New governor: same Tibet

1st February 2013

Tibetan set to continue policies of Chinese masters

Former mayor of Lhasa Losang Gyaltsen has taken over as governor of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), promising to “unswervingly protect the unity of the motherland” – meaning China – and to “maintain harmony and stability”.

According to official Chinese media, the new governor stated "We should cherish the harmonious and stable situation in our region in the same way that we cherish our very sight."

Nearly 100 people have set themselves alight in protest against the Chinese occupation since 2009 and other forms of protest including mass demonstrations take place despite the heavy security presence.

His appointment comes just before the 100th anniversary of the Tibetan declaration of independence on 13 February 1913 and not long before 10 March – recognised as Tibetan Uprising Day – which is normally a time of high tensions and renewed protest in Tibet.

His comments are seen as a clear sign that he will continue the hard line policies of his predecessors – at least in the short term.

Chinese over Tibetan

The TAR is the western part of Tibet. The governorship is by law held by an ethnic Tibetan, but the governor answers to the regional Communist Party chief, who is always an ethnic Han Chinese.

The rest of Tibet lies within other Chinese provinces and their governors are Chinese.

More people sentenced over self-immolations

Following yesterday’s reports of long sentences for two monks for “inciting” self-immolations, a further six people have been sentenced in a separate case in Kanhlo, Eastern Tibet (outside the TAR), for – according to Chinese state media - preventing police from “helping” a man who set himself alight in protest last October.

All survivors of self-immolation protests so far have been detained by security forces and their conditions and whereabouts are unknown.

In some cases, security forces deny families of those who have died the opportunity to hold normal funeral services.

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