By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Aug 27: Chinese authorities in Dza Wonpo region arrested around 60 Tibetans who were reportedly found with photos of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama last week, as part of the intensifying campaign against any possession of banned images of respected spiritual leaders. According to Radio Free Asia, 19 monks from the local monastery and 40 local residents were detained after their homes were thoroughly searched by the police in Kardze, in eastern Tibet’s so-called Sichuan Province.
The police took them to the Sershul county police station, and later arranged a meeting on Wednesday for locals aged above 18 directing them to attend or face consequences. “The focus of the meeting was to warn people not to keep any pictures of the Dalai Lama or to share any information over their cell phones,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.
Another raid in the town was reported for the sole purpose of finding banned photos on the same day. These events of drastic raids are followed by earlier meetings in Dza Wonpo where Tibetans were made to sign a document that pledged not to keep photos of the Dalai Lama or circulate his photos online.
The source added that authorities in the region also inspected a local old-age residential home on the pretext of cleanliness drive and eventually confiscated banned photos and replaced them by giving the residents pictures of President Xi Jinping and other leaders.
Dza Wonpo Township has long been a region of widespread protest since 2008. The local monastery lost one of its teenage monks, Tamey who died of injuries sustained in Chinese prison in January this year. Tenzin Nyima, also known as Tamey, held a peaceful demonstration outside the local police station calling for Tibet’s independence in Nov 2019.