Tibetan exiles say Tibetans have defied a Chinese security clampdown to stage small protests in recent weeks during a sensitive anniversary period.

The Indian-based Tibetan government in exile said Sunday it has received new information about peaceful demonstrations in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) county in western Sichuan province.  The exile government said Chinese authorities arrested a Buddhist nun, a monk and two other Tibetans during protests in early March.

There was no immediate Chinese government confirmation.

Exile sources also reported scattered acts of protests in other Tibetan towns in the Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as neighboring Qinghai and Sichuan provinces.  In some places, Tibetans were said to have written slogans on walls calling for Tibetan independence and the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The exile government and the Dalai Lama have appealed to Tibetans not to engage in protests or other activities that could provoke a Chinese crackdown.

In other news, the Tibetan man recognized by the Chinese government as the reincarnation of an important spiritual figure, the Panchen Lama, praised the Chinese Communist Party for liberating Tibet from feudal oppression.  China's official Xinhua news agency said 19-year-old Gyaltsen Norbu told reporters in Beijing that the Tibetan people should cherish what he called their "prosperity and happy lives."

Most Tibetans recognize Gendun Choekyi Nyima as the Panchen Lama because he was endorsed by the Dalai Lama.  The Chinese government says that young man and his family, who have not been seen in public since 1995, are living a healthy life and do not want to be disturbed.

Chinese security forces patrolled Tibetan towns, set up checkpoints and conducted door-to-door searches last week to prevent a repeat of last year's protests against Chinese rule on the anniversary of an uprising in 1959.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.