China Placed Lhasa Under Severe Lockdown During US Congressional Visit

The US Congresional delegation led by led by House Democrat and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in front of the Jokhang in Lhasa.

The US Congressional delegation led by House Democrat and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in front of the Jokhang temple in Lhasa.

DHARAMSHALA: Lhasa was placed under a severe lockdown in late October and early November, according to a confidential letter sent from inside Tibet. The letter, which was written by a Tibetan residing in Lhasa, describes the repressive measures undertaken by the Chinese government to silence Tibetan voices and obfuscate the real situation inside Tibet ahead of the US Congressional Delegation’s visit which concluded recently.

“Lhasa was placed under extreme repression and the people were being constantly indoctrinated in political thoughts, using both violent and softer approaches. Free speech was also severely curtailed. So much so that people felt it difficult to even move their bodies,” the letter said, describing the anguish and torment the Tibetan people went through in the days leading to the visit.

“Moreover, the usual entrance gates to Barkhor which were constantly guarded by security personnel were all of a sudden removed and replaced with new doors and lesser security,” the letter said. “We were confused at first for the cause of these replacements. However, we realised their intent after learning about the US delegation’s visit,” the letter said, underlining the authorities’ attempt to depict a relaxed environment in Lhasa to the visiting delegation.

Welcoming the US delegation’s fact-finding visit to Lhasa, the letter expressed the Tibetan people’s desire to meet the US delegation. It, however, acknowledged that it would be difficult for the delegation to ascertain the genuine aspirations of the Tibetan people given the fact that the visit was being guided by the Chinese authorities.

The letter further conveyed the Tibetan people inside Tibet’s staunch devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and urged Tibetans in exile to follow the advices of His Holiness and preserve the rich cultural tradition of Tibet.

“Tibetans inside Tibet are going through a difficult time. However, we will never betray the country under pressure. Therefore, under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans residing in the free world should exert concerted effort with renewed vigour for the Tibetan movement,” it said.

“Our final hopes and aspiration rests upon the two jewels of Dharamshala: His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration,” it added.