China tightens the screw on Driru

5th August 2014

Livelihoods threatened by new restrictions in restive county

Authorities in Driru county, the scene of significant resistance to Chinese rule in the last twelve months, have issued comprehensive new regulations to limit travel, punish online freedom of speech and prevent local Tibetans practising their religion. In June, a new rule book was published in the county, running to four chapters and twenty six articles. Punishments include removing the rights of monks and nuns to practice, denying welfare benefits, cutting salaries and banning Tibetans from harvesting a valuable fungus that provides vital income for rural communities.

Tibetans banned from travel

Many Tibetans try to travel to the Kalachakra, a Buddhist empowerment event held by the Dalai Lama in India. Tibetans from the county who have already gone abroad when this law was published, will not be allowed to return to Tibet. Those who have returned will be subject to a range of penalties. Simply participating in religious activities outside the central TAR region will lead to punishment.

No information

Sending or sharing information against China's policies or having strong nationalistic flavour through songs and poems. Since 2012, China has jailed eleven Tibetan singers for writing and performing songs celebrating Tibet, opposing China's occupation and calling for freedom. One is Trinley Tsekar who is from Driru and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Penalty for Tibetans

Tibetans have been put into three different categories and will be punished according to their livelihood. Monks and nuns will have their identity cards (which give them permission to conduct religious activities) withdrawn and dismissed from their monastery, welfare provisions withheld, their properties and belongings for organising religious activities confiscated. Officials will have their salaries/ pensions withdrawn and can be dismissed from work. Close family members may also be punished. Harvesting caterpillar fungus (a naturally occurring commodity which fetches high prices in China) is a major source of income for rural Tibetans. In a grave threat to their economic survival, Tibetans accused will be banned from harvesting the fungus. The punishment will also include close families members. All people accused of the new offences will be subjected to lengthy forced "political re-education" and will be kept under continuous surveillance.

Driru County

Driru has been a target for harsh treatment by the Chinese authorities since mining protests and after local Tibetans refused to fly the Chinese flag on their homes last year.

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