( – promoted by buhdydharma )
The Associated Press has more details about the protests in Tongren yesterday, including information on arrests and the use of force by Chinese police and paramilitary:
Monks on Thursday called for the release of fellow Buddhist clergy. They were joined by area residents at a local market, according to the center, which is based in the seat of the Tibetan governmment-in-exile in the Indian town of Dharmsala.
The center said police who were rushed to the scene began beating participants, despite efforts at mediation by a senior monk.
Receptionists reached by phone at Tongren hotels confirmed the protest, saying a crowd had gathered near the local county government offices. “Today there’s no more protests. Those people were all seized,” said one receptionist.
The women refused to give their names for fear of retaliation by authorities, who have reportedly offered rewards for information on people leaking news of protests and crackdowns to the outside.
A worker at a Tibetan restaurant in downtown Tongren near the monastery said police attacked protesters indiscriminately. “They were randomly beating people,” said the woman, who gave her name as Duoma.
The AP reports that the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy has put the number of people arrested at over 100.
Meanwhile, Tibetans have received support from Japanese Buddhists at the Zenkoji temple in Nagano, which was supposed to have been the start of the Olympic Torch relay in Japan, but which has now been removed from the relay route:
A city official, Koichi Yajima, said the monks were concerned about the safety of the temple and its worshippers should the relay spark the kind of angry demonstrations witnessed so far in Europe and the United States.
An official at the temple’s secretariat said the monks and worshippers were also concerned about the treatment of fellow Buddhists in Tibet.
“There has been a lot of talk about the Tibet issue and the public opinion is heightening,” she said. “We are Buddhists just like them. We hear words of concern from many people every day.”
Given this recent statement by Japanese Buddhist leaders, this recent action can hardly be surprising:
Solidarity isn’t only being expressed by fellow Buddhists, but also by fellow human rights campaigners. Actress Mia Farrow of Dream for Darfur spoke out yesterday on the IOC’s handling of the Olympic games with respect to China and human rights. Dream for Darfur’s report card gave the IOC an “F”, as Farrow explained in an interview with the Chicago Tribune:
They flunk. They chose Beijing to be their host. How can China host the Olympic Games at home while underwriting genocide in Sudan?
Asked whether the focus on Tibet vis a vis the Olympic games is helping or hurting the cause of ending the genocide in Darfur, Farrow had this to say:
I think we all agonize for the Tibetans in their long struggle for what is rightly theirs. The fact they jumped into this window of opportunity we envisioned when my son and I wrote the piece, “Genocide Olympics,” is welcome. That no one from Darfur could attend or show up in numbers [to protest] is precisely the point. Darfur’s people could not be there. They are stranded in camps, living amid deplorable conditions.
The crack-down in Tibet highlights a systemic injustice in the Chinese government, one that extends to Darfur, to the jailing of activists like Hu Jia, and to the intimidation of Chinese citizens who may wish to speak to journalists regarding events they have witnessed. It is an injustice covered by secrecy and drowned out by a propaganda machine that rachets up tried-and-true ethnic conflict to divert the attention of its citizens.
But even the Chinese government may feel it has gone to far on the propaganda front, as AFP reports:
BEIJING (AFP) – China has urged its citizens to rein in their “patriotic fervour” in a sign control-conscious Beijing may be growing uncomfortable with a nationalist outburst over Tibet as the Olympics approach.
A dispatch issued late Thursday by state-controlled Xinhua news agency called Western media coverage of recent unrest in Tibet “despicable” and backed a subsequent wave of Chinese indignation on the Internet.
But it also said nationalist energies should remain “rational” and focused on building the nation.
“Patriotic fervour should be channelled into a rational track and must be transformed into real action toward doing our work well,” said the report, published only in Chinese, suggesting it was meant for domestic consumption.
The statement appeared to fit a pattern in which the government — which swiftly quashes any expressions of public opinion it does not like — gives free rein to attacks on foreign targets when it serves Beijing’s political interests, only to reel them in when they threaten to spiral out of control.
It remains to be seen whether, after stoking the flames of ethnic pride and nationalism, the Chinese government can reign in netizens whose vitriol fills the inboxes of independent media organizations and the search engines on YouTube.
Please keep all sides of this conflict in your thoughts, prayers and meditations.
UPDATE The New York Times is reporting that Tibetan journalist and writer Jamyang Kyi has been detained:
The reporter, Jamyang Kyi, 42, an announcer at the state-run television station in Qinghai, a western province bordering Tibet, was escorted from her office on April 1 by plainclothes police officers in the city of Xining, according to colleagues and friends. The authorities also confiscated her computer and a list of contacts, they said.
Her husband, Lamao Jia, who is also a journalist and a writer, said he had received no word from his wife for more than a week and did not know where she was being held. “She is in serious trouble,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “I’m very worried for her safety. I’m very sorry. I can’t say more.”
There has been no official confirmation of the detention.
Although she has worked in the Tibetan-language division of Qinghai Television for two decades, Jamyang Kyi is better known for her singing and song-writing, especially among overseas Tibetans. She has traveled and lectured abroad, appearing with other Tibetan performers, some of them prominent exiles.
She is also a respected intellectual and blogger who has written about women’s rights and the trafficking of girls. Chukora Tsering, a researcher at the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Dharamsala, India, said he knew of nothing in her music or writings that might have provoked the authorities. “She is completely apolitical, but she is a proud Tibetan,” he said. “Still, given her background, we are not entirely surprised she has been detained.”
I’ll provide updates as soon as more information on Jamyang Kyi is available.