China mourns victims of last week's earthquake - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

China mourns victims of last week's earthquake

BEIJING (AP) -- As China mourns the victims of last week's earthquake at official ceremonies Wednesday, some of the first responders to the disaster apparently have been ordered to leave.

Survivors say Tibetan monks were first on the scene with food and tents, and helping to dig survivors and bodies out of the rubble. But the head of one monastery says the government's Religious Affairs Bureau and the Communist Party in the remote, western region have ordered the monks to leave.

Communist Party authorities keep the monasteries under tight control and the tensions have in the past turned violent.

But in the aftermath of the disaster, the monks worked alongside Chinese soldiers sent to the quake area. Military officials say all 12,000 of the soldiers struggled with altitude sickness and many had trouble communicating with Tibetan survivors. The monks, some of whom live in the quake zone, didn't face those problems.

One analyst says it's a situation Chinese authorities have never before faced, after portraying the monks as potential enemies of the state for the past 15 years.

Powered by Frankly