The move began yesterday till 17 March. Chinese authorities want to prevent Tibetans from receiving news about events abroad. In India, the Tibetan Diaspora organised a march; in Nepal, the government banned any commemoration.
Chengdu (AsiaNews) - Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province are blocking internet access in a Tibetan prefecture in the run-up to China’s crackdown against Tibet in 1959.
The move came into effect yesterday, the first day Tibetans in exile mark the death of thousands of Tibetans who opposed Beijing’s rule. The commemoration will last until 17 March.
“The authorities have [. . .] blocked internet service so that Tibetans cannot see, hear, or read about protests or other activities organized by Tibetans [living in exile],” a source told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
The ten counties affected by the ban include Dartsedo (in Chinese, Kangding), Tawu (Daofu), Draggo (Luhuo), Kardze (Ganzi), Sershul (Shiqu), Dege (Dege), Palyul (Baiyu), Nyagrong (Xinlong), Lithang (Litang), and Bathang (Batang), according to the order, titled Document 24 of 2017.
“Now, because of the March 10 anniversary of National Uprising Day, the authorities are concerned that residents of Tibetan areas could create problems under the influence of activities organized outside the country,” a local resident said.
Each year, exiled Tibetans march and hold vigils to remember the uprising in Lhasa of 10 March 1959, when 300,000 Tibetans rose up out of fear that the Dalai Lama might be taken by force to Beijing.
In the subsequent fighting, the Chinese army slaughtered more than 85,000 poorly armed and untrained Tibetans. The Dalai Lama was forced into exile and a Tibetan government-in-exile was set up in Dharamshala, India.
This year the anniversary was marked only in India. in Nepal, authorities banned the country’s 20,000 Tibetans from commemorating the anniversary.
As a show of force, a 5,000-strong troops with a convoy of 1,000 military vehicles carried out a massive military drill in Lhasa on 3 March.
This appeared “intended to discourage public protests or expressions of dissent,” New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a 9 March statement.
“Chinese authorities are once again shutting off travel and holding military parades to bully the Tibetan population into silence,” HRW China director Sophie Richardson 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 added.