Tibetan Applicants For Police Work Turned Away Over Political Concerns: Report

By Richard Finney
A Tibetan worker is watched by Chinese police in Tibet's capital Lhasa in a file photo.

Tibetans seeking work as auxiliary police officers in Tibetan areas of China are being barred from employment over a wide range of concerns, with recruiters told to disqualify anyone engaging in “separatist activities” or having family members who have left Tibet to go into exile abroad, a Tibetan advocacy group said on Thursday.

To be considered now for employment, applicants must never have participated in protests against Chinese policies in Tibetan areas or spread “rumors and false information that undermine social stability,” the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said in a June 11 report.

Other disqualifying conditions include having concealed or associated with “illegal persons” and having supported or funded “ethnic separatist activities,” according to guidelines issued on May 25 by eight government departments in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture’s  Lithang county, a part of eastern Tibet’s historical area of Kham.

“The Chinese government often claims that any expression by Tibetans of their unique culture and religion is a ‘separatist activity,’” ICT said, noting that the heavily Tibetan-populated county in western China’s Sichuan province has in recent years seen “vibrant expressions of Tibetan identity, religion and culture.”

Lithang is also important to Tibetans as the birthplace of the 7th and 11th Dalai Lamas, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, and has seen repeated protests by Tibetans calling for the Dalai Lama’s return from India and opposing Beijing’s rule over Tibetan areas.

Regarded by Chinese leaders as a dangerous separatist, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan region in 1950.

Displays by Tibetans of the Dalai Lama’s photo, public celebrations of his birthday, or the sharing of his teachings on mobile phones or other social media are often harshly punished.

Earlier job announcements in Kardze’s Dabpa (Daocheng) county on May 2 and in Lhoka (Shannan) city in the Tibet Autonomous Region in December 2019 also exclude persons who have received funding from “illegal overseas organizations” or whose family members have “illegally entered or exited the country."

Meanwhile, applicants for work as police officers in the TAR are generally called on by authorities to have a “clear-cut understanding of the political principles against separatism,” ICT said.

'Perfectly legitimate activities'

“In all of the above-mentioned cases, the Chinese authorities characterize perfectly legitimate activities as punishable, including, for example, considering Tibet historically independent, revering the Dalai Lama and criticizing the current political system in Tibet,” ICT said in its June 11 report.

All of this is protected by international law, and especially by the rights to freedom of expression, religion, or belief, the rights group said.

Tibetan college and university graduates meanwhile struggle to find work in Tibetan regions of China despite reports in state media of high rates of employment, Tibetan sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Employment for Tibetans in the coveted government sector has been placed largely out of reach, with more Chinese university graduates coming in to Tibetan areas of China to compete for jobs.

And requirements for proficiency in Mandarin Chinese in testing and consideration for employment have further disadvantaged Tibetan students, as China seeks to promote the dominance of Chinese culture and language in Tibetan areas, sources say.

Language rights have become a focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses typically deemed “illegal associations,” and teachers subject to detention and arrest.

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