Two Tibetans missing after arrest by Chinese officials over alleged contact with Tibetans in exile

Tibetans in Golog at a public gathering summoned by the Police authorities. Image: Tibet Watch.

DHARAMSALA, 29 April: Two Tibetans from eastern Tibet have been arrested by the Chinese authorities “earlier this month for communicating with Tibetans in exile,” reported Tibet Watch, a rights group that works to promote human rights of the Tibetans.

Samten Sangpo and Tsultrim from Machen County, Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, were arrested by the local Chinese police on 16 April 2021, allegedly for communicating with Tibetans living outside Tibet on WeChat micro-messaging app as China continues to crack down on WeChat communication in eastern Tibet, the report said

According to the report, the duo, in their mid-thirties were” handed over to the Machen County (Ch:Maqin) police by authorities in Tridu County (Ch.: Chenduo)” and that “details about their current location and health condition remain unknown.”

The rights group further stated that Tibetans in the region from Tsongon and Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture were under scrutiny in recent months as the Chinese authorities continue crackdown on WeChat communication continues in eastern Tibet.

‘Tibetans who have relatives or close contacts with Tibetans-in-exile,” are under the scanner, the report said and added that the “Chinese authorities reportedly held “meetings and warned Tibetans against maintaining connections with Tibetans-in-exile.”

On the extent to which the crackdown on WeChat communication continues in eastern Tibet, the report said, “in addition to cyber-surveillance apparatus, recruitment of people to carry out espionage and monitor online communication are underway, enticing them through the promise of huge lump sum cash rewards and government aid.”

This puts “extreme pressure on the Tibetans inside Tibet”, the reports said as it noted that “they are considered prime suspects for any leakages of information related to human rights violations in Tibet.”

Owing to China’s tight grip and surveillance in the region in particular and Tibet at large makes it hard to smuggle information out of occupied Tibet. This often causes the delayed reports of self-immolation protests and dissents against the Chinese rule and arrests of Tibetans for peaceful protests coming out of Tibet.

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