Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch has learned that on 9 August, 110 Tibetans who attended a horse racing festival were detained in Janglam Village in Nyanrong County (Tib:གཉན་རོང་རྗོང་།) in Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. They were detained for sharing online images and videos from the event that show Chinese police, officials, and the highway near the festival site. During their detention, they were interrogated for the aforementioned online contents.
According to a local source, 80 of those arrested were released after each paying a fine of 5000 yuan (560GBP approx.) The remaining 30 of them are yet to be released and their current situation remains unknown.
Random phone searches
Horse race festivals are a popular part of Tibetan tradition and culture that are regularly held once every year.
Prior to the event, Chinese officials had issued a notice forbidding taking photos and videos of the officials, police, ceremonies and sharing them online. Attendees had been warned with a punishment of 5000 yuan monetary fine and the requirement to report their presence daily to the police authorities for one week.
Chinese officials in the region conducted random search operations on the mobiles before and during the official event. Armed forces and police were heavily deployed to maintain strict surveillance during the entirety of the festival.
A source reported, “local Chinese authorities held a meeting with the villagers (Jamglam villagers) around 9:30 in the morning. During the meeting, they asked all the villagers to put their mobile phones in a box on the table and later conducted a search operation. It was reported that eleven police officers were present at the meeting and they called out names of 110 people and took them to the police station.”
Tibet Watch has received multiple photographic evidence of the festival and of local Tibetans standing in the queue beside policemen for mobile-phone inspection at the local authorities’ office.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch