Lunar New Year: Chinese authorities impose curfew in Tibetan areas of Qinghai

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Chinese authorities have imposed restrictions for residents in Tibetan-populated areas of the country’s Qinghai province ahead of the start of Lunar New Year, media reports said.

The move includes a 10:00 p.m. curfew in the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) and Matoe (Maduo) counties imposed in the name of “social stability” and “sanitation,” a Tibetan living in exile told Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan Service, citing sources in the region.

“Security personnel have been dispatched to restaurants, hotels, internet cafes, and all places of recreation,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Anyone caught out after curfew risks punishment, including imprisonment and severe physical abuse,” he told the news portal.

“[Police] are also checking everyone’s identification card,” he added.

Matoe county in particular is an important hub of local transportation and travel by Tibetans in Qinghai, Swiss-based former Tibetan political prisoner Golog Jigme told RFA, adding, “And armed police and other security personnel are often stationed there ahead of important cultural and religious festivals.”

Authorities in northwestern China’s Gansu province have meanwhile imposed restrictions on travel to and from an important Tibetan monastery ahead of a major prayer festival, Jigme told RFA in an earlier report.

Labrang Tashi Kyil monastery’s annual Monlam Chenmo festival, which typically draws large numbers of participants, will begin on February 15, the third day of Losar celebrations, but is barred this year to visitors not wearing face masks, and entry is forbidden to private vehicles, Jigme told the news portal.

Authorities have cited COVID-19 as the reason behind imposing the restrictions.

Jigme told RFA, “But in reality, the crackdown is aimed at the soon-to-be-observed great Monlam Chenmo religious festival itself.” indiablooms