China tightens security in Lhasa amid widening unrest in Tibet

27th January 2012

Tibetan residents describe Lhasa as being very tense, with increased numbers of security personnel deployed across the city and homes being searched.

One Lhasa resident spoke about Lhasa’s Barkor Street, which surrounds Jokhang Temple:

“How horrible it is! I dare not to look around in a casual manner, dare not move around freely. Armed personnel are everywhere, police are in every corner.”

In one district of Lhasa, a resident described how their home was searched for no apparent reason. Security forces demanded to know the names and whereabouts of all their family members. They made it clear that they knew that the family had relatives living abroad and that they knew that the family made calls to these relatives. The security personnel warned the family not to discuss politics with their relatives during telephone calls.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden commented on the culture of fear fostered by the Chinese state in Tibet:

“Chinese authorities are using intimidation and surveillance of ordinary Tibetans to instil a culture of fear and stop people from speaking out.”