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China’s revised religious regulations threaten survival of Tibetan Buddhism

September 18, 2017

  • Revised Chinese government regulations on religion consolidate far-reaching powers of the Communist Party state over people’s lives and beliefs, and are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.
  • The revised rules on religious activity, issued by the Chinese State Council on September 7, 2017, conflate peaceful religious practice with ‘threats’ to China’s security, creating a more dangerous political environment for monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists, isolating them further from their counterparts outside China.
  • According to a newly revised provision of the regulation – and in an apparent attempt to use religion to achieve political goals of the Communist Party – religious groups are now bound to practice “core socialist values.”
  • The Chinese state media also announced a focus on the ‘Sinicization’ of religion, stating: “The direction of religions is to integrate them with Chinese culture” (Global Times, September 7, 2017). The Buddhist community is one of the main targets of ‘Sinicization’ of religion, which represents a more far-reaching effort to mould and shape Tibetan Buddhism to the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party in line with a more entrenched regulatory framework that has already deepened religious oppression over the last decade.
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19th EU-China Summit: European Parliamentarians and NGOs call on President Tusk to raise the issue of Tibet

May 30, 2017

A rally by a coalition of NGOs urging the EU to raise the bleak human right situation in China will take place on June 2, 10.30 am – 12 pm at Schuman circle. The rally will include representatives from the Tibetan and Uyghur communities, the European Parliament, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and International Campaign for Tibet.

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Inside Tibet: Tibetan New Year marked by security agenda; mass deployment of troops for prayer festival

March 7, 2017

The Chinese authorities used the Tibetan New Year (Losar) period last week, traditionally marked by devotional ceremonies, to focus on the security agenda of the Party state and warn of a continuing harsh fight against ‘separatism’, a politically charged term used to blame the Dalai Lama.

There was a major and intimidating deployment of military force at a prayer ceremony at Kumbum monastery, while in Lhasa regional leaders hosted a series of meetings in which monks and nuns were warned about the need to comply with Party policy, and – evidence of the strong Party and police presence in religious institutions – official delegations inspected ‘armed forces’ and cadres at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

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Dr. Tenzin Dorjee

First Tibetan American to be appointed a Commissioner of the US International Religious Freedom Commission

December 8, 2016

In a historic first, Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, a Tibetan American, has been appointed as a Commissioner of the bipartisan US International Religious Freedom Commission. This federal government commission was created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

Dr. Dorjee is Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University at Fullerton (CSUF).

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counter terrorism cover

Dangers of China’s counter-terrorism law for Tibetans and Uyghurs

Special report by ICT & FIDHM

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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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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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Snapshots from His Holiness’ Visit to Washington D.C.

June 28, 2016

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the International Campaign for Tibet’s Board Chairman Richard Gere discussed the Dalai Lama’s life experiences before a small, intimate gathering of ICT members on June 14, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

In one clip, you can see how His Holiness rejects the idea of religious terrorism and says that peace only comes through action, not prayer.

In the second clip, upon stepping on stage, His Holiness points to his room in the painting of the Potala Palace that served as the event’s backdrop—created by Tibetan contemporary artist Losang Gyatso.

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US Congress seal

11 Members of Congress Urge Secretary Kerry to Raise Cases of Tibetan Political Prisoners with Chinese Government

April 1, 2016

On March 31, 2016, as President Barack Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Washington, D.C., 11 Members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging him to raise the cases of three Tibetan political prisoners — Khenpo Karma Tsewang (also known as Khenpo Kartse), Lobsang Kunchok, and Thabkhe Gyatso—with the Chinese government.

The letter urged the United States “to raise their cases with the Chinese government, make every effort to obtain information about their whereabouts and health status, press for necessary medical treatment, and prioritize their release.”

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Nancy Pelosi makes unannounced visit to Tibet

November 12, 2015

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives and one of the most prominent supporters of the Dalai Lama worldwide, made an unannounced visit to Lhasa, Tibet, this week, meeting the Communist Party chief of the region.

Nancy Pelosi, who has been one of the most forceful critics of China’s policies and human rights record in Tibet, is leading a delegation of Congressional Democrats on a trip to China. The delegation has not yet made a statement about her visit or spoken to reporters, but prior to going into meetings today at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Ms. Pelosi said she had shared views on Tibet following her visit and hoped that “some of that conversation will be useful.”

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Sydney

Tibetan exiles participate in preliminary election for new leadership

October 20, 2015

The exile Tibetan communities around the world gathered on Sunday, October 18, 2015 to take part in the first stage of an election process that will determine the next Tibetan leadership in exile – including the Sikyong or Prime Minister and members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament in exile. The elections are overseen by the Tibetan election Commission, an independent institution whose responsibilities includes supervising the elections and providing guidelines to the candidates as well as the voting public.

The Dalai Lama first introduced the democratic election system for the Tibetan Parliament in exile in 1960. Since 2002, Tibetans also began electing the Kalon Tripa or Chair of the Tibetan Cabinet. In 2011, after further developments in the devolution of political authority by the Dalai Lama to the elected leadership, the Kalon Tripa position was renamed as Sikyong. The current Sikyong, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, was elected in the 2011 general elections.

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State Department

US Governments highlights lack of religious freedom for Tibetans in its annual report

October 16, 2015

On October 14, 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released the 2014 Report on International Religious Freedom. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry stated: “The message at the heart of this report is that countries benefit when their citizens fully enjoy the rights to which they are entitled.” Kerry further urged “the release of men and women destined or imprisoned anywhere in the world for the peaceful expression and practice of their religious beliefs.”

The report’s section on Tibet states that in the TAR and other Tibetan areas, “authorities severely restricted religious freedom and engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.”

