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Tibetan monastery crackdown video emerges

21 april 2011, 10:50
0
AFP©
AFP©
A video of unrest at a Tibetan monastery in China where a monk burnt himself to death has surfaced, with overseas activists saying it refutes Chinese government claims that the situation there is normal, AFP reports.

The video obtained by the Voice of America's Tibetan service and posted on its website appears to show heavy security patrolling around the Kirti monastery in a Tibetan region of southwestern China's Sichuan province.

It also shows what the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) called the first footage of the young monk whose self-immolation last month touched off demonstrations that rights groups say provoked a heavy security crackdown.

Quoting its sources in the region, the US-based ICT also said in a statement Thursday that authorities had launched an "intensive 'patriotic education' campaign" at Kirti.

It said police, soldiers and officials went through the monastery this week, questioning monks and beating those whose answers were "not as the officials and soldiers required."

A monk in his early 20s identified as Phuntsog set himself on fire in Kirti on March 16 to mark the third anniversary of violent Tibetan riots against Chinese rule, triggering the demonstrations and causing security forces to seal off the monastery.

In one segment of the video, a young monk said to be Phuntsog sits in a car, still alive but apparently in shock with severe burns covering his body and his hair burned off.

AFP was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

Rights groups have said police temporarily cut off food supplies to the monastery and that it remained encircled.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said last week the security intervention at the monastery was "inconsistent with internationally recognised principles of religious freedom and human rights."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday dismissed the US concerns, saying the situation at Kirti was "normal".

But ICT President Mary Beth Markey said in a statement the video and news from sources at Kirti indicated otherwise.

"Tensions are high in Tibet, and it will not be calmed by Party sloganeering and patriotic re-education or by other means of compulsion and the use of force," she said.

Police in Kirti have repeatedly declined comment or denied any problems when reached by AFP.

Many Tibetans resent Chinese rule, and tension erupted in violent demonstrations in March 2008 in Tibet's capital Lhasa, which spread into neighbouring Tibetan areas of China, including Kirti.

Authorities have increased security across the region since then.

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