Oct 08, 2014

Tibet: Protest for the Return of the Dalai Lama

Pasang Wangchuk, a Tibetan businessman, has called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and strengthened human rights and religious freedoms in the province of Sichuan, China. The one-man protest lasted about ten minutes after the police took him into custody. 


Below is the press release published by Radio Free Asia:


A Tibetan businessman and father of three has been taken into custody by authorities in China’s western province of Sichuan after launching a solitary protest challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, according to sources.

Pasang Wangchuk, 37, staged his protest last week in the downtown area of the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) county seat in Kardze prefecture, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing sources in Kardze.

“He called out for the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama to Tibet,” RFA’s source said.

During his solo protest at about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 3, Wangchuk also carried a banner bearing slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s long life and for human rights and religious freedom in Tibet, the source said.

“He was able to protest for about ten minutes before he was overpowered by police and taken away,” he said.

No further details were immediately available regarding Wangchuk’s condition or where he was taken.

Reached by RFA for comment, an officer at the Kardze county police office angrily hung up the phone.

Wangchuk, who is also known as Ngodru, is a businessman by profession and “was doing well in his line of work,” RFA’s source said.

“He lived in Kardze county’s Buchu Yarkab village with his wife Sonam and their three children, two girls and a five-year-old son.”

Wangchuk’s sister Poewang is a nun who took part in anti-China protests in Kardze in 2008 and was later given a two-and-a-half-year term in prison, he said.

Tibetans in Kardze prefecture are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism and frequently stage protests alone or in groups opposing rule by Beijing.

“The political climate in the region has been deeply oppressive,” the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group, said in an August report.

Last year, at least eight Tibetans were injured when Chinese police fired gunshots and used tear gas to disperse about 1,000 monks and nuns who had gathered in a restive county in Kardze in July to mark the Dalai Lama's birthday.

Tibetans have also burned themselves to demonstrate their opposition to Chinese rule as Beijing tightens religious and cultural controls.        

In the second Tibetan self-immolation protest in less than a month, a Tibetan man set himself ablaze in September in Qinghai province, sources said this week.

Kunchok, 42, set himself on fire in front of a police station in Gade (Gande) county in the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on Sept. 16 [2014], but Tibetans nearby doused the flames and rushed him to a nearby hospital, the sources said.

Reported by Lobsang Choephel for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.