China has said everything was “normal” at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery after the Dalai Lama urged restraint in a stand-off between security forces and Tibetans at the temple in southwest China. “According to what we understand, over the past few days the life and Buddhist activities of the monks at the Kirti monastery are all normal. Social order there is also normal. Material supplies in the temple are totally sufficient,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing.
“The Kirti temple’s administration and local police a long time ago set up a police-temple joint patrol team. The aim was to prevent people of uncertain identity from entering the temple. Relations between the police and the temple have always been harmonious,” Hong added on Tuesday without elaborating.
Hundreds of ethnic Tibetans had gathered at the Kirti monastery in Aba in Sichuan province last week trying to stop authorities moving out monks for government-mandated “re-education,” according to exiled Tibetans and activists. That prompted police to lock down the monastery with as many as 2,500 monks inside.
A 21-year-old Tibetan monk burned himself to death on March 16 in Aba, an overwhelmingly ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province that erupted in defiance against Chinese Communist Party control three years ago. Instead of putting out the flames, Chinese police beat the young monk, creating huge resentment in the monastery, the Dalai Lama said in his statement last week.