(dpa) - More than 100 monks and laypeople have been arrested in a western Chinese county in a daisy chain of arrests and demonstrations by ethnic Tibetans, a Tibetan exile group said Friday.
The protests Thursday began when 22 monks demonstrated in a Rebkong County market in Qinghai province against the arrests Sunday of three monks for participating in a peace march, said the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which has good contacts in Tibet.
Chinese security forces arrested the monks minutes into their protest, prompting 80 monks to march from the detainees' Rong Gonchen Monastery to demand their release, said the pro-democracy group based in Dharamsala, India. The monks were joined in their protest at the market by laypeople, it said.
Additional security forces then arrived and began beating and arresting demonstrators, it added, citing information from Tibet it said it had confirmed.
The centre said Chinese authorities have since closed down the monastery and were preventing its monks from leaving or receiving visitors.
In neighbouring Gansu province, an unknown number of arrests were made at a monastery where days earlier monks had complained about repression to foreign journalists who were on a government-organized tour of their monastery, the International Campaign for Tibet said.
The whereabout of the detainees were unknown, said the group that advocates self-determination, democracy and human rights in Tibet.
The arrests occurred Monday and Tuesday at Labrang monastery in Sangchu county, it said, citing unnamed sources.
Armed security forces searched the monks' cells, smashing shrines and tearing up pictures of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the sources were quoted as saying.
The police action came after the media tour on April 9, during which monks surrounded the journalists, complained of suppression of their culture by the Chinese government and held up Tibetan flags, which are illegal in China.