Lockdown of Tibet: closure to foreigners deepens isolation

Press release

Ahead of the March 10 anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising of 1959, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will be closed to visitors from today until the end of March, with all foreigners being instructed to leave by February 25. FIDH and its member organisations International Campaign for Tibet and Human Rights in China condemn this annual process of sealing off Tibet from the outside world.

Authorities are said to be issuing notices to all major cities and counties that all foreign visitors must leave the region by today’s deadline.

The 10th of March 2016 will mark the 57th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising leading to the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile in 1959, and the eighth anniversary of an unprecedented wave of protests which swept through Tibet in March 2008, transforming the political landscape. The TAR has since been closed annually to foreigners in March, in addition to an intensified militarisation of the plateau and with a stronger emphasis from the central authorities on political control over Tibet linked to the ‘stability’ of the whole of the People’s Republic of China. Large-scale military drills, intensified border security, training exercises for troops on responding to self-immolations and virulent attacks against the Dalai Lama have also increased since 2008.

While rigorous and oppressive measures, including an increase in the deployment of Communist Party personnel, have been introduced in the TAR since the 2008 protests, systematic and long-term security measures are now also being rolled out in the eastern Tibetan areas of Kham and Amdo. This expansion of control measures seems to be part of an agenda set at the highest levels in Beijing, in line with an intensified ‘counter-terror’ campaign.

“It has gone beyond a simple ‘crackdown’ now, and is much more sophisticated, and terrifying,” a Tibetan source told ICT after speaking to a number of Tibetans from different parts of Tibet. “Security is invisible and everywhere. It is no longer only armed police patrolling the streets; often we don’t know who the police are as they blend into society, and officials are in our homes, asking about every part of our lives. [1]

Our organisations urge the Chinese authorities to put an end to the closure and isolation of the TAR, to guarantee the fundamental freedoms of all Tibetans, and to allow foreigners free access to the TAR and to see the situation in Tibet for themselves.

Read more