News and Views on Tibet

Protests in Lhasa against lockdowns

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Screen grab of one of the videos showing a rare protest in Lhasa (Screen grab/Twitter)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 27: Several footage of rare protests in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa have emerged online which show hundreds demonstrating against the unceasing Covid lockdowns imposed by the Chinese government. The protests erupted on Wednesday in the afternoon and stretched on till the night, comprising of mostly Han Chinese migrant workers distressed over the never-ending pandemic restrictions, the BBC reported.

However, according to exile media houses, the protestors in videos can be heard speaking both in Tibetan and Mandarin but it is hard to determine what they are saying in their entirety due to low audio quality.

One video showed hundreds of people gathered on the streets with officials blocking them at one end. An official is heard asking for people to “please be understanding and to go back” through a loudspeaker. “[They] have been locked up for too long. And a lot of people in this community are people who have just come to work and earn money. If they could get that in mainland China, they wouldn’t have come here,” a man was heard speaking in Mandarin in another video.

One of the Tibetan sources told Radio Free Asia that the protesters warned the Chinese officials that they would “set off a fire” if they continue with the restrictions. Another source opined that Tibetan residents in Lhasa fear that scuffles between civilians and police could turn violent. Lhasa was one of the first cities to be locked down in early August as Covid cases increased.

This is one of the biggest demonstrations against the Chinese government inside Tibet since the 2008 pan-Tibet protest. The Dharamshala-based research group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy last month said that five known deaths by means of suicide have taken place primarily due to the draconian measures adopted by the Chinese government under the Zero-Covid policy. The report claimed that five Tibetans committed suicide in a span of three days from September 23 to 25.

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