A “dramatic increase in security expenditure” by the Chinese government in the Ngaba area of eastern Tibet has contributed to the ongoing “local discontent and unrest” says Human Rights Watch.
Since March, Ngaba region has witnessed six self immolations by local Tibetans protesting Chinese rule over Tibet, with three succumbing to their injuries.
In a release on October 12, the New York based rights group said that they have “documented a dramatic increase in security expenditure by the Chinese government in the Aba (Ngaba) region since 2002”.
“These findings suggest that the increase in government spending on security has contributed to provocative policing techniques such as monastery blockades and the mass detentions of monks that have repeatedly contributed to local discontent and unrest,” the rights group said.
Citing official statistics it had examined, the group said that expenditures on security-related activity in Ngaba have been growing since 2002.
“By 2009, per capita annual spending on public security, which covers the civilian police force, the People’s Armed Police, and costs associated with running the local courts and prisons, in Aba (Ngaba) was five times the average spent per person on public security in non-Tibetan prefectures in Sichuan, and over twice the amount spent for security in the provincial capital, Chengdu,” the group revealed.
With the establishment of a new “anti-terrorist” unit in 2007 to “strike hard” against “violent terrorist activities” in Ngaba, Human Rights Watch said that “security measures designed to curtail the right to free expression, association, and religious belief in Tibetan monasteries” were exacerbating the tensions.
“The increased security measures appear to have been a major factor in the escalation of tensions that have led to several protests in which monks tried to set themselves on fire to bring attention to the situation in Aba (Ngaba),” the group noted.
Encouraging the Chinese government to “address the region’s underlying grievances”, the rights group urged for an immediate end to heavy-handed security measures imposed on lay communities and monasteries which include “brutal security raids, arbitrary detentions of monks, increased surveillance within monasteries, and a permanent police presence inside monasteries to monitor religious activities”.
Human Rights Watch also urged all governments concerned with human rights in China to articulate publicly their concerns about the deteriorating environment, and to press the Chinese government to address Tibetans’ rights.