As the potentially provocative observance by the Chinese authorities of March 28 as “the Emancipation of Serfs Day” to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the rule of His Holiness the Dalai Lama 50 years ago approaches, there are reports of continued unrest from the Qinghai Province, where His Holiness was born, and the Khampa areas of the Sichuan Province. The Khampas were in the forefront of the Tibetan upising 50 years ago and the children and the grand-children of those who participated in that uprising have been following in their footsteps by continuing to refuse to accept the Chinese rule and to proclaim their loyalty to His Holiness.
2. Tashi Sangpo, a 28-year-old Tibetan monk of the Amdo Golok Ragya monastery in the Gyulgho township ( the Chinese call it Lajong), Machen county, Qinghai, who had been arrested by the Chinese security forces for keeping a picture of His Holiness and a Tibetan flag, escaped from police custody on the afternoon of March 21,2009, and allegedly committed suicide by jumping into the Machu river near the police station. When the news of his alleged suicide spread in the Ragya township, a large number of monks from the monastery and other local Tibetans gathered outside the police station and demonstrated against the Chinese rule. They shouted slogans in support of Tibetan independence and calling for the return of His Holiness to Lhasa. While Tibetan sources claimed that about 2000 Tibetans participated in the demonstration, the State-owned Xinhua news agency has admitted in its report carried by the “People’s Daily” and the “China Daily” that several hundred Tibetans demonstrated.
3. A despatch of the Xinhua disseminated on March 23,2009, stated as follows: ” Police have arrested six and 89 others surrendered after a riot in Qinghai province on Saturday, the authorities said yesterday (March 22). Several hundred people, including nearly 100 monks from the Ragya Monastery, attacked the police station in Ragya Township of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Golog on Saturday afternoon. Most of the people dispersed by 5 pm on Saturday and some 30 others were persuaded to leave in the early hours of yesterday. As of 9 am yesterday (March 22), police arrested six participants in the attack and 89 surrendered.”
4. While the Chinese authorities have admitted the escape of the monk from police custody, they have not admitted that he committed suicide by jumping into a nearby river. They have accused the monks of the Ragya monastery of spreading rumours of his suicide in order to provoke a riot.
5. Earlier, Xinhua had reported that “a bomb thrown by terrorists” hit a Government compound in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the Sichuan province on March 16 shortly after midnight. It claimed that no one was injured.The blast took place in the Bogexi township, which is in Batang county.There have also been reports of the Khampas in the Kardze area of the Sichuan province starting what has been described as a civil disobedience movement by refusing to cultivate their farms.
6. The Tibetan Autonomous Region continues to be totally cut off from the rest of the world with no news coming out regarding the situation in the region.
7.On the eve of the observance of the “Emancipation of the Serfs Day”. the “People’s Daily” of China published on March 23,2009, a signed article by Gyaincain Norbu, whom the Chinese have proclaimed as the 11th Panchen Lama after rejecting and arresting the Panchen Lama chosen by the Dalai Lama in accordance with the Tibetan traditions, in which the Chinese-nominated Panchen Lama appealed to the people in Tibet to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and to strengthen national unity. He wrote: “”As a descendant of serfs in Old Tibet and the successor to the Panchen Lama Erdeni, I’m very excited as the whole country is celebrating the first Serfs Emancipation Day.Only the CPC could enable serfs in Old Tibet to enjoy dignity as human beings and freedom.As facts showed, Tibet could only achieve today’s prosperity and development as well as a more beautiful future under the CPC leadership.”
(The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )