No Chinese passport for Tibetans under onerous new procedure

TibetanReview: China has greatly tightened the procedure for issuing passports to Tibetans after hundreds of them were detained in Jan 2012 and subjected to months of political education for having travelled to Bodh Gaya in India to receive religious teachings from the Dalai Lama. In fact, no passport has been issued to a Tibetan in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) since Feb or Mar 2012 while Tibetan officials had to surrender theirs upon return from official travels abroad, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jan 20.

Chinese law requires the authorities to issue passports within 15 days of application while unsuccessful applicants have to be notified within six days thereof with reasons for the denial.

In the case of Tibetans, however, the new procedure introduced by the TAR Government could take years, requires one to have connections, and involves paying bribes along the way.

That is because Tibetan passport applicants now have to undergo a series of scrutiny by the village, Township, and county level authorities and then by the TAR Public Security Bureau (the police). After crossing all these prohibitive hurdles, Tibetans have to sign a guarantee to refrain from "illegal activities" and activities that are "harmful to the nation" while abroad. And the passport must be surrendered to the authorities within seven days after the holder returns home.

In addition, the returned Tibetan passport holders are required to report to the local police and submit themselves for interrogation about their activities during their trips.

Concerning the Chinese subjects of the Communist Party of China, however, the passports are usually
valid for five to 10 years and there is no requirement to surrender them or to for the holders to subject themselves to interrogation after their return from their trips abroad.

With regard to passports already issued to Tibetan before the new procedure came into force, the Tibetans were ordered to surrender them with a promise to issue the electronic passports China newly introduced nationwide last year. But none was issued.

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