On the eve of World Human Rights Day, the Department of Information and International Relations released a six-minute video titled ‘Tibet; The Land Where Dreams are Shattered’.
Based on true events, the story is about a fictional character, 27-year old Pema, “a feisty, fearless female and a mother of two,” and her quest for achieving her dreams.
“Tibet: The Land Where Dreams are Shattered’ is an animated video portraying how the dreams of many young Tibetans in Tibet; of traveling abroad and seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama, are shattered by policies and restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on travel and movement,” said Kalden Tsomo, head of UN and Human Rights desk of DIIR.
According to Dukthen Kyi, researcher at UN and Human Rights desk of DIIR, ‘the story of Pema resonates broadly with Tibetans living in Tibet and make a glaring case of challenges they face in travelling outside Tibet, exacerbated with the Chinese government’s discriminatory policy in issuing passports to Tibetans.’
In a bid to restrict freedom of movement and religion especially in the lead up to the 34th Kalachakra initiation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in January this year, the Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas incorporated into China’s Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu provinces are reported to have confiscated the passports of their Tibetan residents. Those already travelling and who have reached Nepal and India were ordered to return home immediately failing which their families will have to bear severe consequences. The Chinese authorities also reportedly issued a temporary order directing travel agencies and airlines to cancel all travel plans and bookings made until January 10.
Human Rights Watch has over the years provided detailed account of how Tibetans face a routine denial of basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and movement and the stringent discriminatory measures in issuing passport to Tibetans.
A 2012 Human Rights Watch report stated, “in 2012, in Tibet’s Chengdu prefecture with a population of 6,50,000, only two passports were issued.”
A 2015 Human Rights Watch report titled ‘One Passport, Two Systems,’ explained that “since 2012 the TAR authorities have ordered the confiscation of all ordinary passports held by registered residents of the region, over 90 percent of whom are Tibetans and appear to have issued no replacements for them.”
In October 2012, a Tibetan blogger posted on a Chinese-language website that “getting a passport is harder for a Tibetan than getting into heaven. This is one of those “preferential policies” given to us Tibetans by [China’s] central government.”
Rampant restrictions on movements of Tibetans in Tibet is reflected in Chinese writer and Scholar Wang Lixiong’s account detailing how “Chinese people on airplanes, trains, buses and motorcycles — are streaming into and out of Tibet by the thousands, Tibetans themselves have become outsiders in their own land, blocked at every turn.”
The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Beijing on September 16, 2016 said “Tibet is harder to visit than North Korea.”
The video ends with a narration ‘Tibet is today the land where the young dream, only to see their dream shattered.’