China to again lockdown Tibet ahead of March protest anniversaries

Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet.
Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet.

(, Jan29, 2017) – As in past many years since 2008, China has again closed Tibet Autonomous Region to non-Chinese foreign travellers from Feb 25 to Apr 1. And as before, it has not officially announced this decision. However, everyone understands that the reason is to prevent such foreigners from witnessing any protests that may take place during the anniversaries of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising Day and the 2008 uprising protests there, besides the especially tight security measures being implemented during the period.

Tour operators announced on websites early in January that the ‘annual closure’ of Tibet to foreigners would run this year from Feb 25 to Apr 1, with all foreigners being instructed to leave before Feb 24, said Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet Jan 27.

Tibetans across the world mark Mar 10 as the anniversary of their 1959 national uprising against Chinese occupation rule. Besides, Tibetans also commemorate Mar 14 when a protest march by a group of monks on Mar 14, 2008 in Lhasa assumed the proportion of an uprising after it spread to most of the Tibetan Plateau. The brutal crackdown on the protests by the Chinese army led to large-scale killings, arrests, restrictions on movement and crackdown on religious institutions. Tibet was cut off from the rest of the world.

This year China prevented thousands of Tibetan pilgrims from attending a major religious ceremony being presided over by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at Buddhism’s most sacred site in Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar over Jan 2-14. Tibetan passports were confiscated and those failing to return home in time were warned with severe punishment both for themselves and their families.

China despises and maligns the Dalai Lama, calling him a separatist, although he only asks it to honestly implement in Tibet the PRC’s law on autonomy for ethnic minority regions.


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