In what appears as a fresh re-intensification of restrictions on online communications in Tibet, especially with those in exile, Chinese officials are making random inspections of cellphones and vehicles owned by Tibetans. Some of these inspections have led to the arrest of Tibetans on the spot.
One such police check led to the arrest of three Tibetans in Kyegudo (Ch: Jiegu), Yushul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on 4 August for sharing pictures on social media, according to reports last week. Another incident on 15 August reported the death of a Tibetan man who was pushed off a steep roadside into Drichu (Yangtze) river by Chinese police after he asked them to produce their police identity card. His friend was shot when he rushed out of the car to confront the police.
The two men identified as Sherab Gyatso and Rigdak were travelling from Kyegudo to Domda when they were stopped by police conducting random inspections on the road, reported the Tibet Times. They were assaulted in a confrontation that followed after they claimed that their vehicle had no prohibited items that needed checking.
According to the report, the incident took place on 15 August, at around 3 pm local time, at a security check on a highway, 60 kms from Drubgyue Township. Several plain-clothes policemen without any IDs and badges approached Sherab Gyatso’s vehicle. His companion, Rigdak, got out of the car, stepped in front of the Chinese police and asked “Why are you inspecting our vehicle? Which department do you belong to?” This angered the police who told Rigdak to “shut your mouth” and shoved him off into the nearby Drichu river. And when Sherab Gyatso angrily confronted the Chinese officials, one of them shot and injured him.
Bystanders and witnesses intervened and rushed Sherab to a hospital in time, and he is reportedly safe from serious injuries. However, Rigdak is feared dead when no trace of his body could be found after hours of searching in the river.
Rigdak, around 50, hails from Tridu (Ch: Chengduo) County and lives with his wife, Sangmo and has two daughters. Sherab Gyatso, 26, is the son of Karma and Tselha and belongs to a family of five. He is from Domda town.
The incident happened in the backdrop of the recent crackdown in Kyegudo which started with the forced celebration of the so-called 70th anniversary of the founding of Yushu TAP on 4 August.
Three arrested for “sharing pictures” on WeChat
On 4 August, Rinchen Dorjee and Kelsang Nyima, from Domda village in Yulshul (Ch: Yushu), and Lhundup from Dza Sershul (ch: Shiqu) County in Karze (Ch: Ganzi) TAP were arrested on suspicion of sharing contents deemed “illegal” in a WeChat group.
According to RFA, the three men are part of a WeChat group which has around 200 members from both inside and outside Tibet. They have shared in the group pictures of the “celebration” of the so-called 70th anniversary of the founding of Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, with local attendees subjected to tight scrutiny at all times. However, similar pictures of CCP events were seen on official accounts for propaganda purposes.
“During one of the random police checks, the police handcuffed the three men and took them away in a police vehicle without explanation. There is a possibility that they were arrested in relation to their WeChat posts”, reported the source.
Other sources reported an unconventional increase in the number of Chinese officials around the time of the 70th anniversary celebration. In Kyegudo town’s market square, a new police check post has reportedly been constructed and the number of security cameras increased in the region.
– Filed by the UN, EU, and Human Rights Desk/DIIR