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Lowell Thomas Jr.

Lowell Thomas, Jr., who brought Tibet alive for millions of Americans, passes away

October 7, 2016

Lowell Thomas, Jr., among the first Westerners to visit Tibet in the last century, passed away on October 1, 2016, just five days shy of his 93rd birthday. His trip to Tibet in 1949 resulted in scores of photographs, articles, radio programs and books that brought Tibet alive for millions of Americans. Lowell Thomas Jr. shaped this country’s views of Tibet at a critical time in Tibetan history and is one of the genuine grandfathers of the Tibet movement in America.

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Congressional Commission Report Urges for Respect of Human Rights and Implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002

October 6, 2016

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) issued today its 2016 annual report, which raised serious concerns about the human rights situation in China. In an OpEd published in the Wall Street Journal the Co-Chairs of the CECC, Representative Chris Smith and Senator Marco Rubio stated that “ Human-rights and rule-of-law conditions deteriorated again last year”.

Regarding the US government policy on Tibet the CECC stated that the United States “Administration and Congress should work together to press for unrestricted access to ethnic minority regions and to facilitate implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, including establishing a diplomatic office in Lhasa, encouraging development projects that comply with the Tibet Project Principles, and urging renewed dialogue between Chinese government officials and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.”

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Emotional video of nuns leaving Larung Gar as expulsions continue in ‘religious winter’

October 4, 2016

  • Video footage circulating on social media shows Tibetan Buddhist nuns sobbing as they gather for the departure of those forced to leave the Larung Gar religious institute in Serthar, eastern Tibet.
  • New information has emerged from the area confirming mass expulsions from the monastic community both at Larung Gar, one of the world’s largest Buddhist centers, and Yachen Gar, a religious encampment in remote grasslands also in Sichuan.
  • There is evidence of construction work and development of infrastructure at both sites, consistent with the Chinese authorities’ push to develop tourism based on promotion of Tibet as a location for spiritual seekers, at the same time as authentic Tibetan religious culture is undermined by official policy.
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Gangkye Drubpa Kyab

Two Tibetans, including well-known writer, detained just after release from prison

September 23, 2016

Two Tibetans, including a prominent writer, who had just been released after serving several years in prison have been detained again in the last few days, according to sources. Both Tibetans, writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab – who wrote a book on the protests in Tibet in 2008 – and 35-year old Samdrub, are from Serthar (Chinese: Seda) in Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Kham, eastern Tibet) in Sichuan.

Prominent Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, a teacher by profession, was released from prison and allowed to return home on September 16 (2016), a year before the end of his five and a half- year prison sentence. The next day, he was detained again and is back in detention, according to former political prisoner and monk Golok Jigme, who is based in Switzerland, and other Tibetan sources. Golog Jigme also reported that Samdrub was detained again on Sunday (September 18), less than a month after his release from prison after serving five years.

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lhamo, Mueller ,Isa

Tibet once again in the spotlight at United Nations in Geneva – High Commissioner and governments concerned while Tibetans and ICT call for rights at Human Rights Council session

September 20, 2016

Washington/Geneva – The 33rd session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva once again saw Tibet and China in the spotlight, as High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid prominently expressed concern with regard to human rights violations in the People’s Republic of China and urged the Chinese government to cooperate with United Nations institutions. In his opening statement, Zeid said with regard to China: “I am deeply concerned, however, over reports of continued harassment of human rights lawyers, human rights defenders and their family members, as well as allegations of discrimination, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and deaths in custody of members of ethnic and religious communities.” During the general debate, Slovakia on behalf of the European Union and Germany prominently raised the situation in Tibet while others such as the United States, the Czech Republic, France, Canada, Ireland and the UK expressed concern about the human rights situation in China in general.

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tashi wangchuk

Imprisoned Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk faces false ‘separatism’ charges

September 19, 2016

A Tibetan man imprisoned for his advocacy for Tibetan language depicted in a New York Times video interview still faces criminal charges, according to his lawyer, and police are pushing for a trial.

