Dharamshala — Tibetans who were ordered to return home by Chinese authorities prior to the Buddhist gathering led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama this month have allegedly been stripped of their passports and questioned by police, who are especially interested in what pilgrims discussed with others following their return, sources from Tibet say.
“Many Tibetans who had traveled to India and Nepal on pilgrimage were forced to return home before they could receive the Kalachakra teachings from [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama,” said a source from inside Tibet, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“When they came back, many had their passports taken away from them. Most of the passports held by Tibetans who had traveled from Qinghai province had already been made invalid,” the source added.
Tibetans who had traveled to India from Qinghai province’s Tsoshar (Chinese: Haidong) prefecture were called in to government offices and questioned about their trip, with officials wanting to know which pilgrimage sites they had visited, what items they had brought back with them, and whom they had spoken with after they returned, he said.
“No one was beaten or tortured, though,” he said.
In a bid to reduce attendance at this year’s ceremony, Chinese officials moved beginning in November to confiscate the passports of Tibetans authorized to travel abroad, at the same time ordering Tibetans already present in India and Nepal to return home.
Many had been told their families would be harmed if they failed to go back, sources told TPI in earlier reports.
Each Tibetan returning to Tsoshar was given 500 yuan (U.S. $72.94) by authorities as a gesture of thanks for their cooperation, with a promise of a further 2,000 yuan (U.S. $291.76) to be handed over later, TPI’s source said, adding that returnees were also promised that their confiscated passports would be replaced.
“It is difficult to believe that they will do what they have promised, though,” he said.
Tibet was invaded by Communist China in 1949. Since that time, over 1.2 million out of 6 million Tibetans have been killed, over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed— the acts of murder, rape and arbitrary imprisonment, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment were inflicted on the Tibetans inside Tibet. Beijing continues to call this a "peaceful liberation".