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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was released from prison on October 8 after serving ten years and six months for ‘endangering national security’ for an unpublished book.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 He was tried in secret, and is believed to have been sentenced because of the ideas expressed on Tibet in his unpublished manuscript, written in Chinese and entitled ‘The Restless Himalayas’.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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Worldwide popularity of Dalai Lama demonstrated in poll before 80th birthday

July 6, 2015

The Dalai Lama is the Nobel Peace Laureate who best embodies qualities of humility, peace and non-violence, according to a poll of five countries in Europe and the U.S. commissioned by ICT.

The poll also found that individuals in the countries surveyed had an overwhelmingly good opinion of the exiled Tibetan religious leader, with approval ratings topping 90% in France, Germany and Italy.

There was also a strong recognition of human rights abuses in Tibet in the countries surveyed by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP), with 82% of those surveyed in France and 68% in the U.S.A. saying that the situation in Tibet with regard to rights was ‘not satisfactory’.

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Alarm at repressive new laws in China on counter-terror, security and NGOs

June 3, 2015

Chinese draft laws on security, counter-terrorism and non-governmental organizations that move closer to implementation this week constitute a further and more serious threat to freedom of religion and expression and deepen repression in an already restrictive political climate. The new measures, which have caused alarm in the international community, broaden the reach of the Party state still further, contracting the space for civil society.

  • Together with the National Security Law that is expected to be implemented this year, the proposed counter-terror law outlines a counter-terrorism structure with vast discretionary powers. The conflation of “terrorism” with religious “extremism” in the law gives scope for the penalization of almost any peaceful expressions of Tibetan identity, acts of non-violent dissent, or criticism of ethnic or religious policies. It also broadens the reach of the state into lay society, for instance requiring the strengthening of “counter-terrorism education” in schools.
  • The draft security law will offer a programmatic and institutional framework for measures to protect “National Security”. The proposal formulates goals and policies to promote “the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party” and to “maintain a socialist system with Chinese characteristics” and calls for “guarding against and lawfully punishing the exploitation of religion to conduct illegal and criminal activities”, while maintaining “normal order of religious activities”. Religious policy in the PRC is shaped by the ideology of the ruling Communist Party and its political imperative of maintaining power.
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Tibetan father of four self-immolates after oppressive measures to prevent Dalai Lama birthday celebrations

May 21, 2015

A Tibetan father of four set fire to himself in Tawu apparently in response to tightened security in the buildup to the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. Tenzin Gyatso, the fourth Tibetan to self-immolate this year, was taken away by armed police and it is not known if he is still alive. He set fire to himself outside a government building where political education was carried out, according to Tibetan sources.

Tenzin Gyatso’s self-immolation yesterday (May 20) followed an intense paramilitary buildup in Tawu (Chinese: Daofu), Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), Sichuan, apparently linked to the authorities’ efforts to prevent any celebrations of the Dalai Lama’s upcoming 80th birthday on July 6.

Since 2008, security forces in Tawu have responded harshly to peaceful expressions of dissent and gatherings of Tibetans for cultural and religious purposes. Two years ago, police in Tawu opened fire on Tibetans peacefully celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday, injuring at least ten people. Other Tibetans detained were tortured in custody.

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Earthquake Relief

The impact of the Nepal earthquake in Tibet

May 1, 2015

As the world’s focus is turned to Nepal after the devastating earthquake, little is known about the situation in Tibetan areas close to the border, other than reports from the Chinese state media, due to tight information controls, restrictions on foreign visitors and lack of access to media.

Official Chinese reports refer to the deaths of 25 people in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with four missing; 2,511 buildings destroyed, 82 monasteries damaged (13 seriously), and 20,000 relief workers and 4,100 military personnel deployed (April 30).

The death toll may be lower than would be expected given the number of buildings destroyed because during this time of year many people in the area would be out in the fields carrying out agricultural work. But the figures still appear to be low, given the damage admitted in the state media. There are tight restrictions on information flow in the Tibet Autonomous Region due to the ongoing political crackdown, with severe penalties for passing on news that differs from official representations, and no independent non-governmental organizations allowed to operate there.

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Dalai Lama says lack of access to information is an obstacle to peaceful change in China

April 29, 2015

The Dalai Lama has said that one of “the great obstacles to peaceful change in China at present is that the Chinese people have only limited access to reliable and realistic sources of information.” In a message to the10th Interethnic /Interfaith Leadership Conference is taking place in the Washington, DC. Region, he said, “If the Chinese leadership were to adopt more practical and realistic policies, it would be possible for the issues faced by Tibetans, Mongols, Uyghurs, and even the Chinese people themselves, to be addressed in a just manner.” “The Chinese leadership emphasises the need for harmony and stability, but attempting to create these conditions by use of force is counterproductive,” the Dalai Lama added.

