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Message from Richard Gere, Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, to the Tibet Solidarity Rally in New York on December 10, 2017

December 2017

Tashi delek dear Tibetan brothers and sisters. As I write to you today, we have just concluded a successful visit to Capitol Hill and our year-end meetings of the Boards of Directors from the United States and Europe. I am sorry I cannot join your gathering in New York today but would like to express my solidarity at this critical time in Tibetan history.

Your rally is timely as the situation in Tibet is both dire and rapidly evolving. Following this recent visit to Washington, I can assure you there are many different people, from many communities throughout the world who care deeply about Tibet and have come together in their work to do whatever they can to help address the situation.

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Ban on access to nature reserves in Tibet raises concern about Tibetan nomads at UNESCO site

December 11, 2017

The Chinese authorities have issued a notice prohibiting access to the Hoh Xil nature reserve in Qinghai – which was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in July – except for security personnel or other authorized officials.

The notice raises further concerns about the exclusion of Tibetan pastoralists who have made skillful use of the remote, wild landscape here and across the plateau for centuries, co-existing with wildlife and protecting the land. It appears to counter Chinese assurances to UNESCO that they would “fully respect” local herders and “their traditional culture, religious beliefs, and lifestyle”.[1] The role of nomads in preservation of the landscape and the need for their free movement was recognized during discussion over China’s nomination for UNESCO status for the Hoh Xil area, including by international conservation body the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which carried out an evaluation mission to the area.[2]

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ICT Chair Richard Gere

Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing calls for reciprocal access, religious freedom, and human rights in Tibet

December 6, 2017

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, testified today (December 6) at a Congressional hearing on U.S. Tibet policy in Washington, DC, saying that he was “knocked out” by the support and proposals from U.S. lawmakers during the nearly two-hour long session.

At the hearing, hosted by the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, members of the Committee and the witnesses who gave testimony called for substantive action to resolve the Tibet issue, in the context of a wide-ranging debate covering China’s place in the world, the Dalai Lama and the succession issue, the strategic importance of Tibet to the PRC, and other issues. The Subcommittee hearing came amid efforts to advance the bipartisan Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and a Concurrent Resolution in support of Tibet’s place in American foreign policy. Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia, and Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, also testified.

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Hearing on U.S. Tibet policy hosted by Committee on Foreign Affairs, December 6

December 5, 2017

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, will testify Wednesday, December 6 before the United States Congress on U.S. Tibet policy, hosted by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service, Radio Free Asia and Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy, will also testify at the hearing.

The Hearing is being held at a critical moment for evaluation of U.S. government Tibet policy following President Trump’s visit to China, where he failed to speak publicly about human rights and Tibet. It follows the introduction of a bipartisan Concurrent Resolution to the Senate on November 16, 2017 asking the Trump Administration to make Tibet an important factor in US-China relations, and calling upon the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act, to promote access of US citizens to Tibet, and to encourage China to speak to the Dalai Lama leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet.

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Dalai Lama meets former President Barack Obama in New Delhi

December 1, 2017

The Dalai Lama made a special trip from Dharamsala to the Indian capital New Delhi on December 1, 2017 to meet with former US President Barack Obama, who was on a visit to India.

Kasur Tempa Tsering, who is the India and East Asia Coordinator for Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (and a member of ICT’s Board of Directors), told DIIR media that “His Holiness was very happy to meet his fellow Nobel laureate and also a friend”.

He added, “During the 45-minute meeting, both spoke about promoting compassion and altruism in human beings. His Holiness remarked that basically human beings are compassionate in nature but it is the kind of education imparted that makes the binary between you and me and instils a sense of selfishness and self-centeredness. Both the peace laureates discussed the kind of future they envision for the world.”

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Respected Tibetan monk sets fire to himself in eastern Tibet

November 30, 2017

A popular Tibetan monk in his sixties who had worked as a voluntary teacher set fire to himself and died in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), the eastern Tibetan area of Kham, on Sunday (November 26).

The monk, named Tenga, had studied in Kardze Monastery in Sichuan. He reportedly called for freedom for Tibet as he was burning, according to Tibetan sources.

