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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.

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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.”

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ICT Welcomes UN experts call for immediate release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk

February 21, 2018

Six UN human rights experts have called for the immediate release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. In a statement released today, the experts “expressed serious concern over the ruling by a Chinese court to uphold charges of ‘incitement to separatism’ brought against a human rights activist who appeared in a documentary calling for linguistic and cultural rights in Tibet.” The experts from various fields of human rights expertise said “all of the charges levelled against Tashi Wangchuk (…) should be dropped”. In unusual strong language, the experts “condemn the continued detention of Mr. Wangchuk and the criminalization of his freedom of expression as well as his right to stand and speak up for what he perceives as human rights violations in his region and country”.

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Fears for extent of damage after major fire at sacred Jokhang Temple during Tibetan New Year

February 18, 2018

  • There are fears that a major fire might have damaged the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, one of the holiest and ancient sites in Tibet, on the second day of the Tibetan New Year (Losar). Videos posted online showed flames shooting from the direction of the roof of the seventh-century temple on Saturday (February 17); Tibetans could be heard weeping and praying.
  • Damage may be more widespread than the authorities acknowledge, and reports that communications are being blocked and posts about the fire on social media deleted, consistent with the oppressive political climate in Lhasa. Thousands of pilgrims are currently in Tibet’s capital for New Year.
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ICT and FIDH ask EU to urge for Access to Tibet as it observes 2018 EU-China Tourism Year

February 15, 2018

On the occasion of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY), which was launched in January in Venice, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) have written to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and to the European Union High Representative, Federica Mogherini, to express a number of concerns in relation to the promotion of tourism in Tibet.

The letter, dated February 14, 2018, highlights amongst others the lack of access to Tibet for foreigners (when Chinese tourists enjoy free and open access to the EU), the restrictions imposed on Tibetans’ freedom of movement and the lack of involvement of Tibetans in the decision-making process of tourism policies and projects. It also raises a number of questions and recommendations to EU leaders, and urges them to extend the notion of reciprocity -a notion promoted by the EU with regards to its trade relationship with China- to “the respect for fundamental rights, including the freedom of movement and the freedom of information of European citizens in China and Tibet”.

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Chinese police circular urges public to report on loyalty to ‘evil forces’ of Dalai Lama

February 13, 2018

  • Chinese police have issued a circular urging the public to inform on people they suspect of being loyal to the Dalai Lama and his “evil forces” across Tibet. According to the Chinese state media, the circular is aimed at deterring the “gangsters” that “the Dalai group uses to spreading its message of separatism.”
  • The circular on “illegal behavior” was posted on February 7, a month before the politically sensitive March 10 anniversary period, when the Tibet Autonomous Region is closed to foreigners. This year marks a decade since overwhelmingly peaceful protests swept across Tibet in 2008, with many demonstrators calling upon the Chinese government to allow the Dalai Lama to return home.
  • Underlining the hostile anti-Dalai Lama message it seeks to send to the world, the Chinese state media also made a harsh critique of the German company Daimler this week despite the auto-maker already apologizing twice to China for using a quote by the Dalai Lama to advertise Mercedes-Benz on Instagram.
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Tibetans in Tibet and in exile appeal to Chinese courts over use of Tibetan language, express support for Tashi Wangchuk

February 12, 2018

  • A group of Tibetans has written to the Supreme Court expressing their concern about the failure by regional courts to use the Tibetan language, which they state contravenes the Chinese Constitution. In a rare and bold step, the appeal letter, published on the Tibetan-language website Trimleng, an important forum for discussion particularly on legal and policy issues affecting Tibetans in Tibet, is signed with the names of 117 Tibetans who are both in Tibet and in exile.
  • The appeal is also a carefully-worded expression of support for businessman and shopkeeper Tashi Wangchuk, who was imprisoned in January, 2016, following the release of a New York Times video[1] profiling his efforts to request additional Tibetan language classes at schools in his home area of Yushul (Yushu) in Qinghai.
  • A group of 15 internationally known scholars and professors on Tibet, from France, the UK, US, Czech Republic, Canada and Australia called for clemency for Tashi Wangchuk in a letter published in the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong on February 8 (2018).[2] This follows expressions of concern and support for Tashi Wangchuk from German[3] and Latvian[4] Parliamentarians, and an emergency resolution by the European Parliament.[5]
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Release from prison of Tibetan writer monk Gartse Jigme

February 8, 2018

A Tibetan writer and monk, popularly known as Gartse Jigme, has been released on February 4, 2018 after serving just over five years in prison for his books on the situation in Tibet and suffering of the Tibetan people.

