China tightens controls over temples, monasteries in Tibet

Tibetan monks

In the wake of protests by Tibetans in Sichuan province over self-immolations by monks, China has tightened its control over Buddhist temples and monasteries in Tibet and is taking steps to prevent "trouble-makers" from entering the region.

The official Chinese media also defended the recent police firing on Tibetan demonstrators as "justified response and accused "Dharmashala" of instigating protests, without directly naming the Dalai Lama.

Qi Zhala, a top official in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, directed local authorities to pay more attention to security at certain "sections of national highways and key temples," and called for strengthening registration system to prevent "trouble-makers" from entering the remote Himalayan region.

Qi, who is the Secretary of Lhasa unit of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), stated this during his visit to Mozhugongka county, a gateway to Tibet from Sichuan, the 'Lhasa Daily' reported.

"In order to crack down on separatist and other criminal activities incited by the Dalai Lama clique, all cadres should cooperate closely and raise their sense of responsibility," he was quoted as saying.

He ordered the cadres working at the frontline to continue to work on new social management models and reinforce a series of favourable policies on management of monasteries and work hard to win over people's hearts and minds.

His remarks came as tensions grew in Luomo county in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where hundreds of residents and monks took to streets on January 23 following public announcements that three monks had immolated themselves and told locals to retrieve their bodies from the government.

"Some of them carried knives, threw rocks and tried to storm two police stations. One of the attackers was killed and nine injured during the clash," state-run Global Times said.

A total of 16 monks and nuns have attempted self- immolations in the recent months, calling for return of the Dalai Lama from exile in Dharmashala.

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