News and Views on Tibet

200 residents detained in Lhasa over lockdown protests

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Rare protests in Lhasa against Covid lockdowns (Photo/Screengrab)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 4: Around 200 residents of Tibet’s capital city Lhasa have been detained on Thursday following a massive protests last week against the Covid-19 lockdown, according to Radio Free Asia. The rare protests on Oct. 26 had both Chinese and Tibetan local residents pushing for the Chinese government to withdraw the restrictive measures in the city.  

“Though many of these detainees are of Chinese origin, there are also a number of Tibetans coming from other parts of Tibet and from Chengdu. They are currently being held inside buildings owned by development companies inside the Tibet Autonomous Region,” an anonymous source told RFA.

In one of the online videos of the Lhasa protests, hundreds of people gathered on the streets with officials blocking them at one end. “[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. A rare protest in Beijing against the government’s pandemic mismanagement was also reported in October in the lead up to the 20th Party Congress.

“The main allegations against them appear to be that they took a lead role in organizing the protests. Most of them appear to be working-class residents of the city,” said another source, adding that no information on conditions of the detention is known. Most of the Han Chinese detained in the protest were later freed and allowed to return home, according to the RFA report. Lockdowns in Lhasa and other regions have been heavily criticized for inadequate facility and lack of food at government quarantine centers. According to official Chinese records, 18,667 Tibetans in TAR have tested positive for COVID as of Thursday.

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