China impose near-total information blockade after series of burning protests

A near-total information blockade has been imposed in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture where seven Tibetans burned themselves in protest in the past month.

Local authorities have clamped down on the Internet and mobile phone lines, imposing an indefinite ban on the sale of mobile SIM cards on three known shops in Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County, according to information received by TCHRD from a source with contacts in the region.

Sources from the area have also reported the closure of Internet cafes and weak or no mobile phone signals. Local residents say mobile phone signals work only when they cross the Kanlho border.

Local authorities have also restricted the sale of petrol and other flammable liquids in towns and villages in the area. Shop owners have been ordered to restrict their sales leading to shortage of fuels in the area and making movement difficult for the Tibetans in the area as they find it difficult to use their vehicles without fuels.

In Tsoe (Ch: Hezuo) County, local Tibetans believe that the Chinese authorities are increasing restrictions in the area on the pretext of the upcoming 18th Party Congress. Sources in the area say in reality the restrictions are part of the official crackdown on self-immolation protests. Quoting locals in Tsoe, a source told TCHRD that the local authorities have now barred the schoolchildren from leaving for holidays outside the area. Even urgent requests for leave from the school are ignored by the school administration. Permissions are granted but sparingly for a couple of hours to leave the school premises. With the children confined to their school compounds, sources say many feel schools are now being turned into mini prisons.

In the Tibetan capital Lhasa and areas, restrictions on the sale of flammable liquids have also been imposed in recent weeks, according to a source from Nyemo (Ch: Nimu) County in Lhasa Prefecture. For instance, Tibetans in Nyemo need two different documents issued by the County police and County government office to buy petrol and other flammable liquids.

At numerous police check posts in Lhasa and surrounding areas, police confiscate empty water bottles and other plastic containers in suspicion that these would be used to buy and store flammable liquids.

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