Tenga is the 151st Tibetan to set himself on fire in Tibet since 2009, in one of the most sweeping and significant waves of self-immolation as political protest globally, and the fifth this year. Two Tibetans in exile in India also set fire to themselves in July (2017).[1]

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ICT statement on China’s cancelation of matches in Germany after Tibet flags were displayed

November 27, 2017

  • Chinese football team cancels matches in Germany after Tibet flag displayed
  • Hostile response in Chinese media indicates unilateral decision after German FA defends freedom of speech

A round of friendly matches in Germany with China’s Under 20 national team was cancelled last Friday after a group of protesters unfurled Tibetan flags at a game last week in Mainz, causing the Chinese team to walk off the pitch.

In a response to the outrage from the Chinese side, Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Football Association, defended the right to free expression and said: “It has been made clear to the Chinese federation that when you play in Germany you also have to deal with the fact that anyone can express their opinion.”

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ICT Inside Tibet: Safety fears over Tibet railway raised amid concern over mega-projects

November 21, 2017

  • An account of safety fears over construction of the newest line of the Tibet railway, the Lhasa to Shigatse route, is circulating on social media, with the blogger saying that the authorities are “turning a blind eye” to the dangers. The author of the blog, who gives a Chinese name, appears to have detailed knowledge of the railway’s construction and its failings and refers to the military and strategic importance of Tibet’s railway and its extension in areas close to the Indian border.
  • The Nepalese press reported that China and Nepal have completed an early study on the cross-border, 100-km railway that they say will connect Kathmandu with the border town of Kyirong (Chinese: Gyirong) in the Tibet Autonomous Region, part of China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ plans, although their account of the extent of underground tunnelling under one of the world’s most seismically active mountain ranges seems unfeasible and highly unlikely.
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Bipartisan resolution supporting the Dalai Lama and Tibet introduced in the US Senate

November 17, 2017

A bipartisan Concurrent Resolution (S. Con. Res. 30) was introduced to the Senate on November 16, 2017 asking the Trump Administration to make Tibet an important factor in US-China relations. The Resolution calls on the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act, to promote access of US citizens to Tibet, and to encourage China “to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives leading to a negotiated agreement with respect to Tibet.” It complements a similar resolution introduced in the House of Representatives (H. Con. Res. 89) on November 1, 2017.

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Major religious festival cancelled and new police checkpoints at Larung Gar

November 3, 2017

  • A major religious festival, the prayer gathering Dechen Shedrub, has been cancelled at Larung Gar institute despite earlier assurances that it would go ahead, according to Tibetan sources. The new development follows the demolition of monastic residences, expulsion of thousands of monks and nuns and the imposition of direct Communist Party control at one of the world’s leading Buddhist institutes in Serthar (Chinese: Serta), Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan.
  • Checkpoints have been set up on the approach to Larung Gar, indicating the tightened security following the wave of demolitions and the appointment of Chinese Communist Party members to key positions at the institute, the world’s largest center of Buddhist study and ethics, according to new information received by the International Campaign for Tibet.
  • Recent construction work confirms that the Chinese authorities are using the development of tourism as a tool to counter cultural resilience and monastic influence, as the CCP seeks to impose more stringent restrictions in its stated aim of ‘Sinicizing religion’, emphasized at the 19th Party Congress and following the imposition of new religious regulations across the PRC.
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On eve of President Trump’s China trip, bipartisan resolution introduced in US Congress supporting Dalai Lama and Tibet

November 1, 2017

On the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to China to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, a concurrent Resolution (H. Con. Res. 89) has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives on November 1, 2017 asking the Trump Administration to make Tibet an important factor in US-China relations, to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act, to promote access of US citizens to Tibet and to encourage China “to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives leading to a negotiated agreement with respect to Tibet.”

This resolution is co-sponsored by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, along with Representatives. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), the respective Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, The Representatives are all senior members of the House Foreign Relations Committee. President Trump, who is leaving on November 3 for a five-nation Asia trip, will be in China on November 8, 2017.

