"What race you are counts for getting a better job"

Machu County employment protest April 2016
Machu Employment protest. Banner says: "Stop the Outsiders. Reform Public Sector Employment Practices. We haven't broken the law."
15th April 2016

Employment protesters beaten; US slams human rights in Tibet.

Recently-fired Tibetans staging a peaceful protest have been arrested and jailed in Tibet. They complained of racism and "blatant lies" by the government department which made them redundant. In other news, the US State Department published its annual human rights report yesterday, which criticised China for "severe repression" of "Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage".

Employment protesters targeted

On 8 April 2016, at around 3:30pm, a peaceful protest by Tibetan government workers took place at the county government offices in Machu County, Kanlho, in eastern Tibet.

The protesters had all lost their jobs with no prior notice or reasons except that they were not properly qualified for their jobs.

The protesters carried a banner saying, "Stop the Outsiders. Reform Public Sector Employment Practices. We haven't broken the law." The leaflet they distributed at the protest complained of favouritism in government appointments, saying  "a lot of [co-workers still employed] have jobs based on them paying bribes or using their backdoor connections" and "where you come from and what race you belong to counts for getting a better post and better department and jobs".

All of the protesters, around 20 people, were detained immediately. News later emerged that they had been beaten and threatened in detention and their mobile phones and gold jewellery were confiscated and not returned.

Before being released from detention, the police warned the protesters and their families of imprisonment if they shared photos, information or anything regarding the whole incident and the reasons behind it. The detained protesters refused to go home without being given proper reasons for everything they had been through. Their present conditions are unknown.

Discrimination against Tibetans

Tibetans face numerous economic challenges in Tibet. Many businesses are Chinese owned and Chinese immigrants are at an advantage in the job market, partly because of social connections and because their fluency and literacy in Mandarin far exceeds that of most Tibetans. Government jobs are controlled by the Communist Party, which seeks signs of loyalty to the Chinese state.  China's government claims it has invested hugely in Tibet but Tibetans have not been the main beneficiaries.

Criticism from the US

The US State Department's annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices were published this week. The China report noted that in China as a whole "[r]epression and coercion markedly increased during the year against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public interest and ethnic minority issues". In its lengthy section on Tibet, it listed human rights violations across the board, including "extrajudicial detentions, disappearances, and torture". The introduction states:

The government’s respect for, and protection of, human rights in the TAR and other Tibetan areas remained poor. Under the professed objectives of controlling border areas, maintaining social stability, and combating separatism, the government engaged in the severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of China’s Tibetan population, including the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement. The government routinely vilified the Dalai Lama and blamed the “Dalai [Lama] Clique” and “other outside forces” for instigating instability.

The publication follows a strongly critical joint statement about human rights in China delivered by a number of countries (including the US) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in March.


The report, however, states that the US "recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures (TAPs) and counties in other provinces to be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)", a position that is factually wrong.

Take Urgent Action for Tashi Wangchuk

Tashi Wangchuk has been arrested and charged with "splittism" after talking to the New York Times last year about his peaceful campaign to protect Tbetan language and culture.