ZERO-COVID Policy, another threat to the people of Tibet

 It is no news to the world that the Tibetans have lived under the brutal, oppressive rule of the Chinese Communist government for more than six decades since Tibet’s illegal occupation in the 1950s. The conflict between Tibet and China has been a topic of debate for years but the Tibetan freedom struggle has not received the attention or the justice that it deserves till now. The human rights issue in Tibet has gotten much worse over the years and the Chinese government has never backed down from strengthening their torturous hold on the Tibetans. Surveillance of the Tibetans in Tibet by the communist party has been extreme and any suspicious act is dealt with unlawful arrests, detentions and false convictions. The entire world suffered when the pandemic hit but the situation in Tibet could not have gotten worse since it was already in a saddening state. Mainland China was hit hard by COVID-19 whereas there wasn’t much information regarding the actual state of the other regions under the Chinese rule. However, the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Tibet has left the state in a hassle and has resulted in the lives of the Tibetans in the region become unbearable. The government’s Zero COVID policy is apparently leading to severe unnecessary measures, putting the lives of the Tibetan people in grave danger. The outbreak began on 7th August, 2022 and the lockdowns started happening right afterwards. The government was also in a state of shock due to the suddenness of the outbreak. Like always, China has denied access to journalists and observers who wish to study the situation inside Tibet and weigh the severity of it all. The Chinese media has been the only source through which information is being passed on but that is undoubtedly the most biased channel since it complies fully with the governments’ wishes. They have portrayed a picture as such where the authorities seemingly have everything under control and the government’s initiations are being highly applauded. There is obviously a lack of flow of true information due to which the reality of the outbreak inside Tibet can only be pictured or assumed through the news given out in the Chinese social media and other digital communication channels. A thorough analysis of the complaints posted by Tibetans and Chinese on the internet shows a situation far worse than the one being put out for the world to see. The Chinese government made sure to point out that the outbreak started in the Tibetan region and that it was apparently the third generation sub-variant of Omicron. They also went as far as to claim that the particular variant had not been detected anywhere in China till then. Shigatse, one of the biggest Tibetan cities was targeted by the Chinese local media and called out as the ground zero of COVID outbreak in Tibet. The fact that Shigatse shares borders with Nepal, India and Bhutan, it made the works of the communist party to claim that the outbreak was a foreign import and one that has nothing to do with mainland China itself. China stressed upon the matter that the Omicron outbreak could possibly have been imported via the three countries with the shared border. Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi, two main trading points with Nepal were shut down immediately. The first set of cases might have been reported form Tibet’s Lhasa region but the sub-variant was found alter in Chinese regions of Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu in Sichuan, Shenyang and Benxi in Liaoning,Hangzhou and Wenzhou in Zhejiang, Shijazhuang in Hebei, Longxi County in Dingxi, Gansu, Gangzhou in Guangdong, Fuzhou and Xiamen in Fujian, Kunming in Yunnan and Shanxi and Qinghai. It can however be known whether the cases in the Chinese regions were brought from Tibet or not through proper investigation, without which no claims as such can be made. The Zero-COVID strategy led to various measures being taken to lessen the impact and spread of the outbreak. Top medical service and no-hindrance in the supply of essential commodities was applied. There could be trucks seen on the roads with disinfectants. Mass testing was carried out and health officials were dispatched to every nook and corner with personal protective equipments to even the smallest settlements. The policy also seemed to promise anyone with the disease to get proper medical service. The world is being shown a country like China handling the outbreak in a harmonious way but the reality apparently is far from that. The measures being taken are too severe and not in the interest of the public at all. A Tibetan woman in her social media account has posted from an isolation centre in Lhasa. She shows a disorderly, filthy isolation centre with piles of trash and bricks and boards laid down to walk across the hallway flooded with toilet water. Another Tibetan woman has posted a video of another isolation centre where the patients are placed in rows of beds and of them getting more sick due to the dusty floors. There also seems to be a lack of caretakers in these centres, basically the lack of medical help. There is a shortage of food supply in regions although the government claims to have sent trucks with necessities. The condition is dire and the patients are in desperate need of care and medical aid. This is however not taken as a concern by the Communist government who are only aiming for a COVID free region but by taking measures that doesn’t work in favour of the ill. Tibetans in the COVID regions are being forcibly dragged to be put into isolation centres and their families have to live with the uncertainty of their return and updates in general. Tibetans in Tibet are stuck in another helpless state where the government is only focusing upon carrying out their policy to seem as a capable nation. Haven’t the people of Tibet suffered enough to yet suffer more under the threat of COVID and under the communist government’s inconsiderate actions?

News Desk

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