China detains Tibetans returning from Buddhist festival, arrests devotee who sees vision of Dalai Lama in the Moon

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks during a teaching session on the first day of the Kalachakra festival in the eastern Indian city of Bodhgaya January 1, 2012. The Kalachakra is a 10-day festival comprising Buddha teachings and meditations, taking place at Bodhgaya where Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

Ed Wong in the New York Times writes about reports that hundreds of Tibetan Buddhists who attended the Kalachakra ceremony in January in India have been detained without charge by Chinese security officers upon returning to China-controlled Tibet.

This is the first time that the Chinese authorities have detained large numbers of Tibetan pilgrims returning from the ceremony, held regularly in India among other places. Many of the pilgrims are elderly and have been detained for more than two months in central Tibet, or what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. The detainees are being interrogated and undergoing patriotic re-education classes, and have been ordered to denounce the Dalai Lama, who presided over the ceremony, known as the Kalachakra, say people who have researched the detentions. The detainees are being held at hotels, schools and military training centers or bases; some are being forced to pay for their lodging and meals.

Full story is here (via NgawangYonten).

Meanwhile, the desperate protest-suicides continue. 33 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of Chinese rule since 2009, according to the Tibetan government in exile. And on April 8, a 26 year old Tibetan man in India jumped to his death in the river Ganges, a few days after texting to a friend, “It is my personal decision... Read the rest

Tibet is burning: exiles mourn latest in string of self-immolation suicide protests

A Tibetan exile in Dharamsala, India, weeps as the body of Jamphel Yeshi is carried for cremation inside the Tsuglagkhang temple, in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala on March 30, 2012.

Yeshi, 27, a Tibetan man, set himself ablaze on Monday at a protest criticizing China's President Hu Jintao's visit to India. He died in a local hospital from his injuries, the general secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress said in a statement. Born in Tibet but living in exile in India, Yeshi was an activist with the youth organization, which seeks independence for the Himalayan region, under Chinese rule for more than six decades. A photograph of Yeshi as he set himself on fire is below.

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Losar: Tibetan New Year, and "mandatory celebrations"

Inside Tibet and elsewhere, ethnic Tibetans are today observing Losar, or Tibetan New Year. Above: Tibetan women pray around Labrang Monastery in Xiahe county, Gansu Province.

Three Tibetan Buddhist monks set have themselves on fire since Friday, in the latest reported self-immolations denouncing Chinese policies in Tibet and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama. The youngest was an 18-year-old named Nangdrol. From the Tibetan government in exile:

He died on the spot. Chinese police officers attempted to take away his body, but were prevented from doing so by the monks of Zamthang Jonang monastery. The monks later cremated him and performed all the necessary rituals and prayers for the deceased. According to eyewitnesses, while setting himself on fire Nangdrol folded his hands in a gesture of peace, calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Police and military presence are high throughout the region, particularly at monasteries where these tragic acts of self-sacrifice have taken place. By various accounts, as many as 25 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated in protest in the past two years.

Many Tibetans are abstaining from celebrating Losar, as an act of protest and of mourning for those who have burned themselves to death. In response, Communist Party officials in Lhasa have banned those boycotts, resulting in what are described as "mandatory celebrations" of Tibetan New Year. In essence, Beijing is forcing mourning Tibetans to party.

The English-language Global Times, owned by People's Daily (the Communist Party's official newspaper) published this rich line of Newspeak:

The country's Tibetan-populated regions are in a party mood as the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, falls today, striking a stark contrast with the call by the "Tibetan government in exile" to cancel celebrations.

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Video from inside a Tibetan community under lockdown, as self-immolations continue

The Guardian's Asia correspondent Jonathan Watts sneaks into Aba, a remote town on the Tibetan plateau, and captures this video report of how Chinese authorities are trying to stamp out dissent among ethnic Tibetans through military security, propaganda and forced 're-education.'

More context and links at the NYT Lede blog. A BBC News crew attempted to make the same trek, and were repeatedly harassed by Chinese forces. Video here, includes graphic shots of self-immolations.

Today, the latest in an ongoing string of Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese policies: a 19-year-old Tibetan monk set himself on fire in the same Sichuan province town where the Guardian video was captured.

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Two Tibetans shot dead, another self-immolation, as China's dissent crackdown continues

Radio Free Asia reports that a 40-year-old Tibetan monk and his 38-year-old brother in Sichuan province were shot by authorities today, after participating protests against Chinese rule and calling for the return of the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

"The two brothers had been on the run for more than two weeks, and had been hiding in the hills in a nomad region when they were surrounded and fired upon."

In related news, yet another Tibetan monk is reported to have set himself on fire on Wednesday. Phayul identifies the monk here; it is not known whether he survived. A source who knows him describes him as “a kind and humble person who used to enjoy looking after pigeons."

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Three Tibetan herders burn themselves alive in protest

The crisis among ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan Province continues: "three livestock herders set themselves on fire to protest what they saw as political and religious repression at the hands of the Chinese authorities," reports the New York Times, bringing the total number of such self-immolations over the past year to 19, "an unprecedented wave of self-inflicted violence among the tiny ethnic minority in China." Read the rest

Tibet: China's bloody crackdown on Tibetan protesters escalates, as self-immolations continue

Ethnic Tibetans throughout Tibet this week held some of the largest demonstrations against Chinese rule in four years. Chinese forces responded by shooting protesters. Up to 5 are said to have been killed and more than 30 wounded, according to Tibetan advocacy groups.

On January 9, a 42-year-old monk became the latest in a continuing string of desperate protesters who burned themselves alive to protest Chinese military rule and cultural repression.

A New York Times report gathered accounts from a number of human rights groups. NPR's Morning Edition today aired an extensive report on the worsening human rights crisis in Tibet (MP3 link).

Details are hard to confirm, as foreign press access to the areas involved is all but impossible. Free Tibet has more, and Radio Free Asia has compiled various reports.

Dr. Lobsang Sangay of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, issued a statement on the conflict, published in video on YouTube (and embedded above).

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Nun becomes ninth Tibetan to self-immolate as protest against Chinese military repression

Tenzin Wangmo, a 20-year-old nun from Dechen Chokorling Nunnery in Tibet, is the ninth Tibetan to commit self-immolation since March, and the fifth of those to die. They are protesting repression by Chinese security forces. More at Free Tibet. Read the rest