700,000 more Tibetans targeted under coercive labour programme

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has announced plans for the ‘vocational training’ of an additional 700,000 rural farmers and nomads in occupied Tibet in 2021 (1).

In 2020, the Jamestown Foundation reported that half a million people were subjected to ‘military style’ re-education programmes, many of whom were relocated throughout Tibet and China (2).

As part of the programme, rural Tibetans have been trained in roles such as road construction, cleaning, mining, cooking and driving. Those passing through the programme are also required to be trained in “work discipline” and “work ethics”.The number of Tibetans that were required to pass through the programme was established through quotas handed down by the government.

Like the genocide of Uyghur people taking place in the area governed as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (known to Uyghurs as East Turkestan), this represents a systematic move by the Chinese government to eradicate the traditional Tibetan way of life, often using “poverty alleviation” as a justification (3). The apparent forceful nature of this labour programme bears similarities to previous actions by the CCP such as mass relocations and land ownership confiscations. Other such moves by the government have included placing propaganda in Buddhist monasteries and jailing Tibetan language advocates.

CCP official Chen Quanguo, now the Party Secretary of the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was previously in charge of what is known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. During his period of brutal repression he developed many of the techniques that are now being inflicted on the Uyghur people (4).

The new announcement was made in a seemingly innocuous post by the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Department of Human Resources and Social Security on the government website Tibet.cn. Exact details of the programme and its impact on the Tibetan people are hard to come by because Tibet is almost completely closed to the world.


John Jones, Campaigns Manager, at Free Tibet, said:

“From the Uyghurs to the Tibetans, the Chinese government is relentlessly pursuing the eradication of traditional ways of life in the hope that it will quell dissent and erase all that is unique and precious about their culture. There is no evidence that the people coerced into these programmes have any need or desire for re-education but the occupying government rips them away from their lives and homelands regardless, with no thought for how disorientating or alienating this will be for Tibetans..

"This coercive labour transfer programme also reveals a larger  truth: Tibetans must be allowed to determine their own future: how they steward their land and how they preserve their culture. So long as Tibet is not free, it is hostage to the Chinese government's increasingly vicious plans. International governments must be proactive in supporting Tibetans' desire for freedom.”



Free Tibet representatives are available for interview.

Press contact - Will Hoyles, Media Officer, will@freetibet.org, 07772512519


About Free Tibet

Free Tibet is a London-based organisation established to support the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom. Our vision is a free Tibet in which Tibetans are able to determine their own future and the human rights of all are respected.


Notes for editors

1. http://eng.tibet.cn/eng/index/rolling/202102/t20210207_6951853.html

2. Information from last year about the programme can be found on the Free Tibet website at https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/report-over-500000-tibetans-relocated-coerced-labour-programme and on the Jamestown Foundation website at https://jamestown.org/program/jamestown-early-warning-brief-xinjiangs-system-of-militarized-vocational-training-comes-to-tibet/

3. https://freetibet.org/news-media/na/chinese-authorities-relocate-over-fifty-tibetans

The Farmer and Pastoralist Training and Labor Transfer Action Plan, which is the basis of this programme,  was issued in March 2019 - http://bomi.gov.cn/linzhi/zwgk/201908/1b0788f648fc4bb0ada743e5d3fd3b7d.shtml 

4. Details of Free Tibet’s campaign for sanctions against Chen Quanguo can be found at https://freetibet.org/take-action/ban-chen