China used counterterrorism force to ‘clean up’ Tibetan homes, target Dalai Lama photos

Chinese commandos visiting the old age home under the guise of “clean up drive” to search for photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the premises. (Photo courtesy: CTA)

(, Apr08’21) – Following the leak of news about the Jan 19 death due to police torture of a teenaged Tibetan Buddhist monk, China launched an operation to “clean up” Tibetan homes in the grassland town of Dza Wonpo in Dzachuka area of what is now part of Sichuan province, said New York-based Human Rights Watch Apr 7.

The monk, Tenzin Nyima, died from injuries he received while being detained after participating in a peaceful protest with three other monks. Now, officials are looking to clamp down on any further information getting out.

The group said that Snow Wolf Commandos, a unit of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police responsible for counterterrorism operations, had arrived in Wonpo on Mar 5. While the troops claimed to be visiting a home for the elderly to clean up the residents’ rooms, the real purpose was seen to be to look for materials deemed to be critical of Chinese rule in Tibet, such as Dalai Lama photos.

The group said a video of the operation seen by it showed dozens of police and commandos parading through the town of about 3,000 residents, almost all Tibetans, carrying a large red flag and shouting battle-cries.

The commandos were stated to have searched houses, including the home for the elderly, confiscated photos of the Dalai Lama, and put up portraits of China’s leaders on the walls.

Several Tibetan residents who had posted notes on social media expressing concern about Tenzin Nyima’s death were taken away. Their identities and whereabouts remain unknown.

Local residents were ordered to download an app on their mobile phones, giving officials access to the user’s data.

The group said the “clean-up” operation took place a day after the local Sershul (Chinese: Shiqu) County’s top official, Communist Party Secretary Yang Mingguang, visited Wonpo to inspect “recent key tasks” in the town. Yang was stated to have given “in-depth guidance” to monks at the local monastery and told the town’s police to “strengthen key tasks to ensure social stability in the near future.”

The Dalai Lama was stated to be a key target of the operation with the residents being told by announcement that anyone possessing or displaying images of him would face criminal prosecution and would be required to repay in full any assistance or funds received from the government.

Also, at a public meeting on Mar 17, officials were stated to have ordered those attending it to sign a five-point document undertaking not to keep or distribute pictures of the Dalai Lama and to agree to “follow the Party and oppose any illegal activity,” the group said.


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