More monasteries targeted

Thupten Soepa is from Rame Kyishong town in Lhoka Gongkar county and was a monk at Rame monastery. Thupten reports that on 1 March, 1997, an eight-member work team arrived at the monastery. They started the re-education session and ordered that photographs of the Dalai Lama be taken down.

“Initially, none of the monks were willing to meet their demands and refused to comply with their orders,” says Thupten. “Then the members made threats that our parents would also be made to suffer and many of us had no choice. In the space of a month our parents were called twice to ensure that we listened to their instructions.

“There were three of us who refused to obey the work-team and as a result we were expelled from the monastery on 5/4/97. The other two monks were Inchung la, a 48-year-old from Tharpaling in Lhoka, andTsering, a 38-year-old from Toelung Dechen county. Before we were expelled we had to give an ink handprint on the expulsion record and then we were sent home and ordered not to ever return to the monastery again nor join any other monastery. We were also prohibited from moving about freely within Tibet and if we wished to go to Lhasa we had to seek permission.

“The work-team was at our monastery for six months. They stayed in the private chamber of the Dalai Lama and for their entire stay they lived on the expenses of the monastery. If we were late by one minute we were fined 5 yuan and if we did not turn up at all, we were fined 10 yuan.

They told us, ‘Even if you do not obey our instructions here in the monastery, you will not escape the re-education session because you will have no choice when we conduct it in your homes at a later stage. Therefore, it will be much easier for you here in the monastery’.”

“While they were at the monastery, they took note of all the Kusung Thugten (religious artifacts) and took photographs of all the sacred things in the monastery. This made it difficult for us to conduct special prayers because we had to seek prior permission to retrieve the statues and idols from the cupboard.”

Closure of a monastery:

“Another monastery called Sungrabling in Lhoka had more than 70 monks. In May this year the monastery was finally closed down after repeated expulsions of monks. There were 25 monks when they closed down the monastery and now it is completely empty. The Chinese authorities accused the monastery of having dealings with the Tibetan exile government. The caretaker was also expelled and the head of the monastery was taken to Tsethang for four days of interrogation before being sent home. As he was an old man the authorities did not imprison him. Two policeman came to the monastery and took many of the sacred objects to the county office”.


Thupten also reported that a monk named Khedrup, originally from Tharpaling, was detained from Gongkar Choede monastery for refusing to obey the instructions of the work-team members. Khedrup, about 18 years old, was sentenced to six years and is presently in Tsethang prison.

Workteam in Namrab Monastery:

In Namrab monastery, says Thupten, four monks out of 48 were expelled when work-teams came to their monastery.

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