An image of the Dalai Lama is boldly displayed

An image of the Dalai Lama is boldly displayed by Tibetans in a monastery in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Amdo) despite intensified security and the political sensitivity of displaying a photograph of the Dalai Lama.

Images of Tibetans celebrating Losar, Tibetan New Year, despite intensified security, emerged from across Tibet today. Losar this year is significant, particularly in the Tibetan area of Amdo, because it is the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday on July 6, according to the Western calendar.

A photograph from Ngaba showed Tibetans in a bold celebration offering khatags (white blessing scarves) to an image of the Dalai Lama at a shrine bearing the words ‘Welcome to the 80th birthday of His Holiness’. According to tradition in the Tibetan area of Amdo, 80th birthday celebrations are particularly important.

The Chinese authorities deployed large numbers of troops in Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Qinghai prior to Tibetan New Year, and declared the importance of ‘stability’ at Losar. Tibet Autonomous Region Party chief Chen Quanguo was depicted giving paramilitary police, with some in riot gear, khatags (white blessing scarves) to security personnel on the first day of Losar (February 19, 2015), for their ‘tireless work’ over the New Year period.

As the Losar period began, there was an intensified and intimidating security buildup in areas including Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), Serthar (Chinese: Seda) and Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) in Sichuan. A local source told Radio Free Asia that from February 15, convoys of armed police began patrolling county roads in Kardze, “creating an atmosphere of intimidation”. The police were equipped with fire extinguishers, according to the same source. (Radio Free Asia report, February 18, 2015).[1] In previous years, there have been self-immolations during the Tibetan New Year period. Last year, Lobsang Dorjee set himself on fire during the New Year prayer festival at Kirti monastery in Ngaba and died.[2]


This image, from the official Tibet Daily, shows Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo at the Barkhor area in Lhasa, offering Khatag to security personnel on the first day of Losar (February 19).

throwing of tsampa

Tibetan monks commemorate Losar in Lhasa by the traditional throwing of tsampa.


Police on a street corner in Lhasa on the first day of Losar, February 19, 2015.


[1] ICT self-immolations factsheet,