TVs, Satellite Dishes Confiscated in Tibetan Areas

Authorities in Qinghai are increasing patrols, confiscating TVs, dismantling satellite dishes and tightening travel restrictions in Tibetan areas in response to recent self-immolations and general unrest. From Brian Spegele at The Wall Street Journal:

Growing unrest in Qinghai province in recent months apparently is worrying local leaders. Earlier self-immolations had been largely concentrated in the adjacent province of Sichuan. The uptick in tensions in Tibetan portions of Qinghai suggests deepening distrust of local party leaders. Tibetans activists lament what they describe as forced cultural assimilation, political and religious repression and environmental degradation as some of the problems that underlay the self-immolations and wider unrest across the region.

Authorities in Huangnan are also pledging to “block harmful outside information,” according to Thursday’s state media report. It said authorities had already begun dismantling satellite and other equipment used to broadcast overseas programming. Authorities described the programming—much of it produced with the backing of Western governments—as “anti-Chinese” and vowed to increase access to Chinese state-backed programming instead.

Reuters reports that 300 monasteries have been affected by the TV seizures:

The government in Huangnan said its approach in tackling self-immolations comprised of “guiding public opinion on the Dalai issue”, increasing patrols and “blocking outside harmful information”, according to the news agency, which is managed by the Qinghai government.

“At this critical moment for maintaining social stability in Huangnan prefecture … (we must) strengthen measures and fully fight the special battle against self-immolations,” the article said.

“We do not know anything about it,” an official from the Huangnan prefecture government told Reuters by telephone, when asked to confirm the report, before hanging up.

The efforts to guide public opinion have included a series of articles and videos distributed abroad through blocked services like Twitter and YouTube. A representative China Daily article, ‘Monks vent anger at self-immolation‘, stressed the effects of self-immolations on local businesses, shocked passers-by, and scarred and reportedly repentant survivors, whom it portrayed as innocent dupes of the Dalai Lama and his manipulative and villainous agents:

People used to gather and watch the acts of self-immolation, but now the act has been disguised, said Ngarnang, director of Aba county’s information office. “We have seen a trend whereby the location of these acts has moved from the county seat to the countryside, because it is less public. After all, the Dalai Lama and his followers just need the photographs and videos to use in their propaganda campaign. They know they won’t get any support from the local people.”

[…] Lorang Konchok took advantage of his position as a Geshe, a name given to monks who hold an exclusive degree in Buddhist studies. He told local monks and followers that self-immolation was not against Buddhist doctrine and that those who performed the act were “heroes”.

However, he admitted that he had no intention of becoming a “hero” himself. “I won’t self-immolate because I am scared of the pain,” said Lorang Konchok at the detention center in Aba prefecture in early December. “I didn’t regard them (self-immolators) as heroes until two other monks, Samdam and Dorah, told me so. They also told me they could help publicize those who set themselves on fire.”

[…] Police later discovered that Lorang Konchok was behind five other acts of self-immolation this year, including that of a young man who also took his own life in March. Two people were also forced to flee their hometown to avoid Lorang Konchok, who harassed them and urged them to commit self-immolation. They did not return to their homes until Lorang Konchok and Lorang Tsering were apprehended by the police.

See more on Tibetan self-immolations via CDT.


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