Exiled Tibetans returning to Tibet are facing various difficulties such as not being able to apply for jobs and being unable to travel within Tibet, as the Chinese government is withholding basic documentation including “hukou,” or “household registration.”
[Posted T.T Tibetan Site 6th March 2023] Chinese authorities are deregistering Tibetans who are returning to Tibet from India and Nepal from the hukou database, and confiscating any nomadic lands that are in their names. Tibetans who went into exile for better monastic and educational opportunities are barred from hukou registration and its renewal for at least three to six years from their return, resulting in them facing difficulties such as being unable to apply for jobs, starting their own business, or and even travelling.
A Tibetan from Khyungchu County told Tibet Times that he found his name removed from the hukou database when he returned to Tibet. When he approached the local authorities, he was told that he cannot re-register for at least six years, and that he cannot apply before then.
A Tibetan from Lhasa said that Chinese authorities have removed the names of many Tibetans in the Lhasa region who have returned from India and other foreign countries from the hukou database. They are facing difficulties, including while travelling to other places in Tibet and even booking hotels.
A source familiar with the situation told Tibet Times that Tibetans who are settled abroad or those returning are blacklisted from hukou registration. Those who are blacklisted can only be re-registered and avail themselves of other government documentation like the Resident Identity Card if they don’t participate in political activities and have a clean record for five to six years.
Since August 2020, Chinese authorities in Qinghai Province have begun blacklisting Tibetans who have settled abroad from the hukou database and confiscating lands that are in their names. Similar operations have also been conducted in the Ngaba region by local Chinese authorities. In 2022, the Drapchi Police Station based in Lhasa said that it would begin issuing permanent resident certificates to those above the age of 18 who have migrated to Tibet from outside, including Chinese people.
Tibet Times has learned that even though the Chinese government will issue hukou, or household registeration, to returning Tibetans after a few years, the treatment of the returnees when it comes to the issuance of documentation such as a benefit card (ཐོབ་ཐང་དཔང་ཡིག) or resident certificate (གཏན་སྡོད་ལག་ཁྱེར་) varies from region to region. The returnees are also put through prolonged sessions of interrogation and frequent calls for further questioning, while also made to participate in political re-education sessions under the pretext of giving advice and counsel.