A group of Tibetan government workers detained on April 8 after protesting the loss of their jobs in unclear circumstances were beaten and robbed by Chinese police before being released two days later, a Tibetan source living in the region says.
The group of 29 were taken into custody after gathering outside government offices in Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern China’s Gansu province, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“They were later beaten up by the police, who also damaged and confiscated their mobile phones and took away their gold rings,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The protesters, who were first described in earlier reports as numbering about 10, demanded compensation for the losses and damage to their property, but the authorities “refused to oblige,” the source said.
“The [protesters] suspect that their appeal for their jobs has been given a political ‘twist’ and that authorities are now doing their best to damage their future prospects,” the source said, adding that the fired workers have explained they had no political motivations for staging their protest.
“They were just asking for their jobs to be restored,” he said.
'The right qualifications'
Those who were detained had held low-level posts for at least three to four years in various government departments including the department of forestry, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
“After they had worked hard in those departments during that time, the Machu county government issued an order ending their employment on the excuse that they lacked the right qualifications for their jobs,” one source said.
Some of the workers hired to replace them had come from outside the county, though, and had “backdoor connections” to influential county officials, while others had received only an elementary school education, he said.
A second group came to protest in support on April 9 and were also taken into custody, RFA’s source said.
“All protesters have now been released and allowed to go home, but they were told to report later to the Machu county office to express their views and concerns,” he said.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.