China has rejected a request from a U.N. human rights panel asking it to disclose the fate of more than 300 Tibetan monks who have been missing since April.
The U.N. panel said on Wednesday that the monks were allegedly detained by Chinese security forces at a monastery in Aba county, in Sichuan province, on April 21. They were taken away in military trucks to unknown destinations.
Report: China denies disappearance of 300 Tibetan monks [Australia Network News, 10 June 2011]
Kirti Rinpoche, the head of the Kirti monastery, said it was the first time that Chinese security forces had seized such a large number of monks at one time.
“Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law. There can never be an excuse to disappear people, especially when those persons are peacefully expressing their dissent with the government of their country,” the panel said, pushing for authorities to investigate the alleged disappearances and prosecute those responsible.
UN Statement: China: UN expert body concerned about recent wave of enforced disappearances [UN Human Rights, 8 April 2011]
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said there was “no such thing” happening to the monks. He told reporters that local authorities were conducting “legal education” for the Ngaba Kirti monastery in order to “maintain religious order.”
“It is legal to supervise religious affairs, and protect normal religious order,” he said, urging U.N. human rights investigators to act impartially.
Report & Analysis: China rejects U.N. claim on Tibetan monks’ disappearance [Reuters, 9 June 2011]
Tension has been high in Aba County since Tibetan communities across western China rose up in protests three years ago.
Exiled Tibetans have said that the crackdown was sparked by a 21 year-old monk’s self-immolation in March at the same monastery, in an apparent protest against government controls.
The incident prompted the Chinese government to enforce legal education there, mandating that the monks learn the basics of the Chinese constitution, criminal law and regulations on religious affairs.
Report: China rejects UN panel pressure on Tibetan monks [AP, 9 June 2011]
Report & Analysis: China rebuffs UN plea over ‘disappeared’ Tibetan monks [BBC, 9 June 2011]