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Tibet propaganda 'masks repression'

Illustrated glossary decodes China's surveillance systems and abuses

Tibet propaganda 'masks repression'

This file photo shows Chinese paramilitary policemen patrolling in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. (Photo by Teh Eng Koon/AFP)

June 21, 2017

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Chinese authorities are increasingly using opaque policy terms in official media to tighten repression in Tibet, Human Rights Watch said in an illustrated glossary released on June 20.

Tibet: A Glossary of Repression explains and illustrates a dozen terms that appear benign or even positive but are in fact used to ensure total compliance and surveillance by officials of ordinary Tibetan people.

It includes terms that relate to political and social control, such as "comprehensive rectification," "no cracks, no shadows, no gaps left," and "every village a fortress, everyone a watchman."

"Orwell himself would be hard pressed to invent a better vocabulary of totalitarian management," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

"Ultimately the message of the Chinese authorities' terms for Tibetans is clear: political nonconformity will be punished, severely," she said.

These terms are used not only to persuade populations inside and outside Tibet of the correctness of the Chinese Communist Party's rule and its policies, but also to deter criticisms of the Party and any challenge to its rule. These terms reflect a profoundly repressive approach to governance in Tibet, the rights group said.

In Tibetan areas within China, particularly in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), officials have long implemented policing and administrative systems aimed at preventing, controlling, or punishing social dissent and disorder, according to the rights group.

Following protests in support of the Dalai Lama in Tibet in 2008, Party leaders commissioned researchers to develop new methods to prevent future unrest.

This led to the introduction, from 2011, of new administrative and security mechanisms in the TAR, including cadres installed as managers in every monastery and religious institution and "grid system offices set up to monitor each block or group of homes in towns and villages, Human Rights Watch said.

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