Police in western China’s Sichuan province beat Tibetan villagers found with photos of the Dalai Lama in their homes following the exiled spiritual leader’s birthday this month, detaining others who had performed public prayers for the Dalai Lama’s long life, Tibetan sources said.
The assaults took place after officials conducted a search of subsidized housing in two resettlement communities in Palyul (in Chinese, Baiyu) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“They found the photos of the Dalai Lama on display in the homes, when they were inspecting the housing units,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Later the local officials returned, accompanied by armed police dressed in black, and took down and confiscated all the photos, beating and slapping anyone who had put the pictures up in their homes.”
Members of the two resettlement communities had also burnt juniper and recited prayers on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s 84th birthday on July 6, and several residents had been detained by police, the source said.
“Consequently, tensions remain high, with several people in the communities taken into custody.”
Only residents of the state-subsidized homes in the Tromey and Natha resettlement communities had been attacked by police, with Tibetans not part of the government housing scheme spared from the searches and violence, he said.
Details of the date of the assaults and detentions and the names and number of those detained were not immediately available, RFA’s source said.
New push against photos
Authorities in Kardze had earlier launched a new push against possession of photos of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, traveling to remote areas that had previously escaped police attention, Tibetan sources said in earlier reports.
The campaign, which began at the end of April, targeted Serthar county in Kardze but is also being enforced in other areas of the eastern Tibetan region historically known as Kham, a Tibetan living in Switzerland said.
“Chinese officials have banned the display of Dalai Lama photos in every family home of my native place in Serthar,” former political prisoner Golog Jigme said, citing sources in the county.
Though possession and display of photos of the Dalai Lama, widely reviled by Chinese leaders as a “separatist,” have long been restricted in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in western Chinese provinces, officials are now traveling even to hard-to-reach nomadic areas to enforce the ban, Jigme said.
Chinese officials from government bureaus monitoring religious practice are also visiting Tibetan schools and warning teachers and students not to keep or display the photos, Jigme said, adding that local Tibetans have also been urged to tell high-ranking Chinese visitors of the “big improvements in their living conditions” owing to government subsidies.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule, and displays by Tibetans of the Dalai Lama’s photo or public celebrations of his birthday have been harshly punished in the past.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.