(TibetanReview.net, Oct27’22) – Despite the high risk of being persecuted for alleged separatism, Tibetans in capital Lhasa have staged street protests on Oct 26 to voice their anger at the continuing harsh Covid-19 lockdown measures China had imposed on them since early August, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org, the website of Radio Free Asia (RFA), Oct 26.
The report said the protests were the first in Tibet’s capital since 2008 when Tibetans sought to rise against the Chinese occupation rule across most of the Tibetan Plateau region. The generally peaceful uprising was crushed with brutal armed repression in which many were massacred and thousands arrested, tortured, and eventually given long prison sentences. Many remained disappeared.
RFA has spoken of having obtained videos showing scores of protesters on the streets on that day in Lhasa. It said a daytime video shows people mostly standing or milling about, with officials in white protective suits standing nearby.
Also, in two night-time videos, crowds and cars had blocked a large street as a crowd surged forward with raising of voices. The participants were stated to be heard speaking in Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese in the videos, although it was hard to decipher what they were saying, the report said.
One of the videos, which was posted in the report, does not show any raising of slogans by the otherwise noisy crowd milling on the streets.
The report cited sources as saying the protesters warned Chinese officials that they would “set off a fire” if they refused to lift Covid lockdown restrictions, enacted under Beijing’s Zero-Covid Policy.
While it was not clear what they meant by that, it was seen as referring to self-immolation protests.
Street signs and restaurant names seen in the videos are stated to suggest that the protests were taking place in the “Chakrong” area in the eastern part of Lhasa Chéngguān district, as well as in the Payi area.
On social media postings, Lhasa residents have earlier voiced a plethora of complaints, saying the lockdown was imposed with little time for the residents to prepare for it, leaving many short on food. People were reported to have jumped to their deaths in Lhasa due to the harshness of the lockdown measures.
China brands all protests by Tibetans, whatever their grievances may be, as separatist in keeping with its contention that the issue of human rights is entirely out of context when it comes to talking about the situation in Tibet.