Interview of Lhasa's Jokhang Monastery by Foreign Media Canceled

June 24, 2008 Updated: June 24, 2008

Chinese authorities canceled a scheduled visit by foreign media to Jokhang Monastery on June 22 without providing any official explanations. The Jokhang Monastery is located in the central area of Tibet's capital, Lhasa, where an anti-government demonstration took place in March of this year.

A group of foreign journalists received permission and arrived in Lhasa on June 21 and prepared to cover a story about the closely monitored Olympics torch relay. According to the original arrangement that they made with local authorities, they would go to Jokhang Monastery on June 22 to cover the story.

However, their visit to Jokhang Monastery was suddenly canceled. No official explanations have been provided.

Human rights organizations said the monks of the Jokhang Monastery played a major role in the March protest, which later spread and evolved into large protests against the Chinese communist regime. The protests drove the regime to begin large-scale violent suppression.

When the Jokhang monks were interviewed by a group of foreign media on March 27 under the regime's arrangement, the monks criticized the Chinese communist regime and demanded that the Dalai Lama be allowed to return to Tibet. The foreign journalists were taken to Sera Monastery on June 22, where many policemen were present to keep monks under close surveillance.

When asked by foreign media if he looks forward to the Dalai Lama's return, a monk from Sera Monastery said, “I am just a regular lama, and I have nothing to say regarding it. It is up to the government to decide.”

Ever since the March suppression, the Chinese regime has sealed off Tibet, forbidding foreign visitors and journalists from entering Tibet.