China Attempts to portray Tibetans as anti-Dalai Lama

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Trusted sources from inside Tibet have recently reported an upsurge in attempts by the Chinese authorities in the Tibetan regions of Kham and Amdo to portray the Tibetan people as opposed to the Dalai Lama and his return to Tibet. The authorities have employed trick questions and financial inducements to photograph Tibetans apparently showing their opposition to the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama. Free Tibet Campaign has received reports from credible sources in Lithang in the Tibetan region of Kham (Chinese provinces Sichuan and Yunnan) that a public meeting was called in December 2007 to provide propaganda photos for the Chinese authorities. Citizens were asked to raise their hands if they opposed the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama. No one raised a hand. According to the sources they were then asked to raise their hands if they did *not* have a weapon at home. It is illegal to possess a weapon in Tibet, and unsurprisingly everyone raised a hand. A photo was taken at this point by the Chinese authorities. Tibetan sources claim that the authorities sent the photo to selected media, claiming that people were raising their hands in response to the Dalai Lama question. It is exceedingly difficult to get any more information out of Kham. In November 2007 Tibetan nomad Runggye Adak was sentenced to eight years imprisonment after calling for the return of the Dalai Lama. His co-accused were given lengthier sentences for passing on information and photos to foreign journalists.

Free Tibet Campaign has also received fresh reports from a credible source of the Chinese authorities conducting anti-Dalai Lama activities in the Chinese province of Gansu (Tibetan region of Amdo) in December 2007. According to the reports, all Township (administrative term for groups of villages sometimes called Production Brigade) Secretaries and Accountants in Gansu Province were invited on a China-wide tour sponsored by the government. Before taking part in the tour, all the Township Secretaries and Accountants were called to a meeting at Lanzhou city where they were asked, in front of the media, to sign a petition on behalf of the people they represent, stating their opposition to the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. This meeting was reportedly broadcast on certain Chinese television. According to the source, an old man from Amchok (Town), Hezui City refused to sign the petition and was taken away and beaten.
The source reported that attempts were made to try to convince the man from Amchok to sign the petition, pointing out that everyone else had, but he remained adamant, saying he was willing to face any consequences. As a result the old man was kept in prison in Lanzhou while the rest of the township delegates were taken on what was reportedly a very luxurious tour all over China for a month. The old man from Amchok was not released until the other delegates returned to Lanzhou from their trip. He has been warned not be tell anyone back home what happened to him or face being arrested again. After returning to Amchok, the old man ignored the warning and talked about his experience. He said he'd had the worst beating of his life, but he was ready to face more beatings and imprisonment rather than be silent about the authorities' attempts to portray Tibetan officials as anti-Dalai Lama. His story led a group of young Tibetans to attack Township Secretaries and Accountants from Gyelmogon, Hezui City, while they were eating at an expensive restaurant in Gyelmogon with money received from the government. Some of the township secretaries were seriously injured and hospitalised in Ganan City. (We received this information from a monk who saw and talked to the injured in the hospital. The name of the Amchok civil servant remains unknown.)

Free Tibet Campaign has also learnt that the Secretaries and Accountants who signed the petition against the return of the Dalai Lama were rewarded by having their salaries increased by 2000 Yuan to 3000 Yuan per month. This is more than Secretaries and Accountants in many townships make in a year. The information was supplied by another monk who went to perform a puja - worship - at the home of one of the township secretaries, who boasted about the money to the monk.

Reports have also been received from Tibetan sources in Bora, near Tso in Gansu province (Tibetan region of Amdo) that Tibetan families are being forced to buy, feed and kill pigs for the Tibetan New Year. Tibetans have decided this year not to kill pigs, as is customary in the run up to the New Year, due to 2007-8 being an inauspicious year for the Dalai Lama who was born in the Tibetan astrological year of the pig. Mindful of the inauspicious nature of the year, Tibetans have given offerings of incense and prayed for the long life of the Dalai Lama with increased fervour. They have also abstained from eating pork. Reports indicate that the authorities, keen to stamp down on such obvious displays of loyalty, have visited villages in Bora county offering sums of 250 yuan to each family to buy a pig and a further 250 yuan to feed and kill the pig. Sources in Bora report that those families that have bought and killed pigs have been paid sums of money by the authorities.

The "Mirror of Society" newspaper in Dharamsala has reported that those families that have refused to kill and eat pigs have been fined.

Tibetans call for the removal of the Party Secretary in Machu County

A well-placed source has reported the posting of leaflets and fliers calling for a "Free Tibet" in Ganan city in Gansu province during the night of 27 December, 2007. The fliers, also read: "Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Sun of His Happiness will soon shine over Tibet" and were posted on the walls of the city mayor and other high profile authorities in the city as well as on the walls of the Tibetan Middle School and the New Bus Station in Ganan. The source reported that the Chinese authorities ordered 200 soldiers and police to watch over Ganan and Tso and that a 10pm curfew had been announced in Tso and Ganan.

It is unclear whether the posting of the fliers was connected to the authorities' propaganda measures outlined above to indicate Tibetan opposition to the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said: "China's cynical use of tricks and bribes to portray Tibetan opposition to the Dalai Lama convinces no one. The increasingly desperate nature of the government's measures underlines China's total failure after 57 years of occupation to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people. As the Beijing 2008 Games approach Tibetans, both inside and outside Tibet, are more determined than ever to demonstrate their loyalty to the Dalai Lama."

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For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456