Beijing cracks down on Tibetan New Year celebrations
In Lhasa, Chinese officials urge Tibetans to be loyal to Beijing, complaining about those who harbour religious faith and worship in secret. In Markham County, police have been deployed in Tibetan neighbourhoods "to assess the mood of the people”. In Chamdo, visiting monasteries is banned, whilst in Sichuan, Tibetan government workers cannot go home for the holiday.
Lhasa (AsiaNews) – China’s policies restricting Tibetan movements during this week’s start of Losar, the Tibetan lunar New Year, have cast a shadow over traditional celebrations, with police filling the streets of the Tibetan capital Lhasa and government workers forbidden to visit monasteries, Tibetan sources told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
This year’s Losar was preceded by public speeches by Chinese officials urging Tibetans to be loyal to the central government and denouncing Tibetan government workers caught “harboring religious faith and worshipping in secret,” one Lhasa resident said.
Fearing unrest by Tibetans hostile to Chinese domination, the Communist Party has put restrictions on celebrations in other parts of the Autonomous Region.
RFA reports that in Markham County, Chinese police have been deployed in Tibetan neighbourhoods "to assess the mood of the people and the situation on the ground, while in Chamdo city, a clampdown is under way to prevent possible incidents”.
A source in Chamdo said that Tibetans working for the Chinese government have been barred from visiting monasteries to worship during Losar, which began this year on 5 February and is set to end in four days.
Despite everything, some government workers did defy the ban and visited monasteries on the third day of Losar, which ends the holiest part of the holiday.
Meanwhile, in Serthar County (Sichuan), home to a sizable Tibetan community, Tibetan government workers were required to report to work during the holiday “so that they can’t go back to their hometowns for the traditional Losar celebrations”.