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China: Dramatic deterioration of human rights situation in Tibet detailed in report for UN review

March 29, 2018

Brussels, Paris: In a joint report submitted today for the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) documented a dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in Tibet. The joint FIDH-ICT report also offers a set of concrete recommendations that United Nations (UN) member states should make during the third UPR of China, which is scheduled to be held in November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“China’s relentless attacks on the fundamental rights, identity, and culture of the Tibetan people have intensified under President Xi Jinping. The impact of these attacks is sadly manifested in the number of self-immolations of Tibetans that has reached 150 since 2009. It is imperative that China proves it is a responsible global leader and adheres to its human rights obligations with regard to Tibet,” said ICT President Matteo Mecacci.

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US Congress Confirms Support For Funding For Tibet programs in 2018 Budget

March 23, 2018

The United States Congress continued its steady support for Tibet through the provision of approximately $20 million for Tibet programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 1625). The House of Representative approved the legislation on March 22, 2018 with a vote of 256 to 167, and the Senate passed it early on March 23 by a vote of 65-32. The Bill will now need to be signed by President Donald Trump.

“Through this legislation the United States Congress once again confirms its decades-long support for Tibetans’ efforts to preserve their culture and identity,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. He added, “While these programs are but a minuscule part of the overall foreign aid budget, this investment yields big dividends for Tibetans and their efforts to preserve their culture and identity.”

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Tibetan writer Shokjang released upon completion of prison sentence

March 20, 2018

Shokjang, a popular Tibetan intellectual, blogger, and writer, has been released after spending three years in prison linked to his writings. According to Tibetan sources, upon the expiry of his sentence on March 19 (2018), he was returned to his hometown of Gangya village in Sangchu country (Chinese: Xiahe) in the Amdo region of Tibet (currently administered by Gansu province). The Tibetan language service of Radio Free Asia quoted a Tibetan source saying that Tibetans “from many different areas” came to welcome him home (RFA, March 19, 2018).

Shokjang, also known as Druklo, was originally detained by police in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Qinghai, on March 19, 2015, and sentenced to three years in prison. Known for his reflective and thought-provoking articles on issues of ethnic policy in the People’s Republic of China, Shokjang wrote an eloquent letter from detention appealing against his prison sentence:

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ICT Completes 30 Years of Service to the Tibetan People and Receives Video Message of Support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama

March 15, 2018

March 15, 2018 marks the 30th year of the International Campaign for Tibet’s service to the Tibetan people and we are marking the occasion releasing a strong message of support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama providing us with a roadmap on our future direction. On this occasion, we launch a new logo that encapsulates our past work as well as our preparation for future challenges.

In March 1988, the International Campaign for Tibet was established in Washington, D.C. to support the Tibetan people and the vision of H.H. the Dalai Lama. For us the 30th anniversary is not a celebration but a time to honor the dedication and support shown to the people of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama through the dedication of our membership, Members of Congress, successive U.S. administrations and friends from all over the world.

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The United States, Canada and European government express concerns about Tibet at UN Human Rights Council

March 14, 2018

Geneva – The United States, Canada, the European Union and a number of European governments expressed strong concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet today in their item 4 statements to the ongoing 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Among the countries specifically raising Tibet in their statements were Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany and the United States. Bulgaria’s statement – made on behalf of the European Union- was supported by a number of states, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Slovenia.

Speaking under the key Item 4 “Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention,” the governments delegations to the Human Rights Council expressed alarm at the ongoing violations of the fundamental rights of Tibetans, saying they were incompatible with China’s national and international commitments. Many also called on China to release all those detained solely for exercising or protecting fundamental rights –some explicitly mentioning the case of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk.

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125 Participants from 21 states in the 10th Annual Tibet Lobby Day in Washington, DC

March 8, 2018

Tibet Lobby Day 2018 has concluded, following two days of meetings with the offices of Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill. This year more than 120 participants came from 21 states, including from faraway places such as California and Oregon, to lobby their elected representatives in Washington DC to stand up for Tibet. Participants met with Members of Congress, legislative directors, and foreign policy staffers in meetings arranged by the International Campaign for Tibet and presented them with legislative and appropriation requests to benefit Tibet.

The foremost ask this year was for the passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, a bipartisan bill designed to end China’s restrictive access policies, which prevent American journalists, diplomats, citizens (including Tibetan-Americans), and others from visiting Tibet. They also urged Congress to continue funding Tibet programs, advocate for the release of Tibetan political prisoners, and to hold Chinese leaders accountable for their human rights violations in Tibet. Finally, participants asked their Members of Congress to sign a bill calling on the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act and nominate a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and thanked those who had already done so.

