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Major religious festival cancelled and new police checkpoints at Larung Gar

November 3, 2017

  • A major religious festival, the prayer gathering Dechen Shedrub, has been cancelled at Larung Gar institute despite earlier assurances that it would go ahead, according to Tibetan sources. The new development follows the demolition of monastic residences, expulsion of thousands of monks and nuns and the imposition of direct Communist Party control at one of the world’s leading Buddhist institutes in Serthar (Chinese: Serta), Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan.
  • Checkpoints have been set up on the approach to Larung Gar, indicating the tightened security following the wave of demolitions and the appointment of Chinese Communist Party members to key positions at the institute, the world’s largest center of Buddhist study and ethics, according to new information received by the International Campaign for Tibet.
  • Recent construction work confirms that the Chinese authorities are using the development of tourism as a tool to counter cultural resilience and monastic influence, as the CCP seeks to impose more stringent restrictions in its stated aim of ‘Sinicizing religion’, emphasized at the 19th Party Congress and following the imposition of new religious regulations across the PRC.
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Xi Jinping cements grip on power at Party Congress: new leaders revealed and their influence on Tibet policy

November 1, 2017

  • China’s 19th Party Congress came to a close last week, revealing a new leadership committee and breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to Party Secretary and President Xi Jinping. The new configuration cements Xi Jinping’s grip on power for the next five years and potentially beyond, with Xi’s ideology approved for incorporation into the Party Constitution as ‘Xi Jinping thought’.
  • In his marathon three and a half hour work report to the Party Congress, Xi Jinping underlined his determination not to allow “to separate any part of Chinese territory from China”, a political term linked to the crushing of dissent and enforcement of compliance to Party rule.
  • Among the new figures on China’s top Politburo Standing Committee, the seven leaders who now govern China, is an official who served in a Tibetan area, Zhao Leji, and was active in the “political struggle against the Dalai Lama”, according to the state media. Another among the seven, Wang Huning, has maintained a close involvement with Tibet and is also likely to be extremely influential on policy.
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New developments in China’s Tibet policy as Communist Party’s 19th Congress begins

October 17, 2017

  • Since Xi Jinping assumed power at the last Party Congress in 2012, there have been significant developments in China’s Tibet policy, reflecting its prominence to the Communist Party leadership as an issue that is integral to China’s territorial concerns, the future of China’s economic expansion and the legitimacy of the CCP itself.
  • China has dramatically tightened control in Tibet in advance of
    the 19th Party Congress in Beijing from October 18. Massed ranks of troops and special forces gathered in Lhasa and other cities in the Tibet Autonomous Region for intimidating military drills in which soldiers swore allegiance to “protecting the 19th Party Congress”. Despite the already oppressive measures in place, the leadership in Tibet has emphasized even stricter ‘rectification’ with grassroots Party organisations warned to be even more “effective battle fortresses”.
  • The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has been closed to foreigners during the Party Congress. Tibetans have been further isolated from the outside world due to more systematic blocking of communications, creating dangers even in innocent family conversations in the buildup to the meeting in Beijing, and are being subjected to more intrusive ideological campaigns.
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New US report highlights China’s repressive policies in Tibet

October 5, 2017

The Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) has released its 2017 Annual Report and recommendations for the Administration’s China policy in which it has said that the Chinese Communist Party and government continued implementing repressive policies in Tibet through the use of extensive and intrusive surveillance, strict regulations and rules to restrict Tibetans’ fundamental rights, and pervasive displays of police and military force.

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On eve of Germany’s Elections, Political Parties commit to support Dalai Lama and Tibet

September 20, 2017

Ahead of the 2017 Federal German Election scheduled for Sunday, 24 September, political parties currently represented in the parliament, the Bundestag, responded to questions on Tibet posed to them by the International Campaign for Tibet Germany, the Tibet Initiative Germany and the Association of Tibetans in Germany.

