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27november20094Spurred on by the arrival of a Chinese work team sent last year to Tongkhor Monastery, Tsera Township, Kardze County, eastern Tibet to institute a reeducation campaign, a protest erupted on April 2nd culminating in a massive police shooting. Refusing to undergo "patriotic reeducation," which entails denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a separatist and signing documents pledging allegiance to China's Communist Party (CCP), monks of the sangha staged a peaceful demonstration which was met with indiscriminate fire the following day. Dorjee Rinchen, an 18 year old monk survivor from Tongkor Monastery, recently arrived in Dharamsala to receive refuge status and relate his experiences from last year's events. The following account is based on his testimony:

On April 3rd, 98 military trucks carrying 4,000 members of the People's Armed Police (PAP) and the Public Security Bureau (PSB) arrived at Tongkhor Monastery and began raiding monks' quarters and defacing images of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaders including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama, and Shabdrung Rinpoche, a high-ranking lama of Tongkhor monastery. Two Tibetans - Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin, a monk, and Tsultrim Phuntsok, a layperson - were detained for their refusal to participate in reeducation.

Later that evening, 700 hundreds of monks and laypeople marched to the county headquarters of the Chinese government and demanded the two arrested Tibetans be released immediately. The crowd dispersed after assurances by Chinese police officials that the two would be released later that night. As time passed and it became clear that officials had no intention of releasing the arrested Tibetans, the protestors returned, only to be met this time by armed members of the PAP and PSB. A hostile confrontation ensued, ending in the Chinese security forces firing into the crowd of Tibetans, killing 14 and injuring 83.

The official Chinese government news agency "Xinhua" described the event as a "riot," and reported only the injury of one Chinese government official, omitting any mention of death or injury to Tibetans.

Nearly ten months later, with no other recourse or leverage, Tongkhor Township residents were encouraging Tibetans to boycott all celebrations of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, in protest of April's events. The Chinese government responded by threatening that anyone boycotting Losar celebrations would be subject to arrest and/or heavy fines. When it was evident that boycotting would occur despite the threats, the government sent teams of police and members of the People's Army to stage mock celebrations, complete with traditional fireworks displays.

This year, in ongoing demonstration, Tibetan farmers of Tongkhor Township refused to plant crops as a form of demonstration. The Chinese government countered by threatening that any participating farmers would have their land confiscated by the state. Sandong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile located in Dharamsala, India, intervened to request that Tangkor farmers plant their crops as usual. His appeal came after the planting period for many crops had already expired, however, currently resulting in a record low harvest.

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