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International Campaign for Tibet’s 30 Years of Service to the Tibetan People

March 7, 2018

On March 6, 2018, a special event in the United States Congress marked the International Campaign for Tibet’s 30 years of service to the Tibetan people. Congressional leaders and staffers, State Department officials, members of the NGO community, Tibetan Americans, and Tibet supporters who were in town for the Tibet Lobby Day attended it.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Representative Ngodup Tsering of the Office of Tibet, ICT Board Member Kasur Tempa Tsering, former political prisoner Ngawang Sangdrol, and ICT Board Chairman Richard Gere addressed the gathering.

In March 1988, the International Campaign for Tibet was established in Washington, D.C. to support the Tibetan people and the vision of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Speakers and participants used the event as an opportunity to honor the dedication and support shown to the people of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Members of Congress, successive U.S. administrations, and friends from all over the world.

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2018 Tibetan Youth Leadership Program (TYLP) in Washington, DC

March 7, 2018

The Tibetan Youth Leadership Program (TYLP) is a unique week-long leadership development program organized by the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, DC for Tibetan-American college students. It will be held from Saturday, June 2 to Saturday, June 9, 2018.

Are you interested in becoming a leader within the Tibetan community? Are you interested in the US political process and discourse around foreign policy vis-à-vis China and Tibet? The TYLP is designed to motivate and train young Tibetans to become effective leaders within the Tibetan community by providing meaningful exposure to the US political process and the discourse around foreign policy in the American capital. Through workshops, discussions and hands-on activities, participants will develop and sharpen their leadership skills. The program is a starting point for greater involvement as knowledgeable and responsible actors within the Tibetan community worldwide and is specifically geared to meet the need to carry the Tibet movement forward in the United States.

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UN Human Rights Council informed that China’s revised regulations on religion are a further threat to survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet

March 2, 2018

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the ongoing 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 2, 2018, ICT’s Kai Mueller drew the Council’s attention to China’s revised regulations on religion, in effect since February 1, 2018, are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.

Speaking under Agenda Item 3 “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”, he said that in November 2016, six UN special mandate holders expressed their “grave concern” over the “serious repression of the Buddhist Tibetans’ cultural and religious practices and learning” in the Buddhist institutes of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar.

He said that the Council should ask China to “refrain from intervening with religious activities that are protected by principles of freedom of religion or belief.”

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UN Rights Council Urged to Press China to Drop Charges against Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk

March 1, 2018

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 1, 2018, ICT’s Kai Mueller drew attention to the case of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk as a striking example for the repression against Tibetan Human Rights Defenders.

Speaking under Agenda Item 3 “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”, he welcomed the strong joint communication just issued by five UN Special Rapporteurs on the case of Tashi Wangchuk , as well as similar statements by a number of governments and parliaments calling for his release. He urged the Human Rights Council to join these calls and press China to drop all charges against Tashi Wangchuk and to release him immediately and unconditionally”.

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Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters gather in Washington, D.C. for Tibet Lobby Day

February 28, 2018

Over one hundred Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters from all over the United States are gathering in Washington, D.C., to urge their elected representatives in the government to increase their support for Tibet and the Tibetan people. The 10th annual Tibet Lobby Day will take place from March 4 to 6, 2018.

They will ask Members of Congress to pass legislation that support the aspirations of the Tibetan people, most notably the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017. They will also urge Congress to continue funding Tibet programs, advocate for the release of Tibetan political prisoners, promote access to Tibetan areas for journalists, citizens, and US officials, and to hold Chinese leaders accountable for their human rights violations in Tibet.

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ICT honors long-time activist Grace Spring with Light of Truth Award for being a symbol of activism for Tibet

February 20, 2018

On the auspicious second day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, which fell on February 17, 2018, ICT President Matteo Mecacci bestowed a special Light of Truth award on Grace Spring in recognition of her many decades of work putting a spotlight on Tibet. The event took place in Burlington, VT, near Grace’s current residence, and was held in conjunction with the Tibetan Association of Vermont’s celebration of the Tibetan New Year. The Mayor of Burlington, Miro Weinberger, was present on the occasion.

Grace Spring is an artist, an activist and a Tibetan supporter who, for more than 18 years, held a solo vigil every Friday morning in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington with a Tibetan national flag and a placard, drawing attention to the plight of the Tibetan people.

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US Members of Congress Introduce Resolutions to Commemorate Tibet’s 1959 Uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day”

February 15, 2018

Today, Senators Leahy (D), Feinstein (D), and Cruz (R) and Representatives McGovern (D) and Hultgren (R), introduced companion resolutions to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan Uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day” on March 10, and to support the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The resolutions recall that on March 10, 1959 the people of Lhasa rose to protect the residence of the Dalai Lama, fearing for his life, and that an estimated 87,000 were later killed during the ensuing violent crackdown orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party. Furthermore, the resolutions recalls that March 10, 2018 is also the tenth anniversary of the 2008 protests that started in Lhasa and then spread across the Tibetan plateau, which were brutally suppressed by Chinese authorities. At least 152 Tibetans have self-immolated inside the PRC in protest against Chinese rule since then.

