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“If we speak the truth, they will beat us to death”
Phayul[Tuesday, October 09, 2012 23:30]
A screen grab of the video report by Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell.
A screen grab of the video report by Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell.
DHARAMSHALA, October 9: In one of the rare voices from behind the veil of China’s military lockdown in Tibet, a Tibetan woman has told an undercover international news reporter that Tibetans have no rights and are beaten to death for speaking the truth.

The woman, who’s identity is not revealed, is from a region near Ngaba in eastern Tibet, the epicenter of the ongoing wave of self-immolation protests in Tibet.

“We don't have any rights, even the right of speech. They tell us exactly what we have to say. If we speak the truth, they will arrest us and beat us to death,” the woman tells Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell.

When asked about the self-immolations, she says that she has heard of it.

“They forced those people to die. There is something wrong with the Communist Party and this country,” she tells Stephen in Mandarin. “All countries in the world should pray together for the downfall of the Communist Party so it's not here anymore. They are extremely bad.”

Although Tibet remains, for the most part, a no-go zone for foreign journalists, the team from ABC found a way to sneak into eastern Tibetan areas. In earlier instances, journalists attempting to enter Tibet have been warned, detained in some cases, and forced back.

Throughout the 10-minute video report broadcast today, Stephen’s team is followed, warned, and eventually thrown out of the region.

“Every Tibetan town we visit is crawling with police,” Stephen says in his narration. “We're inevitably seen, and from this point each time we walk out the door people are waiting for us. The same cars appear behind us again and again, and spotters start popping up all over the place.”

At one point in the report, a Chinese government vehicle pulls the ABC team on a mountain road and tells the team members, out of “concern,” that Tibetan dogs could pose a threat to them.

Recently, the Chinese government had refused to allow an investigative team of Australian officials from entering Tibet to find the causes behind the wave of self-immolations, which has seen 54 Tibetans set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s elected leader Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay has maintained that the blame and solution for the self-immolations lie with the Chinese government.

“We have discouraged drastic actions, including self-immolations, but unfortunately Tibetans seem to be saying this is the only form of protest left, because any other form of protest the consequences is similar - you get arrested, tortured and often die,” Dr Sangay said.

The ABC team, after a successful detour, is again traced by “angry” Chinese government officials. When Stephen asks them why they are being sent back and what is the problem, the Chinese officials simply reply: “Because you're a journalist. Because this is a Tibetan area.”

“We're escorted out of town until they make sure we're leaving the area well and truly. Behind us is fear, resentment and tragedy, along with government policies showing no sign of winning over Tibetans,” Stephen sums up his short visit to Tibet.
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