China arrested Tibetans for sending money and forced elderly Tibetans to sing patriotic “red” songs praising the country in the run up to Oct. 1 National Day celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, a Tibetan-American recent visitor to the region told RFA on Thursday.
“The arrests began in July leading up to Oct 1st National Day. Those arrested include Tibetan retirees on charge of corruption,” said Lhundup Dorje, who returned the U.S. after a recent visit to Lhasa, the Tibetan regional capital.
“Even several Tibetan youths who sent money to their siblings in India via red envelop through WeChat are among the arrested,” he said, referring to the money transfer service of the popular Chinese communications app.
“One Tibetan youth who sent money via red envelop was arrested and beaten because his money contribution was a prayer offering to the private office of the Dalai Lama for a deceased person,” said Dorje.
Dorje’s account matched a report issued last month by a Tibetan advocacy group, which said Chinese authorities had tightened controls in Tibet ahead of Oct. 1, hoisting Chinese flags on monastery roofs and forcing monks to sing songs praising the ruling Communist Party.
In the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Tibetans are also being coerced to attend events promoting government policies and are hanging scrolls with pictures of senior Chinese Communist Party leaders on the walls of private homes, London-based Free Tibet said in its report.
Dorje told RFA’s Tibetan Service that “all Tibetan retirees were ordered to practice singing patriotic songs [called red song] praising the motherland.”
“And all along the roads in Lhasa, and everywhere Chinese flags were flown high” he said.
“All Tibetan government officials, retirees and school students refrained from going to the Jokhang Temple in central Lhasa during the lead up to the anniversary for fear of offending the communist government."
“The Chinese government even warned Tibetan parents, that their kids will be removed from schools, and government would stop giving subsidies to those Tibetan find worshipping and visiting the Jokhang Temple during the 70th anniversary,” said Dorje.
Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India following a failed 1959 national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan region nine years earlier.
Chinese authorities have maintained a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated prefectures of Chinese provinces ever since, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.
Reported by Yangdon Demo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Paul Eckert.