The Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Chinese government, has recently termed Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, as the safest city through innovative social governance. It quoted Tibet Daily as saying that the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on the public services in Chinese cities has shown Lhasa as the safest city among thirty-eight major cities in China. In the year 2013 also Lhasa was ranked first in public safety. “The sense of security and satisfaction of local residents has reached more than 99 percent”, it claims. This is very welcoming news. But the people who are not aware of the Tibetan situation may take this news at its face value. However, this fact, how much the Chinese may want to brag about, is not corroborated by what is actually happening in Tibet.
Tibet, at the moment, is closed to the outside world since the beginning of February. AP News and other sources have reported that foreign tourist will not be allowed into Tibet until April. It looks like the ban is not officially announced but the authorities have made sure that travel agents are informed on this to keep the foreigners at bay. If Lhasa is the safest city as it claims, why this ban and why this restriction?
The truth lies in the fact that given the presence of a number of security personals, spies, gun-toting PLA men in uniform, rampant surveillance cameras, and army tanks, it should not come as a surprise that Lhasa is the safest city. The city is virtually under siege! A recent traveler to Tibet has noted, “It was too dangerous to ask anyone about such issues: we discovered early on that our tourist vehicle had been fitted with a CCTV camera, a GPS tracker and a listening device, and that our movements and conversations were being monitored by the security services.”
“Amid heavy security on the ground, Tibet is almost entirely closed to foreign journalists and diplomats and information about actual conditions there is difficult to obtain.” How could anyone dare to do anything in such a suffocating martial law situation?
This year, Tibetans were not allowed to celebrate Losar, Tibetan New year, properly. Reports have come out that the Losar celebrations were strictly monitored, and an atmosphere of “threat and intimidation” has been created. Tibetans working in government sectors were not allowed Losar holiday and were also instructed against visiting monasteries. This is against the International Human Rights norms, and against Article 4 of the Chinese constitution also, where minorities’ rights to religion and culture are ensured.
Speculation is rife that the closure of Tibet to foreigners at this time is because of the upcoming 60th anniversary of Tibetan people’s uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. This has been the annual restriction imposed by the Chinese authorities to suppress any demonstration of Tibetan nationalism. 10th March was the day when Tibetans from all walks of life gathered in Lhasa to protest the Chinese invasion in 1959. It was brutally crushed by Chinese machine guns and many lives were lost. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was forced to seek asylum in India.
It has been six decades since China invaded Tibet. China has claimed all these years that it has liberated Tibet and that the Tibetan people are happy under the communist regime. But the reality is that China perpetrated genocide where more than 1.2 million Tibetans lost their lives, and some 6000 monasteries were destroyed and volumes of scriptures burnt.
Chinese atrocities and cultural genocide have come to a new height now, Tibetan monasteries are banned from teaching the youngsters, and people are forced to prostrate and make offerings to the images of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The Chinese language has taken over the Tibetan language as a medium of instruction in the schools.
More than 153 Tibetans have burned themselves alive to draw the attention of the Chinese leadership and the International community to the worsening plight of Tibet. But China has come down heavily on the relatives of these self-immolators. News has come up that China is building new gulags in Tibet, this is a harbinger of some harsher despotic measures in the offing. The message is clear: what has happened in Tibet once is now happening in Uighur, and it is going to happen again in Tibet.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has on numerous occasions made it clear that Tibet is not seeking separation but a genuine autonomy as enshrined in the Chinese constitution for the minorities. Despite the support from the International community and the Chinese people, the Chinese leadership has failed to appreciate this Middle Way approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Now that the 60th anniversary of Tibetan National uprising is closing in, Tibet is virtually under martial law state.
If China really wants to have Tibet as a part of China, it should give due respect to the land and the people. Tibetans should have genuine freedom to practice its language, religion, and culture. Instead of closing Tibet and putting restrictions, Chinese leadership should reflect and attend to the grievances of the Tibetan people. This will bring the Tibetans and Tibet closer to Beijing, and save the leadership from fabricating all these stories about Tibet and its safety.
- Global Times: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1138347.shtml