The Tibet Autonomous Region’s (TAR) stability maintenance supervision group (བརྟན་ལྷིང་སྲུང་སྐྱོང་བཀོད་འདོམས་པུ) on 26 February summoned a crucial meeting to instruct TAR high-ranking officials to monitor and instruct various cities, prefectures and monasteries regarding stability maintenance during the on-going two big sessions in Beijing officially known as the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress that began on 3 and 5 March respectively. More importantly, the stability maintenance officials were instructed to be vigilant during the month of March [i] as it carries a political significance in the history of Tibetan political movement. It’s been a decade since the world witnessed peaceful protests that swept across Tibet in March 2008.
In the meeting presided by Zhuang Yan, the stability maintenance supervision committee formed monitoring and instructing groups (ལྟ་སྐུལ་མཛུབ་ཁྲིད་ཚོགས་ཆུང) that will inspect cities, prefectures, monasteries and nunneries deemed suspicious of leading protests and harbouring protesters primarily to disseminate stability maintenance guidelines formulated by the TAR party committee, government and the stability maintenance department. For example, Zhuang Yan, TAR deputy party secretary and head of the stability maintenance supervision group, inspected Tsurphu and Sera monastery on 1 March [ii] and Gaden monastery, Ani Tsamkhung and Ramoche on 3 March. [iii] In the same manner, Ding Yexian, TAR deputy party secretary, visited Barkor Street on 3 March [iv] and Lhasa city on 5 March. [v] Penpa Tashi, standing committee member of the TAR party committee, Tenzin Namgyal, vice-chairman of TAR People’s Congress and Wang Yalin, vice-chairman of TAR People’s Political Consultative Conference, visited Ngari prefecture. [vi]
According to the meeting, the monitoring and instructing groups would implement the TAR party committee’s and the TAR party secretary Wu Yingjie’s stability maintenance strategies such as prevention of security-related incident from happening, build a solid foundation to abate political upheaval and able to shoulder political responsibility.
In addition, Zhuang Yan placed a great deal of emphasis on monitoring and instructing groups to bring about long-term national stability. In order to achieve this mission, monitoring and instructing officials must adhere to the stability maintenance guidelines set by TAR party committee, government and stability maintenance supervision group. The officials must reach target cities, prefectures, monasteries and nunneries before March 1 to implement the guidelines and the officials should take full responsibility of the outcome. Monitoring and instructing groups should hand in glove with designated officials and agencies in cities, prefectures and monastic management committees in monasteries and nunneries to formulate detailed plan that will help the team to implement the guidelines with precision, far-reaching and in-depth. Monitoring and instructing groups should focus on their role and increase their inspection, monitoring, eavesdropping, questioning and lecturing the guidelines at all levels of society to strengthen their influence.
By the same token, the Global Times, an offshoot of State-run news agency, published an article [vii] just a month ahead of politically sensitive March 10 anniversary carrying frugal contents of a circular containing 22 articles released by the Public Security Bureau of the TAR. [viii] The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), the Tibet advocacy group based in Washington DC, has provided an insightful analysis keeping the article and circular on background. [ix]
Matteo Mecacci, President of the ICT, said “the circular published in Tibet calling on Tibetans to denounce each other in order to undermine the most revered Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is a reminder of the totalitarian and extreme rule that the Chinese Communist party continues to impose in Tibet. Only a government consumed by fear and paranoia treats all its citizens as part of its security apparatus. The circular published in Tibet recalls the appeals to the masses issued by authoritarian regimes in the last century.”
The latest circular overtly underscores the role of local people to inform the authorities about activities of “criminal gangs connected to the separatist forces of the Dalai Lama”. This kind of tactic will create unconducive political environment where the Party led initiatives such as national stability, ethnic unity and harmonious society are unsurprisingly doomed to fail. The circular also attacks those who advocate and encourage the use of the Tibetan language or protect Tibetan culture that previously remained largely out of the Chinese political agenda.
The Global Times charged that the “evil forces” of the Dalai Lama that might use local temples and religious control to “to confuse and incite” people against the Party and government has no foundation. The Tibetan peoples unhappiness and discontent, express in peaceful protest and more than 150 self-immolations, stem from the heavy-handed rule of the Party in Tibet.
As Mao Zedong famously said “where there is repression there will be resistance”. Instead of restoring to propaganda, the Party should listen to the concerns of the Tibetan people by designing a broadminded policy that accords with the reasonable aspirations of the Tibetan people.
*Tenzin Tseten is a research fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the Tibet Policy Institute.