Human Rights Watch says tolerance against peaceful protest in Tibet diminishing

DHARAMSHALA, July 22: The leading rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) in their latest report, ‘Detention and Prosecution of Tibetans under China’s Stability Maintenance Campaign’, reported that the authorities’ tolerance towards any forms of expression and assembly have diminished under the stability maintenance policy.

The report, which recorded Chinese detention, prosecution, and conviction of Tibetans for peaceful activities from 2013 to 2015, stated that there has been an increase in ‘state control over daily life’, ‘increasing criminalization of nonviolent forms of protest’, and ‘disproportionate responses to local protests’.

“These measures, part of a policy known as weiwen (stability maintenance), have led authorities to expand the range of activities and issues targeted for repression in Tibetan areas, particularly in the countryside,” the report stated.

The analysis report is based on the assessment of 479 cases of Tibetans either detained or tried from 2013 to 2015 for political offences, which include political expression or criticism of government policy. The assessment also comprises of cases as young as 11-years old currently in prison.

The report also highlighted the shift of epicenter of detentions from Sichuan province to Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). It also stated that majority of those arrested and tried were community and religious leaders, activists, writers, singers and villagers involved in social and cultural activities.

“Almost all the protests and detentions identified in this report occurred in small towns or rural townships and villages rather than in cities, where most protests and detentions in prior years were reported to have taken place. This suggests that dissent has increased in rural Tibetan areas, where nearly 80 percent of Tibetans live,” the rights group said in their report.

It also showed an increased presence of Chinese officials in the rural areas of TAR since 2011 including over 21,000 officials deployed in the villages and monasteries in the TAR region alone.

With stability maintenance policy in its third phase in TAR, HRW also stated that politicized detentions in Eastern Tibet (Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces) has direct link with the policy. However, it is most aimed at ‘stopping self-immolations by Tibetans’ in these regions.

“The failure of the central government and local authorities to end these abusive policies and roll back intrusive security and surveillance measures raises the prospect of an intensified cycle of repression and resistance in a region already enduring extraordinary restrictions on basic human rights,” the report said.

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