By Tendar Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, June 8: China’s heavy-handed treatment of Tibetan pilgrims returning back to Tibet from India and Nepal continues unabated months after the first stream of returning Tibetans were arbitrarily arrested and detained earlier this year.
A group of nine Tibetans, five males and four females, from the Nagchu area of Tibet were detained at the Nepal-Tibet border by Chinese police late last month while returning back home. According to sources, the Tibetans were detained for nine days, beaten, and stripped off their travel permits issued by the local Chinese authorities and handed over to Nepali officials.
The Tibetans are currently being held by Nepali immigration officers in the capital Kathmandu and are most likely to be sent to India upon refurbishing a bail of US $ 37.5 each.
“The nine Tibetans had come to India for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra teachings at Bodh Gaya in India earlier this year in January,” a Tibetan living in Nepal said. “They chose to stay back in Nepal for a few more months following the widespread harassment, arrest, and detention of returning pilgrims by Chinese authorities in Tibet.”
“The Chinese border police detained and interrogated them for nine days and were sent back to Nepal after confiscating all their Chinese travel documents,” the same source said. “One of them was still carrying black marks on his face as a result of the beatings.”
Since January this year, hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims have been disappeared and arbitrarily detained for months after China set up a dozen ad hoc security checkpoints from the border town of Dram (Ch: Zhangmu) at the Nepal-Tibet border all the way to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
The global rights group, Human Rights Watch, in February had called upon the Chinese government to immediately release Tibetans who have been detained and forced to undergo political re-education after travelling to India on pilgrimage.
Calling the arrest drive, the “first known instance since the late 1970s” in which the Chinese authorities have detained laypeople in Tibet in large numbers to force them to undergo re-education, HRW said "arbitrarily detaining people and forcing them to undergo political indoctrination is an abuse of Chinese and international laws."
"Authorities in the region should release these individuals, as their detention only escalates the tension in Tibetan regions which already have increased limits on travel and communication as well as troop and security presence," the rights group said.