(TibetanReview.net, Jan25, 2017) – After coercing them to return home with threats of heavy punishment in case they attended the Kalachakra religious empowerment given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Bodh Gaya from Jan 2 to 13, China is now questioning the returned Tibetan pilgrims after confiscating their passports, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jan 23. Officials questioning them were reported to be especially seeking to find out what they had discussed with others since they returned home.
Tibetans in Tibet Autonomous Region already had their passports confiscated some years back for the ostensible purpose of replacing them with new ones which, however, never materialized. Tibetans in other parts of Tibet also had their passport confiscated from the beginning of Nov 2016. However, many had already left for Nepal and India for pilgrimage. So their families were pressured with threats of punishment to call them back at once. Most of them were from Qinghai Province.
Once they returned, their passports were confiscated. “Most of the passports held by Tibetans who had travelled from Qinghai province had already been made invalid,” the report quoted an anonymous local source as saying.
The source has said that Tibetans who had travelled to India from Qinghai province’s Tsoshar (Chinese: Haidong) Prefecture were called in to government offices and questioned about their trip. They were asked which pilgrimage sites they had visited, what items they had brought back with them, and whom they had spoken with after their return.
However, for obediently returning home, each Tibetan returning to Tsoshar was given 500 yuan (US $72.94) by authorities as a gesture of thanks for their cooperation, with a promise of a further 2,000 yuan to be handed over later, the report said.
However, it was not clear what further measures the Chinese may take. On a previous occasion, China detained and subjected to months of political education Tibetans who had travelled to India to attend the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra teachings.