By Tenzin Monlam
Chinese police on guard at various junctions in Rebkong County. Photo-RFA
DHARAMSHALA, MARCH 15: The Tibetan town of Rebkong in eastern Tibet has been under heavy surveillance since weeks ahead of the sensitive Tibetan Uprising anniversary on March 10, reports Radio Free Asia.
The county known for sporadic protests against the Chinese government and self-immolations by Tibetans in the recent past has worn a deserted look as passersby have to undergo frisking and checking at various checkpoints set up especially to prevent any protests by Tibetans.
Citing a source, the RFA reported that security guards in plain clothes and army have been stationed around Rongwo Monastery, which serves as an undesignated gathering point for the local Tibetans. In 2012, thousands of Tibetans converged at Dolma Square in front of Rongwo Monastery where a Tibetan named Kalsang Jinpa had died following a self immolation protest.
Tibetans take part in a protest near Rongwo Monastery in November 2012/Phayul/file
“Chinese security personnel have been deployed all over the area from at various exit and entry points in the town. They also have installed checkpoints guarded by armed security forces equipped with fire extinguishers,” the source said.
Public spaces, hotels and restaurants in the area are also subjected to thorough inspection and monitoring.
“The Tibetans from India here for visit were also warned of the travel restrictions and ordered them to get prior permission from the town office if they wish to travel around,” the source added.
The Chinese government has regularly been on the alert during the weeks leading up to March 10 to quell any protests or efforts to self immolate in Tibetan areas. It also regularly bans tourists from visiting the Tibet Autonomous Region ahead of the sensitive Tibetan Uprising.
According to Explore Tibet, a travel agency in Tibet, travel restrictions for foreigners have been implemented since February 25 till the end of March, 2017. “We are just informed that Tibet travel permit will be closed for a month long from February 25 to March 31, 2017. This closure is very common since from 2008, but all the Tibet travel permit process will normalize from April 1,” the agency said in its notice.