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Tibetan writer released from prison after ten years

October 13, 2015

Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab was released from prison on October 8 after serving ten years and six months for ‘endangering national security’ for an unpublished book.

Dolma Kyab, who is 39, was released from Chushur (Chinese: Qushui) Prison in Lhasa on Thursday and taken back to his home town in the Tibetan area of Amdo, where he was welcomed by family and friends and draped with khatags (white blessing scarves).

Dolma Kyab, a well educated young Tibetan who did post-graduate study in Beijing and is highly respected among his peers, was arrested on March 9, 2005 in Lhasa, where he was teaching history at a middle school. He was tried in secret, and is believed to have been sentenced because of the ideas expressed on Tibet in his unpublished manuscript, written in Chinese and entitled ‘The Restless Himalayas’. A group of well-known Tibetan and Chinese writers wrote a letter calling for his release, but he served his full ten and a half year sentence prior to his release last week.

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Wave of solo peaceful protests in Ngaba: repression and further restrictions imposed

  • There has been a wave of solo peaceful protests in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), one of the most oppressive areas of Tibet, since an important political anniversary in August and the Dalai Lama’s birthday in July. The Tibetan monks and young women who have held their lone demonstrations have called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and freedom for Tibet. Several held up images of the exiled Tibetan religious leader or clasped their hands together in prayer.
  • Ngaba is the area where the self-immolations of Tibetans began in 2009, but it is notable that in a different pattern of protests, the young monks and women who demonstrated – and who have now disappeared – did not harm themselves.
  • Images have since reached ICT of stepped-up patrols of paramilitary police in riot gear on the streets of Ngaba county town, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Amdo). The protesters’ actions are all the more striking given the political context; they know that the consequences of even mild expressions of dissent in Ngaba are likely to involve severe torture in custody and a possible prison sentence.
  • In nine protests since July, four were carried out by young women, with a further protest by a woman in her sixties. Four young monks from Kirti monastery in Ngaba carried out lone protests, with two of them having family connections to Tibetans who are already in prison.
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Major policy meeting on Tibet in buildup to sensitive anniversary

August 28, 2015

A major policy meeting on Tibet presided over by China’s top leader Xi Jinping concluded this week in Beijing, as security is tightened in Lhasa in advance of a political anniversary on September 1.

The Tibet Work Forum on August 24-25, setting out Tibet policy for the coming years, is the sixth such strategy meeting on Tibet to be held since the Chinese took over Tibet in 1949-50.

Attended by the entire Politburo, the Party leadership, the emphasis of the Work Forum was on ‘stability’, a political term associated with a dramatic expansion of military and police powers. According to the Chinese state media, the meeting also emphasized the struggle against ‘separatism’, above economic development, in contrast to the last Tibet Work Forum in January, 2010. The official Global Times reported: “Stressing that national unity, consolidating ethnic unity, and realizing long-term and comprehensive social stability should be regarded as the primary task for the region, Xi said that the country should “firmly take the initiative” in the fight against separatism, and adhere to the principle of governing Tibet under the rule of law.” (August 27, 2015, Global Times). The Chinese authorities state that the Dalai Lama is a prime cause of Tibetan ‘separatism’.

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Major troop movements in Tibet; hardline approach to Dalai Lama in key policy talks

August 12, 2015

  • Major troop movements, including tanks or heavy artillery in convoys of more than 200 vehicles, have been observed in different parts of Tibet in the buildup to the September 1 anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, which will be attended by Chinese leaders from Beijing. The People’s Liberation Army held major live fire exercises this week led by the Chengdu military district that oversees Tibet and the border areas.
  • The importance of the Tibet issue at the highest levels in China was underlined by a meeting of the top Politburo led by Party Secretary Xi Jinping on July 30. The issue of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation was raised in the official media as a critical element of the PRC’s “sovereignty and national security”.
  • The formation of a powerful new central group for ‘United Front’ work – the Party department involved in dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives until talks stalled in January 2010 – is likely to indicate an upgrading of the department and a strengthening of control.
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Runggye Adak

Tibetan nomad Runggye Adak released after eight years in prison for bold protest

July 31, 2015

Runggye Adak, one of Tibet’s most well-known political prisoners, was released today (July 31) after serving his eight year prison sentence after he made a bold statement of support for the Dalai Lama in front of an audience of thousands at a horse festival in 2007.

According to reports from Tibetan exiles in contact with the region, Runggye Adak was taken straight to his home today by the authorities. Officials may have done this without informing his family in order to prevent any public celebrations of his release.

According to other sources, the Lithang Horse Festival in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), Sichuan, has been cancelled this year as a crackdown in the area deepens following the death of revered religious leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche on July 12.

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Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Death in prison of revered Tibetan religious leader: armed forces deployed as Tibetans express their grief

July 13, 2015

  • An influential and much-loved Tibetan lama, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, died on July 12 in his 13th year of a life sentence in prison. Armed security forces have been deployed as hundreds of Tibetans gathered today to call for his body to be returned to his monastery and community in the home area of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was one of the most high-profile Tibetan political prisoners.
  • Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in prison without his family being allowed access except for one visit in 13 years, despite requests for his release on medical parole being made by a number of Western governments. His relatives said that in 2013, they became aware that he was suffering from a heart condition, frequent unconsciousness and uncontrollable shaking of parts of his body. It is not known whether Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was 64, had received any medical treatment in prison.
  • In distress at the news of his death, hundreds of Tibetans, both monks and laypeople, have been gathering today in his home area of Nyagchuka (the Tibetan area of Kham), calling for answers from the authorities about the circumstances of his death and the release of his body for traditional prayers. In response the Chinese authorities have deployed armed troops, set up police checkpoints, blocked major roads, and cut communications in the area, according to Tibetan sources in exile.
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