Authorities in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, which exile sources say is now under effective martial law, are tightening controls on foreign tourists and Tibetans from outside the city in a region-wide security crackdown following last week's unrest in Sichuan province.
Jampel Monlam, assistant director of the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy based in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, said Lhasa is effectively now under military control, although the authorities haven't announced this openly.
"Any migrants in Lhasa have been placed under surveillance as of [Tuesday]," Jampel Monlam said. "Any Tibetans from outside Lhasa who haven't got a temporary residence permit are being thrown out of the city."
"Some of them are being transported back to [Tibetan] areas of Qinghai and Sichuan."
He said some Lhasa-based Tibetans had also been detained, apparently as a precaution. "They are probably afraid that there will be some kind of political problem."
Qizala, the top ruling Communist Party official in the city, warned officials this week that Tibet could be targeted by "overseas separatists" for sabotage and infiltration, the English-language China Daily newspaper reported.
Lhasa officials have been told to tighten management of the city's migrant population by changing housing rental, household registration, and transitory residential permit issuance policies, the paper said.
Regional border checkpoints will now require anyone entering Tibet to carry identification starting from March 1.
They have also been ordered to "unite" the city's monks in order to promote the stability and harmony of the region's monasteries, it said, without elaborating.
Monks from monasteries considered rebellious have previously undergone "patriotic re-education," a form of ideological campaign in which they are required to renounce exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and pledge allegiance to the ruling Party.
An official who answered the phone at the Lhasa municipal government's religious affairs bureau declined to comment on the report.
"I don't really know the details," the official said. "I am just the duty officer."
Chinese security forces have become more aggressive in containing Tibetan protests in recent weeks, with two Tibetans reported by official media to have been killed in protests in Sichuan's Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture last week.
Rights and exile groups believe at least six were killed and 60 injured, some critically, in Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) and Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) counties.
Advocacy groups said it was the largest reported shooting of Tibetans since bloody protests against Chinese rule in March 2008.
Chinese official media blamed the unrest on "mobs" armed with knives and stones who had "opened fire" on local police.
No tourists left
An employee surnamed Zhao who answered the phone at a Lhasa-based travel agency on Thursday said there were virtually no tourists left in the city.
"There's no one here," he said.
He said police had recently stopped issuing two-month and three-month tourism permits to Tibet to foreign nationals.
"Foreign tourists ... have to get a letter of invitation and a letter to enter Tibet," Zhao said.
"People from Hong Kong don't need [the letters], but people from Taiwan do, because Tibet has always been a sensitive region."
He said armed police were currently patrolling the streets of Lhasa and checking the identification of foreign nationals, as well as Tibetans, in a bid to prevent any clashes or protests ahead of Tibetan New Year on Feb. 22.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.