Chinese Forces Surround Tibetan Monastery After Protest

March 3, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Buddhist Channel/CNA,7840,0,0,1,0

Security forces have surrounded a Tibetan monastery in a tense region of southwest China after monks held a rally a week before the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising, activist groups said on Monday.

They said the monks in Sichuan province, bordering Tibet, demonstrated close to where another monk set himself on fire last week to protest against China's 58-year rule of the Himalayan region.

Scores of monks at Aba prefecture's Sey monastery rallied after officials outlawed prayers during a traditional Buddhist festival, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said, citing sources there.

"Several hundred monks marched from the monastery after officials banned them from praying, calling to be allowed to celebrate the Monlam prayer festival and for authorities to release all Tibetan prisoners," the group said.

It said armed police had surrounded the monastery after the monks returned there and it was now likely to be under a lockdown, although it had no more information.

The New York-based Students for a Free Tibet also reported on Sunday's rally, saying between 300 and 400 soldiers tried to stop the protest as the monks marched out of the monastery.

"The monastery is now sealed and there is a heavy military presence outside the main road," the group said in a statement.

Tensions are high in Tibetan-populated areas ahead of the March 10 anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule that ended with revered spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fleeing into exile.