By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, March 25: With Travel restrictions on foreigners to travel to Tibet for the month of March already in place since 26 Feb, China has also restricted Tibetans from outside the so called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to travel to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, reported the Radio Free Asia
Shelge, a Tibetan living in Australia, told RFA
that the restriction includes ban on travel both by rail and air. Moreover, Tibetans are being profiled and denied travel tickets from Xining and Lanzhou, provincial capital of Qinghai and Gansu provinces respectively. “Besides, no plane tickets are being sold to Tibetans traveling from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu to Lhasa until the end of April,” RFA
quoted Shelge as saying.
“Tibetans who need to travel by train from Lanzhou to Lhasa had been blocked by authorities and were asked by ticket officials to show their IDs, and after being identified as Tibetans they were told that no tickets would be sold to them,” Shelge said, adding that tickets were sold to members of other ethnic nationality groups.
Sonam, a Tibetan living in Switzerland, said Tibetans in Qinghai wishing to travel by rail to Lhasa had been told to wait for a week to purchase tickets. “But then they were told that no tickets would be sold to Tibetans for the rest of the month,” Sonam said.
The annual practice by the Chinese government to cordon off the “Tibet Autonomous Region” was intensified since the 2008 uprising in the capital Lhasa spread outside the TAR and snowballed into a pan Tibet protests against the Chinese rule.
The anniversary each year has seen bulking up of the forces, more restrictions and crackdowns aimed to bring down any activities by the Tibetans. A source of International Campaign for Tibet had said last month, “It has gone beyond a simple ‘crackdown’ now, and is much more sophisticated, and terrifying. Security is invisible and everywhere. It is no longer only armed police patrolling the streets; often we don’t know who the police are as they blend into society, and officials are in our homes, asking about every part of our lives.”
The ICT pointed out that the yearly practice is overseen from desks in Beijing and implemented with much hardened resolve. “While rigorous and oppressive measures, including an increase in the deployment of Communist Party personnel, have been introduced in the TAR since the 2008 protests, systematic and long-term security measures are now also being rolled out in the eastern Tibetan areas of Kham and Amdo. This expansion of control measures seems to be part of an agenda set at the highest levels in Beijing, in line with an intensified ‘counter-terror’ campaign,” said the ICT.