March 8, 2019
Tibetans are preparing to observe the 60th anniversary of the March 10 anniversary of Tibet’s National Uprising in 1959, which coincides this year with high-level political meetings in Beijing known as the “Two Sessions.”
The Tibet Autonomous Region has experienced an unusually long closure to foreign tourists, spanning from January 30 until April 1. This year marks the significant 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, the Dalai Lama’s escape, and 60 years of the Tibetan diaspora in exile – and also the 70th anniversary year of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
The tightened controls in place for the anniversary period reflect the Chinese leadership’s efforts to obliterate loyalty to the Dalai Lama and replace it entirely with allegiance to the Communist Party, with a particular focus on the “Sinicization” of Tibetan Buddhism. In the buildup to March, the Chinese authorities have sought to enforce the display of images of Xi Jinping and Chinese leaders – in some areas compelling Tibetans even to prostrate to those images – and there have been “clean-up” campaigns targeting images of the Dalai Lama.