(TibetanReview.net, Feb03’16) – Chinese authorities in Draggo (Chinese: Luhuo) County of Karze (Ganzi) Prefecture, Sichuan Province, have launched a new crackdown on the local Tibetans, imposing a ban on them from possessing or displaying pictures of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Feb 1. Three local government departments issued an order for that purpose on Jan 4, fixing a deadline of Feb 2 for surrendering all available pictures of the Dalai Lama on pain of severe punishment for violators.
The reported order shows that picture of the Dalai Lama were not only displayed at public places and in homes but also sold in shops by Tibetans.
The order comes as China strengthens security measures ahead of sensitive anniversaries such as the Mar 10 Tibetan uprising of 1959 and the Mar-Apr 2008 uprising protests across the Tibetan Plateau region.
“If any shop or store possessed photos of the Dalai Lama and displayed these before the date of this notice, these should be voluntarily surrendered to the Draggo County Office of Culture and Discipline by Feb 2,” the report quoted the order as saying.
“Those who delay in handing these over, or who never turn them in, will be punished severely,” the notice was further quoted as saying.
The report cited a local Tibetan as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity, that around 40 percent of stores in the county may have sold or displayed pictures of the Dalai Lama before the order was issued on Jan 4.
Successive Dalai Lamas have, since 1642, been the sovereign head of Tibet. In 2011 the current Dalai Lama, who is the 14th and is now 80 years old, put an end to his historical role as the temporal leader of Tibet while continuing his decades old call on China, which fully occupied his homeland in 1959, to grant the territory autonomy under its sovereign rule. However, China continues to demonize him, seeing his popularity among the six million Tibetans as a threat to its rule.