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China enforces strict ban on Tibetans from marking Dalai Lama’s 83rd birthday

His Holiness the Dalai Lama cutting the cake during celebrations of his 83rd birthday at the Shiwatsel Teaching Ground in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 6, 2018. (Photo courtesy: OHHDL)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama cutting the cake during celebrations of his 83rd birthday at the Shiwatsel Teaching Ground in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on July 6, 2018. (Photo courtesy: OHHDL)

(TibetanReview.net, Jul07, 2018) – China was reported to have not only banned, as before, all celebrations and related events marking the 83rd birthday on Jul 6 of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, but to have also launched a clamp down on all online social media discussions and exchanges about it. The extent and virulence of the enforcement of the ban varied from place to place depending on the activism of the local Chinese leaders.

In Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Prefecture of Qinghai Province, there was a clamp down on social media and deployment of large numbers of armed police at Tibetan villages and towns in an effort to discourage the celebrations, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jul 5. It said the heavy deployment of troops had left the local Tibetans fearful and feeling intimidated.

The tightened restrictions this year were stated to include warnings issued to managers of social media chat groups, ordering them to restrict any sharing of “secret, internal” information by Tibetans and to keep an eye out on attempts to organize celebrations of the birthday of their spiritual leader, the report cited a local source as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Last month, two Tibetan businessmen in Draggo (Luhuo) County of Karze (Ganzi) Prefecture in neighbouring Sichuan Province were detained after they were found to possess photos of the Dalai Lama during a raid and search in their homes.

It took place as a part of strengthening an existing crackdown against crime lunched in Feb 2018 ahead of Jul 6.

The report noted that China had recently issued nine new internet regulations that effectively banned political discussions on chat groups online, threatening chat group organizers with punishments to be imposed “according to law”.

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