Archive | ICT Reports RSS feed for this section

Trump administration’s first Tibet Negotiations Report to Congress reflects the absence of a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues

June 6, 2018

The State Department has submitted a report to Congress detailing the steps taken by the Trump Administration in 2017 to encourage dialogue between envoys of the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan issue, in line with the requirements of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.

The report, a first by the Trump administration, says, “The U.S. Government remains concerned by the lack of meaningful autonomy for Tibetans within China, ongoing violations and abuses of the human rights of Tibetans in China, and efforts by Chinese authorities to eliminate the distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans. The United States believes the Chinese government must address these concerns to create conditions for a sustainable settlement, which is essential to the long-term stability of the region.”

Acknowledging Tibet’s importance on a regional level, the report states the U.S. government “believes that a negotiated outcome that results in meaningful autonomy for Tibetans, and ensures they are able to practice freely their religion, culture, and language, provides the best hope for long-term stability in the region.”

Read full story Comments are closed

State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 says China Continues to deny Religious Freedom in Tibet

May 29, 2018

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 states that in the Tibetan areas, the Chinese “authorities continued to engage in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. There were reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention without trial, and arrests of individuals due to their religious practices. Travel restrictions hindered traditional religious practices and pilgrimages.”

The report, released in Washington, DC on May 29, 2018, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom states that the “primary sources of grievances among Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns included the requirement that all monks under the age of 18, who are legally unable to join monasteries and Buddhist religious institutions, undergo “patriotic education”; strict controls over religious practice; and intrusive surveillance of many monasteries and nunneries, including the permanent installation of CCP and public security officials and overt camera surveillance systems at religious sites and monasteries.”

Read full story Comments are closed

Climate of total 24-hour surveillance as restrictions intensified for Tibetan Buddhist festival in Lhasa

May 25, 2018

The Chinese authorities are imposing unprecedented restrictions this year for the Saga Dawa (the holy fourth month for the Tibetan Buddhists) in Lhasa, with officials on 24-hour watch for Tibetans engaging in devotional activities, according to the Chinese state media.

China does not allow Tibetans who are Communist Party members to take part in religious activities, but this year the ruling is being enforced much more strictly than before in a political climate of total surveillance. An announcement on May 25, 2018 by the Chinese English-language Global Times stated that this year there is “enhanced supervision of order and public security during the festival by assigning officials 24 hours a day and prohibiting Party members from taking part in the Saga Dawa religious activities”. Also, an order in eastern Tibet asked parents not to participate in or take their children to monasteries or religious events during this period.

A professor at Tibet University, Xiong Kunxin, was cited by Global Times as saying that the security measures, which were already rigorous, “have improved, especially in important and crowded places during the festival such as the Potala Palace.” The Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is of profound significance as a place of pilgrimage during the entire month of Saga Dawa, on the 15th of which the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha is believed to have taken place.

Read full story Comments are closed

Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk sentenced to five years in prison

May 22, 2018

Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years in prison today, accused of ‘separatism’ after appearing in a New York Times video speaking of the importance of protecting Tibetans’ ‘mother tongue’.

The verdict, handed down by a court in Yushu, Qinghai, today (May 22) signals China’s harsh and extreme approach to Tibetan culture and the criminalization of moderate, peaceful efforts within Chinese law to protect the use of Tibetan language.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “This could not be a clearer and more absurd indication of the extremist position of the current Chinese leadership, in which Tashi Wangchuk was condemned ultimately for seeking to speak his own language, and expressing his concern about a future when Tibetan children might not be able to do so. In this case, minority rights outlined in China’s Constitution were on trial, and the outcome reflects the emptiness of China’s claims to protect Tibetan language and culture.”

Read full story Comments are closed

Tibetan prisoner released after more than a decade in prison following 2008 protests

May 18, 2018

A Tibetan who participated in the March 2008 protests in Lhasa has returned home two months after the end of a decade-long prison sentence.

Dashar, from Sershul in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), the Tibetan area of Kham, was imprisoned in Lhasa charged with involvement in protests on March 10, 2008, beginning a wave of demonstrations that swept across Tibet prior to the Beijing Olympics that summer.

