By Tenzin Dharpo
Chinese police march in front of the Potala palace in occupied Tibet's Lhasa city. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, July 30: China is targeting social action including political dissent and civil society initiatives under the guise of fighting organized crimes in Tibet, international rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published on Sunday.
“The authorities are now treating even traditional forms of social action, including local mediation of community or family disputes by lamas or other traditional authority figures, as illegal,” HRW reported.
The organisation’s China Director Sophie Richarson said that police have been given “virtually unlimited power” inside Tibet. “Now authorities can prosecute people for simply gathering for any purpose not directly mandated or approved by the state,” she said.
Richardson further said, “Beijing repeatedly claims that Tibetans have autonomy and their rights as an ethnic minority are respected. The realities show only increasing repression of Tibetans’ daily lives and basic human rights.”
The report titled “China: Crackdown on Tibetan Social Groups” includes interviews and cases of Tibetans arbitrarily detained for their involvement in community activities, accounts of prosecutions of community activists, and closures of local schools and other self-help groups.
The report also cites Chinese Communist Party’s effort in eliminating influence of religious leaders and traditional leadership roles that are at the fore of the Tibetan social structure.
HRW recommended that the Chinese government, Party officials, and state security forces should immediately end their unjustified interventions into the creation and conduct of independent social associations in Tibetan communities.
The rights group said that the criminalization of minor social initiatives has been the official policy in some Tibetan areas since 2012 and that the initiative for the promotion of Tibetan language, culture, and religion, or for protection of local environment and wildlife, is considered an agitation for Tibetan independence and collusion with “foreign anti-China forces.”