Increased repression in Tibet under "Stability Maintenance": HRW report

By the Tibet Post International

Dharamshala — New York-based Human Rights Watch's latest 86-page report on Tibet reveals increase in suppression by the Chinese authorities on Tibetans under their "Stability Maintenance System" campaign.

Study of 479 cases between 2013-2015 shows the deteriorating tolerance and increasing severity of the detentions, prosecution and convictions for peaceful dissent, the kinds that are allowed under the Chinese and the international law.

The policies under this campaign has granted the government a close surveillance and massive control over the Tibetan society, especially in the rural and areas previously not associated with dissent. "Our research found that many of those detained and prosecuted were local community leaders, environmental activists, and villagers involved in social and cultural activities, as well as local writers and singers." The report shows a stark increase in detentions from the rural areas for activities previously considered not so significant crimes by the Chinese government.

"Tibetan areas are the forefront of the Chinese government's country-wide crackdown on peaceful dissent," said Sophie Richardson, China director. "The authorities are treating all Tibetans as potential dissidents and are trying to extend surveillance to the entire Tibetan community."

Previously unpublished documents reveal the devastating cost paid by a local community for a single protest, the Rights Watchdog said. In April 2013, the trial and conviction of three lamas from Chamdo in the Tibet Autonomous Region for a minor charge of "harboring a criminal" led to police employing waves of collective punishment, intimidation, and repression throughout the wider community for over a year as they sought to find other suspects.

The Chinese authorities detained, beat, and threatened scores of local Tibetans, and subjected others to political indoctrination and travel restrictions in an apparent attempt to obtain information about key suspects and deter further dissent.

Of the 479 detainees, 153 were reported to have been sent for trial, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment. The average sentence they received was 5.7 years in prison.

According to the report, "Among those who received the longest sentences were people who tried to assist victims of self-immolations, leaders of protests against mining or government construction projects, and organizers of village opposition to unpopular decisions by local officials."

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