In the last ten days more than a hundred people in one Tibetan town have been arrested for having images of the Dalai Lama on their phones. These latest arrests took place in Dza Wonpo Town and happened in two waves: 50 people were arrested between 21 and 25 August following the arrival of hundreds of soldiers. Following an enforced ‘People’s Meeting’ on 25 August, which all adults were required to attend, house searches were carried out and a further 50 people were arrested.
The arrests are the latest human rights outrage to be visited on the people of Dza Wonpo, a small Tibetan town that is historically part of Tibet but is governed by the occupying Chinese government as part of Sichuan Province. On 19 January this year, a teenage Buddhist monk from the Dza Wonpo Monastery, named Tenzin Nyima, died as a result of wounds inflicted on him in police detention. Tenzin Nyima had been arrested in 2019 following a peaceful protest for Tibetan freedom.
This disgusting escalation of human rights abuses in Tibet should be ringing alarm bells in the West
John Jones, Free Tibet
Mass arrests of Tibetans are becoming increasingly common with more than 100 Tibetans arrested for sharing images of Chinese police and officials at a horse racing festival in central Tibet in early August. Many of those arrested in the earlier incident were released after heavy fines but the whereabouts of others, and all those arrested in Dza Wonpo, are currently unknown. Images of the Dalai Lama are forbidden in Tibet, with Tibetans found in possession of them invariably arrested and charged with state security crimes.
As well as the arrival of a large military presence in the town, local people have been recruited to spy on their compatriots and CCTV cameras have been installed on every street corner and in Dza Wonpo Monastery.
John Jones, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager at Free Tibet, said:
“This disgusting escalation of human rights abuses in Tibet should be ringing alarm bells in the West. Having failed to eradicate Tibetan culture through other means, the Chinese military is being used to make being Tibetan illegal. For generations, the Dalai Lama has been the spiritual and political leader of TIbet and his image is sacred to a great many people in the country.
“There is no depth to which China’s dictators will not sink to increase their power and dominance. What is happening to Tibetans and Uyghurs today could easily be what is happening to Taiwanese and Hongkongers tomorrow. World leaders must not pursue an economic relationship with China at the expense of victims of Chinese oppression. They must speak up for Tibet.”
Images of the arrests at the horse racing festival are available on request.
Free Tibet representatives are available for interview.
Press contact – Will Hoyles, Media Officer, [email protected], 07772512519
About Free Tibet:
Free Tibet is a London-based organisation established to support the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom. Our vision is a free Tibet in which Tibetans are able to determine their own future and the human rights of all are respected. www.freetibet.org