Lithang under siege days after the protest

According to the latest information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Chinese authorities in Lithang County have significantly beefed up security measures by bringing more forces amidst severe restriction imposed on the movement of the people in Lithang following days of protests.

According to sources, “hundreds of People’s Armed Police (PAP) -a paramilitary force- in full combat gears has arrived in Lithang County in the past couple of days following protest by Tibetans in the area. Severe restrictions are being put on the movement of the people in Lithang. People from villages and monasteries were told not to move out of their houses and warn of serious consequences if they come out in the street. All the shops, and restaurants remain closed with streets bearing complete deserted look except for the hundreds of security forces in full combat gears. The situation is very tense in Lithang at the moment.”

The residents of neighboring nomadic villages like Othok and Youtru were completely barred from venturing into Lithang town. The telecommunication lines in the area is said to be temporarily cut off that it remains difficult to stay connected with the outside world. According to sources, “Yesterday (18 February) a meeting was called among the monastic clergies, committee members and high lamas of the monasteries in Lithang, where monks were warned by authorities of dire consequences if anyone participates in any of the secessionist activities. They were also told that government would firmly crush the savage aggression of the Dalai clique, defeat separatism, and wage people’s war to maintain stability.” At the moment, movement of the monks was severely restricted that neither could they come out of the monastery nor the visitors could pay visits to the monastery.

Of the 21 Tibetans detained since 15 February protest in Lithang, three people were known to have been released; two nomad ladies, Yanglo, Dolma and Damdul Gonpo (earlier reported as only Damdul) were released in the evening of 16 February 2009 from Tsagha PSB Detention Centre. Damdul Gonpo, a former monk of Drepung Gomang Monastery, was a unit leader of Derge Village, Unit no.1, Lithang County, Kardze “TAP”

As an indication of possible unrest in Tibet in the run-up to major event and anniversary, China has ordered government and security forces to crush any sign of allegiance and loyalty to the Dalai Lama. Many Tibetan areas are now out of bounds for foreigners.

Recently, a conference of Chinese Communist leaders in Lhasa ordered authorities to “mobilize and fully deploy” to maintain stability, the Tibet Daily, official mouthpiece reportedly said. The security meeting in Tibet said the overarching task for Tibetan authorities this year was to “resolutely go toe-to-toe in a battle against all destructive separatist activities to maintain stability.” AFP reported a Chinese state media in Tibet as saying Thursday. “The meeting called on the party, government, military, police and public in all areas… to firmly crush the savage aggression of the Dalai clique, defeat separatism, and wage people’s war to maintain stability,” the paper said of the meeting in Lhasa.

In recent days, the security beef up has been witnessed in at least four areas of the Tibetan region; Lhasa, the capital; Labrang (Ch: Xiahe), a town in Gansu Province that witnessed a persistent and large scale protest last year; Rebkong (Ch:Tongren), a monastery town in Qinghai Province; and Lithang, a town in Kardze “TAP” Sichuan Province that has been locked down this week.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses its grave concern on the increased military presence in the Tibetan areas prior to major events. The Chinese authorities in the name of maintaining stability in Tibet are committing a large-scale human rights violation, clampdown on the freedom of expression, opinion, thought, movement and peaceful assembly and resorting to arbitrary detention. The Centre urges the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to uphold and respect fundamental human rights affirmed and asserted in the Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights treaties that she had signed and ratified. TCHRD also urges the international community to step up necessary pressure and political influence on China to immediately put an end to rampant and gross violation of human rights in Tibet

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