Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province are holding four Tibetan monks in detention for launching a public protest against construction of a housing project near their monastery, Tibetan sources say.
The four—Nyida, Kelsang, and Nesang, and their former chant master, Choeje—were all residents of Gomang monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba county, a former monk living now living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.
A fifth monk, Shakya, was taken into custody with the others on Sept. 11 but was released after being held for two days, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The other four are still in custody, and have now been taken to Khyungchu county,” the source said.
The monks’ protest was sparked by news that Chinese authorities were planning to build a housing estate near Gomang, the source said.
“The monks from Gomang monastery lost no time to protest against the construction plan, and appealed to the authorities on Sept. 8 to halt the development,” he said.
Monks told to disperse
In a video obtained by RFA, Chinese officials are shown ordering the protesting monks to disperse and asking them to send five representatives to discuss the group’s concerns.
It is unclear whether the five later taken into custody were the same five selected to represent the rest.
Gomang monastery is one of the most tightly controlled Tibetan monasteries in Ngaba county, Tibetan sources say.
In March 2015, Tibetans taking part in a prayer festival at Gomang held up flags bearing photos of the Dalai Lama and other exiled Tibetan leaders in defiance of Chinese orders forbidding displays of the images, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Reported by Palden Gyal and Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.