Authorities investigate over 4,000 households in Tibet with ties outside the country

6th May 2020

Officials investigate Tibetan citizens with family members in exile.

Authorities have investigated between 4,000 and 5,000 households in Tibet that have family ties to exiles in Nepal, India and other places outside the country, Tibet Watch has said.

The investigations, which began in April happened in Dingri County, Shigatse City, in the area of Tibet governed as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Tibet Watch said. Tibet Watch also found that  officials forced Tibetans in the area to register their names and identification numbers for their WeChat online social media accounts.

The policy was imposed to stop information from Tibet passing to Tibeten exiles and reaching the outside world, Free Tibet's research team said.

Tibet Watch said the Chinese government targets individuals and social groups who it sees as a possible destabilising influence, labelling them “black categories” or “underworld forces,” with blacklisted families kept under constant surveillance. 

In February 2018, authorities in Tibet launched a campaign called the “fight against underworld forces,” which has given the government broad powers and seen many Tibetans arrested. The full number of arrests  under the policy is yet to emerge, although official figures released in the TAR last January already put the number of convictions at close to 400. 

Free Tibet has previously reported cases of Tibetans arrested and sentenced as a result of the underworld forces campaign.

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