Images emerged on social media of Gartse Jigme draped in khatags (Tibetan greeting scarves) by fellow monks after his return home to Tsekhog (Chinese: Zeke) county in Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture), Qinghai, in the Tibetan area of Amdo. He was said to be frail although in reasonable health.

Gartse Jigme, who was arrested in January 2013 following a raid on his monastic quarters, began his writing career in 1999 after study for a monastic degree. He had been under constant surveillance and detained a number of occasions since the publication of his second book in 2008, called ‘Courage of the Tibetan King” (‘Tsanpoe Nyingtop’ བཙན་པོའི་སྙིང་སྟོབས), a collection of essays in the Tibetan language about the political situation in Tibet since the March, 1959 Uprising and the protests that swept across Tibet in 2008. In one essay, translated into English by ICT, Gartse Jigme, who is in his early 40s, wrote: “When I think about these things, it seems to me that the political protests in many places in central Tibet, Kham and Amdo this year [2008] were not organized by the Dalai Lama but were the inevitable expression of the pain stored up for so long in the minds of Tibetans young and old.”

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Tibetan who survived more than 20 years imprisonment disappears after bold protest for peace

February 8, 2018

A Tibetan, who is a former prisoner who continued to protest while in prison despite being subjected to the most severe torture, has been detained again after apparently carrying out a solo demonstration outside the Potala Palace in Lhasa on January 28, 2018.

According to exile sources, Lodoe Gyatso, who has served over 20 years in prison and had a death sentence commuted, is again in detention after he released a video announcing his intention to carry out a peaceful protest. A video message by Lodoe Gyatso was posted by Voice of America Tibetan service showing Lodoe Gyatso (also known as Sogkar Lodoe based on his home county of Sog) dressed in pristine white Tibetan garment speaking to camera.[1]

Lodoe announces in the video (an English translation of the message is included at the end of this report) his plan of staging a protest calling for world peace, describing his action as part of a long campaign of non-violent Tibetan protest. A Tibetan source told Radio Free Asia that Lodoe Gyatso is now being held in custody in his home county of Sog (Chinese: Suo) in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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German MPs call for release of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk

January 29, 2018

Two members of the German Parliament (The Bundestag), have called for the release of detained Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who currently awaits the outcome of his trial in Yulshul (Chinese: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (the Tibetan area of Kham in Qinghai Province).

The two parliamentarians, Claudia Roth and Maria Klein-Schmeink (both members of the Green Party group in the Bundestag) have sent an open letter to the Chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, on January 26, 2018. In it, they urged him “to take effective measures to ensure Tashi Wangchuk’s freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” The letter goes on to “demand Tashi Wangchuk’s immediate release and the termination of proceedings as long as there is no legally valid evidence to substantiate the accusations against Tashi Wangchuk.”

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French Senators Call for Fair and Transparent Judgement Process for Tibetan Language Advocate Tashi Wangchuk

January 23, 2018

Fourteen members of the French Senate have issued a statement calling on the Chinese Government to observe international legal standards and provide Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk with a fair and transparent judgement process. They asked that “Tashi Wangchuk enjoy access to a lawyer of his choice and that he be given access to his family on a regular basis.”

Tashi Wangchuk’s trial was held on January 4, 2018. According to his lawyer, Tashi Wangchuk pleaded not guilty, and no verdict has yet been returned. Lawyer Liang Xiaojun also said that a judge heard oral arguments for four hours and will issue a verdict at an unspecified date.

Following is the translation of the statement in French, issued by the International Information Tibet Group of the French Senate:

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Tibet raised in US House of Representatives debate on China’s Strategy to Accrue Global Power

January 19, 2018

The US House of Representatives saw a discussion on the night of January 18, 2018 under the Special Order session that highlighted the situation in Tibet and the need to pass pending legislations relating to it as a way to China’s onslaught on American society.

The discussion was at the initiative of Representative Ted Yoho, Chairman of the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee on House Foreign Affairs Committee. The subcommittee had organized a hearing on Tibet on December 6, 2017.

While Members of Congress wanted good relations with China the discussion saw them expressing concern at China’s increasing attempt to subvert American society. As Mr. Yoho said in his remarks, “…China has grown to become a revisionist power—not rising within the current order, but seeking to change, subvert, or coerce it to suit China’s end—not playing by the rules, but rewriting the rules to suit the needs of China.”

