(TibetanReview.net, May13’20) – Chinese authorities in two counties of Chamdo City in Tibet Autonomous Region have taken away the residential status of around 4,000 Tibetans belonging to hundreds of families because they were absent from their ancestral homes during a forced resettlement project launched in 2014-15, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org May 12. The absentee residents in Markham (Chinese: Mangkang) and Gonjo (Gongjue) counties had not moved out for good but only gone to look for work or to pursue new opportunities, including education for their children.
Apart from being denied homes in the resettlement sites, the Tibetans deprived of their residential status were not allowed to return to their original homes or even to their home countries.
In Tibet as in other parts of the People’s Republic of China, the household registration (called hukou) determines a citizen’s residential status. A person can change his residential status only by applying for shifting his hukuo. It is not clear whether the Chinese law allows a citizen to be deprived of his residential status just like that.
The report said the aggrieved Tibetans had written a petition last year to the regional authorities in Lhasa, explaining their untenable situation.
“Our households are still registered in our hometowns and places of birth, and we never reported to village or township authorities that we were migrating voluntarily,” the petition, seen by rfa.org, was quoted as saying.
Seeking to know where they now belonged since they had been delisted as residents in the two counties, the petition was stated to ask for an urgent investigation to find out “what has happened to the subsidies we were promised by the Chinese central government? Who has taken them?”
The report noted that under the a forced resettlement scheme launched in 2014-2015, authorities moved thousands of Tibetans in “impoverished” areas of Chamdo to locations closer to Tibet’s capital Lhasa, where they now live in crowded conditions, with large families crammed into single dwellings.
The resettlement sites for families from Markham and Gonjo were stated to include areas in Toelung Dechen, Tagtse, Maldro Gongkar, and Phenpo Lhundrub counties.
The resettled Tibetans were said to be in worse situation than before, with no means of livelihood or schools to send their children to.
Those who tried to return to their ancestral land were said to have been chased away by the authorities.