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Legislative landmark: US Congress passes Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

December 11, 2018

In a triumph today for American citizens—including lawmakers, activists and human rights advocates concerned about the decades-long repression in Tibet—the United States Congress unanimously passed a bill that takes direct aim at the Chinese government’s unfair treatment of Americans and pushes back against its isolation of Tibet from the outside world.

The US Senate approved the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act on December 11, 2018. It now goes to the desk of President Trump, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018—which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and in the Senate by Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)—is bipartisan legislation designed to address China’s exclusion of American journalists, diplomats and citizens from Tibet.

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Drugkho

Young Tibetan man sets himself on fire; third self-immolation in Tibet this year

December 10, 2018

According to information from Tibetan sources, a young Tibetan man set fire to himself in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) in the Tibetan area of Amdo on Dec. 8, 2018. News of the self-immolation circulated in Tibetan-language media but was difficult to immediately confirm because the Chinese government imposed an information blackout in the area and punishes Tibetans who discuss such incidents with outsiders.

The Tibetan language newspaper Tibet Times as well as the Tibet Post International identified the man as Drugkho from Ngaba. The Tibet Post also said that he set himself on fire while calling out for the long life of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet. Radio Free Asia also reported the news, with one source telling RFA: “It has become an emergency issue and the details of the incident cannot be discussed at the moment. Everyone is aware of this self-immolation case in Ngaba, but no one has received a detailed account of the situation.”

It is not clear if Drugkho is still alive.

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The origin of the ‘Xinjiang model’ in Tibet under Chen Quanguo: Securitizing ethnicity and accelerating assimilation

December 10, 2018

Reports on the current situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region describe a climate of expansive surveillance and control, the mass detention of at least 1 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs in re-education camps and an effective information vacuum. In August 2018, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed grave concern over “numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.”

The international community has been justifiably concerned about Uyghurs and Kazakhs who have been severely targeted because of their ethnic identity, culture and religious practice. In November 2018, 15 western ambassadors in Beijing undertook the unprecedented move of writing to Chen Quanguo, the Party Secretary in Xinjiang, to request a meeting to discuss the current situation there. As Chen is the party secretary leading policy design and implementation in Xinjiang, the 15 western ambassadors have good reason to seek him out.

While the latter appears to be a promising development, it is questionable how forthcoming Chen would be at such a meeting. To best understand what is unfolding in Xinjiang and the motivation driving Chen and the Chinese Communist Party’s policies, observers should look to Tibet, where Chen previously served as the party secretary for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Chen’s policy goals and projects in Tibet offer insights into the roots of what is being called the ‘Xinjiang model’ of repression, in particular the emphasis on cultural assimilation and the construction of an extensive architecture of surveillance and control.

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Dalai Lama letter

Dalai Lama’s message to global climate summit shows need for urgent action in Tibet

December 6, 2018

As a native of one of the world’s most beautiful and endangered landscapes, the Dalai Lama has sent his prayers and advice to the largest annual global climate change summit.

“We have to take serious action now to protect our environment and find constructive solutions to global warming,” the Tibetan spiritual leader wrote in a message to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as the COP24 Climate Conference.

The event, taking place now in the Polish city of Katowice, has brought together delegates from nearly 200 countries to create a roadmap for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

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State Dept. supports reciprocal access to Tibet, and Congress rejects China’s authority to choose new Dalai Lama

December 4, 2018

The US Department of State supports the goals of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and will take steps to implement the bill if it becomes law, a department official said at a hearing today.

During the same hearing, a US Senator stated that Congress would reject a Chinese-appointed reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.

“I think it’s clear that this Congress would not recognize a Chinese imposition” of a new Dalai Lama, said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who presided today, Dec. 4, 2018, over the hearing titled “The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.”

