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Tibetans facing brunt of China's so-called "Zero Covid policy" cry for help

ANI | Updated: Sep 18, 2022 00:04 IST

Lhasa [Tibet], September 18 (ANI): Ever since Tibet reported the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, China has enforced strict measures, including its so-called "Zero Covid policy" to contain the spread of the virus, but several viral videos and posts from Tibetans show the reality of China's oppressive measures.
Infected patients quarantined alongside those who tested negative, no food for hours, despite repeated requests, lines of buses, loaded with people, waiting late into the night to drop them off at makeshift isolation centres, these are the scenes described by residents of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, who have been locked down for one month as officials try to contain a coronavirus outbreak, reported the Washington Post.
Lockdowns, including of entire cities, have become almost commonplace in China, which remains bent on eliminating the coronavirus even as the rest of the world tries to live with it.
But the recent calls for help out of Tibet, as well as Xinjiang -- two border regions where the Chinese government has put in place highly repressive controls -- speak to how desperate conditions have become there, where many residents are usually intimidated into keeping quiet, reported the Washington Post.
As more and more stories of suffering have emerged online -- and efforts to suppress them have ramped up -- some have warned that the measures are going too far.
Yet the incentive for the authorities to hold fast and silence discontent is also stronger than usual. It is known that on October 16, President Xi Jinping of China is set to hold a third term in office, making him one of the modern greats of the dragon country. Amid this, it is crucial for the Chinese Communist Party to ensure that the effort to achieve "zero Covid," which Xi has declared a personal priority, appears smooth and successful.
The result is a vicious cycle. The authorities enact ever-harsher quarantine and censorship rules. Those, in turn, create more hardships and dissatisfaction, reported the Washington Post.
Restrictions are tightening across China. Last week, the central government announced that the entire country, even areas without cases, would need to mandate regular testing of all residents through October. Tens of millions of people have been locked down in recent weeks. The capital, Beijing, is on high alert after several dozen cases have been detected in recent days.
In recent days, as the controls have shown no sign of easing, residents have mounted an online campaign to draw attention to their plight. Some have tagged state media outlets in hopes of attracting official coverage. Others have attached unrelated trending hashtags, such as one about an actor accused of hiring prostitutes.
"The social media posts you see from people in Lhasa are all about suffering, but that's the real Lhasa. Lhasa's public announcements, I feel they're all fake," said a food delivery worker in the city.
The Chinese government has promoted positive videos of officials encouraging frontline workers and promising ample supplies of food and medicine. But the food delivery worker said he was quarantined with five family members in an unfinished apartment building, even though he had not tested positive.

Since he was waiting to be released, the officials had sent another man to join their family in quarantine, because they were all of the Hui ethnic minority, and the man who joined later had tested positive, he said.
The lockdowns in Tibet and Xinjiang, though, stand out for having dragged on for more than a month, reported the Washington Post.
Lhasa -- home to nearly 900,000 people, about 70 per cent of them ethnically Tibetan -- began ordering certain areas to close after discovering a handful of infections on August 8, with restrictions soon spreading citywide. Yining, a city in the northwestern part of Xinjiang, has also been under restrictions since early August.
The director of Tibet Action Institute, Lhadon Tethong said that she had been stunned by what she called a flood of Tibetan voices this week, compared with a trickle of information before.
"They're these direct cries for help coming from inside in a way that we just don't see anymore," she said. "So we know they're at the breaking point."
Several of the videos have been deleted. In a video of the woman asking to go home -- no longer available online -- she emphasized that she was not protesting.
This week, local officials in Shandong Province announced that they had detained a man for sharing a live stream by China's state broadcaster in his neighbourhood's group chat and urging people to "go and ask for help" in the comments, reported the Washington Post.
The Chinese authorities are still relying on more coercive tactics. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared that the end of the pandemic was "in sight" -- a declaration that quickly aroused a flurry of posts on Chinese social media expressing hope, and weariness at the extended controls.
By Thursday, Weibo had banned the hashtag "W.H.O. says the end of Covid is in sight."
China's stringent measures under its so-called 'Zero Covid policy' has put the lives of Tibetan people in grave danger amid the recent COVID-19 outbreak that has made the lives of Tibetans unbearable, thus leaving the state in a hassle.
The human rights issue in Tibet has gotten much worse over the years and the Chinese government has never backed down from strengthening its torturous hold on the Tibetans. Surveillance of the Tibetans in Tibet by the communist party has been extreme and any suspicious act is dealt with unlawful arrests, detentions and false convictions.
While the world is being shown a country like China handling the outbreak in a harmonious way, but the reality apparently is far from that. The measures being taken are too severe and not in the interest of the public at all. (ANI)