China detains dozens of Tibetans after protests, activists say

Beijing, China - Police have detained dozens of monks and lay Tibetans after several protests in the restive Kardze area of south-western China's Sichuan province, Tibetan activists and the government-in-exile said Friday.

'According to our initial figures, more than 60 people have been detained,' exiled Tibetan rights activist Jampel Monlam told US-based Radio Free Asia.

The protests escalated last weekend after smaller demonstrations in early June in Kardze, which is known as Ganzi in Chinese, said Jampel Monlam, who heads the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Those arrested included Tibetan Buddhist monks and lay Tibetans, he told the broadcaster.

'Most of them took part in demonstrations in Kardze county town,' he said. 'They were calling for Tibetan independence, for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for religious freedom.'

The Tibetan government-in-exile, which is also based in India, said those detained included two Buddhist nuns who marched through Kardze town Sunday 'demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet.'

It said police detained another nun Monday after she raised a hand-drawn Tibetan national flag, distributed leaflets and shouted her support for 'freedom in Tibet' and the return of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

The nuns' protests came despite a government ban on monks and nuns visiting Kardze town without permission, the government-in-exile quoted its sources as saying.

Local authorities also raided monasteries in Karze Saturday and registered the mobile telephone numbers of many monks and nuns, it said.

Tibetans have also staged protests in recent weeks in the nearby Ngaba area, mainly near the Kirti Buddhist monastery.

During an EU-China Human Rights dialogue last week, EU officials asked China to 'provide full information on the fate and whereabouts of the persons who have disappeared from Kirti monastery.'

Rights groups said Chinese authorities had taken at least 300 monks from Kirti for 'legal education' programmes.

Unrest at Kirti flared up in March after several protests there since 2008.

Scores of other monks have voluntary left the Kirti monastery, which paramilitary police have controlled since April, the London-based International Campaign for Tibet said last week.

Tour operators said the Tibet Autonomous Region, which lies to the west of Kardze and Ngaba, suspended foreign tourism this month apparently because of the fear of protests during China's ruling Communist Party's ongoing celebrations of the 60th anniversary of its 'peaceful liberation' of Tibet.