Authorities in a Tibetan-populated county of northwestern China’s Qinghai province are circulating an expanded list of “unlawful” activities deemed to challenge Beijing’s rule, according to sources in the region.
The list, which includes prohibitions already in force against self-immolation protests and online advocacy of Tibetan independence, now also targets the establishment of “illegal associations formed in the name of the Tibetan language, the environment, and education,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Also banned are the organization of gatherings or protest rallies supporting the equality of languages and the protection of animals,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Other prohibited activities include the publishing of articles or books or production of audio recordings encouraging “separatist goals,” along with the dissemination of any voice mails, drawings, or video clips opposing China’s rule, the source said.
“Anyone violating these directives will be dealt with severely according to law,” the new rules state, according to RFA’s source.
Eroding traditions, rights
Tibetans have long complained about eroding religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions in Tibetan-populated regions of China, and language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to reassert national identity in recent years, sources say.
On Nov. 9, 2012, several thousand students in Rebgong took to the streets to demand greater rights, including the right to use Tibetan, instead of Mandarin Chinese, as their language of instruction in the schools.
Chinese authorities in Rebgong have often held meetings with local Tibetans, urging them to support Chinese government policies and to “appreciate the wide and comprehensive benefits of development and government assistance,” RFA’s source said.
“We are not demanding independence for Tibetans, but only greater freedom, but they are now circulating notices warning us against supporting independence in order to suppress us,” he said.
“When they take unfair actions like this, we have no choice but to let our feelings be known to outside contacts like you.”
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 136 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.