'A Thorn in Their Eyes'

Residents of a restive Tibetan region are placed under tight travel restrictions.

2012-09-05
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RFA

Chinese authorities are blocking travel into Central Tibet by residents from China’s Qinghai and Sichuan provinces in an attempt to prevent protests spreading from the two areas—the scene of frequent challenges to Chinese rule.

“The Chinese authorities and police are stricter on Tibetans from the Amdo region,” a Tibetan living in Amdo’s Golog area told RFA.

“The Amdo people are like a thorn in their eyes,” he said.

Amdo, historically a Tibetan-populated region, is now incorporated into Qinghai province and parts of Sichuan.

Police and security forces appear especially concerned to prevent travel from Amdo to Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa, where two Tibetans from Sichuan’s Ngaba prefecture self-immolated in May in a central square of the heavily guarded city.

The fiery protest prompted a massive crackdown in Lhasa, with hundreds expelled from the city and sent back to their homes in Amdo and the southeastern Tibetan region of Kham.

Restrictions

“There are now stringent restrictions on Tibetans who want to travel to Lhasa,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“For example, if any Tibetan wishes to travel to Lhasa from the Golog area, he or she has to produce a residence permit issued by the authorities and then apply for travel permission from county and provincial authorities.”

“If the applicant has a clean record showing no political involvements, permission to travel can be approved within two weeks,” he said,” adding that “the restrictions are still more stringent on monks.”

“In addition to their residence permit, the monks have to obtain a clearance certificate from the police,” he said.

Chinese police in the Amdo area are especially strict with young Tibetans, he said.

“If they find Tibetan youths with dyed hair assembled in a group of three to four, they hold them for interrogation and other harassment.”

“So we have no freedom to travel, and all kinds of restrictions are imposed,” he said.

On Sept. 1, hundreds of heavily armed Chinese security forces raided a Tibetan monastery in Qinghai, taking away four monks targeted for detention and holding another monk for taking photographs of the raid, Tibetan sources said.

Meanwhile, in August, Tibetan nomads in Qinghai drove Chinese gold miners away from a sacred mountain, vowing to give up their lives if necessary to protect the site, the abode of a local god.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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