The past week began with the mark of the Tibetan New Year, popularly known as LOSAR as per the lunar calendar. However, as indications were clear before the onset of the losar celebrations in Tibet, Chinese police forces filled the streets of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, forbidding Tibetans from taking part in traditional ways of celebrations.
This year’s Losar was preceded by public speeches by Chinese officials urging Tibetans’ loyalty to Beijing and denouncing Tibetan government workers caught “harboring religious faith and worshipping in secret,” according to the report by Radio Free Asia on last Friday. With the beginning of LOSAR, police forces started to pour out on the streets of Lhasa.
According to the report, Tibetans working in government institutions were barred from visiting Tibetan Buddhist monasteries as per the traditional customary of Tibetan LOSAR celebrations. Besides, Tibetan officials working in government institutions were also denied necessary vacations to visit their native homes and families during the festive period.
In addition to such restrictions, the report added that police were forces were deployed in different regions of Tibet assessing the mood and activities of Tibetans during the new year period. Such strict surveillance and restriction hamper joyful festive mood of the Tibetans. The report also quoted that local Tibetans felt there was no sense of peace and joy.
“Under this atmosphere of intimidation and threat, there is no way to celebrate Losar with a sense of peace and joy,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“I feel like leaving the city and going far away,” said a local Tibetan according to the RFA report. However, despite the restrictions, Tibetans visited monasteries on the third day of the Losar to complete the part of customary traditional celebrations. Such situations have been reported from Lhasa, Markham and Serthar regions in Tibet according to RFA.
“But on the third day of the New Year, many of them defied the order by going to visit at the monasteries anyway,” the source said, also speaking on condition she not be named.
Image: Police block the entrance to Lhasa’s Tsuklhakang at the start of Losar, Feb. 5, 2019. (RFA)