He was due for release on March 15 but was not released until this week. Dashar’s daughter, who lives in exile, confirmed his release and his welcome home by Tibetans with ceremonial scarves. Details about his state of health are also not known; most released prisoners need thorough checkups and often many months of medical care.

Read full story Comments are closed

Monks who studied in India banned from teaching in Tibet; new ruling bans schoolchildren from religious activity

May 17, 2018

  • Highly educated Tibetan monks who studied in India are being banned from teaching Buddhism when they return home to the Lithang area in eastern Tibet. The new ruling by the Chinese authorities is an indication of China’s denial of religious freedom to Tibetan Buddhists who seek to receive teachings from qualified masters, as monks who have studied in India are highly valued for their deep understanding of the teachings. It is also a chilling signal of the Communist Party’s intentions of eradicating the Dalai Lama’s influence and using religion as an instrument to achieve hardline political objectives.
  • In another alarming measure, the Chinese authorities have prohibited Tibetan schoolchildren in the Tibet Autonomous Region from engaging in traditional devotional practices during the holy Buddhist month of Saga Dawa, which began yesterday (May 16).
Read full story Comments are closed

USCIRF report recommends re-designating China as a Country of Particular Concern and advocates for passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

April 27, 2018

In a scathing annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that Tibet under Chinese rule has increasingly come to resemble a police state. The Commission recommends that the United States government re-designate China as a Country of Particular Concern, use the Global Magnitsky Act against Chinese officials and agencies responsible for human rights abuses, appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and pass the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act.

Characterizing China’s strategies towards Tibet as ones of “antagonism and hostility,” the Commission describes pervasive controls on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and heightened interference at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, culminating in the eviction of almost 5,000 monks and nuns. The report covers China’s increasingly concerted efforts to isolate the Dalai Lama and punish Tibetans for expressing loyalty to him:

Read full story Comments are closed

French President Macron’s statement on the Dalai Lama and Tibet

April 26, 2018

George Washington University – On April 25, 2018 French President Emmanuel Macron, on his first official visit to the United States, held a town hall question and answer session with George Washington University students in the U.S. capital. One student raised a question on a possible meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, leading to the following exchange:

Question: Hello President Macron. Thank you for being here, we welcome you. My name is Walter James, I am a Senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs. In 2016, the Dalai Lama made an official visit to France, but President Holland did not meet with him, nor any member of the French government. Given Beijing’s repression of Tibet and its persecution of the current Dalai Lama, who’s exiled in India, and given France and EU’s positive relations with the PRC, would you meet with the Dalai Lama if he were to return to France?

Read full story Comments are closed

State Department notes ‘severe’ repression in Tibet in 2017 Human Rights Report

April 20, 2018

The State Department’s latest Human Rights Report, released on April 20, 2018, documents pervasive repression and high levels of deployments by the paramilitary People’s Armed Police in Tibet. Among other issues, the report tracks the many fronts Chinese authorities have opened in their attacks on the Dalai Lama, including strengthened punishments for Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members who secretly harbor religious beliefs, and the detention of Tibetans who express support for him.

“The U.S. report on the situation of human rights in Tibet confirms the information that the International Campaign for Tibet has been gathering about the deteriorating situation in Tibet,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “This message from the Administration complements a series of legislations before the United States Congress, including the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, and their approval would strengthen the call for human rights in Tibet,” Mecacci added.

Examining the ethnic dynamics of Chinese rule in Tibet, the report notes that ethnic Chinese CCP members hold “the overwhelming majority of top party, government, police, and military positions” in Tibet, and that on the national level, none of the members of the CCP Politburo or the Standing Committee of the Communist Party are Tibetan.

Read full story Comments are closed

Sweden charges Tibetan with espionage for Chinese government, highlighting pressures on exile communities

April 19, 2018

In the first known case of a Western government bringing criminal charges against a Tibetan accused of espionage, Sweden has indicted a 49-year old man for spying on Tibetans in exile for the Chinese government. The case, which will be the subject of a court trial, highlights the threats to Tibetan communities all over the world as China continues to intensify both its heavy securitization and surveillance mechanisms in Tibet and its overseas influence operations.

