BEIJING, August 10: China is cracking down on pro-Dalai Lama sentiment in Tibet by firing dozens of ethnic Tibetan officials and criticizing others who don't speak out against the exiled spiritual leader, a rights group said Friday.
Since July, Communist Party secretaries from 54 of Tibet's 74 counties have been fired and replaced by cadres from elsewhere in China, Hong Kong's Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
"China currently has very little trust in its ethnic Tibetan cadres and Tibet Party Secretary Zhang Qingli recently criticized them again for not being firm enough in the campaign to 'Expose and criticize the Dalai Lama,'" it said, without giving details.
The group said China is beefing up numbers of non-ethnic Tibetan government personnel by appointing 853 volunteers from 17 Chinese provinces and cities to act as government cadres for three years. Government promises of bonuses and generous stipends for living expenses helped attract more than 10,000 volunteers, it said.
The telephone of Tibet's government office in the capital of Lhasa rang unanswered Friday.
China says it has ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans say their homeland was essentially an independent state for most of that time.
Chinese communist troops occupied Tibet in 1951 and Beijing continues to rule the region with a heavy hand. Beijing enforces strict controls on religious institutions and routinely vilifies the 71-year-old Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 amid an aborted uprising against Chinese rule.
Tibetans are especially concerned that an influx of China's Han majority, which has grown since a new railroad linked Beijing to Tibet's capital, Lhasa, will overwhelm the region's unique Buddhist culture.