By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 28: The Dharamshala-based human rights group Tibet Watch reported on Friday that several Tibetans in Driru County, Nagchu prefecture have been arrested for communicating with Tibetans in exile. The group noted that 44-year-old Gyajin, a father of three, has been arrested with others for the sole charge of contacting exiled Tibetans.
A researcher at Tibet Watch told Phayul that many local sources from Tibet are under heavy surveillance, as anonymous sources have confirmed that ahead of the CCP centenary celebrations on July 1, Tibetans have been detained for their contacts in exile. “Chinese government has continued crackdown on Tibetans for many years through their branch of Overseas Tibetans office, which is solely aimed at offering opportunities to Tibetans who are willing to come back,” researcher Sonam Topgyal commented on the recent arrests.
“As we are familiar with the case of Lhamo, who died in custody, was arrested for contacting relatives in India. Similar cases have been reported by Tibetans inside Tibet but due to the heavy surveillance by the government, we almost always fall short of verifying such claims. Moreover, Driru has been a victim of heavy militarization since locals staged a strong protest against Chinese companies that began extraction activities [in 2010 and 2013],” he further remarked. The rights group’s spokesperson also noted that these government tactics gradually transformed into strategic policies that have led to arbitrary arrests of local residents, where the CCP seems adamant on isolating the Tibetans outside Tibet.
The report also stated hesitancy from the community to talk about persecuted Tibetans due to fear of reprisal, “Those who can make contact are hesitant about speaking about the sensitive situation in Driru County for fear that their families in Tibet will face severe reprisals. Since the 2013 anti-mining protest, many Tibetans have been arrested for contacting their family members living in exile, who are also unable to return to Tibet.” The last known reported case from Driru County was of Kunchok Jinpa, an environmentalist and tour guide, who died in a hospital on February 6 from torture inflicted on him during his 21-year prison sentence in Nyetang Prison, Lhasa.