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China deploys large contingent of paramilitary in Tibetan Town

February 3, 2014

January 30, 2014 - Paramilitary police have been deployed in large numbers in a Tibetan region of Sichuan province on the second anniversary of a deadly suppression of peaceful protests, according to exile sources.

Chinese armed police are patrolling the streets of Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture in an apparent attempt to prevent Tibetans from observing the anniversary of the Jan. 23, 2012 violent crackdown by Chinese security forces on peaceful protests by Tibetans calling for freedom from Chinese rule, a Tibetan monk living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

Two Tibetans were killed, and at least 30 injured, in the incident in Draggo in which Chinese security forces fired at random into the crowd. The crackdown took place on Chinese New Year, which this year falls on Jan. 31.

“On Jan. 26, a large number of armored vehicles arrived in the county and have been going up and down the streets, creating a heightened sense of clampdown,” Ngawang Sherab said, citing local sources.

“The Chinese forces are carrying out military drills on the main road both day and night in an effort to intimidate the local Tibetans,” he said.

Though no news has been received of detentions or arrests, Sherab said, “the Chinese are randomly checking the IDs of Tibetans in the street.”

“Two or three Tibetans sitting in restaurants or seen conversing in the streets are immediately dispersed by the police,” he said.

“So Tibetans are now living in a very restricted environment.”

Photos show deployment

The London-based advocacy group Free Tibet confirmed the clampdown in a statement Thursday, releasing several photographs of the large military deployment on the streets of Draggo.

The group said the photographs, taken on Jan. 27, show a convoy of armored cars and other military vehicles, which arrived in the town the preceding night.

“China’s only response to Tibetans peacefully standing up for their rights is force,” Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said, adding,“Two years ago, they did not hesitate to use lethal force on a peaceful demonstration in [Draggo].”

“Now they are intimidating the population with a display of military might,” she said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the area in 2008.

A total of 125 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom since February 2009, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

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

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