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Chinese paramilitary police patrol in a street near the Jokhang temple in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, China, Monday March 9, 2009, a day before the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Photo: APDharamshala: The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns the Chinese authorities’  “Strike Hard” campaign, aimed at carrying out further detentions of Tibetans in Tibet as the anniversary of the 10 March Tibetan uprising approaches.    

According to the official newspaper Lhasa Evening News (Ch: Lasa Wen Bao) today, “the Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials under the order of Lhasa City government, the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (‘TAR’) PSB, “TAR” Party Committee and Lhasa City Party Committee had carried out the “Strike Hard” Campaign from 9:00PM (Beijing standard time) yesterday across the Tibetan Capital, Lhasa….the campaign was also launched across all seven prefectures under the “TAR” in order to strike hard according to law against all kinds of criminal activity and to vigorously uphold the social order and stability.” The length of this campaign was not mentioned, and it may last for months.

Additional security forces were deployed in full combat gear in and around the city of Lhasa and at every entry point into the city. Vehicles driving to and from Lhasa city are being thoroughly searched and everyone entering or leaving the city is required to show identification. New security barricades have been set up to look for any possible suspects and round-the-clock security measures have also been implemented. Security forces in combat uniforms were seen patrolling the major gathering points, conflict areas, and raids were carried out on guesthouses. There is no information on how this campaign has fared in other prefectures of the “TAR”.   

According to the official report, Lhasa PSB officials during the campaign last night detained 70 people without official registration cards and identity cards from rented rooms located on Sera Road. Seven counties under the Lhasa municipality also carried out the “strike hard” campaign with searches and raids.    

The new “Strike Hard” campaign is being launched after years of severely tight security and repressive political conditions in Tibet. Unlike previous “strike hard” campaigns, which mostly focused on Lhasa city, this year’s campaign has been launched throughout the “TAR” simultaneously. This new development signals Chinese authorities’ hardening policies in Tibet and the their preemptive move to squash any protests in the coming days.  

“Strike Hard” campaigns are normally carried out in various parts of the People's Republic of China prior to major events, including national holidays, anniversaries, as well as before the main annual government and Party conferences, often with the stated intention of "cleansing the social environment."  The “strike hard” campaign launched yesterday could lead to a series of arbitrary detentions and arrests prior to the anniversary of the 10 March Tibetan uprising. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPCC), China’s top advisory body that convenes today and the annual plenary sessions of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday.

Though the primary objectives of the current "strike hard" campaign were mentioned as fighting criminals, upholding social order and stability, the TCHRD believes the largest motive behind this campaign is the Chinese authorities' attempt to detain Tibetans involved in political activism, to target former political prisoners and Tibetan residents from outside Lhasa, as well as monks and nuns. Under this campaign, Chinese law enforcement bodies abuse the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people through arbitrary arrest, detention, interrogation and torture, dismissal from jobs and expulsion from religious institutions. TCHRD condemns the launch of "strike hard" campaign and questions the motivation behind the campaign.  

With unprecedented levels of security presence already throughout Tibet accompanying the launch of this campaign, TCHRD fears that widespread unlawful detentions of Tibetans will intensify in the coming weeks and months, and that they may be used to silence, intimidate and stifle political dissent in the build up to the 10 March anniversary when the authorities fear fresh unrest following the wave of protests that swept across the Tibetan plateau in the past couple of years.

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