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Chinese security forces arrest five Tibetan monks in raid on monastery

(RSF/IFEX) - 09.07.2012 - Reporters Without Borders condemns the Chinese government's frequent arrests of Tibetan monks who try to inform the international community about the way they are persecuted.

In the latest case, four monks were detained in a 1 September raid by soldiers and police on Zilkar monastery in Yushu prefecture, in the eastern part of the Tibetan region, in response to the circulation of reports and photos outside Tibet. A monk who photographed the raid was also arrested.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Chinese authorities to end their policy of imposing a news blackout on Tibet and to adhere to the international undertakings they have given to respect human rights. The authorities continue to ignore the law in the Tibetan region and to treat Tibetans in a discriminatory manner.

The conditions in which the detained monks are being held are unknown. Reporters Without Borders is worried about the fact that they are in poor health. Two of them are reportedly paralyzed and one has a kidney ailment.

The raid began at 10 a.m. on 1 September, when hundreds of police and soldiers arrived at the monastery in around 60 military vehicles and started to search the monks' rooms, seizing computers, DVDs, documents and photos.

Lobsang Jinpa, Tsultri Kalsang, Ngawang Monlam and Tsewang Pema were arrested for allegedly distributing reports and photos of two Tibetan monks who set fire to themselves in June after five other monks were detained. Local sources said they were also accused of having photos of the exiled Dalai Lama. The fifth monk arrested for filming the raid was Sonam Sherab.

The police presence was increased around the monastery after the raid and the power supply and phone lines continued to be disconnected.

The authorities have for months been stepping up arrests and seizures of computers and IT media used for circulating information. The monk Yonten Gyatso was sentenced to seven years in prison on 18 June for disseminating information about the situation in Tibet. Three monks from Zilkar monastery, Sonam Gewa, Lobsang Samtem and Lobsang Nyima, were given jail sentences in March for a similar reason.

China was ranked 174th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is one of the countries on the 2012 Reporters Without Borders list of "Enemies of the Internet."

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