|Demonstration in Diru|
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Recently The New York Times carried an article “Who’s Afraid of Chinese Money?” Jonathan Mirsky, the author recounts the story of the British Prime Minister John Major in the autumn of 1991; he was the first Western leader to visit China after the Tiananmen events.
Major had told the press that he would present a list of several hundred political prisoners prepared by Amnesty International, to the Chinese leadership. After meeting Premier Li Peng, Major confirmed to the press that he had passed on the list to his Chinese counterpart; everyone praised Major’s moral courage. Later on, Mirsky discovered from one of the British officials who attended the meet that Major had never shown the list to Li Peng, nor had he spoken a word about human rights; he had plainly lied. Business was already business.
Don’t expect Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ask the Chinese leaders what is happening in Tibet. So-called future economic business prospects are too important for India; it however remains true that the human rights situation in Tibet is grim; in fact, it has not been so bad since 2008.
The case of Nagchu is interesting: despite several ‘inspection tours' by high-level Communist Party dignitaries (including Yu Zhengsheng, the No 4 in the Party, in charge of Tibetan affairs), the Prefecture is on the boil; several Tibetans are said to have been killed by Chinese bullets.
Nagqu Prefecture is one of the seven prefectures of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR); it is the largest with an area of 450,537 square km for a population of 400,000. As Nagqu is located on the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, Beijing plans to transform the prefecture into one of the main economic hubs on the Tibetan plateau. It is without considering the local population.
In May 2013 in Beijing, Yu Zhengsheng chaired a meeting of the Small Group on Tibet, a body which implements China’s Tibet policies. The meeting was attended by senior cadres from the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) as well as Gansu, Qinghai, Yunnan, Sichuan provinces.
Soon after the meeting, the Party Secretaries from these areas went back to their respective provinces and preached to the ‘masses’ he importance of Yu’s instructions and comments. Chen Quanguo, the TAR's Party Secretary went to the Nagchu Prefecture to carry Yu’s message to ‘bring stability and harmony to Nagchu’.
Unfortunately for Secretary Chen, the day he was returning to Lhasa, thousands of Tibetans gathered in Driru, one of Nagchu’s counties. They met at a sacred Tibetan mountain to protest against the Government's planned mining projects in Driru County. The mountain, called Lhachen Naglha Dzambha, is rich in mineral resources.
On May 24, 2013, over 1,000 pick-up cars, with more than 5,000 Tibetans gathered near the sacred site to stop wild mining by Chinese firms. Apparently, the Tibetans ultimately managed to temporarily block the mining operation at the site, though the situation remained tense.
Already in October 2012, two Tibetan cousins Tsepo, 20 and Tenzin, 25, self-immolated in front of a school in Driru. The cousins shouted slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama before setting themselves alight. They pleaded to all Tibetans to be ‘united like brothers’.
The resentment is due to a host of highly-intrusive mass surveillance campaigns known as ‘Benefit the Masses, Solidify the Foundation’, ‘The Grid Management’ system, ‘New Socialist Villages’, which are implemented in the area. Those who do not comply with these regulations are severely beaten and punished.
A year later, on 28 September 2013, a serious confrontation happened between the Chinese security forces and the local Tibetans in Mowa Village, again in Diru County. The Tibetans rebelled against a new campaign known as the ‘Nine Must Haves’ which says, amongst other things, it is compulsory to fly the red national flag on private houses.
When local Tibetans refused, the People’s Armed Police immediately arrived on the spot. This led to an inevitable confrontation. The local authorities in Diru County announced that the Tibetans who don’t comply with official rules would be punished; Tibetan protesters would have their children expelled from schools; their sick relatives would not receive medical care in hospitals; and they would not get licenses to harvest the famous Ophiocordyceps sinensis, a pricey caterpillar fungus used as an aphrodisiac in China.
A few weeks earlier, the Tibetan Autonomous Region authorities have sent some 18,000 Chinese cadres to Diru to intensify the party’s ‘mass line’ policy; these cadres conducted ‘patriotic education’ campaigns among local Tibetans, demanding them to pledge their ‘love and gratitude’ to the Party and the nation.
On September 29, 2013, another protest took place with 4,000 students of County Primary and Middle schools after they were informed about the threat to expel their classmates whose parents had participated in the earlier protests. The County Middle School has later been indefinitely closed.
A day after the National Day (October 2), local Tibetans in Diru County once again defied the security forces by putting up human blockades along the major highways which have been occupied by the security forces. They demonstrated against the annihilation of the Tibetan identity. Four Tibetans are said to have been killed by bullets in the demonstrations.
To give an idea of the scale of the ‘monitoring’ of Tibetan activities, Xinhua recently admitted that during the last 2 years, 60,000 cadres have been stationed in 5459 villages and 1,877 monastic institutions in TAR.
Wu Yingjie, the TAR Executive Secretary is a Han Chinese with 39 years of experience of work in Tibet; he has been camping in Nagchu for weeks. The fact that the Central leadership has to depute Wu for a long period of time tno Nagchu means the situation is seriously out of control.
But worse, China's new security czar, Minister of the Public Security Guo Shengkun had to fly from Beijing to Lhasa to take stock of the latest happenings.
During his visit (only announced after his return to Beijing on October 10), Guo called "for efforts to ensure long-term stability of the Tibet Autonomous Region in order to guarantee the region's leapfrog economic development."
According to Xinhua, Guo "inspected police stations to check on the work of police patrols, how criminal and non-criminal reports were resolved, fire fighting and public service."
How long can the situation continue to deteriorate?
The time has perhaps come for the Communist authorities to think 'out of the box', and why not, use the services of the Dalai Lama to pacify Tibet.
This would be a great leap forward for the Communist regime. It is the only solution which makes sense.