Chinese police employ savage beatings, repressive decree to force Tibetans to observe ‘Army Day’
Chinese authorities in two different Tibetan counties have used disproportionate force and violence as a punishment for failing to organize the celebration of “Chinese Workers and Farmers Red Army Day”, which falls on 1 August and is observed annually in China as ‘Army Day’ or the founding anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). This year marked the 88th founding anniversary of the PLA. Tibetans in Kashung Township in Nangchen County, were severely beaten by the Chinese police for failing to organize the celebration in ways authorities had decreed.
Local Tibetans have been beaten up so severely that an unknown number have been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries in different hospitals in Nangchen (Ch: Nangqen) County in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.
Information received by TCHRD reveals that on the night of 5 August 2015, local county officials accompanied by People’s Armed Police (PAP) officers attacked the sleeping Tibetans in their homes with hammers, sticks, knives and stones. Teargas shells were also fired.
The injured Tibetans, identified as Tadul, Shopel, Budar - all from Sengmey nomadic camp, are being treated at the county government hospital. Others who suffered serious injuries and could not be treated at the prefecture hospital have been transferred to Xining. Among them is Adhor, who has suffered serious injuries, and may not survive the treatment.
Tibetans in Nangchen believe that such thuggish behavior on the part of Chinese cadres and police constitutes a grave violation of Chinese laws and constitution. They assert that authorities and police are meant to provide security rather than subjecting innocent civilians to savage beatings and thus causing life-threatening injuries.
“If the authorities could unjustly beat us to death, despite the fact that we have not caused any harm to them, we innocent civilians have no reason why we can’t give up our lives in self-defense; no matter how much we are being subjected to unjust beatings, we would abide by the principles of law and justice; we will continue to protest against the injustice. We urge the UN and the international community to stand by our just cause,” a resident of Nangchen who was among these beaten up was quoted as saying by a source with contact in the area.
In the run-up to the ‘Army Day’ celebration, local Chinese authorities in Diru (Ch: Biru) County in Nagchu (Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), issued a decree warning Tibetans that they would be denied the right to harvest the prized Yartsa Gunbu (caterpillar fungus) for five years if they did not wear clothes/robes trimmed with animal fur during the 1 August celebration organized by the government. The authorities themselves brought clothes trimmed with animal fur, ordering the performers to wear them.
The government decree known as “Four Absolute To-Do’s”, issued on 25 July 2015 in Diru contains the following points:
1) Art and cultural shows must be organized
2) Songs and dances must be performed on stages
3) Performers must wear clothes trimmed with animal fur
4) The public, in and around Diru, must come to watch the art and cultural shows
Since Yartsa Gunbu is the principal source of economic livelihood for Tibetans in Diru, the policy denying the right to pick up Yartsa Gunbu directly threatens their life.
In 2006 during the Kalachakra ceremony held in South India, the Dalai Lama urged Tibetans in Tibet not to wear clothes trimmed with animal fur. Tibetans inside Tibet responded overwhelmingly to the appeal issued by the Tibetan spiritual leader. In 2006, Tibetans in Diru came out and burned clothes trimmed with animal fur in defiance of the Chinese government.
Over the years Diru has seen massive protest against the Chinese government. For instance on 28 September 2013, in protest against the Chinese government’s decision to forcefully hoist the PRC red flag on the rooftops of Tibetan houses and monasteries, Tibetans in Diru removed the flags and threw them into the river. The Chinese authorities responded repressively to this open defiance by sending police and military troops to Diru, taking into custody around forty Tibetans. The children of Tibetans who had any connection with the protest were not allowed to go to schools, the sick were denied medical care in hospitals and official decrees disallowing the picking up of Yartsa Gunbu were passed.
Responding to these harsh measures, and to protest against China’s mining activities, including digging up of sacred mountains in Diru, at around 7 pm on 28 September 2013, more than 1000 Tibetans, ranging from the age of 7-80, launched a 24-hour sit-in hunger strike in front of the Diru County government office.
In 2013, Chinese authorities declared Diru as a region ‘lacking in stability’. Subsequently, a series of repressive policies was implemented in the region, including reinforcement of ‘patriotic education’ campaigns that required the Tibetans to attend countless meetings. Communication channels with the outside world were cut off, turning Diru into a virtual prison.