BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday 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 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.
His act echoed protests that gripped Tibetan areas of China in March 2008, when Buddhist monks and other Tibetan people loyal to the Dalai Lama confronted police and troops across the region.
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.
China has ruled Tibet since Communist troops marched in 1950. The traditional Buddhist leader of the region, the Dalai Lama, fled to exile in northern India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
The Dalai Lama in March stated his intention to hand over political power to the exiled Tibetan parliament in northern India, though he remains the global face of the Tibetan exiled movement. Beijing brands him a dangerous trouble-maker.
Chinese security forces have reportedly used excessive force to end the protest at the monastery, including beating up people and deploying attack dogs against them, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel