Friday, November 17, 2017

Rare visit to remote Chinese region shows depth of Tibetan despair

RECOMMENDED READING


ABA, China — The monk reached into the folds of his red robe, pulled out a small notebook, and gently slipped from its pages a tiny photograph.

The man in the creased picture was a relative. He used to be a fellow monk at the monastery perched in snow-wrapped mountains outside the town of Aba. Then a Chinese security officer killed him, the monk said.

It is a sorrow that cannot be spoken of in public. A local government "working team" visits the monastery often, looking for signs of discontent, according to monks there. Sometimes, they said, when returning to their living quarters from chanting or studying, the monks find a door busted in and possessions scattered after a search.

The monk showed the snapshot as a way of explaining why ethnic Tibetans, mostly current or former Buddhist clergy, are setting themselves on fire in Aba and surrounding regions in an unprecedented show of protest against Chinese rule. Since last March, between 20 and 24 have committed self-immolations, according to rights groups. Of those, at least 13 are said to have died.

China is not fair or peaceful, said the monk, a man in his early 40s who, like every ethnic Tibetan interviewed for this story, did so on the condition that he not be named and that certain details be withheld, for fear of getting dragged off by police.

The Chinese government and its media have confirmed some of the self-immolations and denied others. But the government also goes to extensive lengths to prevent outsiders from visiting this area. A McClatchy Newspapers reporter last week became the first from an American news organization to make it to Aba since the self-immolations began.

Beijing has long blamed unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas on conspiracies hatched by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

But conversations with ethnic Tibetans here and elsewhere in Sichuan province, where almost all of the self-immolations have occurred, suggest that China's authoritarian policies designed to tamp down disorder are fueling the troubles.

Sections of Aba famous for its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries have come to resemble an armed camp. A few blocks from the entrance, paramilitary police stood behind riot gates with shotguns and assault rifles. Three large troop-carrier trucks sat on the side of the road, flanked by more men with guns. Up ahead, traffic wound through further riot gates and troop positions.

The security was so dense that it was impossible to speak with clergy or, indeed, anyone in Aba because of the risk of bringing danger to those interviewed. The Internet had been shut off and efforts to send text messages from Aba failed repeatedly.

Comments

Region football: Ocala Vanguard 35, Mitchell 31

NEW PORT RICHEY — The start wasn’t quite befitting of a playoff game between undefeated teams, but the end of Friday’s war between Ocala Vanguard and Mitchell certainly was.Like last year’s Class 6A regional semifinal, the Mustangs held a three-point...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., does not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

Region football: Green Cove Springs Clay 52, Zephyrhills 49

ZEPHYRHILLS — For Zephyrhills, Friday night’s Class 5A region semifinal against Green Cove Springs Clay was doomed by 12 bad minutes. The Bulldogs led by four points at halftime but allowed 28 unanswered points in the third quarter and were not able ...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Oklahoma governor's budget bill veto could bring new session

Oklahoma governor's budget bill veto could bring new session

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed a bill that would have raided cash reserves and cut deeper into agency funding to balance the state budget
Updated: 9 minutes ago

AP Top News at 11:36 p.m. EST

AP Top News at 11:36 p.m. EST
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

Region football: Lakewood 20, Jesuit 7

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood came into Friday’s playoff game knowing its defense had to help control field position against Jesuit. The Spartans (9-1) left Friday’s game with a ticket to Immokalee for a region final — and six Tigers (6-5) turnovers en r...
Updated: 13 minutes ago

Region football: Tampa Bay Tech 42, Palmetto 26

TAMPA — Another Friday night, another offensive explosion.Tampa Bay Tech’s offense continued its torrid pace and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. accounted for five total touchdowns as the Titans rolled past Palmetto 42-26 in a Class 7A, Region 3 semifi...
Updated: 16 minutes ago

Region football: Cambridge Christian 50, Indian Rocks Christian 14

TAMPA — The Cambridge Christian offense was clicking, and quarterback Jaylin Jackson couldn’t seem to be stopped. Still, as the second quarter clock dwindled, Indian Rocks Christian was hanging around.So with just more than a minute left in the half,...
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Region football: Naples 24, Largo 0

NAPLES — In a game between two teams that had never met with a lot on the line, the Naples defense came up with one of its best efforts against Largo on Friday night.The Golden Eagles limited the Packers to 117 yards of offense in a 24-0 triumph in t...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Nov. 17, midday:15 614 9359e_SRit97440Fri., Nov. 17, evening:48 386 1619e_SRit48264Fantasy 5Fri., Nov. 17...
Updated: 1 hour ago