Chinese surveillance unit operating inside a Tibetan Buddhist monastery — Radio Free Asia

A Chinese police surveillance unit is operating, apparently for the first time, inside a Buddhist monastery in a new crackdown on Tibetan Buddhist religious institutions, a Tibetan with knowledge of the situation has said.

Officers were installed this year at Palyul Thartang Gonchen monastery in Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai province, said the source, who lives in exile but knows what is going on there.

“Although there has already been a surveillance police unit set up by the authorities outside the premises of Palyul Tharthang Gonchen Monastery in Golog, this year they have added another inside the premises. monastery near his community hall,” the Tibetan told RFA.

“A member of the monitoring team was also assigned by the Chinese government to this unit to monitor the monks and their daily activities,” he said.

Police have installed surveillance cameras around the monastery and officers inside monitor the monks around the clock, the source said. Some are pressuring young monks to attend schools run by the Chinese government, the exiled Tibetan said.

“Chinese authorities have also installed a specific app on their cellphones to identify and track their conversations, so it is not safe for monks to communicate with Tibetans in exile,” he said.

After the deadly 2008 uprising in Tibet, Chinese authorities began setting up police stations and military barracks outside Gaden, Drepung and Sera monasteries – popular centers for learning and practicing Buddhism. Tibetan – near Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Deadly protests against the Chinese government’s persecution of Tibetans in mid-March 2008 began in Lhasa before spreading to other parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Tibetan protesters clashed with members of the Han Chinese ethnic majority and the Hui ethnic minority, leading to a brutal Chinese crackdown.

Subsequently, Zhang Qingli, the former Communist Party leader of the TAR, began setting up mobile police units throughout the region, which are still operating today, monitoring the activities of monks in monasteries. But the Golog case is apparently the first time police have been stationed inside the monastery itself.

Golok Jigme, a Tibetan and former political prisoner who now lives in Switzerland, said authorities now require Tibetans to install a tracking app on their phones.

“It is absolutely true that Tibetans are being monitored by the Chinese government, but recent surveillance of Tibetans has escalated and new surveillance tactics are being introduced that require Tibetans to install an app on their phone devices,” he said. he told RFA.

The app allows authorities “unprecedented access” to Tibetans’ phone data and conversations, he said.

“Many Tibetans are interrogated, threatened, imprisoned, punished and their cell phones are sometimes confiscated,” he said.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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