August 10, 2023

China escalates crackdown on Tibetans: Arrests, sentences, and defiance

China escalates crackdown on Tibetans: Arrests, sentences, and defiance

In recent times, Chinese authorities have escalated their crackdown on Tibetan individuals, resulting in arrests, harsh sentences, and tragic incidents. The Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom and the preservation of their culture and language continues to face repression and state-sponsored actions.

This article sheds light on some of the recent incidents involving Tibetan women, writers, and monks, as well as an act of defiance that highlights the ongoing plight of the Tibetan people, Tibet Watch reported.

On 23 June 2022, Chinese police arrested a Tibetan woman named Zumkar for possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. The arrest took place at her home in Tsarang Township, Amdo County, where the police found the photo on an altar.

Four days later, she was transferred to Lhasa, approximately 500 kilometers away. Other residents in the area were also investigated for possessing the Dalai Lama’s photos. The incident reflects the Chinese government’s intolerance towards any form of veneration of the exiled spiritual leader.

Youdon, the younger sister of Zumkar, was arrested in Tsarang Township on 11 July. The reason for her arrest has not been confirmed, but it is speculated that her connection to her sister’s case might be the cause. The arrest highlights the Chinese government’s policy of collective punishment, where family members of those deemed politically undesirable are targeted.

Thupten Lodoe, a Tibetan writer, was sentenced to four years and five months in prison on charges of “inciting separatism” and “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” He was arrested seven months prior for writing political posts on social media.

Thupten Lodoe’s sentencing demonstrates the Chinese government’s heavy-handed approach towards anyone expressing dissenting views or promoting Tibetan culture and identity Tibet Watch Reported.

In a tragic act of defiance, an 81-year-old Tibetan man, Tashi Phuntsok, set himself on fire in front of the police station at Kirti Monastery on 27 March 2022. Despite immediate actions by the police, he later succumbed to his injuries. Self-immolation has been a form of protest used by many Tibetans against the Chinese government’s oppressive policies.

Three senior monks from Drago Monastery suffered severe health issues after their release from prison in January 2018. They had served six-year prison sentences after mass protests in 2012. The monks’ suffering is attributed to the forced labor, torture, and lack of adequate food provisions they endured during their imprisonment. This reflects the harsh conditions faced by political prisoners in Tibet.

Tibetan writer Gendun Lhundup was forcibly taken by Chinese officials in December 2020 after questioning a workshop on the sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism. His whereabouts remain unknown, and his case highlights the Chinese government’s suppression of dissenting voices and attempts to control Tibetan religious and cultural practices, Tibet Watch reported.