An amazing human being.
Tibet : Monks at a monastery besieged by Chinese police are running out of food
Tensions were running high on Monday at besieged Kirti monastery, where Chinese security forces are enforcing a lockdown in an attempt to get hundreds of monks to move out.The siege of the monastery, which is home to some 2,500 Tibetan monks, was sparked by the death of a monk last month in a self-immolation protest against Beijing’s rule.”If any of the monks leave, they will be detained and returned [to the monastery],” said a Tibetan resident of Ngaba, who asked to remain anonymous.”There were [some detained],” he added. “If any of those monks come out without an identity card, they get taken away.”
“They want to take those monks away somewhere and have them study, but their relatives don’t want them to go,” he said.
He said monks inside Kirti were still very short of food.
Strong police presence
A number of monks had left the monastery by disguising themselves as ethnic Han Chinese, though some were discovered and detained by local police, the Tibetan resident said.
“They are being taken to a local jail, where they check to see if they had anything [to do with the protests],” he said. “They lock them up for many days.”
A second Tibetan resident confirmed there was still a strong police presence around the town and monastery.
“Yes, [they are still surrounding it],” he said. “There are dozens of police on each street.”
A Tibetan named Tsering living in exile in Dharamsala said nearly 800 government employees were involved in the campaign.
“The monks were forced stand alone in the middle of the group and subjected to grueling interrogation sessions,” he said.
Previous campaigns have required participants to denounce the Dalai Lama and pledge allegiance to China’s ruling Communist Party.
Exile Tibetans with links to Kirti said local officials had visited the monastery and warned monks that they could face closure or destruction of the monastery.
Monks are currently being confined to their dormitories after 8 p.m., with beatings for any found breaking the curfew, the paper said.
Around 300 local people had signed a petition vowing to protect the monks with their lives, with officials intervening to stop the signing process because of gathering crowds lining up to sign.
Editor’s note: The following three vignettes are taken from Daniel C. Britt’s experience during the U.S. withdrawal from cities in Iraq, up through his overland zig-zag from Baghdad through Iran to Bagram, Afghanistan. He’s been traveling at ground level in the region since 2009, and was joined by videographer Max Hunter in 2010, the two of whom are chronicling the experience with a documentary film scheduled for independent release in 2013.
Smoke from the grass fire is in the space where the wall cradles the door.
It’s stinging my eyes. It’s burning a black line down the edge of the dry, craggy lot across from the apartment.
Trucks cross the lot with the long dust tails that belong to comets. The dust falls down and settles in the unfinished Kurdish houses. Most only have windows and a door on one side. They look like giant gray heads. The window side is the face. The taller, wider doorways are the mouths. Each has three or more eyes. Fat Bangladeshi day-workers and delivery men are lollygaggin’ in the eye sockets.
The heads look crazy or dumb, depending on the way the Bangledeshis lean.
I cut through the lot the last time Sandra Romain died on me, on my way back from Ainkawa with whiskey to pay our landlord with.
The bottle’s clanked together as I pushed her up the sides of all the ditches onto the dirt road. Her back tire had been patched on the side but it was alright otherwise. The front was bald and going flat. I hadn’t fixed any of her yet.
It was Grant’s and Teacher’s whiskey, a bottle of each. The Christians at the liquor store sold plastic bottles too but today those were light in color for whiskey, more like Listerine. And today, the kid behind the counter looked especially guilty.
I didn’t want to be too cheap with our landlord this time. Since the videographer and I moved in with our crumby microwaveable chicken steaks, ants have been forming clusters in the kitchen and the front room.
Sandra Romain had a leaky carburetor. I took the scenic route down the street covered in broken green glass. She died because the carburetor let out slowly all over my boots and the road. I didn’t see it coming and drove further than I should have because I liked the wind and the way the light swam on the shards.
Now it was only the sun and the hot rocks.
You heavy bitch.
Two miles to go.
The houses weren’t as freakish up close. Ivory knobs and green swinging gates explained everything.
Up close, most of the Bangladeshis weren’t lollygaggin’ at all. They were stirring tar in the heat and stomach-sick, leaning out of the eye sockets, vomiting down the cheeks. The fumes got them. Without a motorbike, there’s no such thing as wind here.
