Friday, December 09, 2011

Leaked video shows greater repression in Tibet

The release of video footage and photos showing Tibetans being humiliated in public and taken away by large contingents of Chinese security forces points to a possible whistleblower within the Chinese apparatus

Recently leaked footage of a crackdown by Chinese security forces in Tibet indicates that the level of repression against Tibetans appears to be much more serious than generally acknowledged by the international community.

A video posted on the exile Tibetan Web site on Wednesday showed a raid by a Chinese SWAT team comprising about 100 People’s Armed Police (PAP) officers on what is believed to be Unit 2 of Dode Village, near the Sera monastery northeast of Lhasa.

The quality footage, which is believed to have been shot in 2008, displays an unprecedented show of force by Chinese authorities, with SWAT teams, accompanied by numerous dogs and an armored vehicle, assuming attack formation and aiming assault rifles at sleeping villagers. In all, four confused-looking men and one elderly woman are taken away. Each is forced to stare into the camera and provide details to the cameraman, who is presumably a PAP member.

Unlike previous unrest, such as the 1989 riots in Lhasa or the March 2008 incident, during which nervous and sometimes vengeful PAP officers were confronted with an emergency, the troops in the video are not responding to any immediate threat.

As of last evening, the 22-minute video appeared to have been taken offline. It has since emerged on YouTube.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

NOTES: The pictures used in this post are from eight photographs released by a Tibetan Web site last week, and are not from the video discussed in this article. 

The list of names the PAP is searching for appears at 16’06” in the video and has twelve names. One of them, Pasang, 38, is believed to be the same individual sentenced to life for beating and smashing objects during the March 2008 Incident.

The level of despair among Tibetans was captured by Tsering Woeser, a Tibetan poet, in an op-ed in the
Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Commenting on the 13 monks and nuns who have committed suicide in protest since 2009, Woeser said the Chinese Communist Party does not understand why this is happening.

“The despots only believe in guns and money. They not only have no faith themselves, they can't even understand the power of faith to motivate acts of great selflessness,” she wrote. “Tibetans are not so foolish that they value their lives lightly. Rather it is the despots who have ignited the flames that engulfed these monks and nuns by pushing them to the point of desperation.”

“[N]o matter how it tries to hide the self-immolations and distort their meaning, the truth continues to get out. Even in that high elevation, where Tibet stands at the end of a muzzle of a gun, there will always be Tibetans ready and willing to become ‘burning martyrs,’” she wrote.


Michael Fagan said...

"...a possible whistleblower within the Chinese apparatus."

For whom would this whistle be blown? The U.N.? Who in the West is willing or able to get serious with the PRC?

What the Tibetans actually need is inside intelligence from the PAP in order to anticipate moves like this.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

Interesting you'd say that, in view of:

14'25": [Name not clear], 45. Older woman. The police say they are looking for Sonam Tsering. Someone says in Tibetan "Maybe he knew that we were coming". The Tibetan cameraman says "She says he has gone to make a call [glog thar]". So it appears that they came to arrest Sonam Tsering but then took her as hostage. The cameraman order her to take off the face-mask.

I like to think there are dissidents within the ranks in China, as there were in all previous repressive systems. Not sure, though, who the intended audience is, or whether that audience would be willing to, or capable of, intervening.

Michael Fagan said...

"Someone says in Tibetan "Maybe he knew that we were coming"."

That is interesting.