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Chinese authorities impose new restrictions on Tibetan monasteries

May 26, 2014

May 20, 2014 - Chinese authorities have demanded that monasteries and residents in a restive Tibetan county in northwestern China’s Qinghai province pledge loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party and are imposing further controls on information flows out of the region, sources say.

The demands are contained in a document launched in a campaign on May 13 particularly targeting monasteries located in Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) prefecture’s Pema (Baima) county, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“The monks are being forced either to sign or, if they cannot write, to put their fingerprint on the page,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They have also been told to let their facial expression signify acceptance of the document’s terms,” he said.

Major provisions of the document are that “Tibetans should demonstrate their support for China’s Communist Party and should abide by all laws and regulations,” but include injunctions against taking part in protests challenging Chinese rule, including self-immolations, RFA’s source said.

“The document also states that monks should not be registered as members of their families’ households, and that residency permits [for their home villages] should be withdrawn.”

“We are being harassed and threatened by the authorities just like wolves threaten herds of sheep,” he said.

Controls on travel, information

Another source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said however that monks would be delisted from family household lists only if they refuse to sign the document.

“The identification papers of monks refusing to sign will also not be renewed,” he said. “But even after signing the document, the monks have to vow not to travel from the area for four years.”

Additional restrictions include bans on the use of phones or the Internet to share information with contacts outside the area and on listening to news from outside sources, RFA’s source said.

“Anyone caught doing this will be severely punished under the law,” he said.

Last month, Pema county authorities closed a private school for young monks, drawing concern from the school’s affiliated monastery and local parents about the education the young monks would receive in future at their newly enrolled “mainstream” schools, according to local sources.

And in December, county police detained  two monks and a government worker amid a wider area crackdown following a fatal Nov. 11 self-immolation protest challenging Chinese rule, sources told RFA.

The monks were dragged at night from their quarters, while the government worker was beaten and detained after being found with a photo of self-immolation protester Tsering Gyal on her mobile phone, sources said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date self-immolating to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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