Government employees and teaching staff in a Tibetan area of northwestern China’s Gansu province have been recalled abruptly from their winter holidays and told to report to their jobs, as concerns mount over possible protests as a politically sensitive anniversary approaches.
The move comes as Chinese security forces deploy in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture to monitor Tibetan crowds already gathered in large numbers to celebrate religious observances during the Lunar New Year, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“On March 1, Chinese authorities issued an urgent call to government employees at the prefecture and county government level to report to work immediately,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They were instructed to be at their work stations by March 2 without fail,” the source said.
“Most government officials and employees were on winter vacation until March 8, but are now being called back to their jobs,” he said.
Teachers and administrators at local schools have also been recalled, though the schools themselves have been closed for winter break, he said.
“They must now be constantly present at their offices and in their schools,” he said.
Authorities in Kanlho are now taking “all necessary precautions” as Tibetans gather in large numbers to take part in religious ceremonies connected to the Lunar New Year, another local source said.
“The monasteries of Labrang Tashikyil, Shitsang Garsar, Bora, and Choney are all busy now with prayer festivals, and helicopters have been seen flying over Labrang Tashikyil,” the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
The heightened security measures appear primarily to be aimed at preventing protests during the coming March 10 anniversary of a failed 1959 Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule, the source said.
"The Chinese authorities are making preparations before the March 10 anniversary and are imposing restrictions on Tibetan activities," he said.
"Staff have been assigned to monitor all the important places."
Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of the March 10 uprising, and Beijing has repeatedly accused exiled Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, of stoking dissent against its rule ever since.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 136 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.