China tore up returned Tibetan pilgrims’ passports in their faces

Chinese passport
Chinese passport

(, Feb02, 2017) – Chinese authorities were reported to have sought to humiliate Tibetans ordered by them to return home in order to prevent them from attending a major religious ceremony presided over by the Dalai Lama in India by tearing up their passports at the airport itself on Jan 12. This was reported to have happened to Tibetans landing at the airports in Beijing and Sichuan Province’s capital Chengdu.

“They ripped the passports of some travellers upon their arrival, rendering them invalid,” reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jan 31, quoting a local source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They used scissors to destroy the passports right before their eyes,” the source was quoted as saying.

Tibetan pilgrims who returned to their homes in Qinghai and Gansu provinces in Dec 2016 and Jan 2017 too were reported to have been subjected to harsh treatment. They were interrogated by police and their passports taken away.

Getting a passport is an arduous, if not also harrowing, experience for ordinary Tibetans living under Chinese rule. They have to get backings and guarantees as well as support and clearances from a series of authorities.

Many Tibetans travelled or planned to travel to India and Nepal for pilgrimage since about Oct 2016, or even before, including with hopes to attend a Kalachakra Empowerment scheduled to be given by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at Bodh Gaya, Buddhism’s most sacred site, over Jan 2-14. However, in the beginning of Nov 2016, China ordered all Tibetans who were already in Nepal and India on pilgrimage to return home at once or they and their families would be severely punished. Tibetan who were yet to travel had their passports confiscated.


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