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Chinese court’s decision to uphold Tashi Wangchuk’s prison sentence is a travesty of justice, ICT says

August 23, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet today said that a Chinese court’s decision to reject the appeal of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk is a travesty of justice—and that Wangchuk should be released immediately.

On August 23, 2018, Wangchuk’s lawyer, Liang Xiaojun, announced via social media that the Qinghai Higher People’s Court had rejected “both the argument from Tashi Wangchuk himself and the defending statement from the lawyers.”

The court document stating that Wangchuk’s appeal had been denied is dated July 30, 2018. Xiaojun said the ruling was announced in the Yushu City Detention Center on August 13 and that Wangchuk’s “family was not allowed to hear the sentence.”

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ICT urges UNESCO to look into the destruction of Dalai Lama’s parents’ home in Tibet

August 21, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet has asked for information from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) about the destruction of the historic home of the Dalai Lama’s parents in Tibet.

In a letter addressed to Mechtild Rössler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, head of ICT’s UN Advocacy Team and Executive Director of ICT Germany Kai Mueller draws attention to ICT’s report on the demolition of Yabshi Taktser, the former residence of the Dalai Lama’s now-deceased parents.

Yabshi Taktser had been one of the most important sites in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa, but earlier this year, the building was reportedly demolished, with a new, concrete structure rising in its place.

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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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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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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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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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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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‘Destruction, commercialization, fake replicas’: new report on Lhasa as UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets

June 25, 2018

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet reveals how Lhasa’s unique and precious remaining cultural heritage is at risk as China flouts its responsibilities under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The U.N. organisation for protecting the world’s heritage meets this week in Bahrain (June 24-July 4) and will vote on a decision requesting information from China about the state of conservation in Tibet’s historic and cultural capital.

In ‘Destruction, commercialization, fake replicas’, the International Campaign for Tibet reports:

  • Since the Dalai Lama’s former home, the iconic Potala Palace, and other significant buildings were recognized as UNESCO World Heritage, dozens of historic buildings have been destroyed and replaced by fake ‘Tibetan’-style architecture. Official Chinese planning documents obtained by the International Campaign for Tibet confirm that this is set to continue with the remaining historic buildings, which number around 50 as new construction continues at a staggering rate.
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International Campaign for Tibet statement on US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council

June 21, 2018

As an organization dedicated to working for human rights and democratic freedom of the Tibetan people, the International Campaign for Tibet regrets the US decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council. The United States has been among those countries that have consistently raised the issue of human rights of the Tibetan people in the UN Human Rights Council.

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley, while explaining the US decision on June 19, 2018, said that it was the US position that reforms were needed to make the Human Rights Council a serious advocate for human rights. She said that the Human Rights Council has become a protector of human rights abusers, and listed China among the countries that “attempted to undermine our reform efforts this past year.”

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Secretary Pompeo reiterates US Commitment to urge China to engage in dialogue with envoys of the Dalai Lama and voices support for reciprocal access to Tibet for Americans

June 7, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who took charge of his office on May 2, 2018, has said in response to written questions from Members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he will publicly ask China to engage in direct dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama, without preconditions, to resolve the Tibetan problem. He further said he is committed to pressing for respect for human rights for Tibetans, including freedom of religion and belief, in his conversations with Chinese officials, and advocating for the release of Tibetan political prisoners. He said he will also raise concerns about the lack of regular access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) for US journalists, diplomats, academics, and others.

“I will recommend that the United States express publicly, and at the highest levels of government,” Pompeo wrote, “that Chinese authorities need to engage in meaningful and direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to lower tensions and resolve differences.” Although President Donald Trump and then Secretary Rex Tillerson have met senior Chinese leaders several times, they have not publicly raised Tibet with their Chinese counterparts.

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International Campaign for Tibet welcomes statements in support of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk – United Nations experts call for immediate release

June 6, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet welcomes recent statements by the United Nations experts, governments, parliamentarians worldwide and civil society organisations in support of the Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. Today, six United Nations human rights experts issued a statement, condemning the five-year jail sentence handed to Tashi Wangchuk by a Chinese court for his work promoting cultural and linguistic rights of the Tibetan people.

In their statement, the experts – five United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – “strongly urge the Chinese authorities to comply with their international human rights commitments, to grant Mr. Wangchuk immediate release and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.” The experts further state: “Governments should under no circumstances undermine or repress legitimate human rights advocacy and action, such as in this case, using national security, public order or anti-terrorism discourses.”

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ICT President Speaks at UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet discussion on Access to Tibet

May 10, 2018

Yesterday afternoon (9 May 2018), the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet[1] hosted a roundtable discussion on the issue of access to Tibet, led by Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), who presented a new ICT report to the group.

The group, which is co-chaired by Chris Law, MP for Dundee West and Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, saw one of its largest turnouts in over five years.

The issue of access to Tibet has long been a sore point of discussion for the Chinese authorities. Despite claims to the contrary by government officials in Beijing, Tibet remains largely closed to foreign visitors[2]. The detention and subsequent expulsion of two New York Times journalists who were visiting Eastern Tibet in February 2018 is but one of China’s more recent attempts to limit who enters the territory and control what kind of information reaches the outside world.

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New ICT report reveals China’s strategies of weaponizing access to Tibet

Access Denied: China’s enforced isolation of Tibet, and the case for reciprocity

May 8, 2018

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet calls for a more robust international approach on Tibet, based on the principle of reciprocity and an emerging awareness that China’s increasing authoritarian influence under Xi Jinping has extended beyond the borders of the PRC. This influence threatens to subvert and reshape our democracies in ways that pose a serious threat to our shared future.

China promotes Tibet as being open to the world, and tells foreign governments and journalists that they should see the world’s highest and largest plateau for themselves. But multiple requests by governments to visit Tibet have been refused in recent years, in contravention of usual diplomatic practice between countries and international organizations, and journalists reporting on Tibet have been threatened, detained, and expelled from the PRC. While Tibetans are “locked in” to Tibet and international observers are locked out, there has been an upsurge in the number of Chinese official delegations that have been sent abroad to “tell the world the story of Tibet in China.”

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Panchen Lama

United States government commemorates birthday of the Panchen Lama

April 27, 2018

In a statement linked to the 11th Panchen Lama’s 29th birthday, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert delivered a statement calling on Chinese authorities to release him. The Panchen Lama has not been seen in public since he was taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at age six, making him the world’s youngest political prisoner. Earlier this week United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan people.

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US Senate passes unanimous resolution calling on China to end interference in Tibetan Buddhism

April 26, 2018

Yesterday, on the 29th birthday of the Panchen Lama, the US Senate unanimously passed Resolution 429, which expresses support for the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhists. The resolution specifically references their right to identify reincarnate lamas without Chinese government interference, and recognizes March 10, 2018 as Tibetan Rights Day.

The resolution, which was introduced by Senators Leahy, Cruz, Feinstein, and Rubio, also recalls the abduction of the Panchen Lama by the Chinese government in 1995. The Panchen Lama has not been seen since then, and the Chinese government has repeatedly refused to provide information regarding his whereabouts.

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