China equates possession of Dalai Lama’s portrait to illegal possession of arms

A picture showing the heavy presence of Chinese police and commandos in Dza Wonpo town.

DHARAMSALA, 9 April:  Tibetans in Dza Wonpo, a town in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham are said to be living under a heightened political climate as their homes are raided by the Chinese Counterterrorism Police since the custodial death of a teenage Tibetan monk from the region in Jan.

“Following the custodial death of 19-year-old monk Tenzin Nyima, alias Tamey on 19 Jan, the Chinese authorities in the name of cleanup operations it launched started raiding the homes of local Tibetans in Dza Wonpo town in the name of cleanup operations it launched,” a source told the Tibet Express.

According to the source, the authorities confiscated photos of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, put up Chinese leaders portraits on the wall and issued a decree declaring that the possession of the former’s portrait will face the same charges as illegal possession of arms.

The Chinese authorities, the source said detained several Tibetans from the region simply for expressing their concern about the teenage Tibetan monk’s death on WeChat micro-messaging app. And that being harassed and their homes ransacked by the authorities has now become a regular interval in the town.

Further, the authorities have summoned a public meeting on 17 March in the town and made the Tibetans sign a five-point declaration committing to not keep or distribute the portraits of the Dalai Lama and consenting to follow the CCP and oppose any illegal activity.

Besides, it also declared that possession or displaying the portraits of the Dalai Lama will also lead to returning in full any assistance or funds received from the government.

Confirming the development in the restive Tibetan region under the Chinese rule, New York-based rights group Human Right Watch reported that “the Snow Wolf Commandos, a unit of the People’s Armed Police responsible for counterterrorism operations, arrived in Wonpo on March 5, ostensibly to visit a home for older people and clean up the residents’ rooms.

The rights group further reported that the“clean-up” operation took place one day after the county’s top official, Communist Party Secretary Yang Mingguang, visited Wonpo to inspect “recent key tasks” in the town.

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