Tashi Wangchuk, 31, has been detained by police in his home area of Jyegudo (Chinese: Yushu) in Qinghai since January 27 (2016) following an interview with the New York Times on Tibetan culture and language, published as an article and video in November, 2015. He faces charges of ‘separatism’, although he has not advocated Tibetan independence, and has said that Tibet should have greater regional autonomy, especially in the issue of language, under Chinese governance. His lawyer, Liang Xiaojun said: “All he wants is to try to preserve Tibetan culture.”[1]

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Mass expulsions at globally renowned Buddhist institutes follow demolitions

September 15, 2016

  • News is emerging of mass expulsions of religious practitioners from two major religious institutes in eastern Tibet, following the demolition of monks’ and nuns’ homes that began in July at Larung Gar in Serthar, eastern Tibet. Footage of the demolitions at Larung Gar in August received by ICT depicts homes being razed by Chinese work teams with heavy equipment.
  • Around 1000 religious practitioners were compelled to leave another major monastic encampment, Yachen Gar, in Pelyul (Chinese: Beiyu) county, Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) prefecture, Sichuan, although demolitions have not been reported at Yachen Gar. This follows an order to families by officials from the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), stating that there would be severe consequences for those who did not recall their relatives from studying at the two religious institutes.
  • Three Tibetan nuns have committed suicide apparently linked to distress at the demolitions and restrictions at Larung Gar, which is one of the world’s largest monastic institutions with a population of thousands of Chinese and Tibetan practitioners.
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New Opinion Poll Finds 86% of French People want President Hollande to Meet the Dalai Lama on Eve of visit to France

September 12, 2016

A new poll conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) from September 6 to 7, 2016, on the eve of the Dalai Lama’s visit to France, finds that 86 per cent of the French public feels President François Hollande “has to officially receive the Dalai Lama in the name of Human Rights.”

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit France from September 12 to 18.

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Xi Jinping visit to Qinghai reveals strategic importance of Tibet’s water, minerals; highlights CCP’s advanced plans

  • The visit of China’s Party chief and President Xi Jinping to north-eastern Tibetan region in Qinghai, in August signalled its importance to the Chinese leadership’s well-advanced long-term plans. Xi’s visit revealed the Party’s priorities in that region and beyond in terms of militarization of the plateau, the strategic importance of Tibet’s water and the intensified focus on exploitation of minerals, particularly lithium and uranium.
  • Making a visit to a nomad settlement village during his trip, Xi Jinping reiterated the retrograde official line about removing pastoralists from the grasslands, despite the scientific consensus among rangelands experts in the PRC and internationally that the indigenous knowledge of pastoralists and herd mobility are crucial to the protection of the environment. An award given by Xi to a People’s Liberation Army battalion based on the border near India raised hackles in South Asia.
  • In an indication of the oppressive measures against religious practice in Tibet, Xi warned that greater efforts needed to be made “to make religions […] follow a sinicized direction”.[1]
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New Party boss in Tibet Autonomous Region associated with hardline campaigns, anti-Dalai Lama struggle

September 2, 2016

  • A new Communist Party chief has taken over in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), using his first statement to underline the importance of the political ‘struggle’ against the Dalai Lama. Chinese official Wu Yingjie has spent almost his entire career in Tibet, unlike most of his predecessors, and is known for his involvement advancing hardline Party campaigns and crackdowns.
  • The appointment of the top Party boss in the region – a post that has never been held by a Tibetan – was announced following three high-level visits by Party leaders, including Yu Zhengsheng to the TAR in mid-August. The announcement, part of a reshuffle including the transfer of the outgoing TAR Party chief Chen Quanguo to Xinjiang, followed the highly secretive annual gathering of Party leaders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in Hebei this summer.
  • Images have emerged of an intense military presence in Lhasa this week at the time of a religious festival controlled by the Chinese authorities.
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Jim McGovern

Members of Congress Urge President Obama to formulate new, creative strategies to encourage meaningful dialogue and protect Tibetan rights

August 19, 2016

Seventy-two Members of Congress of the United States have urged President Barack Obama to formulate “new, creative strategies to encourage meaningful dialogue, protect Tibetan rights, and preserve their unique cultural, religious and linguistic identity” during the remaining months of his term in office.

This appeal was contained in a letter that was initiated by Congressman Jim McGovern. The letter also urges the Administration to take proactive steps to support the Dalai Lama and Tibet. Following is the press statement and text of the letter, along with the names of the Members of Congress who signed it.

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Gyaltsen Norbu

Kalachakra with Chinese Characteristics: Chinese appointed Panchen Lama gives teaching as authorities suppress religious freedom

July 29, 2016

The Chinese appointed Panchen Lama, installed by the Chinese government as part of its long-term strategy to control Tibetan Buddhism and eliminate loyalty to the Dalai Lama, has carried out a major religious teaching in Shigatse – the first time a Kalachakra initiation has been held in the Tibet Autonomous Region for more than half a century.

