A new report by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and the Jamestown Foundation, a DC-based policy think-tank, has found evidence of a system of forced displacement and labor in Tibet, mirroring that put in place over the past two years in Xiinjiang. The report, entitled “Xinjiang’s Militarized Vocational Training System Comes to Tibet,” finds that over half a million people received instruction at “military-style” training centers as part of the program in the first seven months of 2020—around 15% of the region’s population. Of this total, almost 50,000 have been transferred to jobs away from their homes within Tibet, and several thousand have been sent to other parts of China. Many end up in low-paid labor, including textile manufacturing, construction and agriculture. Those targeted for the program are designated “rural surplus laborers,” which according to the report usually refers to traditional pastoralists and nomads.
The report’s lead author, Adrian Zenz, who has also researched the similar program in Xinjiang, said: “This is now, in my opinion, the strongest, most clear and targeted attack on traditional Tibetan livelihoods that we have seen almost since the Cultural Revolution… It’s a coercive lifestyle change from nomadism and farming to wage labor.”
The report states that the training centers are officially dubbed “military-style” (军旅式, junlüshi), and aim to reform “backward thinking.” The training regimen is often supervised by People’s Armed Police drill sergeants, and photos of the centers published by state media show Tibetan trainees dressed in military fatigues.
A total of 63 lawmakers from 16 countries in Asia, Europe and North America have issued a joint statement, demanding urgent action on the situation. “We call upon our governments to take immediate action to condemn these atrocities and to prevent further human rights abuses,” the letter states. (Phayul, Tibetan Review, Sept. 23; Reuters, Sept. 22)
Photo: military-style training of “rural surplus laborers” in the Chamdo region of Tibet, June 2016, via Phayul