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China’s claims in new White Paper about protecting Tibet’s environment are contradicted by increased production of bottled water from shrinking Tibetan glaciers, more dams

August 8, 2018

Highlights of this report:

  • As the Chinese government released a new white paper claiming it supports “ecological conservation” in Tibet, state media announced that China has stepped up production of bottled water from Tibet’s endangered glaciers, and news emerged of more major hydropower schemes in central Tibet, financed by the state.
  • Visiting Tibet from July 25-27, 2018, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced increased funding of infrastructure construction despite ongoing environmental challenges, such as the dramatic degradation of permafrost on the Tibetan plateau, and major floods and landslides in the capital city of Lhasa and central Tibet this summer.
  • China’s detailed white paper, released in July, focuses on the imposition of top-down policies that are contested even within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and erases the role of Tibetans as vital stewards of Tibet’s fragile high-altitude landscape and wildlife. It reflects a more strategic approach toward Tibet’s environment emerging from concerns over Tibet’s importance as an essential water source for China.
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International Campaign for Tibet’s oral statement at the UN CERD 96th session in Geneva on August 7, 2018

August 7, 2018

Following is the statement by the International Campaign for Tibet at the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination (CERD) session in Geneva, which was delivered by ICT Germany Executive Director Kai Mueller on August 7, 2018. This CERD session began on August 6 and it will consider China’s state report on August 10, 2018. ICT submitted a report to CERD on China’s policy towards Tibetans.

The International Campaign for Tibet wishes to draw attention to discriminatory policies, regulations and measures, as well as to discriminatory public narratives against Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China.

Tibetans cannot practice their religion freely, nor can they protect their culture and language in a meaningful way. Instead, they suffer from repressive laws that deem any expression of their identity as extremist or even terrorist. Official Chinese propaganda has spread derogatory and racist narratives about Tibetans to ordinary Chinese, particularly since the time of widespread—and largely peaceful—protests in Tibet in 2008. In this context, I would like to mention the introduction of a so-called “Serfs Emancipation Day” in 2009.

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UN committee should pressure China to end discrimination against Tibetans, International Campaign for Tibet says in new report

August 7, 2018

The United Nations committee that fights racism should press China to abolish laws and policies that discriminate against Tibetans, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said today ahead of the Chinese government’s presentation to the committee on Aug. 10.

In a report delivered to the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination (CERD), ICT says that Tibetans “cannot practice their religion freely, nor can they protect their culture and language in a meaningful way. Instead, they suffer from repressive laws that deem any expression of their identity as extremist or even terrorist.”

ICT’s report highlights the official Chinese propaganda that has spread derogatory and racist narratives about Tibetans to ordinary Chinese, particularly since the time of widespread—and largely peaceful—protests in Tibet in 2008.

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Rowell Fund for Tibet to receive application for 2019 Grant Cycle

August 6, 2018

The Rowell Fund for Tibet seeks to support Tibetans who can make a significant contribution to their community and/or an international audience in the fields of visual arts and media, and environmental and women’s rights.

Grants applications are invited from Tibetans for the Rowell Fund for Tibet’s 2018-19 grant cycle for projects that focus on the following themes: Environment/Conservation; Photography; Humanitarian Projects; Journalism/Literature; or Women’s projects.

The application form is now available for download. Application materials will be accepted between September 1, 2018 and October 15, 2018 (midnight Eastern Standard Time).

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Yabshi Takster

Former home of Dalai Lama’s parents demolished in Lhasa

July 30, 2018

  • The former home of the parents of the Dalai Lama, one of the largest and most important of the few remaining historic buildings in Lhasa, has been demolished and a new concrete structure is being built in its place.
  • The Yabshi Taktser residence appears to have been razed within weeks of Lhasa’s protection being discussed at an annual meeting of the world’s leading heritage body, UNESCO from June 24.

The Yabshi Taktser residence was close to the Potala Palace, where the Dalai Lama lived until his escape from Tibet in 1959. It had a particular significance as the home of the late parents of the Dalai Lama. Over many years, the building was neglected and had fallen into a state of disrepair. Tibetans were afraid to recommend maintenance or renovation work because of the building’s association with the Dalai Lama, according to expert sources.

The Yabshi Taktser residence appears to have been razed two months before Lhasa’s protection was discussed at an annual meeting of the world’s leading heritage body, UNESCO, beginning June 24.

