DHARAMSALA: Several hundred Tibetans travelling on Chinese passports to India to attend a teaching session by their exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in January 2018 were forced to return, international advocacy group Human Rights Watch has said in its annual report.
The authorities in Tibetan areas continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, assembly and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and arbitrary violence by security forces, it said.
The World Report 2019 -- a review of the current human rights conditions in every nation that was released on Friday -- said intensified political education has been reported in monasteries, schools and for the public at large.
Tibetan authorities have used a nationwide anti-crime campaign to encourage people to denounce members of their communities on the slightest suspicion of sympathy for the exiled Dalai Lama or opposition to the government.
Reacting to the Human Rights Watch report, Ngodup Dorjee, Geneva-based representative of the Dalai Lama, said: "For Tibetans in Tibet, it is a lifelong dream to attend a teaching by His Holiness and to catch even a small glimpse of their most revered spiritual leader."
During the recently-concluded teaching sessions in Bodh Gaya, it was reported that barely 100 Tibetans were able to attend mainly due to the severe restrictions on passports imposed by Chinese authorities, a post on the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said.
The Human Rights Watch noted that several more cases were reported in 2018 of land grab by local officials for construction projects, both in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas.
Tibetans continue to self-immolate to protest Chinese policies. Four more such protests took place between November 2017, it said.
Rampant mining has caused severe destruction to Tibet's environment as well as distress to its people and the relentless push for development has turned China into a toxic land of severely contaminated soil, water and air, CTA President Lobsang Sangay had said in response to the China's White Paper on Tibet's Ecology, 2018.
"If the current trend of environmental destruction continues unabated in Tibet, Chinese authorities will soon turn the world's highest plateau into yet another toxic landmass," he said.
The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan administration in exile is based in this north Indian hill town.