Archive | Spotlight RSS feed for this section

China cancels Jon Bon Jovi concerts raising concerns about freedom of expression

September 9, 2015

The first concerts in China by American rock star Jon Bon Jovi have been unexpectedly cancelled this week by a decision of the Ministry of Culture. While an official reason has not been given, and only “unforseen circumstances” have been mentioned to the press by the rock star’s management, on Chinese social media questions were raised about this decision having to do with the infamous censorship rules implemented by Beijing all over the country. In particular, images have been circulating of a picture of the Dalai Lama in the backdrop of a Jon Bon Jovi concert in Tokyo in 2010, as well as a video for the 2009 hit ‘We Weren’t Born to Follow’ featuring the iconic ‘Tank Man’ photograph of Tiananmen Square, as possible reasons.

Last month a planned concert by the US pop group Maroon 5 in China was cancelled, prompting speculation that the authorities refused permission because a band member met the Dalai Lama. The band later removed a Tweet by Jesse Carmichael, who plays both keyboard and rhythm guitar, about meeting the Dalai Lama at events for the leader’s 80th birthday.

Read full story Comments are closed

NGOs urge Obama to stand with Chinese civil society ahead of Xi Jinping’s Visit

September 9, 2015

A coalition of NGOs, including International Campaign for Tibet, have expressed concern at the deteriorating human rights situation in China and are urging President Obama to “visibly stand with independent Chinese civil society by inviting members of that community into the White House in advance of President Xi’s visit,” which will take place on September 24-25, 2015.

In a letter to President Obama, the NGOs wrote, “We believe that visibly demonstrating support and solidarity for that community may bring individuals or their organizations relief from persecution, and in turn also protect their efforts on legal reform, the freedom of expression and religion, and other issues critical to a healthy, predictable US-China relationship.”

Read full story Comments are closed

Tough warnings on ‘anti-separatism’ from Party leaders at political anniversary in Tibet

September 8, 2015

  • The Chinese leadership marked the anniversary of its establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) today in Lhasa with tough warnings of its resolve to crack down on the Dalai Lama’s influence and ‘anti-separatism’.
  • A 65-member delegation from Beijing led by top Chinese political advisor Yu Zhengsheng presided over a ceremony today (September 8) in front of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s traditional winter residence, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Chinese government marked the anniversary by issuing a lengthy ‘White Paper’ on Tibet’s ‘autonomy’, although Yu Zhengsheng made it clear in his comments at the rally that this is on the Party state’s terms, saying Tibetans had to “stick to the Communist Party’s leadership”.
  • The Chinese authorities claimed that the theme of the anniversary was to follow the spirit of the ‘Sixth Work Forum’ in August, the first major policy meeting on Tibet to be presided over by Party leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012. The meeting emphasized the importance of ‘stability’, political language for the elimination of dissent and enforcement of compliance to Chinese Communist Party policies, specifically blamed the Dalai Lama for ‘anti-separatist’ activities, and underlined the importance of the Tibet issue to the Beijing leadership.
Read full story Comments are closed

Self-immolation of ‘generous Buddhist devoted to her family’ in Tibet

September 4, 2015

New information has reached ICT about the self-immolation of Tashi Kyi, a Tibetan mother of four in her mid-fifties who set herself on fire on August 27 and died, apparently as a protest against China’s policies of relocation and demolition of housing. Tashi Kyi, described as a “generous Buddhist” who was “devoted to her family”, was a relative of a prominent monk who escaped into exile after a bold protest in 2008.

Although local Tibetans attempted to save her life by extinguishing the blaze, Tashi Kyi died hours after setting herself on fire in her housing compound, a nomad settlement site in Sangkok township, Sangchu (Chinese: Xiahe) in Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. Her body was taken away by the authorities. It is the 143rd self-immolation in Tibet since 2009.[1]

Read full story Comments are closed

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’.

