By Kalsang Rinchen
Dharamsala, March 4 - The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy(TCHRD) said it condemned in “strongest terms” the "Strike Hard" campaign launched by China in the “Tibetan Autonomous Region” ahead of the politically sensitive 50th anniversary of the March 10 Uprising day of 1959.
A report in the official newspaper Lhasa Evening News (Ch: Lasa wen Bao) yesterday the Lhasa City government had ordered the “Strike Hard” campaign with effect from 9PM (Beijing Standard Time). All seven prefectures falling under the “TAR” are covered under this campaign to “strike hard against all kinds of criminal activities and to vigorously uphold the social order stability,” according to the report.
Though the duration of the campaign is not specified in the report the exile right group says it may last for months.
Security has been beefed up in the city that saw one of the biggest anti government protests by Tibetans in March 2008. Soldiers and police in full combat gear are deployed in the city with several checkpoints requiring people to present identification.
Guesthouses, hotels and homes are randomly raided leading to the arrest of some 70 people Tuesday without official registration card and identity card from Sera road in Lhasa.
Unlike earlier “Strike Hard” campaigns which were restricted to Lhasa City the current campaign is covering the entire “TAR”. This new development signals China’s hardening policies in Tibet and the authorities’ pre-emptive move to squash any form of dissent in the coming days, according to the TCHRD.
“Strike Hard” campaigns are normally carried out in various parts of China prior to major events, including national holidays, anniversaries, as well as before the main annual government and Party conferences, often with the stated intention of "cleansing the social environment."
TCHRD says the “strike hard” campaign launched yesterday could be a prelude to a series of arbitrary detention and arrests ahead of the political sensitive March 10 Uprising day and the annual session of China’s top advisory body, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPCC), that began yesterday and also the annual plenary sessions of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) starting Friday.
The TCHRD suspects the real intention of this campaign is to quell political dissent through arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, expulsion from religious institutions and dismissal from jobs though the government projects it as being to maintain “social order and stability.”