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China's Crackdown in Tibet Caught on Camera

posted Dec 21, 2011, 7:51 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Dec 22, 2011, 6:37 AM ]
By the Editorial Board of The Tibetan Political Review

Recently, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile released a video on its official online TV site showing a 2008 Chinese police raid on Dodey Township, a rural area outside Lhasa, after the mass protests in Tibet:

The approximately 23 minute video shows an early morning raid where a number of Tibetans, including one elderly woman, were arrested and detained by hundreds of Public Security Bureau (PSB) police in black riot gear and paramilitary Peoples Armed Police (PAP)* in camouflage, and all armed with shotguns and riot batons. The video was filmed by the Chinese police themselves, presumably to document their actions for internal reasons. In at least one scene, a young Tibetan man is hit by Chinese police officers several times and receives a bloody nose, even though there is no evidence this man was violent or resisted arrest. 


The video shows Chinese police going from house to house in systematic fashion and arresting an unknown number of Tibetans. The video ends with these prisoners apparently transported to a detention center. The fate of the Tibetan detainees in this video is unknown. The Tibetan Government-in-Exile did not elaborate on how it obtained this video but presumably it was leaked from someone inside Tibet who had access to this video.


In addition, Phayul ( has published eight photographs that were originally released by Boxun ( These photos are from Amdo Ngaba (Ch. Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province). According to Kunga Tashi of the Office of Tibet (New York), a former Chinese police officer confirmed these arrests took place in 2008 and this police officer participated in these arrests. They show a large number of lay Tibetans and monks arrested and paraded in public with signs around their heads describing their alleged crimes. The photos also show hundreds of heavily armed Chinese police and paramilitary troops armed with assault rifles and shotguns patrolling streets and setting up checkpoints. These photos were first published in a Chinese official website to show how “rioters” would be dealt with, however, they were later removed. Boxun presumably preserved copies of these photos before they were removed from the official Chinese website.


The video and the photos show the extent of the security crackdown in Tibet after the mass protests in 2008 and perhaps recently in Ngaba after the self-immolations. They demonstrate the sweeping and arbitrary nature of arrests conducted in Tibet and the high level of repression against Tibetans. From these images, we can see that Tibet has become a police state since 2008 where heavily armed security forces arrest suspected Tibetan protestors and patrol streets like an occupying army. For example, more than 800 Chinese police are stationed around Kirti Monastery, where most of the monks who self-immolated are from.


The video and photos also clearly show the lack of any respect for the individual rights of Tibetans.  None of the suspects in this video are informed of their rights during their arrests. Many former Tibetan political prisoners in exile have stated that during the entire time they were in custody, no one informed them of their rights nor did they have access to legal counsel. In addition, the photos of Tibetans being paraded around the town violate international laws against public humiliation of detainees and prisoners. The video also shows the Chinese security forces using a large number of armed men to arrest single unarmed individuals at a time, including one elderly woman. Their use of force seems out of proportion to the situation. None of the Tibetans arrested in this video appear to have resisted arrest or were armed or were in any way exhibited violent behavior.


Unfortunately, the video also show a number of Tibetans in Chinese police uniforms participating in the arrests. We recognize Tibetans working for the Chinese authorities do not have the right to refuse orders and risk their jobs and welfare of their families if they do not comply. Nevertheless, we would hope that Tibetans would not work for the Chinese security forces, knowing that one day they might have to arrest or harm their fellow Tibetans. But we also recognize that life under foreign occupation presents challenges and calculations that are hard to fully comprehend or judge from the safety of exile. We also recognize that the most likely source of this leaked video is a Tibetan working in the Chinese security establishment, who bravely ensured that this evidence came to light.


The video and the photos of the security crackdown in Ngaba stand in stark contrast to the images of Tibetans presented in Chinese official websites and in propaganda tours conducted by China in foreign countries. Chinese propaganda literatures always show Tibetans smiling, dancing or singing or working hard for the “Motherland.”  Chinese official news like Xinhua, CCTV, and Lhasa TV never show mass arrests of Tibetans or Tibetan as prisoners except in a few cases related to stories about a few Tibetan “splittists” being convicted of crimes against “national unity.” Tibetans inside Tibet refer to official media channels as 'Tungoi Gato dang Gyalchei Chakgo' roughly meaning 'China's Joy and International tragedy'.


This recently leaked video of a police raid near Lhasa and the photos from Ngaba demonstrate the reality of Tibet today. As Tibetan Prime Minister-in-Exile Lobsang Sangay said in his inaugural address, life in Tibet is not a socialist paradise. Tibet under Chinese rule is a draconian police state where the Tibetan people live in constant fear of harassment, arrest, detention and persecution by the authorities. Anyone who has a dissenting voice is imprisoned and tortured. While the Chinese Government loudly proclaims that Tibetans have human rights, this video and these photos disprove China’s false claims.


*In the video, the men in camouflage are identified as Border Security and some of the detainees are handed over to them.

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