border review | 21 February 2012

More on Detained Pilgrims

Tibetan pilgrims returning from the Kalachakra initiation in India at the beginning of January have faced various difficulties (see previous posts here and here). Now, it seems that many of them are still in detention and subjected to political reeducation. Apparently, many of the pilgrims are government officials. Tendar Tsering reports for Phayul:

“The Chinese government has warned Tibetan officials in Chinese occupied Tibet of serious actions and harsh punishments if they failed to return home before February 15,” Kalsang Gyaltsen, a Member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile said.

According to Human Rights Watch this may be the first time since the 1970 that such a large number of lay people are being detained.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 pilgrims had received the permission to leave the country for Nepal and the authorities must clearly have known where they were heading for. Most seem to have had passports and valid Nepalese visas.

A number of them also traveled directly to India using visas issued by India, indicating that on this occasion the Chinese authorities had not placed restrictions on travel to India in Tibetans’ passports, as in the past. There is no known regulation banning Tibetans from attending the teachings, and the returnees undergoing re-education have not been accused of any crime, such as carrying illicit documents or crossing the Chinese border without permission.

There are no reports so far that any of the estimated 700 ethnic Chinese from China who attended the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Bihar have been detained on their return to China, suggesting that the detainees are being selected because of their ethnicity.