Tibetans victims of a 'second' Cultural Revolution

Authorities destroy Buddhist religious sites in Tibetan autonomous areas, says Free Tibet. Operations reminiscent of the Maoist repressions of 1966-1976. Those protesting against the demolitions were arrested and tortured. Tibetans speak of 'cultural genocide'. Discrimination even in the health sector in the fight against Covid-19.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Religious sites destroyed and persecution of those who protest in what appears to be a "second" Cultural Revolution. This is the complaint made to Free Tibet by residents of Drago County, in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Kardze (Sichuan).

The new wave of repression by the authorities against elements of the local Buddhist culture was triggered in October 2021, says the humanitarian organisation based on direct testimonies, open sources, local media reports and satellite images.

Among the various sacred structures destroyed in Drago are three huge Buddha statues. According to Free Tibet, in the period under review (up to June 2022), police arrested, beat and tortured 10 Tibetans in the county for objecting to the demolitions.

Those arrested are being taken to a new extrajudicial centre to undergo 'political re-education' sessions.

Radio Free Asia reported yesterday that the security forces arrested a 30-year-old Tibetan writer in August on charges of contacting exiles abroad. In the ongoing crackdown, the authorities often target Tibetan cultural figures who are most aware of the attacks on personal and religious freedom in historical Tibet.

The accusation against the Chinese regime is that it wants to erase Tibetan culture and identity. In the autonomous region of Tibet and the other areas inhabited by Tibetan people in the provinces of Gansu, Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan, what the Dalai Lama terms a 'cultural genocide' is taking place.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Maoist persecutions caused around two million deaths. Among the victims were many Tibetans, not to mention the destruction of their sacred places.

Discrimination against Tibetans also extends to the health sector in the fight against Covid-19. According to International Campaign for Tibet, the high number of elderly Tibetans who have died from the virus is also due to their exclusion from the third vaccination dose in early 2022.

In October, a month before the demonstrations that led to the withdrawal of Xi Jinping's zero-Covid policy, Tibetans had taken to the streets of Lahsa to protest against the strict health restrictions imposed by the central government, characterised by continuous lockdowns and mass swabbing: the first demonstrations since the 2008 uprising, which was quelled with bloodshed and deaths.