The ceremony highlights the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to raise the profile of a religious figure they appointed with political objectives, in a climate of intensifying religious oppression and a harsh campaign against the Dalai Lama, which involves preventing Tibetans from traveling into exile to attend his teachings. A major Kalachakra ceremony conferred by the Dalai Lama in exile in Ladakh in 2014 was described by the Chinese state media as “inciting hatred, terror and extremist action”, and many Tibetans returning to Tibet from a Kalachakra taught by the Dalai Lama in India in 2012 were imprisoned and ‘re-educated’ at length.

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Larung demolition

Demolitions begin at Larung Gar, ‘monastery for the world’, as religious teachers urge calm

July 25, 2016

Demolitions of monks’ and nuns’ dwellings began last week at the important Buddhist center of Larung Gar in eastern Tibet, one of the world’s largest monastic institutions with a population of thousands of Chinese and Tibetan practitioners. Larung Gar in Serthar has become increasingly prominent in both Tibet and China in recent years as a vital center for the study, practice, and promotion of Buddhist teachings otherwise difficult to access or non-existent in regular monasteries and nunneries due to restrictions put in place by the Chinese goverment.

Images circulating on social media of bulldozed wooden buildings with monks standing in the rubble are reminiscent of the demolitions of more than a thousand homes and expulsions of hundreds of monks and nuns that took place in 2001 at Larung Gar, located in Serthar, in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Kham).

The demolitions, which are expected to continue this week, were outlined in an order issued by the county government – which also gave no indication that Larung Gar’s religious leaders had any involvement in the process of decision-making.

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Rare testimony details complicity of local officials and police in crushing villagers who call for investigation into death of local woman

July 21, 2016

  • A rare appeal to Xi Jinping has emerged from Tibet by a group of Tibetan villagers whose attempts to seek justice for the death of a local woman were met with a brutal crackdown by police acting in complicity with local officials.
  • The account, from the Kardze (Ganzi) area of eastern Tibet, took more than six months to reach the outside world, indicating the intensified restrictions and efforts by the Chinese authorities in Tibet to block the flow of information and cover up such incidents.
  • It reveals the extent of the impunity of local officials and police “conspiring to use force to bully the common people”, according to the villagers – a reality that the Chinese government seeks to obscure by emphasizing ‘rule of law’ and ‘stability’ in its grass roots propaganda work and its intensifying focus on measures of control over the Tibetan population.
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Respected Tibetan monk Khenpo Kartse released from prison at end of sentence

July 18, 2016

Khenpo Kartse, the popular and respected religious teacher whose detention in 2013 sparked peaceful protests and a silent prayer vigil, has been released after serving two and a half years in prison.

Khenpo Kartse, whose case became prominent internationally with calls for his release by governments and thousands of Tibet supporters worldwide who petitioned on his behalf, issued a low-key social media posting in Tibetan on following his release in the form of a short poem. In the poem, he said he was moved by the concern that had been demonstrated towards him.

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Despite previous failure, 2016 ‘Lhasa Consensus’ draws foreign delegates to endorse Beijing propaganda on Tibet

July 11, 2016

Questionable international endorsements are highlighted by CPP controlled media, while independent observers and institutions continue to be denied unhindered access to Tibet

Over the weekend, Chinese state media circulated a ‘Lhasa Consensus’ as a result of the ‘Development Forum’, held in Lhasa on July 7-8 (2016),[1] which emphasized the importance of ‘helping the world better understand Tibet’ – political language for endorsement of Chinese Communist Party propaganda. More than 130 researchers, officials and correspondents from over 30 countries attended the conference last week in Lhasa. The Vice President of the Asia Society, the chief economist of the Environmental Defense Fund in the US, a German politician and a French writer were among the participants.

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Incense smoke rising

The Dalai Lama’s birthday: quiet tributes in Tibet, celebration broken up in Nepal

July 7, 2016

  • Tibetans across Tibet celebrated the Dalai Lama’s 81st birthday yesterday by burning incense and praying before his image placed on shrines. Celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday is not permitted in Tibet in the context of a virulent political campaign against the religious leader.
  • In Kathmandu, Nepal, a peaceful celebration by the Tibetan community that was also attended by some foreign diplomats was broken up by Nepalese police in riot uniform. Twenty-eight people, both Tibetans and Nepalese, were detained and held in police custody for several hours.
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International Campaign for Tibet Mourns the Passing Away of Elie Wiesel

July 5, 2016

The International Campaign for Tibet joins the international community in mourning the passing away of Prof. Elie Wiesel. In a message sent to Mrs. Marion Wiesel, ICT President Matteo Mecacci said, “We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to you and your family.”

The message said, “Mr. Wiesel was a voice and an activist for human dignity for all. He was able to transform the personal tragedy he experienced at a very early, in an indomitable and authoritative strength to speak on behalf of the voiceless.”

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