While it is known that Tibetans are informed upon across the Tibetan diaspora, particularly due to the heightened and more systematic activity of China’s United Front Work Department, this is the first time that a Western government has brought criminal charges against a Tibetan. In 2010, in a linked investigation, Sweden sentenced a Uighur man who had been caught informing on other Uighurs to a year and ten months in prison – the highest penalty ever for an intelligence case of this kind in Sweden.

In a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday (April 11), state prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist described the Chinese government as a “totalitarian regime”, telling the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that: “This is a very serious crime. Espionage affects very vulnerable people. People who have escaped to Sweden from totalitarian regimes must feel safe to enjoy their basic freedoms, such as the right to protest against a regime without their relatives being put at risk.”

Read full story Comments are closed

Congressional Delegation visits Dharamsala, meets Dalai Lama and Tibetan leadership

April 6, 2018

A US Congressional Delegation composed of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and accompanied by staffers from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the US Embassy in India concluded a three-day visit to Dharamsala, by meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the morning of April 6, 2018.

The Dalai Lama welcomed the delegation and thanked the United States Congress and government for their decades-long support for the Tibetan cause. This support, he added, provides inspiration not only to the Tibetan people, but also for communities that are battling oppression all around the world. The Dalai Lama reaffirmed his commitment to the preservation of Tibetan culture and identity as they can provide benefit not only to Tibetans, but also to the entire world.

Following the meeting, Representative Ros-Lehtinen expressed her feelings in a tweet saying, “Blessed to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala. It was great to listen to his wisdom, knowledge and compassion. I reaffirmed my support and that of the US Congress for the people of Tibet. Beijing should listen to him too!”

Read full story Comments are closed

Photo with Tibetan flag led to Tibetan activist’s 10-day detention in Nepal

March 28, 2018

A Tibetan activist in Nepal was detained for nearly 10 days by Nepalese police and threatened with deportation after he posted a picture of himself with a Tibetan flag on Facebook in early March, and wrote to international embassies in Kathmandu about human rights concerns in Tibet. There are increasing dangers for Tibetans in Nepal as the Nepalese authorities deepen their relationship with China, with rumors of a high-level Chinese delegation visit to Kathmandu soon.

Three days after posting the image, the Tibetan activist, Adak, was near the Boudha stupa in Kathmandu when he was approached by police, he told ICT. They showed him the photograph and when he confirmed that it was his picture in response to their query, they took him into custody. Adak, who is in his early forties, said that he was slapped and kicked in the process but was not further beaten in custody. He said that police threatened to deport him to Tibet. Prior to his arrest at Boudha, Adak had also taken photographs of police at a nearby Buddhist monastery, according to Nepalese human rights supporters who helped to facilitate his release.

Read full story Comments are closed

Tibetan man dies after self-immolation; oppressive measures intensified in March 10 anniversary week

March 7, 2018

A Tibetan man in his forties, Tsekho Tugchak, set fire to himself and died today (March 7) in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), eastern Tibet, the first self-immolation in Tibet this year. It is the 153rd self-immolation in Tibet, and happens at a time of intense securitization across Tibet in the buildup to the sensitive anniversary of the March 10 Uprising in 1959, and the tenth anniversary of protests that swept across Tibet in 2008 on the same date.

Graphic images circulated online of Tsekho Tugchak’s blackened body, lying on the ground, his arms outstretched. He was from a nomadic village in Meeruma township in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, the Tibetan area of Amdo. The last Tibetan to set fire to himself, Konpe, was also from Ngaba, and set himself on fire on December 23, 2017, close to the area of the first self-immolation in Tibet in February, 2009.[1]

Read full story Comments are closed

‘Wall of steel’ in Tibet with major military drill in buildup to March 10 anniversary

March 5, 2018

On the same day as a major prayer festival in Tibet on March 2 (2018), the Chinese authorities held a major military drill in Lhasa termed as a ‘wall of steel’ in the buildup to the sensitive political anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, March 10, in 1959. This week is also the tenth anniversary of a wave of overwhelmingly peaceful protests that swept across Tibet from March 10, 2008.

