Tibet 50 years on: will China face more uprisings?

It’s fifty years today since a failed uprising in Tibet led to widespread repression and the Dalai Lama fleeing the country to India.

 Protests have continued throughout the year, with the Chinese authorities on high alert for a repeat of last year’s protests, which became violent. While it’s hard to get an accurate picture of what’s happening in Tibet because of restrictions on the media and on human rights defenders, it seems that repression by the Chinese authorities is increasing. A new media briefing from Amnesty spells it out:

- Up to 1,400 of those detained in the March 2008 protests still not released, according to official figures;
- Chinese lawyers warned off taking up the cases of detained Tibetan protesters;
- Reports from detainees of beatings and refusal of food, water and medical treatment;
- Tibetan monks, nuns, pop stars, artists and writers detained in a ‘crackdown’;
- Human rights abuses including arbitrary arrest, torture, restrictions on free speech and the right to free assembly, and violation of Tibetans’ right to maintain their culture, language and religion;
- Access to foreign journalists and UN human rights experts denied or severely restricted.

The briefing highlights the kind of abuse that detainees suffered after last year’s protests. You can see the video testimony of the monk Jigme Guri with an English translation at http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2008/09/voa-video-testimony-of-labrang-monk.html.

The Dalai Lama has been more outspoken than usual, accusing the Chinese authorities of unleashing “hell on earth” with their repressive policies in Tibet.

Even more than in mainland China, it seems that the Chinese authorities’ default response to protest and dissent is to crush it. But can they continue with this policy indefinitely? As the economy slows down and more people lose their jobs, the government looks set to face a ‘year of protest’ – the next big date is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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