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Senior American officials call for international coalition to press China on religious freedom in Tibet

July 27, 2018
Describing the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom as “just the beginning,” Vice President Pence and other U.S. government officials repeatedly raised China’s human rights violations in Tibet as they promised ongoing new efforts to combat religious freedom violations around the world. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who recently re-affirmed America’s commitment to seeing the release of the Panchen Lama, answered a question about religious freedom in Tibet by describing a new multi-lateral effort to end China’s assault on Tibetan Buddhism:

We had a number of Tibetan Buddhists testify and speak here, and people that have experienced the persecution that’s taken place for years in Tibet… What we are working on doing and pulling together is an international consortium to press China about religious freedom… It’s Tibetan Buddhists, it’s Uighur Muslims, Christian house church leaders, Falun Gong – there’s a whole series, and this has been going on for some period of time. We’re trying to do is get that international coalition pulling together to push on the Chinese Government to let people practice their faith freely as they see fit.

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VP Pence and Golok Jigme

Vice President and Secretary of State meet Tibetan activist, discuss China’s human rights violations

July 26, 2018

The aspirations of the Tibetan people were heard at the highest levels of the United States government this week when a well-known Tibetan activist was among a select group of survivors of religious persecution who met with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Golok Jigme, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was jailed and tortured by Chinese authorities for speaking out against their oppressive rule in Tibet, talked with the two American leaders in the sidelines of the U.S. State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The three-day event in Washington D.C. was a first-of-its-kind gathering of elected officials, international organizations, religious leaders and civil society members to advocate for greater religious freedom around the globe.

Jigme told Pence and Pompeo that the people of Tibet—a historically independent nation that China has occupied for nearly 70 years—are prevented from receiving teachings from the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. In fact, Tibetans can be punished simply for having portraits of the Dalai Lama.

Jigme urged Pence to encourage China’s leadership to work with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issue and allow the Tibetan people to have true religious freedom.

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Judiciary Committee

House Judiciary Committee unanimously approves Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

July 25, 2018

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act took a big step forward today when the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill unanimously. The next step is for the act to move to the floor of the House of Representatives.

One by one, committee members spoke up at this morning’s hearing in support of the bipartisan legislation, which seeks to ensure that Americans are given the same access to Tibet that Chinese citizens have to the United States.

“Moving this bill is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the committee. “It is time that Congress take a stand with regard to access by foreign nationals to the Tibetan regions.”

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China must immediately stop illegal ban on religious activities for Tibetan schoolchildren, ICT says

July 24, 2018

China’s ban on religious activities for schoolchildren in Tibet grossly violates international human rights law—as well as China’s own legal requirements—and must immediately be put to an end, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said today.

Chinese state media reported this week that underage students in the Tibet Autonomous Region must not take part in religious activities during their summer vacation, as stipulated in school regulations. According to an English-language report in the state-run “Global Times,” notices have been sent to both students and their parents, while authorities “have had students sign an agreement that they will not take part in any form of religious activity during the summer vacation,” the head of the political education department at Lhasa Middle School said in the report. The report does not state how students and families who breach the agreement would be punished.

“By banning schoolchildren from religious activities, the Chinese authorities are infringing upon basic principles of freedom of religion, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which China ratified in 1992. A state simply cannot ban children from religious activities,” ICT said.

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In powerful op-ed, members of Congress tell China: “Let the Dalai Lama go home”

July 17, 2018

“We urge our fellow Americans to join in calling on Chinese leaders to let the Dalai Lama go home.”

With those powerful words, Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) put the finishing touch on their recent op-ed in The Boston Globe, which uses the occasion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 83rd birthday to argue for his right to return to Tibet.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after the independent nation was invaded by communist China.

Since then, His Holiness has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and Congressional Gold Medal and become one of the world’s most renowned champions of tolerance and nonviolence, building on the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. However, despite merely seeking genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people, rather than independence, he has never been allowed to return safely to Tibet.

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ICT joins Dalai Lama’s birthday celebrations on Capitol Hill as calls grow for his right to return to Tibet

July 16, 2018

The Dalai Lama turned 83 this month, and last week, the International Campaign for Tibet joined the celebration of his birthday with leaders from the US Congress and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

On July 11, the Office of Tibet—which represents the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration in North America—hosted a reception for the Dalai Lama’s birthday that featured remarks from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), and Claudia Tenney (R-NY).

The bipartisan group of congresspeople praised the Dalai Lama’s message of compassion and voiced support for his peaceful struggle on behalf of the Tibetan people, who are facing increasing repression at the hands of the Chinese government.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is working to ensure reciprocal access to Tibet

July 13, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is taking action to guarantee reciprocal access to Tibet—the principle that American citizens should be able to freely visit Tibet the way Chinese citizens are free to come and go in the United States.

