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China imposes communication ban on religiously repressed Draggo Tibetans

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb03’23) – China has banned residents of a Tibetan county in Sichuan Province from having any kind of contact with their brethren living in exile and is subjecting them to random searches to enforce it, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jan 2, citing people with knowledge of the latest development there.

The communication clampdown in Draggo (Chinese: Luhuo) county in the Province’s Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture is the latest measure by Chinese authorities to bring locals to heel following the demolitions of huge Buddha statues in the area beginning 2021, as monks and local residents were forced to watch, the report said, citing local sources.

“Beginning January this year, local Chinese authorities in Draggo County have warned Tibetans living in the region to stop communicating with people outside Tibet,” one source has said, requesting anonymity due to safety concerns.

“Their cell phones are randomly probed and restricted from sharing any kinds of information with the outside,” he has said. “They are also not allowed to contact their family members or send money.”

Draggo has a history of strong and persistent resistance to Chinese rule that dates back from the middle of the last century when China invaded Tibet and the non-violent protests there has continued unabated to this day.

Residential houses in Luhuo County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. (Photo courtesy: CGTN)

The area was subjected to a particularly harsh religious repression last year with landmark Buddha statues and other religious objects being destroyed and worshipper forced to watch the sacrilegious attacks; those who protested were arrested. Tibetans suspected of sending information about the destruction to the outside world have also been arrested.

The Cultural Revolution-style destruction was stated to have been carried out under Draggo’s Communist Party chief Wang Dongsheng, who had earlier overseen a campaign of the expulsion of Buddhist clergy and destruction at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, then the world’s largest, located in neighbouring Serthar County.

“Ever since Wang Dongsheng was appointed as county chief in Draggo, the campaign against the Tibetans has gone from bad to worse,” another local Tibetan has said. He has added that “the staff and those with authority in the monasteries have been forced to attend re-education programs.” 

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