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New China foreign correspondents report shows need for access to Tibet, ICT says

January 29, 2019

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China’s 2018 report on media freedoms in that country underscores the need for overseas journalists and citizens to have reciprocal access to Tibet, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said today.

The report, titled “Under Watch: Reporting in China’s Surveillance State,” documents the severe restrictions China places on members of the international media who attempt to cover Tibet, a historically independent country that China has occupied and ruled with an iron fist for 70 years.

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Lawyer denied access to imprisoned Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk on eve of arrest anniversary

January 23, 2019

The lawyer of Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who marks three years in a Chinese prison on Jan. 27, 2019, was denied access to him last week despite Tashi Wangchuk’s request to meet him to discuss making a new petition about his case.

Wangchuk was sentenced to five years in prison on May 2, 2018, accused of ‘separatism’ after appearing in a New York Times video speaking about the importance of protecting Tibetans’ ‘mother tongue.’ Court documents later showed his prosecution to be a sham.

One of Wangchuk’s lawyers, Lin Qilei, travelled to Dongchuan Prison in Xining City, Qinghai Province, on Jan. 15 in order to ascertain Wangchuk’s current situation and his wish to file a new petition for his release, according to a posting by China Human Rights Defenders. Wangchuk’s first, unsuccessful appeal against his sentence was heard in August 2018. According to PRC law, prisoners are entitled to file a petition if they are not satisfied by the judgement against them. According to Article 22 of this law, the prison should “without delay” handle these petitions.

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Personal thanks from ICT Chairman Richard Gere

January 22, 2019

A message from Richard Gere to ICT Supporters

As Chairman of your International Campaign for Tibet, it gives me great pleasure to share with you the good news of our most extraordinary recent success.

Against huge obstacles, including a formidable Chinese lobbying effort, a transitional Congress, and a Washington that continues to be divided, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act was passed unanimously in the House and the Senate, and was signed into law by President Trump on December 19th, 2018.

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Alignment of Xinjiang, Tibet security forces underline China’s lockdown policies for Tibetans and Uyghurs

January 22, 2019

There is growing evidence that military and security officials in Xinjiang (known to Uyghurs as East Turkestan) are collaborating more closely with their counterparts in the border areas of Tibet and elsewhere, reflecting the Chinese leadership’s alignment of Tibet and Xinjiang and the importance of both regions to the Chinese government in fulfilling its strategic and economic objectives. This cooperation in the imposition of hyper-securitization and militarization is consistent with a harsher, more coercive policy approach toward “ethnic minorities,” which has been particularly evident in Xinjiang with the imprisonment of around a million Uyghurs in internment camps.

The current Chinese Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, who served in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) from 2011 to 2016, developed a system firstly in Tibet and now in Xinjiang that combines coercive securitization and militarization with efforts to accelerate political and cultural transformation. It has the stated official aim of: “breaking lineage, breaking roots, breaking connections, and breaking origins” of Uyghurs and Tibetans.[1] This reflects the ideologically driven preoccupation in Beijing— bearing little or no relation to the real situation on the ground—that the two major “ethnic minority” regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) present a “grave and present danger” to China’s overall security.

The emphasis on the strengthened connections between military and security officials in Tibetan areas, particularly the TAR, and Xinjiang is linked to Chen’s tenure and is in the context of an aggressive ‘counter-terrorism’ drive in both areas with a strongly political dimension, integral to the new policy direction from Beijing that is being imposed on the Tibetan and Uyghur people.

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Galen Rowell Lhasa

Rowell Fund for Tibet Announces 2019 Grantees

January 18, 2019

The Board of Advisors of the Rowell Fund for Tibet has selected five Tibetan grantees for financial support totaling $ $34,469 for 2019. The winners were chosen from 26 project proposals and these will be carried out in the Tibetan community in India and other countries.

John Ackerly, a member of the Rowell Fund for Tibet Board of Advisors, said: “We want to congratulate the grant recipients this year. They carry on the spirit of adventure, social activism and social service that Galen and Barbara Rowell lived by. Friends and family of Galen and Barbara still help raise the funds for these grants, and we are the ones who decide who gets the grants. I can speak for all of us in saying that reading the applications about all the great work that Tibetans and Tibetan groups are doing, gives us inspiration and motivation to keep this fund going.”

