(A young Tibetan monk walks around the courtyard at the Namo Monastery on the outskirts of Kangding in Sichuan province February 23, 2009/David Gray)
Security forces have detained about 300 Tibetan monks from a monastery in southwestern China for a month amid a crackdown sparked by a monk’s self-immolation, two exiled Tibetans and a prominent writer said, citing sources there. Tension in Aba prefecture, a heavily ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province, have risen to their highest levels since protests turned violent in March 2008, ahead of the Beijing Olympics, and were put down by police and paramilitary units.
A Tibetan Buddhist monk burnt himself to death in western China Wednesday, triggering a street protest against government controls on the restive region, a group campaigning for Tibetan self-rule said. The self-immolation appeared to be a small repeat of protests that gripped Tibetan areas of China in March 2008, when Buddhist monks and other Tibetan people loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama, their traditional religious leader, confronted police and troops.
Tibet is richer and more developed than it has ever been, its people healthier, more literate, and better dressed and fed. But the bulging supermarkets, snappy new airports and gleaming restored temples of this remote and mountainous region cannot hide broad contradictions and a deep sense of unhappiness among many Tibetans that China is sweeping away their culture.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama on Thursday after avoiding a get-together before his China trip last year. The White House visit by the Tibetan Buddhist leader comes at a time of increased tension between the United States and China, which has warned that the session will hurt Sino-U.S. ties.
from Jeffrey Jones:
The Dalai Lama believes the war in Afghanistan has so far been a failure, saying military intervention creates additional complications for the country.
The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, making his first visit to the Western Canadian city of Calgary in 30 years, said foreign military intervention against Taliban insurgents has only served to make the fundamentalist group more determined.
The war has been "so far, I think, a failure," he told reporters, adding that he could not yet judge its outcome. "Using military forces, the other hard-liners become even more hard ... and due to civilian casualties the other side also sometimes is getting more sympathy from local people."
U.S. President Barack Obama is weighing calls to boost troop levels and alter strategy to reverse what officials have said is a deteriorating military situation. But the Dalai Lama said it would all have been unnecessary had the United States and the European Union spent more on aid to the region.
"Instead of spending billions and billions of dollars for killing they should have spent billions .... on education and health in rural areas and underdeveloped areas. (If they had) I think the picture would be different."