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The illegality of everything: China’s new campaign offers rewards for information on ‘illegal content’

December 3, 2018

In a nationwide campaign in China against so-called “illegal content,” Chinese authorities are offering rewards to those who inform on others suspected of reading or speaking about, for instance, foreign newspaper articles or broadcasts about Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Coinciding with the campaign, a series of graphic cartoons were distributed in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, including one of a closed fist smashing into two people marked with the Chinese characters for “black (illegal)” and “evil.” The Dalai Lama is characterized as a leader of such “evil forces” by the Chinese authorities.

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Mourning the loss of George H.W. Bush, first President to meet the Dalai Lama

December 3, 2018

President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30, 2018, was the first American President to meet with the Dalai Lama, paving the way for successive Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to follow.

George H.W. Bush and the Dalai Lama met on April 16, 1991, during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Washington, D.C. Although the Dalai Lama started visiting the United States in 1979, during the time of President Jimmy Carter, it took 11 years for an American President to receive him.

Recalling this, the Dalai Lama told President George W. Bush, in a condolence message on Dec. 1, 2018, “I am saddened by the passing away of your father, President George H.W. Bush. I offer my profound condolences to you and your family at this difficult time.

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Palden Gyatso, Tibetan monk who was tortured and jailed for 33 years, passes away

November 30, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet mourns the loss of Ven. Palden Gyatso, who endured more than 30 years of torture and imprisonment in Chinese prisons and labor camps in Tibet and died today, Nov. 30, in Dharamsala, India, at the age of 85.

The Dalai Lama described Palden’s life as “one of the most extraordinary stories of suffering and endurance,” saying that he was “an inspiration to us all.”

“Individuals like Palden Gyatso,” the Dalai Lama wrote in a foreword to Palden’s book “Fire Under the Snow,” “reveal that the human values of compassion, patience and a sense of responsibility for our own actions that lie at the core of spiritual practice still survive. His story is an inspiration to us all.”

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

November 28, 2018

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act passed another milestone today, Nov. 28, 2018, when it was unanimously approved by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Act, which the House of Representatives passed in September, aims to end China’s isolation of Tibet and the Tibetan people from the outside world by calling on the Chinese government to allow American journalists, diplomats and tourists into Tibet, just as their Chinese counterparts are able to travel in the US.

“The unanimous support expressed today by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) once again reflects the widespread concern of the American people for the situation inside Tibet and for the lack of access for US citizens,” said Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet. “We wish to thank in particular the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Sen. Rubio, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the SFRC, Sen. Corker and Sen. Menendez, for their steadfast and principled stance in support of reciprocity in US-China relations.”

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ICT launches debate in Europe on reciprocity and access to Tibet

November 26, 2018

BRUSSELS — At a conference it helped organize last week inside the European Parliament on November 21, 2018, the International Campaign for Tibet led a discussion on the need for Europe to expand the notion of reciprocity—which is often invoked by European leaders as a key principle in economic and trade relations with China—to ensure the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms and to promote unfettered access to Tibet.

The conference, “Access to Tibet and the Practice of Reciprocity,” which was organized in collaboration with International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), followed the publication in May of an ICT report revealing China’s strategies of weaponizing access to Tibet in order to prevent international scrutiny of its human rights abuses there.

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Sens. Sanders and Gardner cosponsor Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, signaling strong support for its approval this year

November 14, 2018

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act continues to gain steam with United States Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) cosponsoring the bill, signaling strong support for it to be approved in the Senate and signed into law before 2018 ends.

Sanders, considered a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and Gardner, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee as well as the Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cosponsored the bill on Nov. 13, the first day Congress was back at work following the midterm elections.

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Tibetan man calls for Dalai Lama’s long life as he sets himself on fire

November 8, 2018

A young Tibetan man named Dorbe set himself on fire on Nov. 4 in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), Amdo, saying “May the Dalai Lama live long! May we soon behold his golden countenance!” before he died.

Images that emerged depicted the young Tibetan man beside a nomad tent in traditional Tibetan dress.

