(TibetanReview.net, Feb24’23) – Chinese authorities have carried out raids and searched homes of Tibetans while banning them from making any kind of contact with relatives and friends outside the People’s Republic of China from Feb 20 to 26 while celebrating Losar, their traditional New Year, reported the rfa.org Feb 23, citing local sources.
The report said cellphone checks and home raids were being carried out in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo, the three largest cities in what China has demarcated as Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Exile Tibetans who called their relatives and friends to exchange Losar pleasantries have been greeted with refrains; they were told not to contact them as this could land them in trouble with the Chinese surveillance state apparatchiks.
“After a long time, I called my family members in Lhasa to give them Losar greetings, but then they anxiously told me not to contact them on special occasions such as the Tibetan New Year and other sensitive days,” the report quoted a Tibetan living in Dharamshala, India, as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.
The report also cited a Tibetan living outside the TAR who has relatives in Shigatse (located about 275 kilometers (170 miles) west of Lhasa), as saying his parents sounded very tense when he called and they told him to refrain from contacting or sharing messages with them.
“They told me that police in Shigatse have been conducting unexpected probes, and Tibetans remain under scrutiny all the time,” he has said.
And a Tibetan living in Dharamshala who has relatives in Chamdo in the eastern part of Tibet has said his relatives, too, were fearful when he contacted them from India.
Before the Losar holiday, authorities warned against holding events that could endanger national security and said they would take immediate action against them, the report said. The gravity of such a warning cannot be underestimated because authorities can declare any Tibetan gathering or group event as separatist and make arrests for endangering national security.
The first three months of the Tibetan calendar year are particularly sensitive to China. The huge religious gatherings during the first month have seen protests by Tibetans decades ago. And the month of March, which falls during this period, sees a series of protest and other anniversaries, namely the Tibetan Uprising Day of Mar 10, the 2008 large-scale protests that engulfed much of the Tibetan Plateau, and China’s so-called Serf-Emancipation Day on Mar 28, a relatively new addition by China to Tibet’s list of annual holidays.