Recent exiles shed light on China’s latest efforts to control Tibet
Recently a group of young Tibetans who fled China arrived at the Tibetan community exile in Dharamsala. They met members of Tibet Watch, Free Tibet’s research partner, and detailed their experiences under Chinese rule, providing key insights into life under occupation.
The Tibetans, who reached exile from all the three regions of Tibet: U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, were hesitant to speak much about their home towns and only did so on the condition of anonymity.
Most of the young monks had been in primary schools before enrolling in a local monastery. They detailed the effects that Chinese rule has had on their education and upbringing. For example, one young monk who belonged to a monastery in Amdo told Tibet Watch that although Tibetan language classes were provided, all other subjects are taught in Chinese. This monk also described lessons featuring stories of Chinese patriotic figures and martyrs. Other refugees nodded in agreement to confirm that they have also experienced similar situations.
Another monk, when asked about restrictions on young novices in monasteries, said:
“I do not know about the age requirement to be a monk in Tibetan monasteries. In my monastery there are many young monks who are below 18 years old. It is only while Chinese officials are visiting the monastery that elders instruct young monks to stay back in their rooms”.
Another monk who is from eastern Tibet recalled that in 2009 and 2010, every household in his area was given a Chinese national flag by the government to raise over their rooftops. He added that people were initially reluctant to raise the red flags on their houses but they had to during check-ups by Chinese officials.
A nun in the group said her nunnery is located in a very remote area in Dingri County and as a result does not have much interference from the authorities. However, she added that: “I can't return to Tibet in future since I fled”.
Life in Lhasa
One of new arrivals was a 13-year-old girl from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and one of the most heavily restricted places in the world. She said that both Chinese teachers and students outnumbered Tibetan teachers and students in her school.
The girl, whose father lives in Lithang in Kham, said “All the families have photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Lithang whenever I have visited but recently this is not the case. Another recent development was Chinese flags on rooftops and walls in the region”.
She also said that her family have to produce their identity cards whenever they travel to Lhasa City. She spoke about life in Lhasa after the fire at the Jokhang Temple in February, saying that she had been unable to visit the site due to a ban and was also restricted from visiting the Barkor, the path of circumambulation running around the Jokhang, and Tromsegang, the main market around the Jokhang.
These new arrivals in Dharamsala started their journeys to exile on different dates and took different routes. However, all had to pay between 10000 to 15000 yuan (around £1,120 to £1685) for their guides.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch.
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