China extends surveillance in Tibet, says rights group

Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), Jan 18 (IANS) Chinese authorities have indefinitely extended an intensive surveillance programme in villages across the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

There are indications that the “village-based cadre teams” scheme, which is unprecedented in China, will become permanent, it added.

The extension of the surveillance programme, which was deployed in 2011, is seen as Chinese authorities’ intention to suppress any signs of dissent or criticism among Tibetans, including questioning them about their political and religious views, it said.

“The Chinese government’s decision to extend its Tibet surveillance programme indefinitely is nothing less than a continuous human rights violation,” said a statement issued by Human Rights Watch quoting China director Sophie Richardson.

“China’s surveillance scheme openly and massively infringes upon the basic rights of Tibetans protected under Chinese and international law,” she added, urging China’s central and regional authorities to end the repressive aspects of this scheme immediately.

In 2011, the Chinese central government, in an effort to prevent a recurrence of the protests that spread across the Tibetan plateau in 2008, launched an Orwellian campaign known as “Benefit the Masses.”

The campaign involved sending some 21,000 Communist Party cadres from townships and urban areas to live in teams of four or more in each of the 5,000 villages in the TAR.

The scheme, which cost more than 25 percent of the regional government’s budget, was supposed to last for three years.

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