Over a hundred Tibetan students and their parents were turned back by police in northwestern China’s Gansu province on Thursday as they marched to protest officials’ manipulation of grades in exams aimed at helping university graduates land government jobs, sources said.
The protesters’ attempted march to government offices in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture followed almost two weeks of demonstrations in front of offices in the prefecture’s Luchu (Luqu) county that brought no result, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
After protesters and their families finally met with county leaders earlier on Thursday, “The governor and other officials pretended to listen to their demands,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“But no clear decision was made,” he said.
More than a hundred Tibetan university graduates, parents, and local high school students then set out to march to government offices in the Kanlho prefecture seat several miles away, the source said.
The marchers carried banners reading, “Self-rule for our area,” and “Please handle fairly our complaints about this illegal tampering,” he said.
“When they had walked only about 15 km. [approx. 5 miles], they were stopped by county police, and officials then arrived who promised to look into their complaints,” the source said.
The marchers were then turned back by police, he said.
Tibetan university graduates had discovered in October after taking government employment exams that their tests had been "mishandled,” with top-graded papers being secretly sold by Chinese officials in exchange for the poorer results of other students, another source said.
Parents, students, and graduates had also sought a meeting on Wednesday with the county governor and waited the entire day for him to arrive, a third source said, “but no one turned up.”
“They said that even if the graduates had received good marks on their exams, these would be no match for the higher grades shown on stolen papers” presented by other applicants when applying for government employment.
“They complained that the selling of exam papers and the swapping of graduates’ names on test results has put them at a disadvantage in competing for jobs,” he said.
Protesters then vowed to bring their complaints to the attention of central government authorities if necessary, and voiced distress at the “indifference of county officials to their welfare and concerns.”
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma and Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.