Following is the full text of his message read at the conference by Mr. Kaydor Aukatsang, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas, on April 27 morning. The conference, organized by the Initiatives for China, is being held from April 27 to 30, 2015. It is being participated by Chinese, Uyghurs, Mongols, Taiwanese as well as Tibetans from Dharamsala, Taiwan and the United States. Messages from Members of Congress as well as a video message from Sikyong Lobsang Sangay were conveyed to the delegates during the inaugural session.

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New report documents endemic torture in Tibet and climate of impunity

February 26, 2015

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet documents a pattern of torture and mistreatment by Chinese prison officials of Tibetans, including 14 of them who have died, as a consequence, between 2009 and 2014.

This report, “Torture and Impunity – 29 Cases of Tibetan Political Prisoners” details specific cases of the 14 Tibetans, from an educated Tibetan in his early forties to a Buddhist teacher, who died as a result of torture in custody as well as the 15 others who survived but are still suffering. It also details the impact of imprisonment – whether extra-judicial, interrogation or a formal sentence – on the lives of Tibetan political prisoners released over the past two years whose ordeals have become known to the outside world, despite rigorous controls on information flow.

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Petition delivered to Facebook to let Tibetan voices be heard

January 28, 2015

ICT President Matteo Mecacci and Care2 (a pioneer of online advocacy) Vice President Joe Baker visited the headquarters of Facebook in Menlo Park, CA, on January 27, 2015 and delivered 20,449 signatures on a petition addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the right of Tibetan voices to be heard on the social network forum without any censorship.

The petition stated that on December 26, Tibetan writer and activist Tsering Woeser used her Facebook page to post a report and video of a Buddhist monk’s self-immolation in Tibet. Within hours, Facebook deleted the post because it allegedly violated the social media giant’s “community standards.”

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Tibetan man self-immolates in Golog. Harrowing image reaches Tibetans in exile.

October 6, 2014

A 42 year-old Tibetan, Kunchok, set himself on fire outside a police station in the Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province on September 16, according information received from Tibet. Image of Kunchok with his face completely burnt has reached Tibetans in exile.

Kunchok’s self immolation took place in Tsangkor town in Gade (Chinese: Gande) county in the Prefecturebut Tibetans nearby managed to extinguish the flames. Kunchok was rushed to hospital, and was deeply distressed that he had survived, according to Tibetan sources. Although the self-immolation happened on September 16, news only reached Tibetans in exile yesterday (October 5) due to restrictions on information and tightened security in the area.

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Lhamo Tashi

Tibetan student sets fire to himself outside government office in Northeastern Tibet

September 22, 2014

A Tibetan student, Lhamo Tashi, set fire to himself and has died on September 17 outside a government Public Security Bureau headquarters in Tsoe City, northeastern Tibet, where he was studying. It is the first self-immolation for five months in Tibet, and the 132nd by a Tibetan in Tibet and China. News of his self-immolation has been circulating on Chinese social media.

After setting himself on fire at around midnight, Lhamo Tashi, who was in his early twenties, was taken away by police in Tsoe City, the capital of Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province (the Tibetan area of Amdo). Tibetan sources said it was not clear whether he had died on the scene or not. When they became aware that he had set fire to himself, his family approached the authorities, who refused their request for the return of his body if he had died. Two days later on September 19, Lhamo Tashi’s family was given his ashes.

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ICT highlights extra-legal detentions in Tibet on U.N. International Day of Enforced Disappearances

August 29, 2014

On the occasion of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, 2014, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) calls for an end to a wave of enforced and extra-legal disappearances across Tibet, in particular following intensified repression after the self-immolations began in 2009.

There has been a new spike in enforced disappearances since the self-immolations in Tibet in 2009. The authorities’ draconian response to the more than 130 self-immolations across Tibet has included reprisals against those allegedly associated with self-immolators, including friends, families, witnesses to the act, and even entire communities.

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Lobsang Tsundue and Lobsang Dargye

New wave of repression in Tibet following quasi-legal response to self-immolations

“Acts of significant evil” – The criminalization of Tibetan self-immolations: an ICT Special Report

July 31, 2014

Chinese Communist Party has responded to Tibetan self-immolations with an intensified wave of repression that has led to the convictions, detention without trial, or disappearance of at least 98 Tibetans by using a quasi-legal framework to criminalize them.

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) documents the impact of rulings announced in December 2012, a month after Xi Jinping became head of the Chinese Communist Party. The new measures, adopted in response to self-immolations across Tibet (now totalling 131), have resulted in a spike in political imprisonments, including one instance of the death penalty, and numerous cases of Tibetans being ‘disappeared’, with family and friends unaware of whether or not they are still alive, often for weeks or months

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ICT welcomes release of Dhondup Wangchen

June 5, 2014

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) welcomes the release of filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen. The award winning filmmaker was released as his prison term of six years came to an end, according to a press release by Filming for Tibet which has campaigned for his release.

“He was held six years too long for simply making a film. Freedom of expression is a universal right and must be exercised by all citizens. We are glad Dhondup has now left the prison and we hope he will soon be able to rejoin his family,” said Matteo Mecacci, President the International Campaign for Tibet.

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