News and Views on Tibet

Chinese army raid Tibetan homes after custodial death of teenage monk

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Chinese commandos visiting the old age homes for clean up drive to search for Dalai Lama photos in Dza Wonpo town (Photo- CTA)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 13: The custodial death of Tibetan monk, Tenzin Nyima, on Jan. 19 has sparked Chinese army to clamp down on Tibetan homes to intimidate the residents of Dza Wonpo town for a “clean-up” drive to confiscate the photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The slain teenage monk also known as Tamey died of injuries sustained in prison for participating in a peaceful protest on Nov. 7, 2019 in Dza Wonpo, Sershul County in Kardze, Tibet.

A number of local Tibetans posted messages of solidarity and condolences on their private WeChat moments after the news of Tamey’s death surfaced. A group of Chinese army in Wonpo have reportedly detained and interrogated several local Tibetans for many days. A large troop of Chinese army, identified as the Snow Wolf Commandos (a unit of the People’s Armed Police (PAP)) by Human Rights Watch, arrived in Wonpo on March 5.

Images and videos clips on HRW website show the commandos parading the town with a large red flag and shouting battle cries. According to an anonymous source of the CTA, this particular routine is being carried out on a daily basis by the troops to intimidate the Tibetan residents. Subsequently on March 17, Chinese officials organized a public meeting to make the announcement that displaying and possessing the photos of the Tibetan spiritual leader at homes will be met with criminal prosecution.

Tenzin Nyima in an undated photo

Tibetans at the meeting were made to sign a five-point document to agree not to keep or distribute images of the Dalai Lama, to oppose illegal activity and to follow the communist Party. The PAP commandos carried out the “clean-up” operation by raiding homes and confiscating pictures, after a few days the locals signed the five-point document.

“They visited an old age home with some gifts saying they are there to clean up the rooms of the elderly Tibetans. Despite the elderly Tibetans’ refusal, the army started searching all the rooms for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s pictures. Then they hung thangka-style pictures of Chinese leaders on the walls of their rooms and later the elderly Tibetans were made to express gratitude to the CCP in front of the public,” said the anonymous source. The photos of the commandos “cleaning up” the rooms of the old age home were posted and circulated by the Chinese officials. 

Following the death of the 19-year-old monk, authorities also began tracking cell phone usages in Dza Wonpo. During the days leading to the Tibetan Uprising Day in March, local residents were required to download an app on their phones which monitored the users’ data, thus making it extremely difficult and risky to send information outside Tibet.

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