All-woman protest against land grab

All-womn protest, Lhudrub County, Tibet, June 2016
The Lhudrub protest, June 13-14 2016

15th June 2016

Tactic used to deter police violence

Around 100 Tibetan women in Lhundrub County in the Tibet Autonomous Region held a peaceful demonstration on 13 and 14 June in protest against a government land grab.

The women, from Gachoe village of Gaden Chonkhor township,  were protesting against the destruction of farmland in order to facilitate a government construction project and the authorities' failure to pay any compensation.

The decision to have a purely female protest was prompted by the belief that the Chinese police would react more violently to a protest involving men. The strategy appears to have been successful and we do not have any reports of arrests or violence.

The women also held a Chinese flag and a large photo of the Chinese leadership. This tactic is sometimes used in local and environmental protests to highlight the failure of local authorities to respect environmental rules and to show that protests are about enforcement of China's own laws, rather than being political. Protesters challenging the authorities in Tibet can be labelled "splittist" (intending to separate Tibet from China) and face particularly harsh punishment if convicted.

The confiscation of land is a frequent trigger for protests in Tibet.

Tsering Tso released from prison, Ngaba
Tsering Tso being greeted after her release from detention

Two Tibetan prisoners released

On 9 June, Tsering Tso, a 35 year old from Ngaba, was released from detention, where she had been since 25 May.  She was welcomed back to her home in Meruma, Ngaba, by her fellow residents, who placed bundles of white scarves (khatas) on her shoulders.

Tsering Tso, who runs a small tea shop in Meruma,  had been detained in May under allegations of passing on information to people with whom she had connections outside of Tibet. Under Chinese rule it is forbidden for Tibetans to communicate with the outside world. Ngaba County is one of the most politically active in Tibet and many recent protesters have come from the Meruma area.

Secret release after eight years imprisonment

Information has just emerged that monk Tsulsang Gyatso from north-eastern Tibet was secretly released on 14 March 2016 after serving eight years of a nine-year prison sentence.

Tsulsang Gyatso, of Tsang Monastery in Ba Dzong, Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, had been jailed for allegedly being a ringleader of a large protest in the area during the 2008 Tibetan uprising. During the protest, which took place on 19 March 2008, hundreds of monks and lay people in Ba Dzong protested against Chinese rule by raising Tibetan national flags and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama.

Around 80 Tibetans were arrested over the following days and weeks and then subjected to interrogation and torture. Most of those have since been released, but Tsulsang Gyatso and two others, Chokdren Gyatso and Khedup Gyatso, were convicted of being ringleaders. Chokdren Gyatso was sentenced to 10 years and released earlier this year: Khedup Gyatso is still serving his 10-year prison term.

Tsulsang Gyatso was secretly released from a prison located near Xining in March. Authorities frequently release prioners in secret and forbid families and community members from sharing information about their release and providing the kind of welcome that Tsering Tso received. Tsulsang Gyatso is still under police surveillance.

Take action

Like Tsulsang Gyatso, nun Sonam Lhatso was convicted in 2008 for allegedly participating in protests during the uprising in Tibet. She is currently serving a 10 year sentence. Please contact the authorities in her area to demand her release.