Special Report: Focus on Tibet
CHENGDU, March 3 (Xinhua) -- An official in southwest China's Sichuan Province said Tuesday that a ritual held Sunday by dozens of lamas in the Se Monastery was a case of normal religious activity, and not a "Tibetan monks protest" as reported by some foreign media.
Shi Jun, secretary of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefectural Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said lamas in the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan enjoy full freedom in practicing religious beliefs.
"Having elected a lama to the post of a monastery administrator, known as "tiebang lama", which is literally translated as 'iron-rod lama', Sunday, lamas with the Se Monastery were overjoyed and congratulated the electee on his success," the official recounted.
In accordance with Tibetan Buddhism, "tiebang lama" is in charge of the monastery roster and overseeing discipline enforcement within the monastery.
"This was a normal religious activity but had been distorted as 'Tibetan lamas protest' by some foreign media with ulterior motives, we are indignant toward the distorted news reports based on hearsays and are disappointed at those western media which have long touted they are observing 'objectivity and fairness' in news reporting", said Shi.
Some local residents also said they did not hear or see any lama protest on Sunday.
According to foreign media reports, some Buddhist monks in Aba started protest on Sunday morning when local officials stopped them at the Se (foreign media use Sey) monastery in Sichuan Province as they gathered to pray. The reports cited the International Campaign for Tibet based in Washington D.C. which did not identify any sources.
The reports said that security forces have surrounded the monastery. As many as 2,000 police officers are on guard in this region while telephone communications have been cut, according to rights groups.