(TibetanReview.net, Feb21, 2015) – Defying risks of a violent crackdown and severe punishment by Chinese authorities, Tibetans in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) County of Sichuan Province have openly and massively paid obeisance to their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on the first day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, which fell on Feb 19, reported voatibetanenglish.com Feb 20. Tibetans traditionally mark their age by Losar and this date therefore ushered in the momentous occasion of the Dalai Lama reaching 80 years old.
The report said more than 3,000 people visited the Sergon Thubten Chokle Namgyal Ling, which belongs to the Jonang school of Tibetan Buddhism, and offered ceremonial scarves to a life-sized portrait of the Dalai Lama while Lungta prayer flags imprinted on pieces of paper filled the sky above.
China’s forced patriotism and legal education campaigns, being carried out especially at monasteries, require Tibetans to disown and condemn the Dalai Lama, with those who refuse to do so being severely beaten and legally punished.
Also, Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) reported Feb 18 that Chinese security forces had been deployed in large numbers in Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Qinghai provinces ahead of Losar. Apart from Ngaba, these deployments were especially seen in Kardze (Ganzi) and Serta (Seda) counties of Sichuan and in Rebgong (Tongren) County of Qinghai about a week before the Tibetan New Year celebrations began.
The show of force by the security forces towards the local Tibetans was reported to be very hostile and highly intimidating. Many of the additional deployments were reinforcements in Tibetan areas already under security measures imposed after past disturbances.
“Checkpoints have been set up along the roads at a distance of every four or five Tibetan houses, and police are checking everyone’s identification papers,” an RFA report Feb 13 quoted a source as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity, referring to the situation in Ngaba County.
And the Feb 18 RFA report also quoted an anonymous local source as saying, speaking about the situation in Karze, “Police have set up checkpoints and are examining all vehicles traveling on roads leading to the county seat.”
In both Serta and Karze, the Chinese were reported to be equipped with fire extinguishers, with fire-fighting trucks being on standby, in anticipation of self-immolation protests.