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), DIE LINKE (The Left) and Alliance 90/ The Greens responded to 11 questions reaffirming their support to encouraging dialogue on Tibet. They were specifically asked about policy plans to advocate for human rights in Tibet, Tibet’s environment and direct dialogue between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government — in the Federal parliament, by means of official representations with the People’s Republic of China, and through international forums.

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China’s revised religious regulations threaten survival of Tibetan Buddhism

September 18, 2017

  • Revised Chinese government regulations on religion consolidate far-reaching powers of the Communist Party state over people’s lives and beliefs, and are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.
  • The revised rules on religious activity, issued by the Chinese State Council on September 7, 2017, conflate peaceful religious practice with ‘threats’ to China’s security, creating a more dangerous political environment for monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists, isolating them further from their counterparts outside China.
  • According to a newly revised provision of the regulation – and in an apparent attempt to use religion to achieve political goals of the Communist Party – religious groups are now bound to practice “core socialist values.”
  • The Chinese state media also announced a focus on the ‘Sinicization’ of religion, stating: “The direction of religions is to integrate them with Chinese culture” (Global Times, September 7, 2017). The Buddhist community is one of the main targets of ‘Sinicization’ of religion, which represents a more far-reaching effort to mould and shape Tibetan Buddhism to the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party in line with a more entrenched regulatory framework that has already deepened religious oppression over the last decade.
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High-level Chinese visit to Nepal highlights difficulties for Tibetan community

August 28, 2017

A visit to Nepal by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang from August 14 to17, 2017 – the highest level Chinese visit to Kathmandu since Premier Wen Jiaobao visited in 2012 – further strengthened economic and political ties with the new Kathmandu government. Combined with an agreement last month between Nepal and China to ensure cooperation in border law enforcement, and Nepal formally joining Xi Jinping’s ambitious ‘One Belt One Road’ plan, the developments point to a contracting space and dangers for Tibetans in Nepal as the Nepalese authorities deepen their relationship with their more powerful neighbor.

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New US report says traditional monastic system continued to decline in Tibet

Reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention, and arbitrary arrest of people due to their religious practice

August 15, 2017

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which was released on August 15, 2017 by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, says the Chinese “authorities engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries”.

The report says, “Across the Tibetan Plateau there were reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention, and arbitrary arrest of people due to their religious practice, as well as forced expulsions from monasteries, restrictions on religious gatherings, and destruction of monastery related dwellings, according to media reporting and human rights organizations.”

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‘Now the Lapis Lazuli vase is smashed’: Tibetan intellectuals on the death of Liu Xiaobo

August 10, 2017

Tibetan intellectuals have posted moving tributes online to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, whose death on July 13, 2017 was condemned worldwide. “In a free country, such a man would be cherished as dearly as the eyes on our foreheads and hearts in our chests, but instead […] he was smashed on the rocks and broken into pieces,” wrote one.

Immediately following his death, a number of Tibetan writers posted emotional tributes to Liu Xiaobo, whose wife Liu Xia, is still missing. Most of the writers refer to him by a Tibetan term meaning of ‘great’ or ‘noble’ birth, with one blogger likening him to a bodhisattva.

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First Tibetan self-immolation in Dharamsala

July 31, 2017

A charred body was found near the Dalai Lama’s temple in Dharamsala on Saturday (July 29), with one eyewitness reporting seeing a man in flames near the pilgrimage route. It is the first self-immolation in Dharamsala, India, base of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration.

The man has been identified as Dhondup (also known as Passang Dhondup) a wood painter at Norbulingka Institute, near Dharamsala. The 49-year old man was born in Gyantse (Chinese: Jiangzi) in Tibet and had arrived in India in 1991 and had been working in Norbulingka institute from 2012, according to Tibetan media.

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Tibetan student in India self-immolates

July 14, 2017

A young Tibetan student in India set himself on fire today in the compound of his university in Varanasi, shouting ‘Victory for Tibet’.