The Rowell Fund for Tibet was established in 2003 in memory of the late Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara who died tragically in a plane crash in 2002. Galen Rowell was an internationally known outdoor photographer whose “Rainbow over the Potala Palace” has become an iconic photo for adventure travelers and Tibet watchers.

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Lodi Gyari

ICT to name its Tibetan Empowerment programs to honor the contribution of Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari

January 16, 2019

The Boards of the International Campaign for Tibet have decided to name the different Tibetan empowerment programs undertaken by our organization as the Lodi Gyari Tibetan Empowerment Program to honor his contribution and memory.

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 on October 29, 2018 in San Francisco. Mr. Gyari had served as the Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington DC while simultaneously holding the position of the President of the International Campaign for Tibet. During his tenure, Mr. Gyari was able to make profound political, economic and social contributions to the Tibetan cause. Through building on the visits by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and undertaking effective follow up initiatives, Mr. Gyari was able to successfully institutionalize the Tibetan issue within the United States government.

He was an impassioned advocate for the Tibetan people and believed that they should be empowered to take the lead in the Tibetan movement. Accordingly, during his tenure, the different offices of the International Campaign for Tibet initiated several programs aimed at benefiting the Tibetan people. They include the Tibetan Youth Leadership Program; The Rowell Fund for Tibet; Tibet Lobby Day; Tibetan Parliamentarians Program in Europe; and humanitarian assistance to the Tibetans in exile.

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Laying tracks in Tibet

Tibetans ordered to prostrate to pictures of Chinese President as Tibet leaders prioritize anti-Dalai Lama stance

January 15, 2019

As authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region emphasized their “clear-cut” stance against the Dalai Lama at meetings of the Region’s Party Congress last week, news emerged from eastern Tibet that Tibetans are being told to prostrate and make offerings to pictures of Xi Jinping.

TAR Chairman Che Dalha announced in his work report to the regional Party Congress that oppressive measures had been heightened, saying: “Tibet has firmly curbed and cracked down on secession, infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces [a political term encompassing the Dalai Lama and Tibet supporters] at home and abroad.”

Amid other signs of an intensified campaign against the Dalai Lama, in the eastern Tibetan area of Serthar county in Sichuan, Tibetans who receive official “poverty alleviation” subsidies from the government have been ordered to remove images of the Dalai Lama from their homes and to destroy their altars, according to information from former political prisoner Golok Jigme. Some families are even being compelled to display images of China’s leader Xi Jinping in their homes, and to prostrate and make offerings.

Another source told the International Campaign for Tibet that new housing provided for Tibetans relocated in settlements in Kham were already equipped with small altars – not with Buddhist icons, but with images of Chinese Party leaders.

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China’s claims about easing Tibet travel are an insufficient response to Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

January 11, 2019

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act’s two lead sponsors in Congress have challenged the Chinese government to show through concrete action that it is opening up Tibet to the outside world.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were reacting to reports in Chinese state media from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa that China was changing its policy regarding access to Tibet, a historically independent country that China has occupied for 70 years.

A China Daily report on Jan. 10, 2019 says, “Overseas tourists will find it easier and faster to apply for a travel permit to Tibet this year as the regional government makes efforts to boost tourism.”

In response, Sen. Rubio tweeted on Jan.11, 2019: “Seems the new Reciprocal Access to #Tibet law has gotten the attention of the Chinese Gov’t. Time will tell if they open up Tibet & stop brutally repressing the Tibetan people.”

Rubio also had a message for the Trump Administration. His tweet said, “In the meantime, @StateDept should swiftly implement the bill.”

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Chinese response to Tibet reciprocity bill signals its fear of US support for Tibet

January 7, 2019

Giant thangka painting of mass murderer Mao is assertion of ‘red culture’ in Tibet

