By Thalha Gyal, Radio Free Asia
A young Tibetan monk was taken into custody on Friday in western China’s Sichuan province after launching a solitary protest challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, according to sources.
Lobsang Trinle, a 21-year-old monk belonging to the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, staged his protest on “Heroes’ Street” in the county center at about 4:40 p.m. local time, sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Trinle … staged a peaceful protest against the Chinese government,” one local source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He was carrying a big portrait of [exiled Tibetan spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama in his hands and shouting slogans calling for long life for the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet.”
According to the source Trinle was taken into custody by authorities after protesting for several minutes.
“After three or four minutes of his peaceful protest … public security officers and People’s Armed Police rushed to the scene,” he said.
“He was severely beaten as the police whisked him away.”
Trinle’s father Norden and mother Chugdup live in Ngaba county’s Meruma township, the source said, adding that he had been a monk at Kirti monastery from a young age.
“[Trinle’s] present condition is unknown after his forceful detention by police,” the source said.
Kanyak Tsering of Kirti monastery in Dharamsala, India, confirmed Trinle’s protest and detention, citing contacts in the region.
He said that police also took several other Tibetans who gathered in support of Trinle into custody.
“Soon after the incident, the local Tibetans continued to shout slogans and protest,” Tsering said in an emailed statement to RFA.
“When police tried to disperse the crowd, a few Tibetan protesters whose names are unknown were detained. Right now there is a heavy clampdown by security in the area,” he said.
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 institution 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.
In November, a court in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture ordered two Tibetan monks from Kirti monastery jailed for up to three years for holding solo protests opposing Beijing’s rule.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 136 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.