Despite reports from Tibetan exiles that say the Kirti Monastery in Sichuan province of China has been surrounded by security forces, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said relations between monks at the monastery and police were “harmonious.” According to the reports by Tibetan exiles and campaigners the Chinese security forces arrived after a 21-year old monk named Phuntsog burned himself to death last month. Via BBC news:

Campaigners and Tibetan exiles say the monastery has been surrounded by security forces for several days. The area has been tense since a monk set himself on fire and died in March. The monastery, which houses some 2,500 monks, is in Aba county, an area of Sichuan province with many ethnic Tibetans.

It is extremely difficult to independently confirm any information coming out of Tibetan areas. China’s authorities have restricted access to the region.

Tibetan exiles and campaigners said last week that local people had gathered at the monastery after security forces came to take the monks away for “re-education”, following the self-immolation of a 21-year-old monk on 16 March.

Police had then locked down the monastery, they said. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei denied reports of tensions. “According to our knowledge, the monks in the Kirti monastery enjoy a normal life and normal Buddhist activities, and the local social order is also normal,” he said.

He said that the monks had “sufficient” supplies and that while measures were in place to “prevent unidentified people from entering”, relations between the monks and police had “always been harmonious”.

The US has also urged China to end what it called an action “inconsistent with internationally recognised principles of religious freedom and human rights”.

Mr Hong called on the US to stop making “irresponsible remarks.”


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