15/12/2019

China launches “Strike Hard” Campaign ahead of sensitive anniversary

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy(TCHRD) condemns in strongest term over Chinese authorities — launching of the –”Strike Hard” campaign aimed at carrying out further detentions of Tibetans in Tibet as the March anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising approaches.

According to information given in the official newspaper Lhasa Evening News (Ch: Lasa Wen Bao) today, “the Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials under the order of Lhasa City government, the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (“TAR”) PSB, “TAR” Party Committee and Lhasa City Party Committee had carried out the “Strike Hard” Campaign from 9:00PM (Beijing standard time) yesterday across the Tibetan Capital, Lhasa. “The campaign was also launched across all seven prefectures under the “TAR” in order to strike hard according to law against all kinds of criminal activity and to vigorously uphold the social order and stability.” The length of this campaign was not mentioned and it may last for months. 

Additional security forces in full combat gear were deployed in and around Lhasa City and at its every entry points to the city. Vehicles plying to and from Lhasa city were thoroughly searched and requiring anyone entering or leaving the city to show identification. New security barricades were set up to look for any possible suspects and round-the-clock security measures were also undertaken. Security forces in combat uniform were seen patrolling the major gathering points, high prone areas, and raids were also carried out in guest houses. There is no information on how this campaign has fared in other prefectures under the “TAR”.

According to the official report, the Lhasa City PSB officials during the campaign last night detained 70 people without official registration card and identity card from rented houses located on the Sera Road. Seven counties under the Lhasa Municipality also carried out the “strike hard” campaign on war footing with major search and raid being carried out.

The new “Strike Hard” campaign is being launched after years of severely tight security and most repressive political conditions in Tibet. Unlike previous “strike hard” campaigns which mostly focused in Lhasa city, this time the campaign has been launched across the “TAR” simultaneously.

This new development signals authorities “hardening policies in Tibet and the authorities” pre emptive move to squash any imminent new protest in the coming days.

“Strike Hard” campaigns are normally carried out in various parts of the People’s Republic of China prior to major events, including national holidays, anniversaries, as well as before the main annual government and Party conferences often with the stated intention of “cleansing the social environment.” The “strike hard” campaign launched yesterday could be a prelude to a series of arbitrary detention and arrests prior to the 10 March Anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPCC), China’s top advisory body that convenes today and the annual plenary sessions of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday.

Though the primary objective of the current “strike hard” campaign was mentioned as fighting criminals, upholding social order and stability, however, the TCHRD believes the primary motive behind this infamous campaign as the authorities’ attempt to detain those Tibetans suspected to be “involved in political activism, target former political prisoners and Tibetan residents from outside Lhasa city, monks and nuns as sensitive date approaches. Under this campaign, the Chinese law enforcement bodies abuse the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people through arbitrary arrest, detention, interrogation and torture, dismissal from jobs and expulsion from religious institutions. TCHRD condemns the launch of “strike hard” campaign and question the motive behind the campaign.” With unprecedented levels of security presence already throughout Tibet, with the launch of this campaign, TCHRD fears a widespread unlawful detentions of Tibetans will intensify in the coming weeks and months, and that they may be used to silence, intimidate and stifle political dissent in the build up to the 10 March Anniversary when the authorities fear fresh unrest following the wave of protests that swept across the Tibetan plateau in the past couple of years.