According to Kanyag Tsering and Lobsang Yeshe, two Kirti monks in exile in India who passed on the news of the self-immolation, Dorbe was 23 and from Jakorma (Chinese: Xiakunma) village in the pastoral Choejema (Chinese: Qiujima) township of Ngaba county in present-day Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province. Ngaba is the area where the wave of Tibetan self-immolations began. Dorbe had been living at the house of his uncle. The Kirti monks said that no further details were known, due to intense restrictions on information flow in the area and grave dangers for Tibetans in speaking to those in exile.

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China’s false denials at UN human rights council must be challenged, ICT says

November 6, 2018

The Chinese government aggressively denied its human rights violations during today’s Universal Periodic Review of its record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Despite China’s false claims, a number of countries rightly pointed out China’s systematic abuse of basic freedoms in Tibet and Xinjiang, among other serious concerns.

“The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is deeply concerned by the responses of the Chinese government during today’s UN hearing,” said Kai Mueller, head of ICT’s UN advocacy team and executive director of ICT Germany. “It should be clear to everyone that this was not just about the rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs or Chinese human rights defenders, but also about promoting to the world the Chinese system, which quite obviously discards human rights and the rule of law,”.

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As China faces critical UN review, its appalling human rights record must not become the new normal

November 5, 2018

Washington/Geneva – As the Chinese government is scrutinized at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, the international community needs to challenge China’s appalling human rights record and prevent it from becoming the new normal, the International Campaign for Tibet said today.

“In its own country, the Chinese government is systematically violating the most basic standards of human rights, and it seeks to weaken those rights in the international discourse. China undermines the work of international rights bodies, denies access, seeks to restrict civil society globally and exports its authoritarian model to countries susceptible to such tendencies,” said Kai Mueller, Head of UN advocacy for ICT and Executive Director of ICT Germany.

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Lodi Gyari

Lodi Gyari, a lifetime of service to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people

October 29, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet is deeply saddened by the passing of Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and wishes to express our condolences to his family and all those who knew him.

Mr. Gyari, the retired Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, senior official of the Central Tibetan Administration, and Executive Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, passed away today, October 29, 2018 in San Francisco. He was 69.

Mr. Gyari was a seasoned and skilled diplomat who spent the majority of his professional career working directly for and on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was an impassioned advocate for the Tibetan people, universal human rights and global democratic reform.

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Larung Gar

Prayer festival cancelled amid tightening control at famous Tibetan Buddhist institute

October 25, 2018

Chinese officials have canceled the prayer festival of Dechen Shedrub at the famous Larung Gar institute in eastern Tibet, according to an official notice stating that there would be no more large religious gatherings held there. Religious teachings at Larung Gar, the world’s largest center of Tibetan Buddhist study and ethics, used to attract thousands of Chinese and Tibetan devotees as well as visitors from all over the world. The announcement of the ban states that Larung Gar is a place for religious study rather than religious practice, and that devotees from other areas are not welcome there.

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Video footage shows attack on Tibetans protesting arrival of Chinese work team in grasslands

October 19, 2018

Video footage has emerged of Tibetans being attacked after protesting the intrusion of a Chinese work team into a grassland area of Amdo (Qinghai) to set up a solar panel installation. The footage, received by Radio Free Asia Tibetan service, shows one of the Tibetans being dragged by a truck before being left injured on the ground.

The incident occurred on October 11 when Chinese work crews arrived in Choeje village in the Tsolho (Chinese: Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe) county, according to a source and reported by Radio Free Asia (October 17, Tibetan Land Protesters Attacked, Beaten in Qinghai).

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Supporters of reciprocal access to Tibet take their message to Senate offices on special Lobby Day

United States Senate offices on Capitol Hill and across the country were buzzing on Wednesday as supporters of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act came out en masse to lobby for the bill. The special Lobby Day organized by the International Campaign for Tibet brought together ICT members, Tibetan associations and other activists who urged […]

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