Tibetan teacher arrested for online COVID posts
Chinese authorities have arrested a Tibetan man for posting online videos of harsh COVID-19 lockdown measures being carried out in Lhasa to contain the spread of the disease, RFA has learned.
Gontse, a teacher of the Tibetan language, was arrested on Aug. 14 at his home in Khyungchu county in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Tibetan sources living in exile told RFA.
“No information is available on his current whereabouts or where he is being detained,” one source said, citing contacts in Khyungchu and speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
“Gontse works as a teacher,” another source in exile said, also declining to be named in order to protect his contacts in Khyungchu.
“And though the Chinese authorities gave no explanation for his arrest to his family and friends, the reason is that he shared videos and other images of the Chinese government’s inhumane treatment of people in Lhasa during the lockdown.
“All of Gontse’s social media accounts have been deleted now,” the source added.
Chinese state media have reported 111 more cases of COVID-19 infection as of Sept. 25, with 60,597 people still held in quarantine in conditions described as harsh by sources inside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Meanwhile, 786 people have been prosecuted by authorities for violating COVID lockdown directives in the TAR since the current outbreak was first reported on Aug. 8, official sources say.
Harsh conditions in quarantine
Speaking to RFA, Pema Gyal — a researcher at London-based Tibet Watch — said that in the name of containing the further spread of the disease, Chinese authorities in Tibet have been arresting Tibetans “with the deliberate aim of silencing them.”
In a Sept. 26 statement, Tibet’s Dharamsala, India-based exile government the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) described the harsh conditions reported by Tibetans held without adequate food, water or medical care in China’s quarantine camps.
“A Lhasa resident recently compared Lhasa’s current situation to the worst days of Shanghai’s two-month lockdown when people were left to starve,” CTA said.
Camp managers routinely placed infected persons with others still uninfected, resulting in a further spread of the virus “at every level of society, from police to volunteers,” CTA added.
Also speaking to RFA, CTA spokesperson Tenzin Lekshey said that Tibet’s exile government has responded effectively to India’s own COVID-19 outbreaks during the last two years “with the help of healthcare workers and has learned how to mitigate the crisis.
“So we are ready to offer our assistance, whether with healthcare workers or other medical facilities, if the Chinese government ever requests them,” Lekshey said.
Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan. Written in English by Richard Finney.