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Xi Jinping cements grip on power at Party Congress: new leaders revealed and their influence on Tibet policy

November 1, 2017

  • China’s 19th Party Congress came to a close last week, revealing a new leadership committee and breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to Party Secretary and President Xi Jinping. The new configuration cements Xi Jinping’s grip on power for the next five years and potentially beyond, with Xi’s ideology approved for incorporation into the Party Constitution as ‘Xi Jinping thought’.
  • In his marathon three and a half hour work report to the Party Congress, Xi Jinping underlined his determination not to allow “to separate any part of Chinese territory from China”, a political term linked to the crushing of dissent and enforcement of compliance to Party rule.
  • Among the new figures on China’s top Politburo Standing Committee, the seven leaders who now govern China, is an official who served in a Tibetan area, Zhao Leji, and was active in the “political struggle against the Dalai Lama”, according to the state media. Another among the seven, Wang Huning, has maintained a close involvement with Tibet and is also likely to be extremely influential on policy.
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ICT Statement on 10th Anniversary of Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama

October 17, 2017

October 17, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the historic bestowal of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor of the United States, to the Dalai Lama. The award ceremony was participated by then President George W. Bush, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House and Senate leadership, signifying the broad-based support for the Dalai Lama in the United States. The International Campaign for Tibet had the privilege to be actively involved in this Congressional initiative.

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New developments in China’s Tibet policy as Communist Party’s 19th Congress begins

October 17, 2017

  • Since Xi Jinping assumed power at the last Party Congress in 2012, there have been significant developments in China’s Tibet policy, reflecting its prominence to the Communist Party leadership as an issue that is integral to China’s territorial concerns, the future of China’s economic expansion and the legitimacy of the CCP itself.
  • China has dramatically tightened control in Tibet in advance of
    the 19th Party Congress in Beijing from October 18. Massed ranks of troops and special forces gathered in Lhasa and other cities in the Tibet Autonomous Region for intimidating military drills in which soldiers swore allegiance to “protecting the 19th Party Congress”. Despite the already oppressive measures in place, the leadership in Tibet has emphasized even stricter ‘rectification’ with grassroots Party organisations warned to be even more “effective battle fortresses”.
  • The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has been closed to foreigners during the Party Congress. Tibetans have been further isolated from the outside world due to more systematic blocking of communications, creating dangers even in innocent family conversations in the buildup to the meeting in Beijing, and are being subjected to more intrusive ideological campaigns.
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New US report highlights China’s repressive policies in Tibet

October 5, 2017

The Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) has released its 2017 Annual Report and recommendations for the Administration’s China policy in which it has said that the Chinese Communist Party and government continued implementing repressive policies in Tibet through the use of extensive and intrusive surveillance, strict regulations and rules to restrict Tibetans’ fundamental rights, and pervasive displays of police and military force.

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On eve of Germany’s Elections, Political Parties commit to support Dalai Lama and Tibet

September 20, 2017

Ahead of the 2017 Federal German Election scheduled for Sunday, 24 September, political parties currently represented in the parliament, the Bundestag, responded to questions on Tibet posed to them by the International Campaign for Tibet Germany, the Tibet Initiative Germany and the Association of Tibetans in Germany.

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), DIE LINKE (The Left) and Alliance 90/ The Greens responded to 11 questions reaffirming their support to encouraging dialogue on Tibet. They were specifically asked about policy plans to advocate for human rights in Tibet, Tibet’s environment and direct dialogue between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government — in the Federal parliament, by means of official representations with the People’s Republic of China, and through international forums.

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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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ICT Vice President Bhuchung Tsering’s statement at the Roundtable on “Tibetan Buddhist Today”

September 15, 2017

Following is the prepared statement by ICT Vice President Bhuchung Tsering at the Roundtable on “Tibetan Buddhist Today” held by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the International Religious Freedom Roundtable at the United States Congress on September 15, 2017. Other participants of the Roundtable were Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, USCIRF Commissioner; Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for East Asia, Freedom House; and Tina Mufford, Senior Policy Analyst, USCIRF. Judith Golub, Director of Congressional Affairs & Policy and Planning, USCIRF, moderated it.

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