Sep 07, 2006

Tibet: China Detains Tibetan Abbot in Sichuan

Authorities in the Tibetan region of Karze have detained the abbot of a major monastery, possibly in connection with the appearance of posters supporting Tibetan independence.

Authorities in the Tibetan region of Karze in southwestern China's Sichuan province have detained the abbot of a major monastery, possibly in connection with the appearance of posters supporting Tibetan independence one year ago, sources in the area said.

"Chinese security officials arrested Khenpo Jinpa of Choktsang Taklung Monastery based in Choktsang village, Serda county, Karze prefecture, on Aug. 23," a caller from the region told RFA's reporter in Dharamsala. Karze is known in Chinese as Ganzi.

"His room was raided and searched without any kind of advance notice," the caller added.

Around 1 p.m. on Aug. 23, a team of armed police arrived in two vehicles from the nearby regional town of Dartsedo (Kanding, in Chinese), the caller said.

Monastery surrounded

"[They] surrounded the monastery and did not allow anybody to leave or enter the area. Some members of team went inside the monastery and arrested Khenpo Jinpa," said the listener, who was calling from Serda (in Chinese, Seda) county.

"The security officials searched his room too but found no incriminating materials of any kind. They never explained reasons for his arrest," the source said.

An officer who answered the phone at the public security bureau in Dartsedo didn't deny the arrest had occurred and suggested speaking to his superior. Calls to his superior during office hours went unanswered.

An independent source in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, home of the exiled Tibetan government and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, confirmed the arrest of the abbot.

The source, from Serda county, said local officials had been overruled in the arrest by a special team dispatched from Dartsedo.

The caller said local Tibetan monks suspected the arrest could be related to pro-independence posters displayed a year ago at the monastery, although no arrests were made at the time.

Taklung Monastery is one of the oldest in the Serda area, and is currently home to around 300 monks.

Abbot Khenpo Jinpa, 37, was taught by Khenpo Jigme, who died after authorities demolished his Lalungar Buddhist Center in April 2001.

Karze, a traditionally Tibetan area administered by China¹s Sichuan province, also saw the arrest last month of a 16-year-old Tibetan girl named Yiwang for handing out pro-independence leaflets.

The Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1959 after an unsuccessful revolt against Chinese rule. He leads the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, but Beijing has ruled him out of Tibet's future.

Images, writings, and video of the Dalai Lama, who is universally revered by Tibetans, are banned in Tibet, and those found in possession of them typically receive prison sentences.