"Looking at Criminal Cases to Examine the Non-Special Policies Towards Ethnic Minorities" by Woeser

Long live the great unity of all the peoples of the whole nation

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser originally written for Radio Free Asia on July 14, 2009 and posted on her blog on July 24.
As Woeser mentions, this blogpost is a continuation of an earlier article that examined China’s policies towards its ethnic minorities titled “Does This Kind of Special Policy Really Exist?” and also a response to various comments to that article, including a comment left here on High Peaks Pure Earth.

“Looking at Criminal Cases to Examine the Non-Special
Policies Towards Ethnic Minorities”
By Woeser

Quite a few people commonly assume that ethnic minorities in China, such as Tibetans and Uighurs, enjoy the privileges of some type of special policy of “two restraints and one leniency” (fewer arrests, fewer death penalties and greater leniency). I recently wrote a brief article for Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibetan programme, which was also translated into English and published on High Peaks Pure Earth. Somebody left a comment criticising that “these special policies are applied in criminal cases, not in political cases. As a Tibetan grown up in China, you should know the difference.”
I would like to thank the person who posted the comment for calling my attention to this, reminding me of the known criminal cases that happened on Tibetan grounds; why not conveniently look at some of these specific cases to examine the Party’s special policies towards “ethnic minorities”. To keep it brief, I am going to introduce two exemplary cases. One of them occurred in Lhasa two years ago. There is an establishment named “Boundless Recreational Centre” where people can indulge in sensual pleasures. Apart from owning several hundred prostitutes, they also possess numerous thugs coming from inland China and because they have high officials working in the background at management level, they intimidate others, dominate the market, and at every opportunity gather a mob to beat people up; they are the “mafia”. One day, these thugs smashed the bar of a Tibetan businessman; his friend, a Tibetan painter, was also beaten and injured. Subsequently, the two men and another friend, a Tibetan entrepreneur, decided to pay the centre a visit to demand an explanation and request the troublemakers to formally apologise; a few of their fellow townsmen, all of whom were from Chamdo, accompanied them. In order not to make the situation any worse, they called and informed the police before they set off. Following their arrival at the centre, because they found the doors shut and the staff gone, a few Tibetans broke some window panes; this held up traffic for one hour but did not cause a serious brawl. Soon after, those three Tibetans were arrested and sentenced to four years of harsh punishment by Chengguan District’s Lhasa City People’s Court. On the surface, this judgement was passed for the offence of stirring up trouble and disturbing public order. But in reality, it was because it alerted Zhang Qingli, the Autonomous Region’s party secretary, who labelled all these Tibetans as belonging to an entirely fabricated “Khampa Organisation”, groundlessly turning them into a politically tainted “criminal clique”. As a result, these people received unreasonably harsh punishment. Even if the defendants had made an appeal and demanded to commute the original sentence, it would still have been dismissed. Up to this date, the three Tibetans are still in prison serving their sentence.
The other criminal case happened four years ago in the countryside of Gomjo (Ch. Gongjue) County in Kham. In the name of carrying out official duties, the deputy chief of the county’s Public Security Bureau led three policemen to the countryside, but in reality they were taking out their guns and hunting. They shot animals belonging to first- and second-grade nationally protected species. Moreover, they asked the villagers to provide horses to give them a lift… Because it was not his turn to provide a horse, one villager expressed the wish to refuse, so the deputy chief and the three policemen brutally beat him up causing severe injuries and life-long disability. The villager’s family took this matter to court and the police side actually had to pay a small indemnity which the family did not accept. After three years of continuous appeals to the higher authorities, they finally won the lawsuit and received increased compensation, but they had also evoked the officials’ utmost hatred. They hence deliberately provoked them, invented a different criminal matter and then finally arrested the disabled villager’s family on suspicion of stirring up trouble and disturbing public order. They were sentenced to three years.
In Tibet, these kinds of unjustly administered criminal cases are ubiquitous because officials’ own interests are high above the law. Consequently, criminal cases are created, politicised, and furtively used by public organs who often abuse public power to retaliate against a personal enemy. There are too many cases to be counted that they have been determined to be “political cases” and received harsh punishments. An acquaintance of mine, a white-collar Tibetan worker who used to work for some bank in Lhasa, once shouted “Free Tibet!” when he was drunk and went to prison for a whole year. In all these cases, can we find any trace of the so-called “two restraints and one leniency” policy? Of course, when relatively minor crimes of thievery are actually reported to the authorities only very few fines are given. If they take people into custody, they would have to provide food and accommodation, it would be too much trouble, so they commonly just turn a blind eye and do not ask questions. Such practices are also rather common. But this has always given people the wrong impression that these thieves enjoy the privileges of the special policy of “two restraints and one leniency”.
In fact, a netizen with a very good sense of humour quite accurately summarises the CCP’s policy towards ethnic minorities like this: “there is suppression for main issues, and there is connivance for minor issues; firmly confine religion, and Mandarin Chinese precedes; the Han are in power, the Party is the heart; transmitting wealth from the West to the East, present small economic sops and baits; accelerate assimilation, and peace reigns under heaven.” Subsequently, I also very much agree with what one of my friends, who belongs to the Hui minority, once said: “with the aim not to give certain groups of the Han masses any reason to feel dissatisfaction and grievance towards ethnic minorities and with the aim to give those big Han fascists as little excuses as possible to assault ethnic minorities, I suggest to abolish those ‘superficially clever’, sympathetic policies towards ethnic minorities that in fact only exist in name, but are devoid of any substance…”

One Comment

  1. Very enlightening. Woser la I enjoy your blogs. Pema

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