“Under lockdown: Life inside dissident Tibetan town”

Reporters on the China beat must be sharing notes- Gillian Wong from AP becomes the fourth or fifth journalist to sneak into Ngaba and report on the situation from the scene:

Soldiers with helmets, rifles, sticks and shields march in rows along this monastery town’s main road against a backdrop of snow-speckled mountains, while police stare at passing cars, scanning license plates and faces of passengers for unwelcome visitors. In school dormitory rooms in the county, there are random checks for books that go against the ruling Communist Party establishment — and the constant questions about political leanings.

During this week’s trip, the county surrounding Aba was cordoned off with roadblocks, usually manned by paramilitary police in green uniforms. On the way into town, a large signboard declared in Chinese, with no translation in the local Tibetan language: “A peaceful Aba is built by all, a peaceful Aba is shared by all.”

Authorities had used traffic cones and barricades to narrow the town’s main two-lane thoroughfare to one lane. Military trucks with green canvas covers and police vehicles were parked in rows in front of shops and restaurants. An armored paramilitary police van followed a group of marching soldiers on patrol.

Police stood close by as Tibetans huddled with crimson-robed monks over games, repaired cars or sawed wood. Multicolored prayer flags strung up on rooftops or tied to lampposts fluttered in the wind.

Plainclothes security men — easily identifiable by their close-cropped hair, dark clothing and sunglasses — sat on the sidewalk, newspapers in hand.

By nightfall, the street turns quiet and most security forces retire to hotels, while four or five military trucks patrol until morning, the teacher said.

“The locals are definitely feeling very heavy-hearted, very frustrated, all day. The soldiers are everywhere,” said the teacher. “At every moment, people wonder what will happen to the person next to them, what the soldiers will do to them.”

Dozens of security vehicles poured into the Aba area throughout the first few days of the week, lights flashing. They drove past a school where a red painted slogan on a wall reminded students: “Without the Communist Party, Tibetan areas would not be where they are today.”

I’m not sure why the Communist Party would want to remind Tibetans that their current distress has been caused by the Communist Party, but… I guess they have their reasons.

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Filed under ethnic conflict, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

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