Authorities in the Yushul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture have launched a campaign to eradicate “organized crime” that sources in the region say is being used as an excuse to crack down on Tibetans and has led to mistrust within local communities.
“Beginning in May, China waged the campaign in several counties in Yushul Tibetan Autonomous prefecture,” under the administration of Qinghai province, a source speaking on condition of anonymity told RFA’s Tibetan Service, noting that townships in Tridu (Chenduo) and Dzatoe (Zaduo) counties had been particularly targeted.
“Local Chinese authorities travel to various villages to propagate the campaign against organized crime to the public, and urge the people to implement state policy, as set forth by the government.”
Residents are required to attend meetings about the campaign, said the source, and told to report on “corruption and official bribery,” as well as “separatists.”
“The attendees are warned not to engage in online conversations with strangers, and particularly to shun the discussion of issues related to Tibet-China politics,” he said, adding that they are also instructed to pass information about the meeting on to others to ensure that “all of society is made aware.”
“They say that anyone who is caught discussing politics and sharing [sensitive] photos online will face criminal charges, and anyone with a conviction will have their ID card marked, so they will face difficulties even doing something as simple as buying a train or bus ticket.”
According to the source, authorities have largely focused the “campaign” on the populations of villages and town, but may soon hold meetings at Buddhist monastic institutions.
Sources recently told RFA that a similar campaign had led to the “sudden arrest of many Tibetans” in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s (TAR) Lhasa (Lasa) prefecture.
“The campaign has been launched in many places under the TAR … and things have become stricter in Lhasa,” said the source, who asked to remain unnamed.
“Many Tibetans are suddenly disappearing and others who are under suspicion are being held in police custody.”
Another source, who also declined to be identified, said that while the anti-gang campaign is being carried out in the name of social stability, “it is actually an excuse or tool used to further the crackdown on the Tibetan people.”
Those who “participate in the campaign” are entitled to 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,350), the source said, while whistleblowers in corruption cases will have their “identity and personal security protected by the government.”
“In such an environment, it becomes difficult to even trust your own friends,” he said.
According to the source, a meeting was held in Dhongkar village, in Lhasa’s Toelung Dechen (Duilongdeqing) county, on May 21, during which Chinese officials read out 22 violations and promised rewards to those who expose corruption.
The government plans to finish the campaign “within three years,” he added.
Last week, sources told RFA that authorities throughout the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture had also kicked off an anti-gang campaign that had led to harassment and strict surveillance of Tibetans with a history of political activism.
“Under the name of rooting out all black and evil forces, the Chinese have targeted illegal gambling and the formation of grassroots organizations that solicit money from the people,” one source in the region said at the time.
Under the pretext of implementing the policy, the source said, “Chinese authorities are causing a nuisance and harassment to former Tibetan political prisoners, and those Tibetans suspected of being involved in political activities by placing them under strict surveillance.”
A second source said that at least 14 people in two counties had been arrested, while others said that any association of more than 10 people required permission and registration at the local village and up to the county level.
A report published earlier this month by the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said that new policies and regulations have led to “an increased restriction on human rights and lives of the Tibetan people.”
The report specifically cited the campaign against “crime” and “black and evil forces,” saying it resulted in the detention, arrest, and torture of human rights and environmental activists and of ordinary Tibetans promoting the use of the Tibetan language.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.