Chinese Authorities in Tibet Demand Information on Relatives Living Abroad
The campaign is aimed at stopping news of protests and other politically sensitive information from reaching contacts outside Tibet.
Chinese authorities in Tibet are ordering Tibetan residents to turn over the names and other personal information of relatives living in exile communities outside Tibet, threatening loss of state benefits such as land and housing for noncompliance, Tibetan sources say.
Launched in Dingri county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s (TAR) Shigatse prefecture in April, the campaign quickly broke its promises to Tibetan villagers who provided the required information, a source living in the region told RFA’s Tibet Service.
“Families who agreed to provide the details of their relatives living abroad were interrogated again when Chinese authorities showed up after 15 days and confiscated their mobile phones,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“And despite having given the authorities all the information they asked for, they were denied the benefits they were promised anyway,” he said.
The new campaign to identify Tibetans living in exile has also been launched in other parts of Tibet, including Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture in the TAR and Lithang (Litang) county in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, said another source in Tibet.
“People with family members living outside Tibet are being forced to register their own names and then provide details about their relatives, such as their names, photos, occupation, and how long they have been living in India.”
“If they do not register these things at their local office, they have to go to the county to do it later on,” he said.
Blocking information flows
In Kardze prefecture, the names and other details of Tibetans living abroad are being collected in order to someday lure them back to Tibet, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA, citing contacts in the region. “And these policies are being authorized by higher-ups in the government,” the source said.
Also speaking to RFA, Pema Gyal—a researcher at the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy—said that Chinese efforts to collect information on Tibetans living abroad help to stop the flow of news about protests and other politically sensitive information from within the region.
“A fair amount of information leaks to the outside world from inside Tibet, so the Chinese government collects information on Tibetan communities abroad as a way of ensuring that nothing is sent to them,” he said.
Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.
Reported by Sangyal Kunchok for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.