Focus Tibet

Authorities step up surveillance and intimidation in Lhasa

Ahead of the upcoming "sensitive" days in Tibet, authorities in Lhasa have stepped up surveillance and imposed new restrictions. This came ahead of the celebrations for Losar, the New Year, and also in view of March 10, the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, and March 14, the 15th anniversary of the 2008 uprising.

Although the authorities allowed the Losar celebrations from February 20 to 26, they warned of events that "endanger national security" and announced severe penalties.

In Lhasa, the number of surveillance cameras has been greatly increased. The police are "on every kilometer," as one informant said, and are conducting random searches of passers-by, with a particular focus on cell phones. The same is also reported from the cities of Shigatse and Chamdo.

Another source from Lhasa said additional police and military forces had been gathered from around Lhasa. Party and government cadres would patrol the streets to spy on people. Under the campaign name "Police Security and Welfare," all shops and restaurants in Lhasa would be searched. Tibetans who have traveled to Lhasa from outside and are staying in hotels and guesthouses are constantly being searched and harassed. Travelers could still visit the Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's summer palace, but they would have to show their identity cards and register their names at the entrance. That had never happened before.

Several Tibetan families in exile reported that their relatives in Tibet have asked them not to call them on the Losar celebrations and also to refrain from calling them on other "sensitive" dates. Publicly accessible printers are blocked in Tibet; one can only print documents with the permission of the authorities.

Radio Free Asia, February 21th and 23th, 2023 // dr. Uwe Meya

Photo: Adrian Zenz (Twitter)

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