China has ordered government and security forces in Tibet to crush any signs of support for the Dalai Lama, state media said yesterday, as the tense 50th anniversary of an anti-Chinese uprising nears.
A conference of Tibetan leaders ordered authorities to “mobilise and fully deploy” to maintain stability, the Tibet Daily said, in a possible indication China fears unrest ahead of the March 10 anniversary.
“The meeting called on the party, government, military, police and public in all areas… to firmly crush the savage aggression of the Dalai clique, defeat separatism, and wage people’s war to maintain stability,” the paper said of the meeting in Lhasa.
The report gave no details on any security measures. It said the order was aimed at ensuring stability for the 50th anniversary of social reforms introduced to supplant the Dalai Lama-led Buddhist system.
However, those reforms followed the failed uprising that began on March 10, 1959, and forced the Dalai Lama to flee into exile.
China is maintaining ultra-tight security on the Himalayan region ahead of the anniversary of the uprising, which was crushed by Chinese forces. The Tibetan government-in-exile says the Chinese army killed 87,000 people in the crackdown.
China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to “liberate” the region from serfdom.
The Tibetan security meeting said the overarching task for Tibetan authorities this year was to “resolutely go toe-to-toe in a battle against all destructive separatist activities to maintain stability.”
A separate editorial by the Tibet Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s main mouthpiece in Tibet, also called for a toughened stance.
“We must maintain heavy pressure on criminal violators from start to finish,” said the editorial, which focused on the “separatist” threat.
China maintains that the Dalai Lama, who remains revered by Tibetans, is a dangerous separatist bent on independence for Tibet, a charge he denies.
But the Tibetan spiritual leader this month warned of a possible uprising in his homeland amid anger over a Chinese crackdown put in place after violent anti-Chinese riots erupted across Tibet on last year’s anniversary.
“It is so tense that the Chinese military have their hands on the trigger when they carry weapons… So long as there is a Chinese military presence, there will be tension,” he said in Germany.
In a sign of the tension, police clashed with Tibetans in neighbouring Sichuan province this week after protests in support of the Dalai Lama, according to witnesses and activist groups.
The unrest in Litang county was the first reported major outbreak of violence ahead of the anniversary and led to up to two dozen arrests, the activist groups said.
Chinese authorities regularly accuse the Dalai Lama of inciting separatist unrest in Tibet, but he says discontent stems from what he calls Beijing’s campaign to extinguish traditional Tibetan culture.
Another Tibet Daily report said the Tibet branch of the state Buddhist Association of China on Wednesday revised its charter to require all nuns and lamas to reject the Dalai Lama.
The revision calls on monks to “see clearly that the 14th Dalai Lama is the ringleader” of Tibetan separatists and “a loyal tool of anti-China Western forces, the root cause of social unrest in Tibet, and the biggest obstacle to building up Tibetan Buddhism.”