On March 16, just after the 52nd anniversary of Tibet’s failed uprising against China in 1959, a young monk from Kirti Monastery in Amdo Ngaba, a Tibetan district of Sichuan, set himself on fire as a form of protest. Shortly after the monk’s death, Chinese placed the Amdo Ngaba monastery and its approximately 2,500 monks on lockdown. Nearly four months later reports indicate that conditions remain tense.
The repression in Amdo Ngaba is so severe that in April the Dalai Lama, who relinquished his political role that same month, said in a statement: “I am very concerned that this situation if allowed to go on may become explosive with catastrophic consequences for the Tibetans in Ngaba.”
According to the monks in India, about 300 monks were taken away by Chinese authorities in April. Classes and prayers have stopped and remaining monks were forced to take “patriotic re-education” classes.
Some 400 government officials are camped out at the monastery in China, said the International Campaign for Tibet, a US-based advocacy group. Cameras and recording devices are positioned throughout. Phone calls and e-mail from Kirti Monastery in China are monitored by Chinese authorities who can detain or arrest people they deem a threat to China's control over Tibet.
Though China has not officially acknowledged the lockdown, Chinese police claim the self-immolation of the young monk who precipitated it “was a carefully planned and implemented criminal case, aimed at triggering disturbances,” according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.
To quash other potential disturbances, Chinese police arrested hundreds of monks although there were no displays of violence after the self-immolation.