April 20 marked the seventh day since an earthquake hit Yushu, a far western city in China, killing thousands. The ground was covered with snow and according to Tibetan tradition, the seventh day after a death is an important time to remember the dead. In Gesar Plaza Tibetans held a ceremony where monks and lamas chanted sutras.
On April 20, a soldier told The Epoch Times that if Chinese troops encounter a Tibetan independence activist in the quake area, he or she could be shot dead on the spot without approval from higher authorities.
According to a Luosong monk in Jiegu town, close to 40,000 monks from Sichuan, Tibet, and other surrounding areas—who were involved in rescuing earthquake victims—were ordered to leave the disaster area within two days. Some were asked to leave before 4 p.m. on April 20.
The monk said that all monks from other cities would be driven away and not allowed to take part in any rescue activities.
Ms. Woeser, a Tibetan writer, quoted a Tibetan monk in the earthquake zone, saying that several hundred monks who arrived first from Ganzi, Sichuan, to provide aid had been removed from the area, and other monks from other cities would be removed by Tuesday.
She said that Communist Party authorities were worried about a rumor that the Dalai Lama was going to visit the disaster area.
A local Tibetan, Gong Ru, also said that the monks were forced to leave the earthquake zone. He added that several military vehicles entered the area and check points were set up from Yushu Airport to Jiehe town, to screen people entering the area.
Mr. Ru said he had seen several fleets of military vehicles with Lanzhou Military Banners over the past two days. He was uncertain how many troops had arrived, yet said there were two groups of about 15 vehicles. The plates on the trucks said they were from the Luanzhou Military District.
A local Tibetan said that soldiers and rescue teams were struggling with altitude sickness, while Tibetan-speaking monks did not have any problems and were playing an important role. A few thousands monks from local areas, and a few thousands from Tibet also joined the rescue. Soldiers were staying on the sidelines while many monks were digging though rubble to search for survivors.
Tibetans complained that state-run media only gave attention to the military and disregard the hard work of Tibetan monks.