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Tibetan Activist Dhondup Wangchen to testify before United States Congress, during first visit to Washington, DC

February 9, 2018

Tibetan video activist Dhondup Wangchen is visiting Washington, DC from February 9 to 15, 2018 to testify at a Hearing organized by the Congressional Executive Commission on China and will meet Congressional and Administration officials. The Hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 14 from 10am to 12pm in 301 Russell Senate Office Building. In addition to calling on the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he will also meet with Washington based NGOs as well as the Tibetan community.

Detained by Chinese authorities in Tibet in March 2008 for making the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” (in which ordinary Tibetans expressed their feelings about their situation in the light of the Beijing Olympics), Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting subversion”. His friend and assistant, Tibetan monk Golok Jigme, suffered from detention and torture, too. Dhondup was released at the end of his sentence in 2014, but continued to be deprived of his freedom.

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Latvian Parliamentarians Call for Fair and Transparent Judgement Process for Tibetan Language Advocate Tashi Wangchuk

February 6, 2018

On January 25th, Members of the Latvian Parliaments, including members of the Latvian Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet, adopted a statement on the case of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk.

The signatories, twenty members of the Saeima (the Latvian Parliament) – out of a total of 100 parliamentarians – call for a “fair and transparent trial of Tashi Wangchuk” and “urges the People’s Republic of China to implement a judgement process that is constant with international legal standards, with the presence of observers at his trial”.

The statement follows a number of resolutions and statements calling for a fair trial for Tashi Wangchuk and/or his release –
including a resolution of the European Parliament and statements by French and German parliamentarians, adding to the growing international pressure in the case of the young human rights defender, who has been detained by the Chinese authorities since January 2016 and is still waiting for the verdict of his trial held on 4 January.

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Mercedes-Benz apologizes for use of Dalai Lama quote, helping Beijing to export its censorship worldwide

February 6, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is dismayed to learn that German carmaker Mercedes-Benz had apologized to the Chinese authorities for using a Dalai Lama quote on its Instagram page.

Reuters reported that Mercedes-Benz had posted an advertisement for its cars on Instagram with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “Look at situations from all angles and you will become more open”. The post quickly attracted the criticism of Chinese netizens, despite the fact that Instagram is not accessible in China except through VPN connections.
In reaction, Mercedes-Benz deleted the ad and posted an apology on its Weibo page. In it, the company apologized for its “extremely erroneous message” saying,

“Taking this incident as a guide, we will immediately take practical actions to deepen our understanding of Chinese culture and values - including for our overseas colleagues - and regulate our behavior to prevent such incidents from occurring again.”

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ICT to honor long-time activist for Tibet Grace Spring with Light of Truth Award

February 5, 2018

In consideration of her many decades of contribution in putting a spotlight on Tibet, the Boards of the International Campaign for Tibet have decided to bestow Grace Spring with a special Light of Truth Award.

Grace Spring is an artist, an activist and a Tibetan supporter who for more than 10 years held a solo vigil every Friday morning in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington with a Tibetan national flag and a placard, drawing attention to the plight of the Tibetan people.

In an interview to the Washington Post in December 1989, Grace said she initiated the vigil after the Chinese Government’s clampdown on Tibetan demonstrators in Tibet in 1987. “I asked myself what is possible for me to do as an American, just by myself,” Spring told the Washington Post. “It only takes one witness. I stand there, carrying the Tibetan flag and a sign.”

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European Parliament adopts an urgency resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk and Tibetan monk Choekyi

January 18, 2018

Brussels – The European Parliament adopted today a new urgency resolution on China, expressing deep concern regarding the cases of two Tibetan political prisoners, the language advocate Tashi Wangchuk and the monk Choekyi.

The resolution which also covers the cases of Chinese human rights activists Wu Gan, Xie Yang, and Lee Ming-cheh “expresses its deep concern at the arrest and continued detention of Tashi Wangchuk, as well as his limited right to counsel, the lack of evidence against him and the irregularities in the criminal investigation; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk”.

“The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which underscores once again the critical role of the European Parliament in standing up for victims of human rights abuses in China and Tibet” said ICT’s EU Policy Director Vincent Metten. “We hope that this strong-worded resolution, along with the expressions of concerns by a number of European governments and EU institutions in the last few months, will have an impact on the outcome of Tashi Wangchuk’s trial and on Choekyi’s condition. We also applaud the call for the resumption of the dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives, the condemnation of anti-Buddhism campaigns and the adoption of the Counterterrorism Law, which could lead to the penalisation of peaceful expression of Tibetan culture and religion”.

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