Tibetan villagers needing state help to overcome poverty in Tibet’s Markham county are being forced to memorize the names of top Chinese leaders and pledge their loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party as a condition for assistance, sources in the region say.
Villagers must also learn to sing the Chinese national anthem, a source in Markham told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“Those failing the test may not receive Chinese assistance, or may find that their assistance has been temporarily suspended,” RFA’ source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Launched in Markham at the beginning of this year, the campaign tying poverty alleviation programs for Tibetans to public displays of loyalty to China was started earlier in nearby Pashoe county, also in Chamdo, the source said.
There, the leader of a local Tibetan women’s group became famous for reciting the names of China’s five previous national leaders and for describing thepurpose of Chinese policies in Tibetan rural areas, he said.
“This was then held up as an example to other Tibetans, and after this the drive to force Tibetans to memorize leaders’ names and to explain and support China’s policies in the countryside has expanded in a big way.”
Villagers uneducated in Chinese find it difficult to pass the policies test, though, the source said, adding that many are then left without help and face financial hardships.
'More mouths to feed'
Speaking in a video recently obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service, a young villager in Markham describes the procedure required to apply for state assistance, saying he first had to report his financial circumstances to a unit leader in his village.
“The unit leader then spoke to village officials, who came to inspect my house, and I told them that I had little grain for food, only a small parcel of land, and no livestock to rear, and that I had more mouths to feed than able-bodied family members to do any work,” the villager said.
The villager, a worker in the forestry department, was then granted 3,600 yuan (U.S. $537) in 2017, and 3,500 yuan (U.S. $522) last year, he said.
In another video, also obtained by RFA, a Tibetan official working for China is seen telling local Tibetans they must repay China’s generosity in providing them with food, clothing, and housing with “love for the Communist Party and for China’s leaders.”
However, poverty reduction schemes have been made necessary only because China has disrupted Tibetans’ traditional way of life by confiscating their land, another local source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.
“And those affected Tibetans are now enrolled in [the programs] to receive government aid,” he said.
Reported by Lobsang Choephel and Dawa Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.