Six years for Drayab monks

In Drayab Magon Monastery, monks have protested without success against recent decisions by Chinese officials to reduce by hundreds the number of monks allowed. Five monks who refused to accept “Re-education” principles requiring renouncement of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence have been arrested, four of whom are now serving six-year sentences.

Drayab Magon monastery in Drayab County, Chamdo region, is considered one of the biggest monasteries in Drayab with about 440 monks. It also has about 32 small monasteries, each with more than 20 monks, under it. When Chinese officials put a limit of 80 monks on Drayab Magon the monks appealed to the officials for the ceiling to be raised. They were told that “with luck” a maximum of 100 monks might be allowed.

“Re-education” work teams arrived in our monastery on the 12th day of the 11th month of the Tibetan year in 1996 (21 December 1996). There were 27 officials in total: 3 Chinese and 24 Tibetans. Lectures on “Chinese Judicial System” and “Religion” were begun and classes were held everyday. In the beginning they did not stay in the monastery, leaving in the evenings after classes, but later, when the sessions were proving unsuccessful, they were ordered by Chamdo officials to stay 24 hours a day to watch the monks.

Exactly three months after their arrival the work team left Drayab Magon to visit the 32 smaller monasteries. They left a note saying they would be back again because they were not happy with the performance of the monks. The work team’s expenses during their stay at Drayab Magon were borne by the monastery.

During the “Re-education” sessions the monks were told to submit their photos of H.H. The Dalai Lama and oppose the “Dalai Clique”. About 280 monks accepted these principles in order to stay in the monastery and the work team said the “Re-education” would be extended to three years or so until the other monks changed their mind. The monks were restricted in their movements inside and outside the monastery.

On 18th or 19th of the 11th month in 1996 according to the Tibetan calendar (27 or 28 December 1996), while the re-education sessions were underway in Draya Magon, five monks pasted a poster on the door of the treasury office reading “Free Tibet”; “Beat the drum when it is in your hand and when you have to hear it from somebody that will be too late” and “Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama”.

When the officials saw the poster all the monks in the monastery were rounded up and their hand writing was screened. After a few days five monks were arrested on the 22nd or 23rd of the same month (1 and 2 January 1997): Gonpo, aged 23; Shadok, aged 45; Chimmey Lobsang, aged 18; Ngawang, aged 21 and Tashi Nyima, aged 19. Tashi Nyima is from Nyenmo Drayab County and the other four are from Drayab County.

The five monks were first taken to Drayab prison and later to Chamdo. In Chamdo all except Shadok were sentenced to six years. Shadok was released after 12 days in prison and then expelled from the monastery as a “splittist”.

This information was provided by Lobsang Khedrup, aged 28 from Drayab County, (Tib.: Dzong) came to India on 27th of Aug. 1997. He became a monk when he was 11 years old.

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