Responding to a set of questions raised by the House Committee on Foreign Relations at a hearing on May 23, 2018, Pompeo wrote “I am working to ensure that US journalists, legislators, scholars, and members of civil society have unimpeded access to all areas [of] China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas.”

Pompeo was specifically asked about the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, which aims to end China’s restrictions on access to Tibet and currently has 51 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and seven in the Senate.

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Conference on Tibetan and Vietnamese Buddhism highlights need for cooperation to defend religious freedom

July 12, 2018

At a conference on July 11, 2018 about freedom of religion and foreign policy, Tenzin Dorjee, chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, ran through a list of hardships imposed on the people of Tibet—from extensive surveillance by the Chinese government to restrictions on travel and the stationing of police officers in monasteries—then said that words alone were inadequate to address their plight.

“Simply noting injustice is not enough,” Dorjee said. “We must encourage the US government and others to do more.”

Dorjee’s statement provided an overall message for the conference, which was titled “Freedom of Religion or Belief & Human Rights: Vietnamese and Tibetan Buddhism under threat” and hosted by the International Campaign for Tibet and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights.

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China forces young Tibetan monks out of monastery into government-run schools as part of drive to replace monastic education with political propaganda

July 12, 2018

Young Tibetan monks were compelled to leave one of the biggest monasteries in the eastern Tibetan area of Kham, Sershul, this week as part of a drive by the Chinese government to replace monastic education with secular schooling that emphasizes Communist Party propaganda.

Images circulating in the last few days on social media show a large group of boys in lay clothing accompanied by monks leaving Sershul monastery in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan. According to reports from Tibetan sources, young monks in smaller monasteries in the area have been targeted as part of the same push for the ‘Sinicization’ of Tibetan Buddhism and political education in schools.

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ICT to launch Washington Internship Program for Tibetan Americans

July 6, 2018

On the occasion of the 83rd birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is announcing the launch of the Washington Internship Program for Tibetan Americans (WIPTA).

Through this program, ICT will assist young Tibetan Americans by providing information, placement, and stipends for internship opportunities in Federal offices Washington, DC. Those eligible will be placed in the offices of Members of Congress, as well other Federal entities.

Through this program, Tibetan Americans will gain exposure to the functioning of the American federal government, develop skills needed to excel in their career, unleash their natural leadership abilities, and learn directly from officials and staff who are responsible for the governance of this country.

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ICT President Matteo Mecacci raises Tibet with UN and EU officials in Geneva and Brussels

June 28, 2018

On June 26, ICT President Matteo Mecacci attended the meeting between the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein and ICT Chairman of the Board, Richard Gere, in Geneva, where the human rights situation inside Tibet was discussed.

Following that, Matteo Mecacci was in Brussels on June 27 and 28 to meet with representatives from different national and European Institutions.

He first met with the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU, a week before the start of Austria’s EU Presidency, and presented ideas and concrete recommendations for EU policy on Tibet.

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US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback* to address Conference on Tibetan & Vietnamese Buddhism

June 27, 2018

A conference on “Freedom of Religion or Belief & Human Rights: Vietnamese and Tibetan Buddhism under threat” is being held in Washington, DC on July 11, 2018 to explore the importance of a proactive freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) component in US foreign policy, including transatlantic and international cooperation, with particular reference to the cases of Vietnamese and Tibetan Buddhism.

US policy makers, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and academics will participate in two panel discussions on “Religious Freedom and American Foreign Policy”, and “Strategies to Promote Freedom of Religion or Belief in Closed Societies: The Cases of Vietnamese and Tibetan Buddhism”.

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China identifies new ‘terrorist crimes’ strengthening legal stranglehold on Tibetans

June 26, 2018

  • China has identified “new crimes of terrorism” in a further escalation of oppressive measures that are focused less on protecting China’s citizens and more on the elimination of dissent and enforcement of compliance to Communist Party policies. Guidelines released to judges, prosecutors and security personnel on June 16 (2018) represent a chilling expansion of intrusive measures in which merely sending a text message, involvement in someone’s marriage, or wearing a slogan on a tee-shirt can constitute “extremist” activity or “terrorism”.
  • In a rare acknowledgement of enforcement of counter-terror policies, which have a strongly political application in Tibet linked to an expansion of militarization across the plateau, a Chinese state media article said that the cases of 42 people in one area of Qinghai had been “resolved” involving crimes against “social stability”. This is a reference to the focus on ensuring allegiance to the CCP authorities in order for the authorities to pursue their strategic and economic objectives on the plateau without impediment. The Tibet issue is framed by the Chinese authorities as a “security problem”, despite the absence of violent incidents against civilians or the Chinese government.
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