China authorities detained a Tibetan woman for exercising her rights

The official letter issued by the Yushu Public Security Bureau and the Tibetan woman Tsering Tso.

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Dharamshala — Chinese authorities have detained a Tibetan woman, who had exercised her rights and criticised the Chinese authorities for their racial discrimination against Tibetans and for posting videos on the social media app about the incident. This is the fifth time she has been detained.

A Tibetan woman, Tsering Tso, a tourist guide in Tibet, was detained on December 25, 2023, on charges of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles", after exercising her right to refuse to tell the Chinese authorities what she was going to do, during her stay in Lhasa.

Tsering Tso has posted videos on her social media platforms, the Chinese apps (Douying and Wechat), about the difficulties she encountered at checkpoints, during her travel to Lhasa. In these videos, she explains the difficulties she encountered at checkpoints as a Tibetan, while other Chinese travelers did not have to endure them. Tibetans have to show additional documents to travel to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, whereas Chinese do not.

On December 19, 2023, she posted a video on social media describing the interrogation by Chinese police at the Gongri public security checkpoint in Drachen (Ch: Baqing) county in Nagchu town, Yushu, Tibet, and violated of her privacy, because they asked her what she was going to do in Lhasa during her stay.

She said in the video: “Look at this police checkpoint [in Drachen County]. I came from Yushu and going to Lhasa. They asked me what I was going to do there. I told them it was my right to privacy. They (police) are constantly invading our privacy, as if we had no right to privacy.”

This is the second time she has been detained this year. She was detained for 15 days in Yushu City by the Yushu Public Security Bureau from October 26 to November 10, 2023, according to the post she made on her Wechat social media account. She posted the official letter issued by the Yushu Public Security Bureau one day after her release, on November 11, 2023.

According to the official letter, the reason for her detention is that she posted videos and 17 comments from October 8 to 25, 2023, on the social media apps, Douyin and Wechat, criticising the government and its staff, and allegedly saying that her videos destroyed "social harmony and stability of the city" and committed the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. The accusation of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles", often directed at Tibetans and people considered to be disloyal to the Chinese government or authorities.

In a video statement released on October 16, 2023, she criticised the local authorities in official power and the way it prevents "hard-working and educated people from ordinary households from achieving great deeds and realising their dreams" and also criticised local leaders for abusing their power to serve their personal interests.

Tsering Tso also spoke of the difficulties she has encountered in opening her own business in 2016 in the Kyegudo City, and exposing the unfair practices of local authorities. Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan language advocate and former political prisoner, has faced the same type of situation from the Chinese authorities at local and district level.

According to the TPI's reliable sources in Tibet, Tibetans face the same type of situation, such as opening a small business in their own town and wanting to improve or develop their hometown after completing their studies. Similarly, seeking and obtaining employment is not easy, especially for Tibetans from abroad, who are discriminated by local authorities, who claim that they are coming from outside and refuse to register their applications for business or other permits, even if they were born in the place.

Tsering Tso is one of the few courageous Tibetans to stand up to Chinese police discrimination against Tibetans among Chinese travelers at checkpoints in Tibet and China. In July 2023, while traveling to Lhasa and she encountered difficulties, she bravely challenged the railway authorities why she need to show additional documents because she is Tibetan while Chinese travelers need to show. She also asked the authorities why they were engaging in blatant racial discrimination against Tibetan passengers who were asked to present additional documents, while Chinese tourists can enter, without any checks or examinations.