Amid simmering tensions in the region, Chinese authorities have clamped down on a Tibetan township in Sichuan province, beating and torturing detainees and warning potential protesters they could be shot at, sources in the area said Monday.
Tibetans suspected of organizing protests against Chinese rule are also being rounded up in Dzatoe township in Dege county in the Tibetan-populated Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture, the sources said.
“Lately the Tibetans who were suspected of involvement in antigovernment political activities are being detained and taken to the local township center and subjected to extreme torture and hardship under detention in the Dzatoe area,” said a Tibetan source in the area who did not wish to be named.
Another source said that several of those detained in Doda and Gana villages had been beaten and interrogated.
“Several Tibetans whom they suspect of being involved in the protests are being taken to the Dzatoe township center and severely tortured, by being beaten with wooden sticks on their naked bodies during the course of interrogation sessions.”
The clampdown follows a March 15 raid on another village in the township, when about 100 police and armed paramilitary police stormed Rebpa village, taking eight Tibetans into custody
Both regular police and armed paramilitary police remain in the area, sources said.
“Several hundred police and paramilitary forces are deployed in the area,” a source in the area said Monday.
The authorities are requiring residents from several villages in the township, including Doda and Gana, to attend meetings as part of a “reeducation campaign.”
At the meetings, authorities threatened to shoot anyone involved in political activities, a local source said.
“In those meetings, the officials warned that in the past, police and armed paramilitary forces had to detain and take away those involved in political activities, but that now, they are authorized by the central government to shoot anyone involved in such actions.”
Residents were also warned not to organize protests, the source said.
“They suggested that if they have any grievances, they should appeal to the authorities instead of putting up protest posters,” the source said.
The first source said that despite the crackdown, tensions in the township are running high.
“The Tibetans in the area are still more determined to challenge Chinese rule and never forget the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan issue, as advised by Geshe Sonam Phuntsok,” he said, referring to a popular Tibetan Buddhist teacher who died in Kardze in 2008 after serving five years in prison for inciting “splittist” activities among Tibetans.
Sichuan is among three key Tibetan-populated provinces where tensions have risen in recent months following a wave of protests challenging Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
There have been 30 Tibetan self-immolations in protest against Beijing's rule in Tibetan-populated areas, triggering ramped-up security across Gansu, Sichuan, and Qinghai provinces as well as in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Reported by Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.