China is known to run forced labor camps in Xinjiang where thousands of Uyghur, Tibetan, and Kazakh minorities are made to work as slaves while being brainwashed into abandoning their culture. Despite Beijing consistently denying the existence of such camps, survivors who have fled the country and sought asylum in Western nations consistently affirm the existence of such facilities. And according to new reports, it seems that Beijing is building three new “gulags” in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
“Gulag” comes from the forced labor camp system that was in operation during the Soviet era Russia. Three such gulags have been identified in Tibet thanks to the latest satellite imagery. All of them have high wall fencings. The inner wall fencing is seen to be taller than the outer wall and has round guard posts at every corner. Indoctrination centers are being built outside the main inner walls.
Religious and cultural subjugation of the Tibetans has been going on ever since China took control over the region in the 1950s. Thousands of Buddhist monasteries were destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the past decades in a bid to eradicate Tibetan identity. Existing monasteries have been redesigned in the Chinese style of architecture. Some of these monasteries are also used as gulags for Tibetan monks who are unwilling to submit their faith to the dictates of the CCP.
The plight of Tibetans and other minorities in China under CCP rule has not been lost on U.S. lawmakers. “Xi Jinping believes he has the world to gain from the ‘New Silk Road’ he’s building across Eurasia, but he fears China won’t be able to control its empire if its minorities hold to their religious beliefs and traditional cultures. So Xi has decided to take no chances by eradicating those inconvenient artifacts of humanity,” Senator Tom Cotton said in a statement (Hudson Institute).
Cotton has asked for the implementation of the Magnitsky Act so that sanctions can be put on CCP officials who play a major part in the persecution of Tibetans and Uyghurs. He also suggested an immediate sanction on American companies that manufacture and sell products to China that are used to repress the country’s minorities. Cotton highlighted the example of Massachusetts-headquartered Thermo Fisher Scientific, which is apparently selling DNA sequencers to China that are used to create genetic profiles of Tibetans and other minority groups.
Attacking overseas Tibetans
The CCP’s drive to control Tibetans in not just limited to China. It seeks to silence Tibetan voices abroad as well. Chemi Lhamo, a Canadian of Tibetan origin, is one such example.
Lhamo was recently selected as the student union president at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. However, she was soon faced with an abusive campaign orchestrated by Chinese students. The reason — she advocated for the independence of Tibet. Some even wished her death on their Instagram accounts.
“I was a little surprised, but seconds after reading some of the comments, I realized this was probably a tactic by the Chinese government… This looks very orchestrated. We’ve seen enough of this stuff to know it’s not coming out of nowhere,” Lhamo said to the National Post.
Chinese students also set up a petition on change.org asking for her removal from the post because of her “irrational” demand for a free Tibet.