Protesting monks storm media tour in western China

XIAHE, China Wed Apr 9, 2008 2:03pm IST

Tibetan monks shout slogans as a group of journalists, invited to an official visit by the local government, arrived at the Labrang Monestry in Xiahe, Gansu provinve April 9, 2008. The monks demanded the return of the Dalai Lama to China and yelling that they had no human rights.   REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

Tibetan monks shout slogans as a group of journalists, invited to an official visit by the local government, arrived at the Labrang Monestry in Xiahe, Gansu provinve April 9, 2008. The monks demanded the return of the Dalai Lama to China and yelling that they had no human rights.

Credit: Reuters/Reinhard Krause

XIAHE, China (Reuters) - Fifteen Tibetan Buddhist monks interrupted a state-sponsored media tour of a restive region of western China on Wednesday, demanding the return of the Dalai Lama and yelling that they had no human rights.

In the second such incident in as many months, the monks, carrying a banned Tibetan flag, burst out of a building at the Labrang monastery in the town of Xiahe, in the northwestern province of Gansu, and rushed across a plaza to a group of 20 visiting Chinese and foreign journalists.

"The Dalai Lama has to come back to Tibet. We are not asking for Tibetan independence, we are just asking for human rights. We have no human rights now," one monk told the reporters in Chinese.

Many of the monks had covered their heads in robes. One monk, with his robe over his head, kept pushing his right hand over his left fist and saying "China - Tibet", implying that China was suffocating Tibet.

They said eight monks were still being held by authorities, but did not specify if they were from Labrang or elsewhere, and that plainclothes agents of China's paramilitary armed police force were stationed throughout Xiahe.

Some of the monks threw prayer shawls over the shoulders of photographers.

Officials leading the tour did not appear to try to intervene during the incident, but a number of older monks persuaded the protesters to disperse after about 10 minutes.

Hundreds of monks from the Labrang monastery led a march through Xiahe in mid-March, after riots erupted in the Tibetan regional capital Lhasa on March 14.

Xiahe is one of the biggest centres of the Dalai Lama's Gelukpa branch of Buddhism.

China poured troops into the region to restore order in the wake of the protests. Xiahe was still under heavy armed guard earlier this month, a Reuters eyewitness reported.

On Wednesday, the main street of Xiahe showed a few buildings with broken windows but little other obvious damage.

The incident is the second disruption by protesting Buddhist monks during a stage-managed tour organised for reporters.

In late March, Chinese authorities were embarrassed after about 30 monks stormed a briefing by a temple administrator for a select group of foreign journalists at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, shouting that the reporters were being lied to.

Monastery officials played down Wednesday's protest.

"What you journalists just saw was a very small minority of people who disrupt our harmonious and peaceful life and religious activities, said Gongqihujinba, vice-director of the Labrang monastery's management committee.

"We will take care of them under national law. What they did was not consistent with national security laws, or rules on religion," said Gongqihujinba, who is also a member of an advisory body to Gansu's provincial parliament.

Guomangcang, dean of religious affairs at a provincial Buddhism academy attached to Labrang, suggested that the monks may have been put up to the protest.

"Maybe the young ones were not acting of their own accord, maybe someone influenced them," Guomangcang said. China has said Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and his associates are behind the unrest. The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, has denied the accusation.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

DEFENCE

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Power Theft

Power Theft

India to invest $4 billion to tackle power theft  Full Article 

Debt Funds

Debt Funds

India monitors foreign flows into debt funds, may tighten rules  Full Article 

Bulgari Back in India

Bulgari Back in India

CEO: we shouldn’t have left India so we’re back  Full Article 

 Hindu "Modi-fication"

Hindu "Modi-fication"

Fears grow about Hindu "Modi-fication" of education  Full Article 

Weak Credit

Weak Credit

Hard to hit tax revenue target, credit weak - Jaitley  Full Article 

China Rate Cut

China Rate Cut

China surprises with interest rate cut to spur growth  Full Article 

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

RBI cautious on response to gold import surge  Full Article 

Economic Corridor

Economic Corridor

China commits $45.6 billion for economic corridor with Pakistan  Full Article 

Overseas Funds

Overseas Funds

RBI says overseas borrowed funds can be parked with banks in India  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage