DHARAMSHALA, November 5: With Tibet witnessing an alarming escalation in self-immolation protests, Chinese authorities have imposed a near-total information blockade and restrictions on sale of inflammable liquids in many parts of Tibet.
Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in a release today said that a “near-total information blockade” has been imposed in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) region of eastern Tibet where seven Tibetans burned themselves in protest against China’s occupation in the past month.
“Local authorities have clamped down on the Internet and mobile phone lines, imposing an indefinite ban on the sale of mobile SIM cards on three known shops in Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County,” TCHRD cited sources as saying.
The group said that there have been reports of closure of Internet cafes and weak or no mobile phone signals.
“Local authorities have also restricted the sale of petrol and other flammable liquids in towns and villages in the area,” TCHRD said. “Shop owners have been ordered to restrict their sales leading to shortage of fuels and making movement difficult for the Tibetans who use motorcycles and other vehicles.”
From October 20 to 26, Sangchu region witnessed five Tibetans set themselves on fire near Chinese official establishments and monasteries. Lhamo Kyab, 27, Dhondup, Dorjee Rinchen, 57, Lhamo Tseten, 24, and Thubwang Kyab, 23 all succumbed to their injuries.
The group said Tsoe region of Kanlho is also under increasing restrictions following the self-immolation protests of Sangay Gyatso, 27 and Tamdin Dorjee, 52, last month.
Citing an unnamed source TCHRD said that local Chinese authorities in Tsoe have barred schoolchildren from leaving for holidays outside the area.
“Even urgent requests for leave from the school are ignored by the school administration. Permissions are granted but sparingly for a couple of hours to leave the school premises. With the children confined to their school compounds, sources say many feel schools are now being turned into mini prisons,” TCHRD said.
The group said that restrictions on the sale of flammable liquids have also been imposed in recent weeks in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and its surrounding areas.
“For instance, Tibetans in Nyemo need two different documents issued by the County police and County government office to buy petrol and other flammable liquids,” TCHRD said. “At numerous police check posts in Lhasa and surrounding areas, police confiscate empty water bottles and other plastic containers in suspicion that these would be used to buy and store flammable liquids.”
The deepening crisis inside Tibet has witnessed large scale anti-China protests and a series of self-immolations that has now seen 63 Tibetans set themselves on fire, since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.