Cutting Off the Serpent's Head: Tightening Control in Tibet

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Political repression in Tibet has increased sharply since 1994, and there are now more political prisoners in custody there than at any time since 1990. The increased repression is the result of a Chinese government policy that has led to tighter internal security in Tibet, longer sentences for political offenses, increased control over monasteries and nunneries, a demand for declarations of loyalty from thousands of Tibetans, and intensified political education in schools. Over 230 Tibetans were detained for political offenses in 1995, a 50 percent increase over the year before, bringing the total now believed in custody to over 600. Cutting Off the Serpent’s Head gives a detailed account of the emergence of the new policies, based on several hundred interviews, reports from Tibet, and internal Chinese documents. It includes an analysis of the political developments leading to the deterioration in human rights, a description of coercive practices: political imprisonment, torture, and restrictions on religious freedom, and the first study of compulsory labor in Tibet. (Co-published with Tibet Information Network)

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