Tibetans persecuted for banned songs in latest strike hard campaign

More than 20 young Tibetans had been rounded up for downloading songs deemed to be “reactionary” during  a, winter “Strike Hard” campaign in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), reported Radio Free Asia online (RFA, Washington) Feb 25. The banned songs were reported to include those titled as “Voice of Unity,” “My Lama,” “I Miss the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars”.

The lyrics of the songs are said to only contain themes of unity among Tibetans and are not direct expressions of protest against the Chinese government in any way.

Anyone found having any of these songs on, for example, his or her mobile phone, is detained, jailed from 10 to 15 days, heavily fined, and even brutally beaten, the report cited a Tibetan man named Tenzin as saying. “They confiscate mobile phones from young Tibetans and open them, and if they hear songs sung by singers like Kunga in Tibet, or by singers in exile, they detain them,” he was quoted as saying.

The report quoted another caller from TAR as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity, “Yesterday, I went to a restaurant and heard one man ask another, ‘Where have you been?’ to be answered by his friend, ‘I was in Drapchi prison for 15 days for possessing banned songs’.”

Fresh graduates from police academies were reported to have been deployed to round up Tibetans possessing these songs, with their future prospect for being hired connected to doing this job well.

Other further tightening of control measures in the TAR were reported to include targeting Tibetans who come from Kham and Amdo (which China had broken up and constituted or merged into Qinghai, Gansu, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China) and checking to see if they have permits to stay in Lhasa.

China has been carrying out a winter strike hard campaign in the TAR every year, continuing it up to Mar 10, the anniversary of the Tibetan national Uprising Day of 1959. The controls have been especially tightened after the Mar’08 protests in Lhasa which soon spread across the Tibetan Plateau.

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