The joint military drill on March 2 (2018) consisted of a mass show of force of ‘combat-ready’ troops from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP), underlining the heavy militarization of Tibet and the political importance at the highest-levels in China of Tibet’s ‘stability’. In its extreme nature, this massive show of force – which has become an almost annual ritual at this time of year – is also an indicator of CCP anxieties over its authority in Tibet.

The military drills coincided with the mass presence of troops at prayer festivals in monasteries in eastern Tibet, giving the impression of a war zone. Despite the heavy show of force, thousands of Tibetan pilgrims still came to monasteries and religious sites to offer prayers.[1]

Read full story Comments are closed

Images of repression and resilience from Tibet on ‘Day of Miracles’

March 3, 2018

A major show of military force was in evidence today (March 2) during an important prayer festival at Kumbum monastery in eastern Tibet as Tibetan New Year (Losar) rituals draw to a close. Footage from Kumbum shows marching ranks of black-uniformed troops in riot gear, giving the impression of a war zone rather than a peaceful prayer festival, the Monlam Chenmo.

Footage and images circulating on social media showed celebrations of the Monlam Chenmo across the Tibetan area of Amdo over March 1 and 2 (2018), with a particularly strong military presence at the ancient Kumbum monastery (in present-day Qinghai), where thousands of devotees gather each year to offer prayers and view the famous butter sculptures.

Read full story Comments are closed

International NGOs urge Governments and UN to Act on China’s Human Rights Abuses, including in Tibet

February 26, 2018

A group of international NGOs, including the International Campaign for Tibet, has sent a private letter to a select UN member states about raising China’s human rights abuses at the UN Human Rights Council. The letter’s authors say, “The Human Rights Council should take further steps to show China that undermining key legal protections for freedoms of expression and association and the rights to a fair trial, not to mention disappearing or arbitrarily detaining dissenting voices, is unacceptable behaviour – especially for a would-be “global leader” “.

The letter highlighted five cases of human rights defenders, including that of Tibetan education advocate Tashi Wangchuk, which “show that the ferocious crackdown on human rights defenders, including lawyers, that has intensified since President Xi Jinping assumed power continues unabated’.

Read full story Comments are closed

U.S. committed to supporting the aspirations of the Tibetan people, says Under Secretary Steve Goldstein at State Department Losar Reception

February 23, 2018

The State Department hosted its annual reception for Losar, the Tibetan New Year, on February 20, 2018. Under Secretary Steve Goldstein and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel D. Brownback, addressed the gathering of Administration and Congressional staff, diplomats, NGO representatives, and members of the Tibetan American community. Representative Ngodup Tsering offered greetings on behalf of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration while Capital Area Tibetan Association President Namka Tenzin spoke on behalf of the Tibetan American community. Khenpo Samdup of the Drikung Dharma Chakra center offered the opening prayers of auspiciousness. There was Tibetan cultural performance by Karma Gyaltsen and Tashi Yangzom, and observance of Losar rituals, including the offering of traditional Chemar, Dresil, Kapse, and Chang.

Read full story Comments are closed

Amnesty International Says Tibetans continued to face discrimination and restrictions in 2017

February 22, 2018

A new Amnesty International Report says Tibetans continued to face discrimination and restrictions on their rights to freedom of religion and belief, of opinion and expression, of peaceful assembly and of association.

The Amnesty International Report 2017/18, released on February 22, 2018, documents the state of the world’s human rights in 159 countries and territories during 2017. The report said, “Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan education advocate, remained in detention awaiting trial at the end of the year, without access to his family.”

The report said that the Chinese Government “continued to draft and enact new laws under the guise of “national security” that presented serious threats to human rights.” It continued, “Activists and human rights defenders were detained, prosecuted and sentenced on the basis of vague and overbroad charges such as “subverting state power” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. Controls on the internet were strengthened. Repression of religious activities outside state-sanctioned churches increased.”

Read full story Comments are closed