As the first anniversary of the pre-Olympic uprising in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas in March-April last year approaches, the Chinese authorities have expedited the trial of those arrested in connection with the uprising of last year inflicting harsh sentences on them. At the same time, they have launched a new “Strike Hard” campaign against suspected Tibetan dissidents in order to prevent a fresh uprising this year.
2.The new ‘Strike Hard” campaign was launched on January 18,2009, when holders of mobile phones in the Tibetan-inhabited areas received text messages appealing to them to demonstrate peacefully during the Tibetan New Year and during the first anniversary of the uprising of March,2008. The State-controlled “Lhasa Evening News” reported as follows:”Within three days of the launch of the winter “Strike Hard” campaign on Jan. 18, 2009, the Lhasa municipal public security bureau had deployed 600 officers and around 160 police vehicles, and had conducted raids on seven housing blocks, 2,922 rented houses, 14 guest house and hotels, 18 bars and three Internet cafés in Lhasa. The police have rounded up 5,766 suspects for questioning.”,
3. Among the recently available signs of the unrest are:
Pema Tsepak, 24, a resident of the Punda town in the Dzogang county of Tibet’s Chamdo prefecture, was arrested by the police on January 20,2009, on a charge of demonstrating against the Chinese rule. Subsequently, the police informed his relatives that he died accidentally when he jumped from the roof of the police station in an attempt to escape. Local Tibetans have alleged that he was tortured to death by the police. Between January 20 and 22,2009, the Chinese police detained six other Tibetans of the same area for demonstrating against the Chinese rule. A group of five Tibetan monks staged a demonstration in support of Tibetan independence near a monastery in the Dege (Derge in Tibetan) region of the Ganzi (Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the Sichuan province on January,27,2009. They were arrested by the local police. On January 27 and 28,2009, posters calling for Tibetan independence were found pasted on public buildings in the Serthar area of the province. Chinese flags on some public buildings in the Khekor and Nyitoe areas were found hauled down by some unknown elements. Pamphlets calling for the non-observance of the Tibetan New Year on February 26,2009, as a mark of respect to the Tibetans who died during last year’s uprising have been circulating in Tibet and Sichuan. To counter this, the Chinese authorities have launched a drive for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the so-called democratic reforms in Tibet. These State-sponsored celebrations will coincide with the Tibetan New Year. 4.Protests by Tibetan exiles and human rights activists have marked the visit the the Chinese Prime Minister, Mr.Wen Jiabo, to the UK. A shoe was thrown at him as he was addressing a meeting at the Cambridge University on February 2,2009. The shoe fell away from him and did not hit him. The person who threw the shoe shouted “dictator”.
(The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: email@example.com )