In 2011, Chen Quanguo was appointed to the position of Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), a vast area making up just under half of historic Tibet.
His goal was to bring “stability” to the TAR, which had seen fierce and tenacious resistance to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule. Three years earlier, in March 2008, protests against the Chinese occupation had broken out in the capital Lhasa and quickly spread across Tibet, taking the Chinese government by surprise and drawing international media attention to its abuses in Tibet.
Chen wasted no time in cracking down on Tibet by imposing tight surveillance and an overwhelming security presence. During his time in office, the TAR would go on to advertise over 12,000 policing-related positions – over four times as many positions as the preceding five years. Over 600 new police stations were built within six months of him becoming Party Secretary. Cities were divided into closely-monitored grids, while households were required to spy on their neighbours and hi-tech surveillance technology introduced. Some 20,000 party members and security personnel were also dispatched to Tibet’s villages and monasteries to monitor locals. A senior CCP official referred to Chen’s suffocating surveillance policies as creating “nets in the sky and traps on the ground.”
With police, cameras and checkpoints everywhere, peaceful protest and dissent became riskier than ever. Numerous Tibetans were arrested for dissent or peaceful protest, with exact numbers impossible to verify due to the TAR being closed off from the world. Those detained faced torture, and in several instances, were killed in detention, such as Kunchok Drakpa and Ngawang Jamyang, two leaders of protests in Driru County in 2013 who were both beaten to death. Other demonstrations were met with live gunfire or broken up by police beating protesters. Communities and monasteries would be collectively punished for protests, often being forced to undergo “patriotic re-education”.
Chen also attempted to eradicate Tibet’s unique cultural, religious and linguistic identity, a processed dubbed “breaking lineage, breaking roots, breaking connections, and breaking origins”. A campaign was launched to promote “ethnic unity” between Tibetans and Han Chinese though marriage, and hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese settlers were transferred to Lhasa. Millions of pounds were invested in an initiative to force Tibet’s monasteries to be loyal to the CCP and China through a mix of coercion and state propaganda.
The TAR today is one of the most closed and repressive places on earth, regularly ranked by the US think tank Freedom House as second only to Syria in its lack of political freedoms and civil rights. This is the legacy Chen left in Tibet.
We must not allow Chen Quanguo to continue his repressive and inhumane rule. Sign the petition and demand that the Government ban Chen from entering the UK.