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21may20095Dharamsala: Mandhu Gonpo, a Tibetan monk from Kanze County, recounts his experience leading a charged political demonstration in March of 2008.

"My name is Madhu Gonpo. I was born in 1968, son of Gelu and Lobsang Tso in Kadhok Village of the Se-ngo Township in Karze County, eastern Tibet. When I was 19 years old I married Dolma Lhatso in Madhu Village and we had one son and two daughters: Nyima Dakpa, Tsewang Dolma and Tenzin Dolkar. They are currently completing their studies in Karze County, eastern Tibet. I am a businessman and as a Buddhist, I take refuge in the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I am servant of the Buddhist religion, and am active in politics and social work. In 2001 I organized a discourse in my village in hopes of alleviating the obstacles faced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and performed Buddhist rituals to prolong his endurance. Chinese authorities arrested and slaughtered a number of respected Tibetan scholars and religious figures on grounds which remain uncertain.

When I first heard about the case of Geshe Sonam Phuntsok’s arbitrary confinement in 1999, I spread the news on my motorcycle. Several of my friends consequently served sentences of 2 or 3 years. On the 10th, March 2008, at 1:40 pm, a peaceful protest transpired in Karze County. It was led by Ngoe-ga, myself, and 10 additional Tibetans.

Armed Chinese military troops opened fire on the 3,000 Tibetan protesters and utilized electric shock apparatus, turning the gathering into a bloodbath. A number of injured protesters succeeded in avoiding immediate arrest, but on the 7th of May 2008 the security departments of Karze Prefecture, Karze County, Drakgo County and Serta County released a warrant for the arrest of 36 of the aforementioned Tibetan demonstrators on the charges of jeopardizing national security and political stability, violating social security regulations, and damaging citizens’ livelihoods and property.

21may20096Of the 36 specified protesters, the ones who originate from Karze County are: Madhu Gonpo (myself), Tsering Jurme, Tsering Nadme, Bhumoshou Menmen, Tsetan Phuntsok, Tashi Namgyal and Kalsang. On the 18th of March 2009 the security department of Karze County publicized a second warrant for the arrest of Tsetan Phuntsok from Karze Monastery as well as Tsering Jurme, Bhumoshou Menmen and I from Karze Tsitsang Monastery. A reward of 15-20,000 yen was posted and advertised through the media for information leading to our capture.

When we realized that our lives were in danger, we went into hiding in the mountains and sought refuge in the homes of nomadic families. While in hiding we learned that, despite the intensive torture and suppression they endured, the people of my hometown had refused to celebrate the Tibetan New Year (‘Losar’) and were upholding a boycott on farming. In response, Chinese military forces were dispatched in Karze County, each consisting of 300 trucks full of soldiers; Tibetan villagers of Karze County were abused and arrested. My friend Noge-ga was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Lhapa Tsering of Dzakhog Village was given a 7-year sentence; Apha Jamyang of Chokri Village, Pema Dechen of Tsoshi Village, Loyang of Arura Village, Chime Gonpo of Drukhang Village,  Sangpo of Tsangkha Village, Tashi Palden of Wosang Village, Loga of Tachudha Village and Gonpo Gyaltsen of Drukhang Village received sentences of 3 years in prison.

Former demonstrators Jamdho and Tenpa had been in hiding for over a year, since the 18th of March 2008. But they were finally apprehended in Karze County in April 2009. No information relating to their present situation or the circumstances of their capture is currently available. Dhonden, Bhumo-shaomeimei, Tsering Dorjee, Nangsal Wangden, Namgyal among others fled the area on the news of the arrest. In March 2009 I left my hometown and arrived in Lhasa, our capital where I hired a guide for 13,000 yen who enabled my escape into India. On the 11th of March 2009 I reached the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center in Nepal."

The slogans that the peaceful protesters chanted were: “Tibet lacks Human Rights,” “Tibet deserves independence,” “Bring His Holiness back to the Land of Snow,” “Release Panchen Rinpoche and Tibetan political prisoners Immediately” and  “Long live the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.” On the 18th of March 2008, at 1:40 PM, a peaceful protest against the Chinese government occurred in Karze County. The demonstrators distributed fliers on which “Free Tibet” was written. At around 1:50 PM, armed Chinese military troops surrounded the crowd of supporters. The authorities documented the leading demonstrators on film and video, and then took measures to contain the protest. They even opened fire. Among the wounded were Ngoe-ga, Jamyang, Pema Dechen and Tsetan Phuntsok. Luckily several of my friends and I managed to avoid arrest. 

"To conclude, I pray for the longevity of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I hope that the Tibetan issue is soon resolved, and that His Holiness will be allowed to return to his rightful abode, the Potala Palace, in this lifetime."

Edited by Y.C. Dhardhowa, Editor of the Tibet Post International

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com