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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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Ban on access to nature reserves in Tibet raises concern about Tibetan nomads at UNESCO site

December 11, 2017

The Chinese authorities have issued a notice prohibiting access to the Hoh Xil nature reserve in Qinghai – which was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in July – except for security personnel or other authorized officials.

The notice raises further concerns about the exclusion of Tibetan pastoralists who have made skillful use of the remote, wild landscape here and across the plateau for centuries, co-existing with wildlife and protecting the land. It appears to counter Chinese assurances to UNESCO that they would “fully respect” local herders and “their traditional culture, religious beliefs, and lifestyle”.[1] The role of nomads in preservation of the landscape and the need for their free movement was recognized during discussion over China’s nomination for UNESCO status for the Hoh Xil area, including by international conservation body the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which carried out an evaluation mission to the area.[2]

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ICT Chair Richard Gere

Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing calls for reciprocal access, religious freedom, and human rights in Tibet

December 6, 2017

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, testified today (December 6) at a Congressional hearing on U.S. Tibet policy in Washington, DC, saying that he was “knocked out” by the support and proposals from U.S. lawmakers during the nearly two-hour long session.

At the hearing, hosted by the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, members of the Committee and the witnesses who gave testimony called for substantive action to resolve the Tibet issue, in the context of a wide-ranging debate covering China’s place in the world, the Dalai Lama and the succession issue, the strategic importance of Tibet to the PRC, and other issues. The Subcommittee hearing came amid efforts to advance the bipartisan Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and a Concurrent Resolution in support of Tibet’s place in American foreign policy. Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia, and Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, also testified.

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Hearing on U.S. Tibet policy hosted by Committee on Foreign Affairs, December 6

December 5, 2017

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, will testify Wednesday, December 6 before the United States Congress on U.S. Tibet policy, hosted by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service, Radio Free Asia and Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy, will also testify at the hearing.

The Hearing is being held at a critical moment for evaluation of U.S. government Tibet policy following President Trump’s visit to China, where he failed to speak publicly about human rights and Tibet. It follows the introduction of a bipartisan Concurrent Resolution to the Senate on November 16, 2017 asking the Trump Administration to make Tibet an important factor in US-China relations, and calling upon the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act, to promote access of US citizens to Tibet, and to encourage China to speak to the Dalai Lama leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet.

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Dalai Lama meets former President Barack Obama in New Delhi

December 1, 2017

The Dalai Lama made a special trip from Dharamsala to the Indian capital New Delhi on December 1, 2017 to meet with former US President Barack Obama, who was on a visit to India.

Kasur Tempa Tsering, who is the India and East Asia Coordinator for Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (and a member of ICT’s Board of Directors), told DIIR media that “His Holiness was very happy to meet his fellow Nobel laureate and also a friend”.

He added, “During the 45-minute meeting, both spoke about promoting compassion and altruism in human beings. His Holiness remarked that basically human beings are compassionate in nature but it is the kind of education imparted that makes the binary between you and me and instils a sense of selfishness and self-centeredness. Both the peace laureates discussed the kind of future they envision for the world.”

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Respected Tibetan monk sets fire to himself in eastern Tibet

November 30, 2017

A popular Tibetan monk in his sixties who had worked as a voluntary teacher set fire to himself and died in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), the eastern Tibetan area of Kham, on Sunday (November 26).

The monk, named Tenga, had studied in Kardze Monastery in Sichuan. He reportedly called for freedom for Tibet as he was burning, according to Tibetan sources.

Tenga is the 151st Tibetan to set himself on fire in Tibet since 2009, in one of the most sweeping and significant waves of self-immolation as political protest globally, and the fifth this year. Two Tibetans in exile in India also set fire to themselves in July (2017).[1]

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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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