At least ten Tibetan government workers were detained by authorities on Friday in northwestern China’s Gansu province when they protested the loss of their jobs amid allegations of corruption in the hiring of replacements, sources in the region and in exile said.
The protesters were taken into custody after gathering on April 8 in front of government offices in Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a native of the area now living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“They had asked for a review of the decision to lay them off from their jobs,” RFA’s source said, citing contacts in Machu and speaking on condition of anonymity.
“But instead of replying to their request, the authorities took them away to a jail or detention center in Machu,” the source said.
Those who were detained had held low-level posts for at least three to four years in various government departments including the department of forestry, RFA’s source said.
“After they had worked hard in those departments during that time, the Machu county government issued an order ending their employment on the excuse that they lacked the right qualifications for their jobs,” the source said.
Some of the workers hired to replace them had come from outside the county, though, and had “backdoor connections” to influential county officials, while others had received only an elementary school education, he said.
“Some candidates were also hired who had paid others to sit for examinations in their place,” he added.
Separately, a Tibetan source in Machu confirmed the group had been detained, adding that a banner held by the fired workers during their protest had called for their jobs to be protected “for the common good.”
“They emphasized that they had not been involved in any political activities and had only worked in the public interest,” he said.
But shortly after launching their protest, the Tibetan workers were detained and taken away, RFA’s exile source said.
“For now, the names and actual number of those detained are still not known, and no one knows where they are being held,” he said.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang and Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.