Tibetans in Lithang Call for Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, 16 arrested

Dharamshala: Sixteen Tibetans have been arrested for holding peaceful demonstration in in Lithang County in Karze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Sichaun Province on 15 and 16 February, the Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported, citing eye witness accounts.

Lobsang Lhundup, a monk of Nekhor Monastery/Photo:TCHRD
Lobsang Lhundup, a monk of Nekhor Monastery/Photo:TCHRD

On 15 February, at around 12 p.m. (local time), Lobsang Lhundup, a monk from Nekhor monastery staged peaceful demonstration in the main square market in Lithang town Soon the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) forcibly arrested him. He called for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and independence for Tibet. He also raised slogans of swift return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and no celebrations during Losar (Tibetan New Year).

According to eye witness accounts, Lobsang, who was limping with the help of a walking stick, was forcibly subdued and taken in a police vehicle after his brief protest at the main market. He was later taken to PSB detention centre for interrogation.

Lobsang’s family was a nomad family who shifted from their nomadic base Gemo village to Lithang county in Karze a year and a half ago.

Following Lobsang Lhundup’s arrest, his younger brother Sonam Tempa, 29 years old, was arrested along with fourteen other Tibetans for staging peaceful protest at the main market square in Lithang. Sonam Tenpa who was said to be leading the protest was carrying a huge portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The protesters called for the long life of His Holiness and independence for Tibet.

Eye witness accounts said: “All the Tibetan protesters were brutally beaten, manhandled and forcibly loaded into military trucks by the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) forces. “Many of the detainees were badly bruised and injured with blood dripping from their nose, head and arms”.

The identities of all those detained are; Sonam Tenpa, 29 years old, Jampa Thokmey, 30, Gelek Kunga, 26, Lobsang Tenzin 23, Lobsang Phendey, 37, Jampa Yonten, 30, Sanggey, 29, Jampa Tsering, 28, Lobsang Wangchuk, 30, Lobsang Tashi, 21, Gendun Choephel, 30, Dargye, 37, Gedhun, 29, Jampa, 40 and Amdo Gyaltsen, 41. All the detainees were known to be from nomadic families who have shifted their residences from different villages to Lithang.

All the 16 protesters were known to be from nomadic families who shifted their residences from different villages to Lithang county.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has strongly condemned the use of forces to repress the freedom of expression and called upon the Chinese authorities to release all the sixteen Tibetan detainees.