Tibetans who want to travel outside China are finding it increasingly difficult to extract passports from Chinese officials, recent reports say – another result of Beijing’s crackdown on Tibetan dissenters.
“Hardly any” Tibetans have been able to get passports since new restrictions were introduced in April, forcing passport seekers to undergo much stricter vetting procedures than regular Chinese citizens, Radio Free Asia reported  recently.
The move was something of a bait-and-switch, notes the Washington Post : Tibetans were all told to turn in their passports, which would be replaced with electronic passports.
However, the new passports never showed up, and now many Tibetans are left without the documents, and thus unable to travel.
The move likely came about as a result of China’s crackdown on Tibet, following a restive year as Tibetans seeking freedom from the Chinese government continued a rash of self-immolation and protests – dramatic gestures that elicited much attention overseas.
According to Free Tibet’s website, which tracks self-immolation incidents, nearly a 100 Tibetans have set themselves  on fire since March 2011, including a number of incidents since this year.
“Since February or March of last year, there has been no issuing of new Chinese passports to Tibetans and those in the TAR were hit hard by the move,” said Office of Tibet in Taiwan researcher Sonam Dorjee to RFA.
The Tibet Justice Centre’s website notes  that the lack of passports has stymied efforts by Tibetan asylum-seekers Tibetans to reach the US and other nations by their lack of passports.