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Five known Covid-lockdown suicides in Lhasa despite mayoral apology for gov’t shortcomings

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep28’22) – Five Tibetans in Tibet’s capital Lhasa are known to have been driven to commit suicide, including by plunging to their death by jumping form rooftops of quarantined buildings, as the Chinese government’s draconian Covid-lockdown restrictions entered its 49th day, said Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Sep 27, citing online-posted and other information.

The centre said these known suicides had taken place over Sep 23-25. It said the available information show that the suicide-deaths had taken place in the Lhasa Comprehensive Protective Tariff Zone no. 2 (West Lhasa), the Bayi community (southwest Norbulingka), Lanting apartment (near Tibet University), and Gakyiling neighbourhood 3 (east of Lhasa).

Citing information posted on social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, the centre said an unidentified person had jumped to death on Sep 23 at the Gakyiling neighbourhood 3 in Lhasa city.

These information have emerged despite the fact that social media posts about hardships faced by Tibetans are immediately deleted and many of the accounts carrying such information are closed.

With regard to the Gakyiling suicide, a Weibo post in the evening of Sep 24 alongside a picture of an apartment building in Gakyiling neighbourhood 3 was quoted as saying: “It rained today in Lhasa as if to mourn the person who died. Only the dead can reach heaven. The human realm is hell. Only those living in Lhasa can understand the situation of the epidemic in Lhasa. I request everyone to look after us. I request the authorities to stop deceiving the masses. The masses have suffered too much. The China Central Television and People’s Daily [major state media] may not see this but I thought everyone should see the situation posted below”.

Also, on Sep 25, a posting with a picture of a dead person lying on its back on a flight of stairs was quoted as saying: “What does Covid prevention and control mean to us? Every life [lives of ordinary people have no value]. Despair. Desperation. No one speaks up. Even when someone speaks, [his voice] cannot go beyond the Dangla mountains [central Tibet]. These lives must be happy in heaven because they have escaped this hell realm.”

One of the messages in these posts, which have since been deleted, was quoted as saying, “Extreme repression has cost the lives of four persons. This cannot be tolerated further. But[one] should not have protested by giving away one’s life.”

Another was reported to have said, “A person just jumped from a building, taking the total suicide count to five. Please do not do this. Suicide won’t resolve the issue”.

On Sep 17 night, Zhandui, one of the city’s vice mayors, bowed in apology during a media briefing, saying the complaints had highlighted the city government’s shortcomings and weaknesses. This was followed by China’s online social media platform being wiped clean of all complaints against the lockdown situation, with no new video postings being allowed.

However, Covid-negative people continued to be quarantined with the infected while lockdown measures have been further tightened so that many people are on the brink of starvation while also suffering from the cold weather condition.

Those making online postings of complaints do so at great personal risks as they expose themselves to imminent arrest.

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