Tibetan Pilgrims Barred From Kirti Monastery by Chinese Police

Tibetans traveling from northwest China’s Gansu province to attend a large religious gathering in neighboring Sichuan are being stopped at the border and told they may not proceed by car, sources in the region say.

No reasons were given for blocking the pilgrims’ journey to Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.

“The police only said that no vehicles would be allowed to travel across the border,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They said that the pilgrims should abandon their cars and that they would only be allowed to journey on by foot,” the source said.

“These kinds of selective restrictions have hurt the feelings of the Tibetan pilgrims deeply,” he said.

The pilgrims coming from Gansu were going to Kirti only for religious reasons and had not committed any crime, a second source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

“We don’t know if these orders came from higher up or if the police were just acting arbitrarily,” he said.

Ngaba’s Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.

Authorities raided the monastery in 2011, taking away hundreds of monks and sending them for “political re-education,” while local Tibetans who sought to protect the monks were beaten and detained, sources said in earlier reports.

Large assemblies at the monastery are now closely watched by Chinese security forces, with police in plain clothes often mingling with the crowds to prevent “unwanted events,” one source said on Friday.

“Now, Tibetans from Gansu are being prevented from going there,” he said.

(Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney)

(A screen grab from an undated video shows a Tibetan pilgrim from Gansu surrounded by police at the border with Sichuan. Photo sent by an RFA)

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