

Tashi made a second attempt to flee Tibet, after staying in Lhasa for 15 days. Along with five other people, he paid 500 yuan to a guide to take him to Nepal. After walking for 20 days they crossed into Nepal via Sher Gumbhu. Tashi reached Dharamsala on 2 June 2000. He now plan to go to Sera Monastery in South India.

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A glimpse of a Chinese-administered school system

Yungdrung, a 26-year-old, was born to a five-member family in Shigatse City, Unit 3. His two brothers are factory workers and his father is a government officer.

From the age of nine, Yungdrung studied in Lhatse Drongdel Chatsang Lobchung for six years. The main subjects taught in that school are Tibetan, Chinese and Mathematics. Approximately, half of the 300 Tibetan students who study in the school comprises of Chinese government officials' children.

When Yungdrung was 16 years of age, he got admission in Lhatse County Lobdring (middle) School that had 180 students. The subjects taught were Chinese, Tibetan, Mathematics and Politics. Except for the Tibetan language, all other subjects were taught in Chinese. Religious activities are banned in school. Majority of the students are Tibetans. However, for the approximately 80 Chinese students, they had separate class in the school. One class session cost 400 yuan.

In 1993, he joined Shitse Teacher's Training Course where greater importance is laid on political education than on the training itself. There were almost 400 students. There were different types of associations in the school like Chinese Communist Youth Association and Branch Organisation of Communism. The students are taught communist oriented ideologies.

Yungdung reports that all the 43 students in his class were Tibetans, most of whom have become members of Chinese Communist Youth Association. Eight students from his school were members of Communist Organisation. The organisation laid stress on educating the students on the concepts of splittism and love for the motherland.

Having passed the teacher's training course in 1997, Yungdung worked as a primary teacher in Lhatse Lobdring (middle) school. He worked as a Tibetan language teacher ina middle school, where he was paid a monthly wage of 763 yuan.

According to Yungdung, there are major differences between primary and secondary subjects. Tibetan language is not included in the primary subject and given the least amount of time for study. Subjects like Chinese are given greater prominence thereby automatically sidelining the Tibetan language. And as such, students have low interest in Tibetan language and the Tibetan language teachers are not regarded highly.

Every day during morning assembly where all the students and teachers would be gathered, the Chinese flag is hoisted and Chinese national anthem is sung. Holidays are observed only on Chinese national festivals. In 1999, through the connection of her relatives, Yungdrung was promoted to Lhasa fourth Lobdring school. He had to discontinue after prolonged illness of tuberculosis. He later escaped into exile and reached Dharamsala on 12 June 2000.

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Imprisoned for pro-independence protest

Namdrol Wangmo (layname Yangdrol) is a 29-year-old former nun of Phenpo Shar Nunnery. Originally from Phenpo Lhundup County, Gelpa township, Rama village, Wangmo is the second youngest of her four siblings. Wangmo's family are nomads by occupation.

At the age of eight, Wangmo studied for four years in a Mangtsuk (Public) school. She then went to a school in Gelpa township for five years. Later, she studied for two more years in lobdring (Middle) school. After completing her second year, she dropped out to help her parents in their household chores for six months. She joined Phenpo Shar Nunnery in 1990. At that time, Phenpo Shar Nunnery had 94 nuns.

Wangmo busied herself with the renovation work at the nunnery. From the beginning of 1993, officials of both Lhundup County and Gelpa township issued an order to halt the renovation work. As the reconstruction work continued, another strict order came saying that the permission has to be sought from the offices in Lhundup County and Gelpa township regarding the reconstruction work. Chinese "work team" would conduct frequent visits to the nunnery. These visits adversely affected the daily religious activities in the nunnery.

Frustrated with not being able to practise her religion, Namdrol, along with seven other nuns decided to stage a demonstration in Barkhor in Lhasa. They walked towards Lhasa but their plan got foiled when Lhasa PSB officials restricted them from entering Lhasa City.

However, on 25 May 1995, they managed to demonstrate at the Barkhor through the Lingkor (circumambulation) area around 5pm. They shouted slogans like "Tibet is independent", "Chinese quit Tibet" and "Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama." Around 25 policemen from Lhasa Police Station arrested and beat the nuns while they were taken to the Barkhor Police Station. There, they were kept for an hour and later transferred to Lhasa Public Detention Centre where interrogation process involved serious beatings of the nuns. The relatives were not allowed to visit the arrested nuns while in detention.

On 4 July 1995, Lhasa People's Intermediate Court sentenced the nuns on charges of counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement. Both Namdrol and Damchoe Dolma were sentenced to six years' imprisonment and two years deprivation of political rights. Penpa Lhakyi, Norkyi, Phuntsok Gachoe, Choekyi, Choeying Kunsang and Tenzin Dolma were sentenced to four years. The nuns along with other political prisoners were detained in Gutsa Detention Centre for six months.

On 30 August 1995, the nuns with approximately 60 other political prisoners were transferred and imprisoned in the then newly established units of Drapchi Prison. They were the first nuns to occupy the new units. The initial three months in the prison were spent in learning rigorous exercises and prison laws. Afterwards, their daily routine came to include weaving wool.

Wangmo suffered from a kidney problem for a long time which deteriorated with inadequate medication. During the infamous Drapchi Protest of 1 and 4 May in 1998, Namdrol received severe beatings and was kept in solitary confinement for two months. She is still incarcerated in Drapchi Prison. She is expected to be released in 2001.

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