Tibetans forced to wear wild animal furs, official in Tibet denies


Dharamshala: Chinese authorities have reportedly forced Tibetans to wear animal furs and pelts at a recent official event in Driru County of eastern Tibet.

“The new policy demanded that local Tibetans should organise and take part in a cultural performance during a recent official celebration in Driru County,” souces said.

“It also required them to wear traditional costumes made out of animal furs and pelts to show “economic prosperity” with happy life under Chinese Communist rule.”

“Chinese officials brought the animal pelt costumes with them and forced Tibetans to wear them during their performances on stage,” Samdup, a Tibetan living in Belguim told the Tibet Post International (TPI).

“Authorities have instructed those Tibetans not performing to attend an event to mark the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China on August 1,” he added.

“The policy threatening that any Tibetans not taking part will be punished by not being able to harvest the fungus for 5 years,” Samdup said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Local Tibetans say “the performances are not an expression of their happiness of the seasons, rather it is a forceful imposition by the Chinese government which portrays the absence of any freedom and human rights”.

Animal pelts and furs were used in traditional Tibetan attires in the past. But, the practice almost completely stopped in Tibet, in support of a comment made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the 2006 Kalachakra initiation.

Images from the the annual legislative and political advisory sessions in Tibet, show some delegates who appeared to be wearing furs and pelts from wild animals as part of their attire.

“The local government did not issue such an order, and that there were no performances on the August 1 anniversary,” Chinese state-run media “Global Times” reported, citing Zhou Zhanping, head of the county publicity department.

In response to the report, Samdup said that “the Chinese media should present an unbiased information. “If the Chinese authorities do believe that the claims they made are true, they should allow international media to find out the real situation in Driru County.”

“China should ease the de facto ban on international journalists wanting to visit Tibet,” he told TPI, urging “China to end the restriction on use of information communication technologies, including social media related to Tibet issue.”

TPI sources also said that under a new policy, Tibetans are also banned from harvesting caterpillar fungus for five years.

“The policy imposed under various conditions that must be fulfilled in order for Tibetans to harvest caterpillar fungus, which is a mainstay of family incomes,” sources said.

The caterpillar fungus is known in Tibetan as yartsa gunbu, with the long history of medicinal use, became a main source of income for the local Tibetans.

According to sources “it’s a new threat as a way to force the Tibetans” to accept that they are happy under the government rule.