Sep 30, 2008

Tibet: Five Monks Missing Since April Raid

Active ImageThe Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy calls upon the UN to intervene in ongoing disappearances of Tibetans.
Below is an article published by The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy:

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses its deepest concern over the fate of former Chanzoe (manager and the treasurer) Sonam Rabgyal and four other monks of Ramoche Temple, whose whereabouts could not be ascertained since their arrest during a midnight raid in monks' residence on 7 April 2008.
Before the major protests that broke out in and around Lhasa city on 10 March [2008] Tibetan Uprising anniversary, Sonam Rabgyal, 39 years old, native of Markham County, Chamdo Prefecture, "Tibet Autonomous Region" ('TAR'), Damdul, Rabgyal and two other monks of Ramoche Temple located in Lhasa came under scanner of the Chinese authorities for their involvement in initiating long life prayer offerings to the Dalai Lama - the exile Tibetan leader and for reciting prayer offering (Tib Kyabtho) which made direct reference to the Dalai Lama's long life and for a quick resolution to the Tibet issue during the annual Great Prayer Festival called Monlam Chenmo on the eight day of the Tibetan New Year (which corresponds to 14 February this year).
According to sources, the "work team" under the "Patriotic Re-education" Campaign stationed inside the temple came to know about their action and interrogated them intensely for many days.
On 7 April 2008, around 70 monks of Ramoche Temple were detained after the PSB and PAP forces carried out midnight raid in monks' residences. Although all were released after days of interrogation in the detention centre, the whereabouts and conditions of the five-aforementioned monks still continue to be completely unknown to their family members and affiliated monastery. During the raid, valuables such as ornaments spiritually adorned on the ancient statues of the temple and religious objects made of gold and silver were known to have disappeared. Severe restrictions still continue to be put on the movement of the monks of major monasteries since the major protest broke out in March [2008]. Even today major monasteries around Lhasa remain virtually sealed off despite officially declaring them reopened to tourists and pilgrims.
Ramoche Temple, which lies to the north of Lhasa City, and other surrounding areas were epicenters of Tibetan protests in March 2008. Ramoche Temple houses 115 monks, a mandatory limit set by the Chinese authorities.
Following massive clampdown particularly on monastic institutions after protests led by monks in Lhasa city, Ramoche temple was not spared. There were even reports of desperate and helpless monks resorting to extreme step of committing suicide, sustaining injuries or complete disappearance slowly surfacing from Tibet. For instance, Thokmey a.k.a Tsangpa Thokmey (prefix name used of his origin) a monk of Ramoche Temple committed suicide on 22 March 2008 following massive crackdown by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People's Armed Police (PAP) forces in Ramoche Temple. Another credible report confirmed by sources reveal that, Ngawang Tenzin, a monk of Ramoche Temple sustained injuries on his hand from the gunshot fired by the Chinese security personnel during the March 14 [2008] protest in Lhasa. At the moment, the physical condition of Ngawang Tenzin could not be ascertained and there is no information on whether he receive proper medical attention or not.
The Centre expresses it's deepest concern over the safety of those Tibetans who still continue to be detained since the protest broke out in Tibet in March this year [2008], and fears for the worst particularly of those whom the authorities deemed as the prime instigators or the perpetrators of protests. The cases of missing persons that is slowly filtering out of Tibet is one of the biggest concern at the moment.
The Centre appeals to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (UNWGEID) to assess this pressing issue and seek its intervention on behalf of those disappeared Tibetans.