By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, August 7: In a bizarre imposition of yet another policy, the Chinese authorities have laid “absurd” conditions to clamp down on the livelihood of Tibetans living in the Driru County, a hotbed for anti government protests by Tibetans over the years.
A Tibetan named Samdup residing in Europe said that the local Tibetans of Nagshoe Township in Driru County were forced to abide by a four point imposition by the Chinese authorities who warned that failure to follow them would prohibit them to harvest the Yartsa Gunbo (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) for a period of five years. Tibetans in the area hugely depend for livelihood on the harvest of the fungus valued highly for its herbal remedy.
The four point imposed by the Chinese authorities dictated the locals must have a ‘talent show’ where local Tibetans must perform songs and dances wearing costumes with wildlife pelts, a move to turn the Tibetans against an appeal by the exiled Tibetan leader to stop the use of animal products in costumes.
In 2006, the Tibetan people in the area vowed to do away with traditional custom of using wildlife pelts in adorning the costumes following a speech by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the 31st Kalachakra teachings in Amravati. The Tibetans in Driru amassed clothing with pelts and burned the stockpile at a mass gathering.
The authorities further ordered Tibetans residing within and near the Driru County to attend the event. Subsequently, the authorities brought costumes decorated with wildlife pelts, forced the residents to wear them during their performances on the stage.
A resident of the area was quoted as saying, “The performance of dance and songs are not an expression of our joy and happiness, rather it is a forceful imposition by the Chinese government which portrays the absence of any freedom and rights”.
The exact reason behind Chinese authorities’ imposition is not known yet.
The Driru area has been marked as ‘politically volatile’ by the Chinese government following multiple occasion of unrest in the area.
The restrictions and prohibition to harvest Yartsa Gunbo in the area is viewed as an apparent attempt by the Chinese authorities to choke Tibetan people’s livelihood where majority of their source of revenue is hinged to the harvest of this seasonal fungus.