A string of blogs from Tibet has accused Chinese local government officials of forcing Tibetans to wear their traditional clothes trimmed with proscribed animal products like tiger skin and otter fur. The reports have sparked an outcry among wildlife experts in India.
The officials, claim some blogs, were doing this to ensure people do not follow the Dalai Lama’s call to shun all traditional wear that have animal products.
One said the officials have threatened to shoot at people who do not wear the traditional dress or even have their salary deducted. A source in India claimed that Chinese local banks were also offering loans to buy the traditional dresses, expensive because they contain banned animal products.
The blogs, now blocked, carried pictures of official celebrations in Tibetan provinces with group dancers in the traditional dress chubba, trimmed with fur and tiger skin.
The Chinese embassy spokesperson in New Delhi, Li Hubin, said: “We do not have any knowledge (of such reports) and neither do we think this is possible. China respects international and national wildlife laws.”
Some excerpts of the blogs are available with HT. One of them by a well-known Tibetan writer says: “Among men and women performers from six counties of the Yushu prefecture, many are wearing Tibetan clothes trimmed with fur of otter, leopard and tiger. More than a dozen police (men) convoying them looked like some body guards were convoying those performers around the playground (sic).”
Information secretary of the Tibetan government in-exile Thubten Samphel said from Dharamsala: “The Chinese have particularly asked television broadcasters to wear clothes with animal skin.”
"There is pressure on locals to use wildlife attire. PETA has recent footage of fully operational farm furs in China,” said Anuradha Sawhney, the national coordinator of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Ashok Gupta, the vice-chairman of the Wildlife Trust of India, said from Dubai: “This is a serious allegation and needs to be verified. If true, it is a gross violation of not just international wildlife conventions but also Chinese wildlife laws."