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Marriott Hotels’s statement on Tibet raises serious concerns for endorsing Chinese government’s propaganda

January 17, 2018

Following Chinese government’s objection to its labelling of Tibet (amongst others) on a survey drop-down menu under “countries” the President of Marriott, Arne Sorenson, issued a statement on January 11, 2018 in which it said, “…we don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.”

The International Campaign for Tibet is seriously concerned and feels inappropriate for a multinational corporation to have a political position on a future of a community.

The right of people to self-determination is a cardinal principle that is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We have therefore written to Mr. Sorenson expressing our concern and saying that since he has opined on the political future of the Tibetan people, he should also state his position on the universally acknowledged human rights violations suffered by the Tibetan people under the rule of the Chinese government. Failing to do so would mean endorsing the Chinese government political propaganda on Tibet.

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Trial of Tibetan language advocate today ends without known verdict

January 4, 2018

The trial today of a Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who appeared in a New York Times video documentary, received global attention as he and his Chinese lawyer refuted charges of ‘separatism’.

In unprecedented scenes in the courtroom in Yushu, Qinghai, the New York Times video was shown in which Tashi Wangchuk is seen travelling to Beijing to present an appeal about the rights of Tibetans to speak and learn their own language. Tashi Wangchuk and his lawyer pleaded not guilty, and no verdict has yet been returned.

Tashi Wangchuk’s lawyer Liang Xiaojun said in a microblog today (January 4, 2018) that a judge heard oral arguments for four hours and will issue a verdict at an unspecified date. Liang Xiaojun also posted a summary of the case by the authorities at Yushu People’s Intermediate Court, Qinghai, which stated that in the video documentary, Tashi Wangchuk had “intentionally attacked” the Chinese government, and “incited ethnic hatred”. The statement also said that the New York Times video had conveyed a “negative image” of the Chinese authorities to the world.

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Young Tibetan man dies after self-immolation in Ngaba

December 27, 2017

A young Tibetan man called Konpe set fire to himself on December 23 (2017) and died in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), close to the site of the first self-immolation in Tibet eight years ago. In a harrowing video circulating online, a woman can be heard calling out, “Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama], grace us with your compassionate gaze.”

Konpe, who was aged around 30, was taken away immediately by police. By the morning of December 24 he had died, according to two monks from Kirti monastery in exile in Dharamsala, India.

The two Kirti monks, Kanyag Tsering and Losang Yeshe, said that it was not known what Konpe had shouted as he was on fire, at around 6 pm on December 23. They also said that his father had been detained by the authorities in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang), because officials said that tens of thousands of yuan had been spent on medical treatment for Konpe.

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Dhondup Wangchen arrives safely in the United States

International Campaign for Tibet welcomes former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen to freedom and safety

December 27, 2017

The International Campaign for Tibet strongly welcomes the news that Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen has been able to leave his homeland and reunite with his wife and children in the United States.

Despite having served his prison sentence, Dhondup continued to be limited in his freedom of movement, but was finally able to overcome those challenges, leave Tibet and pursue his deeply held desire to reunite with his family.

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Tibetans observe major Buddhist festival despite intimidating presence of Chinese troops

December 18, 2017

Despite intense security with massed ranks of armed paramilitary forces, Tibetans gathered in large numbers last week across Tibet to mark an important Buddhist festival, Ganden Ngachoe, which marks the death anniversary of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist Master Tsongkhapa, the 14th-century founder of Tibet’s largest Buddhist school, the Gelug. The Dalai Lamas belong to the Gelug school. This festival has been observed in Lhasa over the past few years and can be described as a ‘Festival of Light’ as lighting of butter-lamps is an integral part of its observance.

The gatherings for the festival, including at monasteries in eastern Tibet that have been subject to heavy repression, are consistent with a pattern of large numbers of Tibetans marking prayer festivals at religious sites over the last few years despite an intimidating security presence and increasingly pervasive ‘grass roots’ restrictions and surveillance. This trend, demonstrating a spirit of strong resilience and determination to express Tibetan religious identity, is documented in these images of Tibetans gathering on the evening of the Ganden Ngachoe, which fell this year on December 12.

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Congressman Jim McGovern Asks China to affirm the right of the 14th Dalai Lama to return to his homeland

December 14, 2017

US Representative Jim McGovern delivered a speech on the Dalai Lama and Tibet during the special order period in the House of Representatives on December 14, 2017 afternoon. Under the subject of “Let His Holiness the Dalai Lama Go Home”, Representative McGovern said:

“Mr. Speaker, this week people all around the world are commemorating Human Rights Day, the annual celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Article 13 of the Declaration affirms that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

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