Articles‎ > ‎

What's Happening to Tibet Today?

posted Sep 30, 2011, 9:11 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Oct 1, 2011, 3:41 PM ]
By Tencho Gyatso
The International Campaign for Tibet Blog, September 27, 2011

Last week, I spoke with two people who had traveled to Tibet recently. Visas to Tibet are seldom issued these days and I was very keen to hear them speak. The visitors confirmed what I had suspected, there were hardly any western tourists in Tibetan areas, but they did see crowds of Chinese tourists. The news that I got from these two recent visitors – who remain nameless, is really very grim. Ordinary Tibetans are living in fear, surrounded by armed police and under the constant threat of being detained by the authorities for just about anything.
A recent photograph from Tibet shows a security camera and a group of armed soldiers in front of the Chorten. It used to be that one could walk across traffic and pass through the passageway in the Chorten, now it is blocked off by soldiers in camouflage.

The first person told me, “In the streets of Lhasa, Chinese armed guards are everywhere – they walk in groups of three or four, and they patrol in a formation where each guard is facing in a different direction so that the group has a 360 view. At intervals of 10-15 yards, the formation pauses to look around and then continue forward again – it is obvious that they are there to intimidate and strike fear in the public”.

The second person, a long time resident of Lhasa told me, “It has become more than a police state – it’s a prison. Tibetans are just living in fear and being brutally suppressed in every sense. They are afraid to talk, move freely and even fear questioning the Chinese vegetable vendor on the outrageous price of his vegetables, as the Chinese guard nearby would probably beat him for doing that.”

These friends also shared some photographs taken in and around Lhasa – so unbelievably beautiful and so out of this world. But upon closer inspection, every picture carried the unmistakable mark of intrusion – jarring signs in Chinese, armed police on building rooftops, security posts at monastery gates – I could just feel the overpowering Chinese presence everywhere. The photos made me feel like I was looking at priceless works of art being defaced and desecrated by a people for whom the artworks hold no value beyond their material.

What is happening in Tibet is a case of ‘slow suffocation’ of the Tibetan people, Tibetan culture, and Tibetan identity. And as the sad news of the self immolation of another two young monks from Kirti Monastery came through, I felt clearly the sense of a tightening choke hold on the necks of Tibetans today. I worry deeply about my fellow Tibetans inside Tibet. I hope that these self immolation protests will not increase, as this is really not what is encouraged by His Holiness or the Tibetan exile leadership. But these are clearly acts of desperation and frustration – actions by individuals who can no longer ‘breathe’.


Originally published at
Reprinted in TPR with permission. 

Email to a friend or share on Facebook, Twitter, etc.:Bookmark and Share