-By Radio Free Asia
Chinese authorities have eased severe COVID-19 lockdowns in parts of the far western Tibet region, allowing Tibetans temporarily residing in the regional capital Lhasa for work or other reasons to return to their hometowns starting Monday, sources said. of the region.
A wave of coronavirus infections hit the restive region in August, where China, wary of independence movements, has strengthened its government in an effort to prevent frequent unrest by the repressed Tibetan minority group.
The latest move comes days after hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets of the capital on October 26-27 to protest tough “zero COVID” measures, including lockdowns in place for around 80 days. During the lockdown, people complained about food shortages and poor conditions in mass quarantine facilities, RFA previously reported.
Many of the protesters were Han Chinese migrant workers demanding permission from the authorities to return to their homes in eastern China because they could not earn money during the blockade, sources in the city told RFA.
Chinese migrant protesters dispersed after authorities agreed to process requests for them to leave the Tibet Autonomous Region, while Tibetans from cities outside the capital area had to stay put.
The authorities are now allowing Tibetans living in Lhasa who are originally from the cities and towns of Shigatse, Kongpo, Lhoka, Nagchu, Chamdo and Ngari to return to their homes. But they can only do so after first contacting their respective contact points, as set up by regional authorities for “expedited processing,” according to an Oct. 31 statement. Returning on your own is prohibited.
Authorities will provide Tibetan migrant workers in the Lhasa area with transport services to return to their home cities once the regional office makes contact points public, the notice said, without providing further details.
Despite the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdowns in Lhasa and Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city with about 800,000 inhabitants, as of October 29, the capital remains under lockdown for three more days, Tibetan sources said. who added that they did not know the reason. behind the move that was not publicly announced.
Tibetan sources said Chinese government officials treated Tibetans differently when it came to giving them permission to leave Tibet for other parts of China, noting that authorities accommodated Chinese migrant workers agitating against the blockade.
“Tibetans studying in institutes and universities in mainland China were supposed to have planned to visit China three months ago under special circumstances, but that did not happen,” said the source, who declined to be named for security reasons.
As of Monday, Tibet had recorded 18,653 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the region of roughly 3.65 million people, according to the latest Chinese government census data.
Two new asymptomatic COVID-19 infections were found in Lhasa in the past 24 hours, and 33 asymptomatic cases were detected in the northern region of neighboring Qinghai province on October 29, according to a Chinese official announcement.
Local authorities in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province near the Tibetan Plateau, reported 70 new COVID-19 infections on October 28.
Click here to read the original report.