By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, APR 7: Chinese authorities in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) recently announced a campaign against rumour and misinformation which many have said is a ruse to further restrict freedom of expression among the advocates of Tibetan independence, reports RFA. Similar campaigns of this nature have been seen in the past inside occupied-Tibet.
China Tibet Online’s report on Apr. 1 stated that the 17-point “Squash Rumours and Reactionary Activities” campaign rewards people who tip off authorities of illegal activities. Tipsters can earn between 1,000 to 10,000 Yuan (10,000 to 1 Lakh rupees) for reporting on activities which are deemed illegal by the State such as distributing unauthorized publications, advocacy for autonomy in Tibet and any “misguidance” of religious followers through superstitious belief.
These strict regulatory measures also specifically discuss “those who advocate illegal activities like calling for Tibetan independence.” Special emphasis on the arrests for individuals demanding an independent Tibet will encourage surveillance within local communities across occupied-Tibet.
Tenzin Dalha, a researcher at the Tibet Policy Institute told RFA, “These so-called measures are nothing new. The Chinese authorities long ago implemented these policies to pave the way for easy crackdowns and control of the Tibetan people.
“By rewarding snitches, it sows a seed of discord among Tibetans themselves. Unlike anything that has come before, this [campaign] will create more resentment and distrust among Tibetans,” he said. Analysts are concerned that this will pave the way for creating an environment of fear and suspicion over anything related to the preservation of Tibetan religion and culture.
Similar campaigns were in effect in the year 2000 and again in September 2019. China has upped its surveillance mechanisms through the recent launch of the Health Code App to detect COVID-19 spread by personal information, and now by giving legalized rewards to tipsters for informing the authorities of any illegal activities.