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Tibetans in Chinese provinces blocked from travel to Lhasa in March

March 29, 2016

Radio Free Asia, March 24, 2016 - Tibetan residents of western Chinese provinces are being blocked from travel to Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa for the duration of March, a month of politically sensitive anniversaries, Tibetan sources say.

Restrictions include bans on travel both by rail and by air, a Tibetan living in Australia told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.

“China is profiling Tibetans and denying them rail tickets from Xining and Lanzhou,” RFA’s source named Shelge said, referring to the capitals of Qinghai and Gansu provinces respectively.

“Besides, no plane tickets are being sold to Tibetans traveling from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu to Lhasa until the end of April,” Shelge said.

Tibetans hoping recently to travel by train from Lanzhou to Lhasa had been blocked by authorities, Shelge said.

”They were asked by ticket officials to show their IDs, and after being identified as Tibetans they were told that no tickets would be sold to them.”

Tickets were freely sold to members of other ethnic nationality groups, though, Shelge said.

Sonam, a Tibetan now living in Switzerland, told RFA that Tibetans in Qinghai wishing to travel by rail to  Lhasa had been told to wait for a week to purchase tickets to go by rail.

“But then they were told that no tickets would be sold to Tibetans for the rest of the month,” Sonam said, citing local sources.

“They all had to go back to their hometowns,” Sonam said.

Sensitive anniversaries

China now regularly blocks travel to Lhasa by Tibetans living in western Chinese provinces each March, a month of politically sensitive anniversaries.

On March 10, 1959, Tibetans in Lhasa rose up in protest of Beijing’s tightening political and military control of the formerly self-governing Tibetan region, sparking a rebellion in which thousands were killed.

And in March 2008, a riot in Lhasa followed the suppression by Chinese police of four days of peaceful Tibetan protests and led to the destruction of Han Chinese shops in the city and deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents.

The riot then sparked a wave of mostly peaceful protests against Chinese rule that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces.

Hundreds of Tibetans were detained, beaten, or shot as Chinese security forces quelled the protests, sources said in earlier reports.

Reported by Sonam Wangdue for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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