China tightens controls in Tibetan areas during Beijing Olympics

Tibetans who previously traveled to India are especially closely watched.
By Lobe Socktsang
China tightens controls in Tibetan areas during Beijing Olympics Tibetan activists protest in front of the International Olympics Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Dec. 11, 2021.

Authorities have ramped up security controls in Tibetan areas of western China during the Beijing Winter Olympics, with police monitoring residents closely to block communications with Tibetans living in exile, sources in the region say.

Restrictions are especially tight in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu province and the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan, one man living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“Tibetans in these places are barred from speaking with Tibetans in exile, and Tibetans who have been to India and then returned are being summoned each day for questioning by the local police,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Pictures of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama are also being seized wherever they are found, the source said.

“The situation here is more intense than ever before, and local Tibetans are terrified now to receive calls from the exile community and communicate with them,” he added.

Police in Thewo (Diebu) county in Gansu are now questioning local Tibetans and examining mobile phones and online chat groups for evidence of contacts outside the region, Trisong Dorje, a second source, said from exile in Dharamsala, India.

“Tibetans are also being warned not to talk to anyone outside,” Dorje said, citing contacts in Gansu. “And Tibetans in Ngaba who had earlier traveled to India are being specifically targeted by the Chinese government and have to report to their local police station every day.

“Tibetans who have returned to Kanlho after traveling to India are never hired for government jobs, as the Chinese authorities believe they have a ‘separatist mentality,’” Dorje said.

Tibetans in Ngaba and Kanlho who have sent money to Tibetans in exile for use in prayer ceremonies are routinely threatened by Chinese authorities, with their mobile phones confiscated and bank accounts closed, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

The 2022 Winter Olympics, which opened in Beijing on Feb. 4, have drawn a series of protests and boycotts from the international community because of China’s treatment of Tibetans and other minority groups.

Formerly an independent country, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago, and Tibetans living in Tibet frequently complain of discrimination and human rights abuses by Chinese authorities and policies they say are aimed at eradicating their national and cultural identity.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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