(TibetanReview.net, Oct07’23) – Despite China’s propaganda claim that the situation in Tibet under its rule is heavenly for the local population, going into exile continues to be a highly sought aspiration, which is being exploited by Chinese human traffickers. And young Tibetan victims, instead of being taken to India as promised, are trafficked and held for repeated ransom demands in lawless Myanmar, according to a report by London-based campaign group Free Tibet Oct 6.
The group said it learnt about the trafficking and kidnapping criminal network, reported by its research partner Tibet Watch, when a student who went missing in Mar 2023 from his school in Chuchen (Chinese: Jinchuan) County of Ngaba (Aba) Prefecture, Sichuan Province, escaped and returned home recently.
It all began when eight students from that school were contacted by a Chinese businessman from the prefecture’s Zungchu (Songpan) County. He promised to help the students to escape to India and arrange for them to have jobs when they arrived there, assuring them that they did not need to worry about money, passports, or safety.
As instructed, the eight students ran away from their school to meet up with the Chinese businessman in Lhasa. When the man asked them if they had brought enough money with them, despite having assured them beforehand that this would not be an issue, four of them left him to find their own way to escape to India. However, this eventually led to them being detained by Chinese authorities.
Meanwhile, the Chinese businessman took the remaining four Tibetan students to the border of Myanmar, where they were handed over to strangers believed to be members of a criminal organisation. They loaded the students into a truck and took them into the country over several days, driving only during the night and resting in daytime. They changed trucks several times and obtained a number of checkpoint permits during the journey.
Over the course of the journey, the students were separated and taken to different locations. The one who eventually escaped back to Tibet was taken to a four/five storey building which was surrounded by electric fencing and barbed wire in a compound in a forest, the group said on its freetibet.org website Oct 6.
After being rested and fed for a couple of days, the strangers demanded over 1,000,000 RMB (roughly £113,830) for his release. On finding that he did not have enough money, they gave him two options: work off the debt, or ask his parents to pay.
The criminals in lawless Myanmar were stated to have maintained that they had bought, rather than kidnapped, the student, and were therefore his legal owners.
The family, on being contacted, eventually had to pay 3,000,000 RMB (roughly £341,430) but also sought assistance from Chinese police. But the police refused to act, saying it was a case of foreign human trafficking operation and therefore out of their jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, the criminal organisation demanded more money from the family to cover additional expenses of food, travel, and permits, which it had no choice but to accede to.
As it looked unlikely that he will ever be released despite paying money demanded by his holders, the student bided his time and eventually jumped out of a second storey room in the night and fled into the nearby forest.
On reaching a village near the Myanmar border, the victim called his family who arrived to take him back home.
The survivor of the ordeal has said there were many more young people like him in the compound where he was held. Some young adults among them were recruited into the trafficking network through brutal tests of torture and murder, while others were forced to contact their friends to lure them into being trafficked. Those failing in such tasks were tortured and sold on, or had their organs harvested, the group has cited the victim as saying.