Tibetans holding banners that read: CCP stop mass DNA collection and end human rights violations in Tibet. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India – Tibetans in exile held a protest against China on the occasion of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to protest against the illegal occupation of Tibet, the harsh and repressive policies in Tibet, and call on China to immediately stop its harsh and unpractical Covid policies in Tibet and provide adequate health care services to Covid patients.

Tibetan Youth Congression (TYC) organised a protest rally against China on the occasion of the 20th CPC National Congress from Mcleod Ganj to Kacheri, Dharamshala, H.P., India on October 16, 2022. Tibetan monks and nuns, school children and other Tibetans joined the protest and demanded that China end its hard-line policies in Tibet, stop arbitrary arrests and detentions of Tibetans, end the massive and systematic collection of DNA from Tibetans, end its harsh and unpractical Covid policy in Tibet and provide adequate health care services to Covid patients.

The Tibetan Youth Congress issued a statement on the protest rally and said, "On the occasion of Communist Party of China's 20th National Congress, the Tibetan Youth Congress reiterates its unequivocal rejection of China's illegal occupation of Tibet and condemns its oppressive rule in Tibet over the last six decades. The distinct Tibetan cultural identity continues to face unprecedented attack, especially under the dictatorship of President Xi Jinping, through China's forceful implementation of hard-line policies.”

“Monastic institutions and Tibetan-run schools, the nerve centers for preserving the Tibetan language, have been frequent targets of Chinese repressive policies. We have recently witnessed the forcible eviction of monastics, demolition of monasteries, and closure of Tibetan-run schools without the consent of the concerned Tibetans. High-tech surveillance equipment has been installed in monastic institutions and schools, ensuring that the watchful eye of the state intrudes into the personal lives of Tibetans and closely follows their every,” the statement said.

“With the forced closure of Tibetan schools, nearly one million Tibetan children have been forcibly taken away from their parents and made to live in colonial boarding schools, cut off from their families and their practice of language and religion. These schools, specifically established by the Chinese Communist Party, offer no access to any Tibetan culture-related curricula, and primarily aim to alienate young Tibetan children from their unique culture and identity,” Gonpo Dhondup, the President of TYC said.

“Tibetans continue to face intense surveillance in their daily lives with security cameras, police checkpoints, and officials monitoring their movements and activities in public and private spaces. In recent months and years, Tibetans have been regularly targeted with the weaponization of state machineries with arbitrary arrests, detentions and forced disappearances. Teachers, writers, and intellectuals who are vocal about the preservation of Tibetan culture and identity have been particularly targeted,” he added.

“Recent reports confirm that the Chinese authorities are employing highly unethical and pervasive monitoring and surveillance tactics with mass DNA collection drives in Tibet. Chinese police are collecting DNA samples non-consensually from common Tibetans with no criminal conduct. Even Tibetan kindergarten children have not been spared from this DNA collection drive,” said Sonam Tsering, the general secretary of TYC.

“COVID cases have continued to rise since the initial outbreak in Tibet despite two months of draconian lockdown rules imposed by the Chinese government. The scarcity of essential commodities and ill-treatment by authorities have created growing hardships for Tibetans. Many Tibetans are using social media to air their frustration with the Chinese government for denying basic healthcare facilities and adequate meals to people detained under the guise of Covid prevention. Both infected and uninfected people are being quarantined in the same place with no regular testing. Many Tibetans have reportedly been detained for the simple act of sharing Covid-related photos and videos online. Recent reports further indicate that many Tibetans have committed suicide as a result of harsh inhumane measures adopted under China's Zero-Covid policy,” he explained.

The leading Tibetan NGO (TYC) calls on China to end repressive policies in Tibet and the collection of DNA from Tibetans. It said, "The Chinese government must immediately end its repressive policies in Tibet and the arbitrary arrests and detentions of Tibetans. We also demand the Chinese Communist government to end the massive and systematic collection of DNA from Tibetans and recognise that this practice will be used to strengthen the surveillance and repression of the Tibetan people." “We call on the Chinese government to immediately stop its harsh and unpractical Covid policies in Tibet and provide adequate health care services to Covid patients,” TYC said.

“The Tibetan Youth Congress condemns the CCP's repressive rule in Tibet, and we reaffirm our commitment to ending China's colonial occupation of Tibet. We raise our voice for the voiceless Tibetans, who continue to suffer under the inhuman treatment of the Chinese government,” it said.

“We remain committed to our freedom struggle until the rightful independence of Tibet is restored,” TYC concluded.