Tenzin Choeying, aged around 20, survived but was badly burnt and is now in hospital, according to Tibetans and other eyewitnesses in Varanasi.

Tenzin Choeying doused himself with kerosene and set fire to himself at around 9 am in the entrance of a residential hall at the Central University for Tibetan Studies today, according to eyewitnesses.

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Images of Tibetan flag and tight security in Ngaba circulate online

July 14, 2017

A Tibetan flag was displayed briefly on July 12, 2017 from a building in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) from a street, which is being referred to by Tibetans as “Heroes” (or Martyrs) Street due to the high number of Tibetans who have self-immolated and demonstrated there.

Images and footage of the flag, which is banned in Tibet, circulated online, indicating a determination to send a message of resistance despite the crackdown in the area.

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European Parliament calls for the release of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and regrets that failure of the EU to deliver an Item 4 Statement at the UN’s Human Rights Council

July 7, 2017

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on July 6, 2017 calling on the Chinese government to immediately release the ailing Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia from house arrest and to seek medical treatment “wherever they wish”.

The resolution called “on the Chinese Government to release, immediately and unconditionally, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia from house arrest and allow him to obtain medical treatment wherever they wish.” It also urged “the Chinese authorities to allow Lui Xiaobo unrestricted access to family, friends, and legal counsel”.

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ICT Chairman Richard Gere visits Washington, D.C. to engage Members of Congress on Tibet; Attends observation of the Dalai Lama’s birthday on Capitol Hill

June 30, 2017

International Campaign for Tibet Board Chairman Richard Gere came down to Washington, D.C. for the third time this year to continue and deepen ICT’s engagement with Members of Congress on initiatives for Tibet, as well as to participate in a celebration of the Dalai Lama’s 82nd birthday on Capitol Hill.

During this visit, which took place on June 27 and 28, 2017, Gere took the opportunity to brief the Members on the situation in Tibet, on the vision and efforts of the Dalai Lama to solve the Tibetan issue, and on the importance of continued United States support to the Tibetan people.

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Senator Feinstein asks China’s Global Times to retract its threat to UC San Diego for inviting Dalai Lama

June 22, 2017

Dianne Feinstein, the prominent and influential US Senator from California, said the recent Global Times editorial threatening the University of California San Diego and Chancellor Pradeep Khosla is unconscionable and asked it to retract the report earlier today (June 22, 2017). The Global Times is a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece and propaganda outlet.

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Congress calls on Trump Administration to implement statutory obligation by appointing a US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues

June 22, 2017

As the Trump Administration prepares to name the next level of officials for the State Department, 37 members of Congress have written to President Trump reminding him of his statutory obligation, established under the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, to appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. The letter begins: “As members of the United States Congress, we write to urge you to appoint the position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the US Department of State as soon as possible.”

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Mélanie Blondelle

UN Human Rights Council urged to call on China to grant independent and impartial access to Tibet

June 15, 2017

In a statement delivered at the 35th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today, ICT’s Mélanie Blondelle, speaking on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR), expressed distress at the continuing wave of self-immolations in Tibet. She urged “the Council to call on China to grant independent and impartial monitors unfettered access to Tibet, as agreed to by China following its 2013 Universal Periodic Review”.

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Virginia Lt. Governor candidate reaches out to Tibetan Americans in the state

June 7, 2017

A candidate for Virginia’s Lt. Governor has issued a statement reaching out to the Tibetan-American community in Virginia. The race is reported to be especially tightly contested this year.

Gene Rossi, who is campaigning to be a Democratic candidate for the Lt. Governor race, has posted a statement on Facebook on June 6, 2017, in which he has said: “As Lt. Governor, I want to make sure we recognize the important contributions of our Tibetan-American neighbors. I look forward to inviting His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit with us in Richmond, and plan to work with legislators to recognize a Tibet Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

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