Chinese authorities at Chengdu airport in Sichuan blocked three Tibetans holding foreign passports from entering China on Thursday, questioning them harshly and detaining them for hours before expelling them, Tibetan sources say.
No explanation was given for the move, which saw the three members of the group, who had hoped to visit family members in Sichuan, sent back to South Korea after being turned away, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Two members of the group held South Korean passports, and the third held a U.S. passport, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They were detained for eight hours in a small room at the airport, without even a drop of water to drink,” RFA’s source said, adding that a Chinese immigration official and other police officers took turns interrogating the group.
“Besides asking them all kinds of questions, they also searched their web chat and notebooks and made copies of their telephone contacts,” the source said.
“The authorities did not listen to any of their explanations, and the group feels that they were scorned and mistreated because of their Tibetan origins.”
All three held valid visas to enter China, RFA’s source said.
Tibetans with foreign passports go through a strict screening process and must meet conditions required only of Tibetans when applying for visas at Chinese embassies overseas, the source said.
“But even then, many of them encounter various problems on the way, such being stopped and searched at the airport or having their visas revoked when they arrive,” he said.
Harassment is seen more frequently in the lead-up to politically sensitive dates, such as the March 10 anniversary of a 1959 Tibetan national uprising against Chinese rule, he added.
Chinese control of passports held by Tibetans living in China has meanwhile blocked travel by members of the ethnic group hoping to travel to India to attend religious teachings given by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
In January, authorities in northwest China’s Qinghai province blocked Tibetans from traveling outside the country by refusing to reissue passports confiscated the year before.
The move affected hundreds of Tibetans traveling as pilgrims to India and Nepal and as tourists to other Asian countries, and came amid official concerns over Tibetans’ presence at a series of Buddhist teachings led by the Dalai Lama in January.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.