Smoke is all over the flat and the black line has grown to a hundred meters long.
The more my eyes water the funnier it gets.
Chickens run away from it.
Cinders dance in the window frame.
The smoke dips into my glass of water.
Burn the grass in a country plagued by dust?
Men, douse it in benzene. Light it at noon. Iraq isn’t hot enough at that time of day.
It’s been done like that for years, during shelling from Turkey and two decades of war with Iran and America.
To keep it up takes strength.
We don’t let trouble bother our routines. We don’t fix anything. We go to work and vomit every day.
Doha, Qatar, summer 2010. My bottle of frozen water is warm after the 100-yard walk from the chow hall to my tent. My flight to Afghanistan leaves in fifteen minutes. I won’t return for six months. They issue me my weapon and body armor. They give me my final instructions. I walk across the runway and feel the heat resonate up my legs. The C-130 lowers its cargo door and we shuffle inside.
-65.2° to 176° Fahrenheit
The operating temperature of the 5.56mm round that goes into my M4 Carbine. I have ninety of them hanging on my vest. This means that when everything else breaks, I can still shoot something.
I haven’t shot anyone yet. Most of us haven’t. We awkwardly sling our rifles over our backs and slam them into doorways and kneecaps. We attach scopes we hope to never use. I make sure it’s in the background whenever I’m on Skype.
The temperature at which my iPod officially stops working. I throw it across the room and it bounces off the plywood wall. I’m on a random mountain in Afghanistan. I haven’t slept in 32 hours. I curl into my sleeping bag and try to shiver myself to sleep. My M4 is a foot away. It’s loaded. I stare through the bullet holes in the tin door and see the full moon outside.
The amount the temperature drops with every thousand feet of altitude. The loadmaster opens the Blackhawk doors so the gunners can respond to any threat during takeoff. The wind whips through the helicopter and smacks me in the face. My helmet is the only reason is doesn’t rip off my cap. I shove my hands into my pockets and fold my legs into my chest. I left my gloves in the tent.
I look at the soldier across from me. He’s carrying a sniper rifle. He looks up and smiles – he’s just as cold as I am. The higher we fly, the colder it gets. I look out the door and see mountains. They’re covered with trees. In the distance I see taller mountains covered in snow. The sun rises over the range and everything is colored gold. I’ve never seen a more beautiful landscape.
The steeping point of Rooibos tea from Teavana. Someone must have sent it in a care package. I don’t care about the perfect cup – I just want something warm. I pour boiling water over the tea leaves. I set my stopwatch for 5-6 minutes and look around. I just landed back at the front office and I’m the dirtiest thing in this room. I unsling my M4 and lean it against my desk. I take off the forty pounds of armor and drop it to the floor.
I need a shower. I need sleep. I need to slow down before I burn out.
I log onto my computer and start responding to emails. The phone rings. My colleagues come back from lunch. I don’t get to sleep for another fourteen hours. I forget all about my tea.
The operating temperature of the human body. The temperature of the blood that flows through your veins. The temperature of the blood that pours from shrapnel wounds and seeps along the floor of the Heath Craige Joint Theater Hospital in Bagram. I’m here to get an infection on my foot looked at. Two soldiers are being medevaced to Rammstein after an IED went off during a routine patrol. The ambulance idles outside. The flight crew is fueling a C-17 on the runway. Angry passengers walk out of the air terminal complaining that their flight was being rerouted to Germany. I step over the trail of blood and fill out the sign-up sheet for sick call.
My plane leaves in a month.
For more wartime writing, please see Daniel Britt’s notes on traveling overland through Iraq and Afghanistan.
- About the Author
Matador ID: jakeallreed
Jake is a workaholic travelphile whose idea of a good time is sleeping on a dirty cot in the middle of nowhere. He’s been shot at, homeless, stranded in a blizzard, and pushed off a cliff.
- Notes Going Overland from Iraq through Iran into Afghanistan (1 comments)
- Tales From the Road: Beating the Odds (2 comments)