DHARAMSALA, 26 Sept: China’s draconian measures to enforce its Zero-Covid Policy in Tibet endanger the lives of Tibetan in Tibet and causes more harm than good says the Central Tibetan Administration(CTA), commonly known as the Tibetan government in exile.
“In an attempt to present itself as a role model in curbing the outbreak, China is downright disregarding the safety and security of Tibetans in need of medical assistance and covid care evidenced by the dire lockdown conditions being reported and exposed online by a number of affected Tibetans”, read a statement released by the Kashag(cabinet) of the CTA.
The statement further said that in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases in Tibet, China’s propaganda machinery has been actively covering up the situation.
While China’s state media claimed no shortcomings in the implementation of the zero-covid policy during the latest covid outbreak in Tibet when the Covid cases escalated, Chinese authorities labelled the BA.2.76 virus as a “foreign import” and misled the public with false claims of high-quality medical services and timely supply of essential commodities, it added.
Highlighting China’s mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, which has caused great suffering and hardships to local Tibetans, the statement added: “Despite the risk of reprisals in different forms, Tibetans have resorted to social media platforms to reveal their predicaments and made appeals to local authorities to immediately meet the needs of the Tibetans locked up in quarantine camps regardless of whether they contracted Covid or not.”
The CTA has called on Beijing to adequately acknowledge the public criticisms made by Tibetans who have genuinely expressed their frustration at the lack of sufficient facilities and protect them from reprisals for honest opinions of the government’s mismanagement.
As the Tibetans cry for help through videos and posts on social media to draw attention to their plight under the appalling conditions they are subjected to under China’s strict measures, the statement called on Beijing to adequately acknowledge the public criticisms of Tibetans.
The spate of viral videos and posts on social media from Tibetans inside Tibet shows the dismal conditions in the quarantine shelters built in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo cities with poor quality of food, bedding and bathrooms in the shelter where infected persons were quarantined alongside those who tested negative.
Tibetans, placed under highly repressive control at these quarantine centres have dubbed the centres ‘phaktsang’ (pigsties in Tibetan) where hundreds of people were forced to quarantine in crowded facilities without adequate medical care and meals, with some instances of patients offered spoiled food.
One viral video also showed some Tibetan youth with bruises on their faces and necks after being beaten up for protesting the terrible conditions in a shelter in Lhasa.
“The CTA calls on Beijing to adequately acknowledge the public criticisms made by Tibetans who have genuinely expressed their frustration at the lack of sufficient facilities and protect them from reprisals for honest opinions of the government’s mismanagement.”
The CTA Cabinet also pointed out that following the mounting exposé of the atrocious conditions over the recent days by Tibetans, “Dradul, Lhasa City’s executive Deputy mayor, came forward to apologise for the city government’s mishandling of the Covid outbreak during a media briefing recently, vindicating public outcry of serious mismanagement and gravity of the Covid situation.”
The statement also echoed a call made by right groups and activists alike linking the mismanagement of the Covid outbreak in Tibet to seize and suppress the parties’ so-called dissenters ahead of its most significant meeting, the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
Calls were also made for the Chinese government “to respect the rights of the Tibetan people under its international obligations” and “to ensure that they(Tibetans) are treated with respect and have access to adequate medical facilities and basic necessities under its Zero-Covid policy.’
The CTA has also urged the “Chinese government to allow timely aid in the form of medicines and basic necessities to be extended to Tibetans to overcome the Covid crisis.”
The statement concluded with the CTA expressing its hope that “China will permit them to utilise its experience and expertise to work on tackling the Covid outbreak in Tibet” and offering “any assistance in the form of immunity boosters Tibetan medicines, medical equipment, nurses, and volunteers without a second thought or hesitation to help Tibet fight the pandemic.”