Dharamsala, March 28 – Chinese authorities in Tibet’s Ngaba County have arrested 3 Tibetans including a younger brother and uncle of Phuntsok, a Tibetan monk of Ngaba Kirti Monastery who died after immolating himself on March 16 marking the third anniversary of a bloody crackdown on Tibetans of Ngaba in 2008.
Phuntsok’s younger brother Lobsang Kelsang, 19, also a monk of Kirti Monastery, aged 19, his uncle Losang Tsondue and Samdup, another monk belonging to Meuru township were arrested on March 22 for alleged involvement in the protests following Phuntsok’s self immolation, a Tibetan source in exile with contacts in Ngaba said. Samdup had been in Chinese prison for 7 months for his participation in protests in March 2008.
Meanwhile, the same source said students of the Ngaba Prefecture Upper Middle School sat on fast from March 17 in protest against the Chinese government following Phuntsok’s self immolation and its handling by the Chinese police.
Chinese government officials confiscated mobile phones of teachers and students, the source added. Restrictions were imposed on all movement of the school preventing all sorts of communications between the students and their families, according to the source who said the protest was still underway but that it is known whether any arrests have been made.
The atmosphere in Ngaba County is tense, said the source, as Chinese authorities have gone on a drive to arrest Tibetans during the night since last week. The authorities called public meetings on March 24 in upper Tawa and Gapma villages in Ngaba County and warned that a fine of 30 Yuan would be imposed on anyone failing to attend the meetings.
The Chinese government on March 19 issued directives to all the monasteries and leaders of Tibetan areas in Ngaba province to avoid any expression of festivity and joy including firing crackers, burning incense and hanging wind-horse prayer flags on Sunday, when exile Tibetans cast their votes to elect their PM and legislators. “An unusually heavy restriction is being imposed on us. I think they are anticipating expressions of support and welcome to the elections in exile on March 20,” a Tibetan resident of Ngaba told our source earlier on Wednesday.