  • As Chinese authorities reacted angrily against President Trump signing into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, they stepped up criticism of the Dalai Lama, republishing baseless negative articles that exposed China’s fear of the new law, which received strong bipartisan and bicameral support in the US.
  • Local authorities in an area of eastern Tibet launched a “clean-up” drive to eliminate pictures of the Tibetan religious leader and replace them with pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders.
  • In a development that would be unthinkable in Chinese cities such as Beijing or Shanghai, a massive image of Mao Zedong has been created in a Tibetan area in the form of a Tibetan thangka (a Buddhist religious painting), involving 12,000 people in its production and costing more than 4 million yuan ($580,000). It is a move apparently designed to assert Tibetan subjugation to the image of Mao, who was responsible for the invasion of Tibet in 1949-50. Its announcement coincided with statements from Xi emphasizing the Communist Party’s dominance at important meetings in Beijing in December 2018.
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ICT hails passage of Asia Reassurance Initiative Act that references Tibet

January 2, 2019

The International Campaign for Tibet applauds the passage of the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 (S.2736) by the United States Congress. The Act was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 31, 2018 and includes a reference to Tibet.

The Act, known as ARIA, aims to “develop a long-term strategic vision and a comprehensive, multifaceted, and principled United States policy for the Indo-Pacific region.” It says, “The United States has a fundamental interest in defending human rights and promoting the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The Act includes a reference to supporting “activities preserving cultural traditions and promoting sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities” in the region. The Act expresses grave concerns with Chinese actions that seek to further constrain space for civil society within China and to undermine a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

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Americans rank Dalai Lama among most admired men in the world, showing continued US support for both him and Tibet

The Tibetan spiritual leader is eighth on Gallup’s 2018 Most Admired Man list, marking his ninth appearance in the top 10.

The list, released today, is based on a survey that asked more than 1,000 adults across the United States which living person they admired most. Former US President Barack Obama came up first for the 11th consecutive year, while his wife, former first lady Michele Obama, topped the list of most admired women.

As a leader who for decades has advocated a peaceful solution to the Tibetan crisis—earning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989—and as an eloquent voice of compassion and tolerance across religions and cultures, the Dalai Lama is often voted as one of the most respected figures around the globe.

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White House statement

Tibet Reciprocal Access bill becomes law, marking new era in US-China relationship and US support for Tibetans

December 19, 2018

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act is now law, signifying a more vigorous interest by the United States in Tibet and the Tibetan people.

This law marks a new era of US support for Tibetans and a challenge to China’s discriminatory policies in Tibet. Following unanimous passage by both the House and the Senate, President Donald Trump signed it on December 19, 2018.

The legislation calls for American diplomats, journalists and ordinary citizens to have equal access to the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas as their Chinese counterparts enjoy in the US.

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Teen monk beaten and arrested as wave of protests and self-immolations continues in Tibet

December 18, 2018

On a major anniversary in Tibet, a 17-year-old monk was beaten and arrested for calling out for Tibetan freedom, just one day after unconfirmed reports said two teens lit themselves on fire in protest of Chinese rule.

On Dec. 10, the anniversary of the Dalai Lama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, 17-year-old Sanggye Gyatso of the Kirti monastery in Ngaba in northeastern Tibet carried out a solo protest, calling for ‘Freedom for Tibet.’ As he attempted to walk along the main street, he was detained immediately by police, who beat him as they took him away, according to two Kirti monks living in exile in Dharamsala, India.

Sanggye Gyatso has now disappeared into custody, and there is no further information about his safety or whereabouts. According to the two monks in Dharamsala, he is from Soruma village in the Choejema area of Ngaba county and joined Kirti monastery at a young age from a family of pastoralists.

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Facial recognition technology

Developing technological totalitarianism in Tibet: Huawei and Hikvision

December 17, 2018

In August 2018, US President Donald Trump signed a law that forbade US government agencies from buying surveillance products from Chinese firms including Hikvision, ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. A month later, it was reported that the US was considering sanctions against companies and Chinese officials over Beijing’s mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in concentration camps.

Hikvision, a company that is controlled by the Chinese government and has internet-enabled cameras installed in more than 100 countries, has installed surveillance systems in a re-education camp in Xinjiang (East Turkestan) and mosques and has also been directly involved in a large-scale integrated surveillance program in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region that is terrifying in its scope and scale.[1] The company also has offices in Lhasa and has provided surveillance tech for the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Hikvision’s work in Tibet is particularly associated with the former Chinese Communist Party chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Chen Quanguo, who is now in charge in Xinjiang. In Tibet, Chen used surveillance tech supplied by Hikvision as part of the development of one of the most dystopian and intrusive police and security states in the world—a system of technological totalitarianism.

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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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