Chinese police have doubled the number of checkpoints on a road leading to Tibet’s restive Driru county—where residents have resisted forced displays of loyalty to Beijing for about a year—and are beating travelers who show annoyance at being stopped and searched, according to a local source.
The recent move to increase to eight the number of checkpoints between the central towns of Driru (in Chinese, Biru) and Nagchu (Naqu) counties in the Nagchu prefecture has slowed travel time and added to other hardships endured by local Tibetans, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.
“Conditions have not improved” in the protest-hit county, “and restrictions, blockades, and crackdowns continue in our area,” the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Driru, a county considered “politically unstable” by Beijing, is one of three neighboring counties in Tibet’s eastern Nagchu prefecture from which Chinese authorities fear political unrest may spread unchecked to other parts of the region.
About 1,000 Driru-area Tibetans have been detained since authorities launched a crackdown in September 2013 when Beijing began a campaign to force Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources say.
The campaign intensified in early October when villagers refused to fly the flags, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.
Noting that the distance from the Nagchu county center to the Driru county center is about 270 kilometers [about 167 miles], RFA’s source said, “In the past, this distance could be covered in about four hours. Now it takes about seven hours to cover the same distance.”
“This is because of the addition of four more checkpoints for vehicles running between the two counties, the presence of traffic police at all these posts, and their intense scrutiny of drivers.”
“Papers are thoroughly checked and verified, and drivers and others in the vehicles are severely beaten if they show any signs of displeasure or fail to cooperate,” the source said, adding that drivers are sometimes also detained and forced to undergo 15 to 20 days of “reeducation sessions.”
Police also monitor the speed of vehicles traveling on the road and prohibit drivers from stopping between checkpoints to rest or to relieve themselves, the source said.
“If they do stop, the traffic police pick them up and fine them the unbelievable amount of 7,000 yuan [U.S.$1,140]. If the drivers cannot pay the fine, their driving license and other documents are seized.”
Delays in travel time also cause major hardships to emergency patients being transported from Driru to larger hospitals outside the county, he said.
“These are just a part of the restrictions faced by Tibetans living in the Driru area.”
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.