Tibetans wait outside a detention centre in Lhasa where Tibetan pilgrims returning from India and Nepal have been arbitrarily detained and forced to undergo patriotic re-education.
DHARAMSHALA, February 22: Repeating tactics that were employed in 2009 and off late in other parts of Tibet, Chinese Communist Party officials in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital have issued stringent warnings against the popular call for a boycott of celebrations during ‘Losar’ Tibetan new year (February 22-24).
Tibetans in Tibet and the exile leadership have called for a moratorium on Losar celebrations following the continuing wave of self-immolation, which has witnessed 23 Tibetans torch their bodies demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
Sources in exile earlier reported that government authorities in Lhasa had issued orders requiring Tibetan officials and the general public to prepare song and dance routines for Losar.
Selected performers who refused to take part in the mandatory show of celebrations were warned of severe consequences.
In another effort to coax Tibetans to celebrate Losar, government authorities have temporarily released few of the Tibetans who were arbitrarily detained upon their return from pilgrimage to India and Nepal.
Sources have told Phayul that the Tibetans undergoing patriotic re-education in secluded locations will have to serve detention again following Losar.
"The Chinese authorities in Lhasa have released some Tibetan detainees to celebrate Losar but they have been told that their detention will continue after the new year," a Tibetan from Lhasa told Phayul.
In 2009, following the pan-Tibet uprisings of 2008, Chinese government officials led a counter campaign of forced merriment against the popular call for a boycott of Losar celebrations.
The Communist Party in Tibet had given vouchers worth $120 each to 37,000 low-income families to shop for an extended week-long holiday.
Last month, Phayul had reported that Chinese government officials were giving bribes of gifts and money to Tibetans for Losar celebrations. Tibetan sources confirmed that bribes of 500 Yuan for each family and 200 Yuan for each individual were being issued.
“99% of Tibetans in Tibet will not celebrate Losar but few are afraid that if they don’t celebrate then it might become a political liability for them,” the same source said.
Another exiled Tibetan who has close contacts with Tibetans inside the besieged Ngaba region of eastern Tibet, which alone has seen 15 instances of self-immolations, had told Phayul that Tibetans were “determined to skip” the upcoming ‘Losar’ celebrations.
“Tibetans in Tibet are very much determined to skip the Tibetan New Year as we do to mark a black year when someone in the family passes away,” Kanyag Tsering, a monk at the exile base of Kirti monastery said.
Tibetans around the world are marking today, the first day of Losar, with solidarity hunger strikes and vigils.