China detains Tibetans from Tsongon horse racing festival

China detains Tibetans from Tsongon horse racing festival. Image: Screenshot from the video.

By Yungdung Tsomo

DHARAMSALA, 26 July: Chinese authorities have detained several Tibetans from the Tsongon region in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo accusing them of engaging in illegal business operations. 

In a video widely circulating on the internet,  a group of Chinese police can be seen forcefully dragging at least two Tibetans to the police van amid a gut-wrenching scene of a mother pleading for her only son not to be taken away by the police.

In a desperate attempt to stop them from being taken into custody, the elderly Tibetan mother lies down under the police van but her sobbing and pleading falls on the deaf ears of the Chinese police.

Tibetans are often harassed or subjected to injustices by the Chinese authorities across the Chinese-occupied Tibet. 

The incident reportedly occurred last week in Serchen County in Tsolho prefecture in the Amdo region during a horse racing festival in the grassland. 

A source from the region in the know claimed that the Chinese police attempted to seize the belongings of Tibetans under the pretext of violating regional business laws.

Many Tibetans have opened stalls inside their cars to sell products at the festival. The Tibetans who were taken away by the police were heard in the video telling the Chinese police to kill them instead of taking their products. 

The source whose identity is being withheld for security reasons also confirmed that a Tibetan familiar with Chinese law confronted the police about the inequality but to no avail as the police took the Tibetans away.  

The video of the incident was also published on the official account of the Kungho police TikTok account. The police have said that all the people who have been involved in obstructing the police from discharging their duties have been apprehended- confirming multiple reports that the authorities later arrested several other Tibetans including those who took videos of the incident.  

Sangjey Kep, a Tibetan researcher and former editor of the Tibetan Bulletin published by the Tibetan government in exile has shared the video on his Facebook account and called out the Chinese authorities for driving out indigenous Tibetans from the region.

“The Chinese started Tsongon(Chinese: Qinghai) Lake tourism in the region and drove out indigenous Tibetan from there many years back,” the researcher has said and added that this accumulated as a result of corrupted Chinese official’s collaboration with China’s “big boss” to leave no place for the local Tibetans to do business to feed family members.

The development came days after a report published by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) that declared that the Chinese authorities are systematically removing from its publicly accessible databases records of court verdicts involving Tibetans convicted of engaging in the vaguely worded and broadly defined crimes of “endangering state security”.

This, the Dharamsala-based rights group said, “means that an unknown number of Tibetans are tried and sentenced in secret with no official acknowledgement or information about their imprisonment.”

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