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5 may 2012 00003Dharamsala: In order to cripple the growth and influence of Tibetan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Karze (Chinese: Ganzi), Chinese authorities have implemented harsh new rules to restrict their actions.

The directive, issued on 26 April 2012 for Karze County, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Ganzi, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province), requires all non-governmental ‘social organizations' to register with the prefectural-level Bureau of Civil Affairs.

Any organization deemed to fall short of the new rules will be declared illegal. The notification further stated that government authorities will investigate the nature and activities of all existing and new NGOs, and if found ineligible for registration, these NGOs will be closed. Only those that meet registration criteria listed by the government will be granted registration rights.

The move by Chinese authorities can be viewed as a response to the rising number and influence of locally-funded Tibetan organizations in Kardze Prefecture. Founded by local Tibetans, these NGOs organize educational, religious, environmental and welfare activities. Some also set up informal panels to help mediate disputes among Tibetan villagers. The groups' successes include the founding of old age homes and schools, plus programs to protect the environment of the region.

Increasing concern among Chinese authorities reflects their belief that the Tibetan NGOs have become politically sensitive. For the Chinese government, any activity involving a large number of Tibetans is often viewed as political in nature. This environment has put Tibetan NGOs, and their organizers, at risk.

Indeed, in just the past three months, the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has reported on the forcible closings of three Tibetan NGOs in Kardze Prefecture. In mid-February, 2012, Karze Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers detained four members of the Tawu Environmental Protection Association (TEPA) in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu) County. In operation since 2011, TEPA organized activities opposing the rampant mining, deforestation and poaching in the area, plus the growth of fishing in sacred waters.

On 2 April 2012, local authorities shutdown Khadrok Jamtse Rokten Lobdra, a school founded in 1989 by local Tibetans. Karze County PSB officers also arrested the school's director, Nyendak, and a teacher, Yama Tsering. For more than 20 years, the school operated with the full approval of local officials, holding classes in Tibetan language and culture while placing a special emphasis on speaking pure Tibetan.

Less than two weeks later, on 14 April 2012, authorities targeted Da-yul Thundin Tsogpa (Da-yul's Unity Association). The group, established in 2008 by community leaders in Da-thama Township, helped resolve disputes between local Tibetans in the hopes of building unity among 13 neighboring villages. Tibetans protests of the closing resulted in a brutal crackdown by security officers, leaving many injured and hospitalized with over 33 Tibetans still in police custody.

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