Potala Palace, Lhasa

Tibetan pilgrim arrested at Potala Palace

The arrest comes in the context of heightened security and a surge in Chinese tourism to Tibet

Tibet Watch has learned that, yesterday, 40-year-old Tsewang Norbu was arrested by police while on a pilgrimage to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

According to external sources contacted by Tibet Watch,  the man was taken away for demanding that pilgrims like himself be given priority to visit the sacred Potala Palace – the home of the Dalai Lama. He had been waiting for over one week for an opportunity to visit the Palace, during the holiest month of the lunar calendar.

Following his arrest, sources state that security officials increased their surveillance of Tibetans waiting to visit the palace.

A massive influx of tourism to Tibet, under Chinese government economic development plans, has made it increasingly difficult for religious pilgrims to visit sacred sites. Those visiting these sites to make religious offerings must wait in the same long queues as tourists, and are not guaranteed entry on the day they visit. This is compounded by reports that Chinese authorities are prioritising tourist visits to holy sites, and imposing new restrictions on Tibetans’ religious practices.

Tsewang Norbu’s condition and wellbeing remain unknown. It is not known if he has been charged with any crime, or if he has been released.

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