Then there are the thousands of Tibetans in Beijing. Tibetan college students have been told to go home this summer, while students at Tibetan schools are not allowed to leave the school premises. The Tibetan Studies Centre has given its staff a rare long holiday: even those we call “Tibetans hired by the imperial court”, meaning those on the government payroll, are not trusted. A Tibetan tour guide who I know was detained for a month, with no explanation whatsoever from the police.
A Tibetan artist friend was interrogated for a day because Buddhist scripture in Tibetan was found in his painting. My good friend Dechen Pemba, an ethnic Tibetan who was born in London and has been studying and working in Beijing, was deported back to the UK for reasons that were never fully explained.
As for me, if I stay in Beijing during the Olympics, I expect to be put under house arrest. So, should I go back to Lhasa? Friends and relatives there tell me: “You’d better wait until after the Olympics.”