(TibetanReview.net, Feb 5) – China launched a new crackdown on Feb 2 on Tibetans in Lhasa, targeting those suspected to be campaigning against celebrating Losar, the Tibetan New Year, which begins on Feb 25. China recently declared Mar 28 as “Serfs Liberation Day” for Tibet in an obvious response to those who had been making calls for marking the upcoming Losar as a day of protest and mourning for the hundreds of Tibetans killed by Chinese troops during last year’s crackdown. Dozens have been arrested as uniformed and plainclothes police and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police began the sweep on Feb 2, raiding tea houses, which are popular with young Tibetans, and picking up people of all ages in the street, reported Times Online (UK) Feb 3.
The report cited sources in Lhasa as saying many of those detained were accused of “spreading rumours”.
The sweep was reported to have begun from the symbolically important area of Ramoche, where the Tibetan uprising protest began last year on Mar 14.
Tibetans have been spreading the call for the Losar boycott through appeals on the internet, text messages, as well as posters. “To mourn those Tibetans who died in 2008, those many heroes who gave their lives, to show sympathy for all Tibetans, we should have no New Year and join hands to show our solidarity” the report quoted one text message as saying.
The atmosphere in Lhasa was reported to be tense and frightening.
The report said that in Qinghai, Tibetans were being made to sign documents guaranteeing no repeat of last year’s alleged violence and to celebrate the New Year. Similar atmosphere of intimidation was reported to prevail in the Tibetan areas of Gansu and Sichuan, with the Tibetans vowing community boycott of those obeying the Chinese order. “No one will go to their weddings, funerals or parties,” one Tibetan source was quoted as saying from last year’s particularly hard-hit Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) County in Sichuan.