They did it last month, and they did it again this time. A second trip organised by Beijing for a closed group of journalists (from Reuters, ABC News, and France’s Le Point, among others) to Xiahe, Gansu, has been disrupted by a group of between 15 and 30 young monks who burst out of a building at the L*br*ng Monastery, demanding for human rights, freedom and the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. From The Guardian:
“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.
According to a Reuters journalist covering the trip, many of the lamas had their heads covered in robes. They said other monks were being held by the authorities and that armed plainclothes agents were stationed throughout Xiahe.
The state news agency Xinhua reported only that a group of monks at the monastery of Labrang in western Gansu province bordering Tibet had interrupted the event, and said the visit resumed soon afterward. It did not mention the tour on its websites.
Here is a first-hand account by Chito Santa Romana from ABC News who was present at the scene:
A Buddhist monk was handing over a white shawl to me, a Tibetan ritual used to welcome a visitor. I was about to enter a prayer hall in Labrang monastery to observe monks chanting sutras.
But as I took the shawl from the monk, I heard some sort of commotion; it seemed as if some people were shouting. I held on to the shawl and rushed into the monastery’s outer courtyard along with the other reporters.
We had all been invited to this part of Tibet by the Chinese government so we could see how life had returned to normal after March’s unrest.
But just like last month’s official press trip to Lhasa, ours too was interrupted by protests.
There in the courtyard were 15 young monks marching. Some were chanting loudly, most had grim expressions on their faces.
Two monks at the head of the column were holding a Tibetan banner, identified as a sign of support of the exiled Dalai Lama and considered “reactionary” by China’s regime. One monk in the group covered his head with part of his saffron robe.
I approached one of them and asked in Chinese what the others were shouting. He translated from the Tibetan, “We want human rights! We want freedom!”
The young monk went on, “We want the Dalai Lama to return! We want to preserve our religion!”
The protest continued for about 10 to 15 minutes. Our government guides looked on from the sidelines. Then they approached us, urging us to go to the prayer hall and continue with the schedule… [read more]
Previously on Shanghaiist
Young Tibetan monks storm news briefing for international media in Lhasa