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China battens down hatches on Tibet

LHASA (SE): Human Rights Watch is critical of Beijing for staging a massive military parade in Lhasa, Tibet, just one week prior to the marking of the failed 1959 uprising that saw China finally put its stranglehold on the country.

Lhasa became a military fortress when some 5,000 troops carrying guns and shields accompanied by about 1,000 military and anti-riot vehicles marched through the streets of the Tibetan capital on March 3, just seven days prior to the March 10 anniversary.

“Chinese authorities should refrain from aggressive displays of military force and other intimidation in Tibetan areas around the March 10 anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule,” Human Rights Watch says in a report published on March 9.

“The authorities should use the anniversary to encourage rather than prevent travel to the region and address pressing human rights concerns,” it continues.

The Tibetan Autonomous Region was also closed to travel by foreigners for most of February and all of March and the entire region is under major security alert.

“Chinese authorities are once again shutting off travel and holding military parades to bully the Tibetan population into silence,” Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“Progress on human rights is only going to happen if the Chinese government replaces its intimidation tactics with a more open approach to information, expression and peaceful dissent,” she commented.

In battening down the hatches on the Tibetan population, the government called for better attention to the Central Communist Party Committee and the regional party to intimidate any and all hostile separatist saboteurs.”

The soldiers in the parade pledged to fight for outright victory through perfect devotion to the party, keeping their minds fixed on their duty and daring to fight to win.

The Chinese authorities in Tibet are regularly criticised for equating peaceful activism with separatism.

On February 20, the chief of security in Tibet, Ding Yexian, gave detailed security instructions to be followed to maintain stability, an expression for the prevention of any unrest or expression of dissent.

These require all local security and party offices to identify and manage individuals classified as focus personnel, so that not a single individual is overlooked and no incident arises.

Focus personnel covers unaffiliated monks and nuns, former political prisoners and anyone returning from India, where the Tibetan government in exile is based, which means they should be preemptively detained.

Ding describes the anti-terror situation in Tibet as arduous and onerous. He called for strict vigilance against the movement of suspect persons through confirmed checks and stringent interrogation, as well as strict one-by-one checks and questioning of all persons, vehicles and materials entering Tibet.

Senior party personnel have been placed in each village, monastery, Communist Party organisation, community group and household-based team, to keep a careful ear on public meeting places to understand the social situation and mass sentiments more deeply and get to know the big picture from observing tiny details.

“Beijing’s aim to squelch all criticism and dissent in Tibet is counterproductive,” Richardson said. “It increases repression, fuels discontent, defies international standards and is no justification for the authorities’ claims of impunity for their actions.”

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