Tibet Government-in-Exile Says Some 70 Monks Arrested in Lhasa

The Tibetan government-in-exile says about 70 monks from a Buddhist monastery in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, were arrested Monday in connection with their participation in last month's rare protests.

A statement on the government's Web site Wednesday said monks at the Ramoche monastery were held in a house-arrest-like situation after they participated in protests in mid-March.

It said Buddhist monasteries in other Tibetan areas in China also were under tight restrictions and said other arrests were likely.

According to an official Xinhua news agency report, the top official in China's western Gannan Tibetan region (in Gansu province) says 170 monks are being held there in temporary custody on suspicion of their involvement in rioting.

Xinhua says Chinese authorities have arrested more than two thousand people including 519 monks in connection with their involvement in riots in northwestern China last month. Most have been released.

News of the arrests come as a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks disrupted a government-sponsored media tour in Gansu province today.

Reuters foreign correspondent Lucy Hornby, who was on the tour, tells VOA that the monks burst into an open plaza at the Labrang monastery in Gansu carrying the Tibetan flag and yelling slogans.

Hornby says some of the monks appeared to be very emotional and said the Dalai Lama needs to come back to Tibet. The monks said they do not want independence, but more human rights.

On March 10th, rare demonstrations were held in Tibet to mark the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. Following a crackdown in Lhasa on March 14th, protests and riots quickly intensified and spread to other Tibetan areas.

The chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region Qiangba Puncog says police have detained 953 people suspected of being involved in those riots.