Top official calls for stringent security measures in Tibet

Armed Chinese police officers in Drango, eastern Tibet.

DHARAMSHALA, January 31: In a clear sign of China’s fear and weakness in maintaining its iron grip over Tibet, a top party official in Lhasa has asked for stringent security measures aimed at containing the spread of popular protests that has engulfed eastern Tibet.

"Lhasa officials and functionaries at all levels, especially the police, must increase ... efforts to rationally dispatch police forces and step up registration and inspection work along national roads, at key monasteries and among leading suspects," Qi Zhala, Lhasa's Communist Party chief said in a speech posted on the Lhasa government website.

The kneejerk speech comes days after a Tibetan man was arrested for shouting free Tibet slogans and distributing leaflets at Barkhor Square, the heart of the Tibetan capital city Lhasa.

Speaking at an inspection tour on a key highway leading to eastern Tibet, Qi went on to order a crackdown on "separatist" activities he linked to Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and said maintaining stability in the city would be hard.

"Strive to realise the goal of 'no big incidents, no medium incidents and not even a small incident,” Qi told police officers.

"We must strike hard at all the separatist, destructive and criminal activities of the Dalai clique and make efforts to realise our goal of not letting any incident, big or small, occur," he said while warning officials and clerics at monasteries that they would be dismissed if any trouble arose.

Exile sources earlier told Phayul that Lhasa has been placed under a strict security clampdown with monasteries in the region facing increased surveillance and Chinese soldiers performing military drills to intimidate local Tibetans against carrying out demonstrations.

Since March 2011, 16 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze calling for the return of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.

Following the fiery wave of self-immolations, Tibetans have come out on the streets, expressing solidarity with the self-immolaters and calling for continued activism and a boycott of celebrations during the Tibetan new year ‘Losar’ next month. 

At least a dozen Tibetans are feared to have been killed in Chinese police firings on unarmed Tibetan demonstrators in three separate incidents in Serthar, Ngaba and Drongo region of Tibet, last week.

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