16 October 2007
Credible and confirmed information coming from Tibet indicates that the Chinese authorities in Tibet have heightened the security measures and intensified control prior to impending U.S. Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony for the Dalai Lama on 17 October 2007.
According to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), the Chinese authorities of Lhasa City on 15 October issued an official order stating students and Tibetan employees in the government to refrain from seeking leave from their schools and office or participate in customary Sangsol ritual (incense burning ceremony that involve offering tsampa in the air for success and good fortune) this week or face expulsion from school, salary cut and even termination of their job.
In the same wavelength, on 14 October 2007, many elderly and retired Tibetan people who usually gather outside the famous Ramoche Temple in Lhasa City to offer Mani prayer were ordered to terminate the prayer session and vacate the place immediately for an indefinite period.
According to confirmed information, an official notice was issued by the Lhasa City government office to all the heads of neighborhood committee directing people under their respective area to refrain from taking part in any religious activities such as customary observance of Sangsol, holding group prayer at the monastery or any act of revelry this week in the light of US Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony for the Dalai Lama to be held in Washington DC on 17 October 2007.
The regulation and control over monasteries in the surrounding areas of Lhasa City are intensified more than it had been in the past.
According to other sources, the stationed officers of Lhasa Public Security Bureau (PSB) rounded up many former political prisoners residing in and around Lhasa at the Local Police Station for questioning. They were even known to have been ordered to refrain from participating in any activities in the coming weeks. Since 25 September, it was reported that the number of People’s Armed Police (PAP) and PSB officials were also increased significantly to deal with any untoward incident.
Moreover, restriction and vigilance was also stepped up in offices, schools, homes of ex-political prisoners and those of people whom the government deemed suspicious or usually held suspicious. The Chinese authorities are taking every precautionary measures to ensure that no untoward incidents happen during the week.
These measures have resulted in violation of fundamental human rights of Tibetans in Tibet.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities have over riding paranoia about maintaining stability in the region. Hence, in order to avert any upheavals by Tibetans during major celebrations and events, Chinese authorities resort to various precautionary measures including heightened vigilance, closer supervision of suspected individuals and former political prisoners, even resorting to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Tibetans with background in political activities in the past are especially susceptible for being rounded up and interrogated, made to sign surety letter and their family members are made to stand as guarantor that the individual will not carry out any political activities. All these restrictive measures and heightened vigilance have created an atmosphere of fear in different parts of Tibet, according to information received by TCHRD.
In light of recent protest by the Tibetan people in Kardze region particularly in Lithang County, the Chinese authorities have beefed up the security measures and vigorously carrying out “Patriotic Education” Campaign across all the monastic institutions and in villages. According to a Tibetan in Lithang County who wish to remain anonymous due to security reasons told TCHRD that, “Since the past one week, a group of two to three local government officials were coming regularly to each and every villages, outlawing activities such as public gathering, or people talking in group and conducting prayer session for the next twenty days. When we asked the officials about the reason behind such measures, we were told that they would let us know later without giving any particular reason. ”
In view of the recent heightened of security and vigilance and past records depicting increase in number of arrest during important events, most noticeably in the wake of the Dalai Lama’s address to the US Congress in 1987 and the conferment of the Noble Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama in 1989, TCHRD fears that there will be numerous arrest of joyous celebrating Tibetans this time also. The Centre will continue to rigorously monitor the situation in Tibet.
TCHRD expresses its serious concern over the stepping up of restriction and vigilance in Tibet. Such restriction and new regulative measures often give way to serious violation of Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights in the name of maintaining stability and security by the Chinese authorities. TCHRD appeals to the PRC authorities to recall the official order and imposition of restriction and not to hinder the normal life of the Tibetan people in Tibet.