The leader of a Tibetan monastery in China is asking authorities to free several hundred monks he says have been taken from the monastery and allow relatives of the monks still there to visit.
Losang Tenzin Jigme, known as the 11th Kirti Rinpoche, said Friday in New Delhi that Chinese security forces have surrounded the monastery, which is in Sichuan province since March 16th, when a young monk there set himself on fire to protest Beijing's policies on Tibet. He says about 2,100 monks remain in the monastery but that about 400 are missing and were taken away by Chinese authorities.
China denies surrounding the monastery and says conditions there are normal. Officials also have rejected claims by Tibetan activists that two people were killed recently when a crowd of Tibetans tried to keep security forces from entering the monastery. They deny allegations that Chinese officials were trying to indoctrinate the monks.
China has controlled Tibet since the early 1950s, and thousands of Tibetans have fled into exile since then. Most are based in Dharmsala, India, including the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Many Tibetans complain that China uses discriminatory practices to suppress their form of Buddhism and their cultural traditions. They say that China has encouraged thousands of ethnically Han Chinese to migrate to the region, where they increasingly dominate the government and the economy.
Beijing, however, denies any discriminatory practices and says that over the past few decades Tibetan standards of living have risen dramatically. China's Communist Party leadership says the Dalai Lama is intent on creating an independent Tibet, although he has said often that he would accept autonomy for the region within China.