New regulations issued in the Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) area of eastern Tibet warn that various activities, including praying and lighting butter-lamps for the Dalai Lama or people who have self-immolated, are ‘illegal’ and will be penalized.
The measures, which appear to be guidelines for county officials mandated by higher-level authorities, enable criminal charges to be imposed for everyday and often devotional activities. They are the latest indicator of the political climate of impunity and the severity of repressive measures being imposed across Tibet, particularly in areas where there have been peaceful protests or self-immolations, such as Rebkong county.
The measures heighten the dangers for Tibetans in the area, who have sought to protect their cultural and religious identity and traditions with courage and resilience. Furthermore, they contravene China’s own constitution and legal provisions meant to preserve and promote the distinct identity of groups such as the Tibetans.