(TibetanReview.net, Jan 29) – Authorities in Tibet’s capital Lhasa rounded up 8,424 people and detained 81 of them in a week-long “three unified checking actions” campaign launched on Jan 18, reported the AFP Jan 28 and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT, Washington, DC) Jan 27, citing the official China Tibet News and Lhasa Evening News, respectively. The AFP report cited China Tibet News as saying two of them were held because their mobile phones contained “reactionary opinions” and they sang “reactionary songs”. It said the others were suspected of crimes that included theft, prostitution, murder and acts of violence involving firearms and explosives.
The campaign was reportedly launched “to create a good social environment for the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year [Jan 25]) and the Tibetan New Year [Feb 25] in 2009.” The Lhasa Evening News report, as translated by ICT, said the entire city’s investigative police departments were involved in the campaign action “in order to strike hard according to law against all kinds of criminal activity and to vigorously uphold the city’s social order and stability.”
Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for human Rights and Democracy had earlier said Jan 23 that the action was part of a 42-day Winter strike hard campaign which the Chinese had been carrying out annually in the city over the last several years. The ICT report said the latest “strike hard” campaign “appeared to be intended to intimidate Tibetans still further” ahead of the Tibetan New Year and the period in March that marks the 1959 independence uprising and the Dalai Lama’s flight to India.
During “strike hard”’ campaigns, normal arrest and prosecution procedures are usually waived to maximize the numbers detained, noted an AP report Jan 28. In an apparently similar action in Dec’08, Chinese state media reported that authorities in Tibet had detained 59 people accused of disseminating rumours aimed at inciting ethnic tension and were cracking down on illegal downloads of “reactionary music” online.