News and Views on Tibet

Lhasa officials apologize for mishandling Covid-19 lockdown

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Tibetans in Lhasa lining up for mandatory testing at the start of the lockdown in August (Photo/Weibo)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 19: Several authorities of Lhasa city in Tibet have apologized for mishandling the city’s lockdown following backlash from local residents’ online for indefinite lockdown, lack of proper care, chaotic testing system and food shortages.

One of Lhasa’s vice mayors, Damdul (Zhandui) apologised on Saturday and agreed that the criticism has indeed highlighted the government’s limitations. “We sincerely accept criticism for these problems, which have had a greater impact on the productivity and life of some of the people. On behalf of the municipal government, I would like to express our deep apologies to the people of all ethnic groups and those stranded in Lhasa due to the epidemic,” he said during a media briefing.

Many people in Lhasa city voiced their frustrations on social media over shabby quarantine centers, lack of medical care, unhygienic and shortage of food at government facilities where hundreds were housed together for weeks. The state apparatus also extended towards restricting voices of the masses, as seven Tibetans in Lhasa, Nagchu and other counties were reported to be detained for sharing footage online of the mismanagement by the authorities.

In another case of officials admitting mishandling of the pandemic, the deputy chief of Chengguan district, Sui Xingguo also apologized for failing to provide food and essential items for people in quarantine as well as for the disorderly behaviour of some officials. “Some staff did not treat residents with care … and responded to their demands with an attitude and manner that hurt residents’ feelings,” Sui said, noting that food supplies did not reach those who needed them the most. Officials in Yining County also apologized for failing to “fulfill people’s basic needs after a torrent of complaints online.”

Severe restrictive measures such as indefinite lockdowns, forced quarantines and lack of basic amenities under the guise of pandemic prevention have been implemented in both Tibet and East Turkestan (Xinjiang). Tibet’s capital city Lhasa has been closed off through lockdowns since Aug. 8, after authorities detected a handful of infections in the region. Yining, a city in Xinjiang, has also been under severe restrictions since early August.

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