"Armed personnel are everywhere"

27th January 2012

Imagine how it would feel to be treated like a criminal in your own home, just for speaking on the phone… to your relatives.

The situation in Tibet has escalated this week with the shooting of a number of unarmed civilians. Monday's shooting was the largest known shooting of Tibetan civilians since 2008 and is a worrying indication of how the situation is deteriorating.

There have been statements from both the US and UK government this week (amongst others) but words alone without diplomatic action are not enough.

While the shootings understandably dominate thoughts and headlines, it is worth remembering that the oppression and intimidation of Tibetans takes place every day in many, many ways. That is the reality for some Tibetans living under Chinese occupation.

Yesterday I was told the story of one family in Lhasa who had to suffer the ordeal of their home being searched for no apparent reason. They were interrorgated as to the names and whereabouts of everyone who lived in their home.

This must have been terrifying for the family involved.

The authorities searching the house were at pains to point out that they knew that the family had relatives living overseas who they spoke to on the phone. The family were given a sinister reminder not to talk about so-called 'politics' during these conversations.

The implication being 'we are always listening and we will know'.

China is trying to stop Tibetans speaking out. It is trying to stop the sharing of information.

One Tibetan in Lhasa said online this week: “I dare not look around in a casual manner. I dare not move around freely. Armed personnel are everywhere and police are on every corner.”