Religious repression continues: Monk expelled from “splittist” monastery

The following is taken from an account provided to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy on 26 November by Tsultrim Gyaltsen who arrived in India this week from Tibet.

Tsultrim Gyaltsan is a 20-year-old monk from Dunbhu Choekhor Monastery (Sakya Monastery) in Chideshol under Lhokha sub district. A Work Inspection Team composed of 6 or 7 members had been giving regular “re-education” classes to the monks of Dunbhu Choekhor Monastery, sometimes up to three times a day.

On 18 April 1996, the monks were called for a meeting as usual. During the course of the meeting, members of the Work Inspection Team demanded that the monks sign their names to a document denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama and rejecting Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the young reincarnation of Panchen Lama recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in May 1995. The document described the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” trying to split up the “motherland”.

Tsultrim Gyaltsen and three other monks refused to sign the document, and as a result, were issued with a green book and expelled from the monastery. If a monk is issued with a red book it means that they can stay in the monastery while the receipt of a green book represents immediate expulsion.

Tsultrim Gyaltsen explained, “The Dunbhu Choekhor Monastery was not looked upon favourably by the Chinese authorities. The monastery was labelled “splittist monastery” after twenty seven monks of the monastery were arrested over the years for engaging in political activities.”

Tsultrim Gyaltsen belonged to a secret underground movement of ten monks. In 1992, he and his friends were arrested for sticking wall posters calling for a free Tibet. He was locked up for 3 days at police headquarters at Chedeshol, Lhokha sub district, and kept in solitary confinement for that time without any food. He was released when the Chinese authorities were unable to find any evidence to link him directly to the events.

“One morning in 1993 the monks woke up to find the monastery surrounded by Chinese soldiers who travelled in about fifty military trucks. The soldiers fired shots in the air to scare the monks and then came into the monastery and arrested seven monks who were accused of forming a secret political movement. The monks were then taken to Nedong Prison at Tsethang Dzong about 191 km from Lhasa. At present two of the seven monks are in Drapchi Prison. The two monks are Lobsang and Migmar Tsering”.

In April 1995, while Tsultrim Gyaltsen was serving as the caretaker of his monastery’s temple, he was warned by a Chinese friend to remove all pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. “The next day there was a raid on the monastery and the Chinese confiscated some smaller pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that I had purposely left on the altar so as not to incur any suspicion.”

“In April 1996 I escaped to Lhasa. While in Lhasa I witnessed 3 truck loads of Tibetans being carted in. These Tibetans had been arrested while trying to escape to India through Nepal. They complained of having been locked up for several days at the border and looted of the little money they carried.” Tsultrim was able to escape to India through Bhutan along with three other young people. He arrived in Dharamsala, India, in late November 1996.

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