Read full story Comments are closed

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.
Read full story Comments are closed

Rowell Fund for Tibet to receive application for 2015-2016 Grant Cycle

August 11, 2015

The Rowell Fund for Tibet seeks to support Tibetans who can make a significant contribution to their community and/or an international audience in the fields of visual arts and media, and environmental and women’s rights.

The application form for the Rowell Fund for Tibet’s 2015-2016 grant is now available for download. Application materials will be accepted from September 1 to September 30, 2015 (midnight Eastern Standard Time).

The Rowell Fund for Tibet was initiated in memory of late Galen and Barbara Rowell, who were longtime friends of Tibet. Galen and Barbara cooperated with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to produce My Tibet, a touching book that captured the natural essence of Tibet. Their love and passion for photography and writing introduced the beauty of Tibet and its threatened ecosystem and culture to countless people around the globe. Following their tragic passing, ICT’s Board of Directors along with family and friends of the Rowells established the Rowell Fund for Tibet to help empower Tibetans and to honor and perpetuate the goals and ideals of Galen and Barbara in the Tibetan community.

Read full story Comments are closed
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.

Read full story Comments are closed

International Olympics Committee has the obligation to see China sticks to its ideals

July 31, 2015

Today the International Olympics Committee decided upon Beijing as the host for the 2022 winter Olympics.

The International Campaign for Tibet believes that in 2008, China had a historic opportunity to show the world that it is a worthy host of the Olympics. Both the International Olympics Committee and the Beijing Olympics Committee highlighted the potential positive impacts the 2008 Olympics would have on Chinese society, but today we know that there has only been increased trampling of human rights in China generally and in Tibet specifically in the post-2008 period.

Once again, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a video message relating to the 2022 Olympics that it would be “another opportunity to help advance the Olympic Movement and promote the Olympic Spirit“. He added, “We will honor all the commitments.”

Read full story Comments are closed

Fears for the safety of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s sister and niece detained after his cremation: home area ‘like a military zone’

July 23, 2015

  • There are fears for the safety of the sister of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Dolkar Lhamo, and her daughter, who are still being held by police following his cremation at a remote detention facility in his 13th year of imprisonment. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a revered religious teacher convicted on false ‘bombing’ charges, was one of the most prominent Tibetan political prisoners, and a number of governments urged the Chinese authorities to grant him medical parole.
  • Police acting on orders of higher authorities have seized the ashes of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche from Tibetan lamas who were carrying them back to his home monastery in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) after his cremation at a high-security detention facility where he apparently died.
  • There is a deepening crackdown in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s home area, with the deployment of increased numbers of troops.
  • The hardline position being taken by the Communist Party authorities is evident in a state media article published in China Daily on July 20 (2015) entitled ‘Separatist leader’s death not worthy of lament’. After a week’s delay, the Chinese authorities announced that the cause of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death was ‘sudden cardiac death’, according to a statement issued by Xinhua on July 18, 2015.
Read full story Comments are closed

Remarks by Leader Nancy Pelosi and Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett at Dalai Lama’s 80th Birthday event

July 22, 2015

On July 10, 2015, the North American Tibetan Associations organized a public ceremony to offer gratitude to the Dalai Lama in celebration of his 80th birthday.

It was attended by Tibetans and from the broader American society, as well as from Mongolia, Tuva, Buryat & Kalmyk regions of Russian Federation, Bhutan, Himalayan regions in Nepal, India, etc.

Among those who addressed the gathering included President Barack Obama’s advisor Valerie Jarrett, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament Penpa Tsering, ICT Board Chairman Richard Gere, etc.
We are posting here the video and transcript of the remarks made by Ms. Jarrett and Leader Pelosi.

Read full story Comments are closed

Monk who self-immolated leaves note calling for the Dalai Lama’s return: context of imprisonment and demolition of family home

July 22, 2015

Sonam Topgyal, the monk who self-immolated on July 9 (2015) in the center of a city rebuilt by the Chinese authorities, had experienced imprisonment and the demolition of his family home before he set himself on fire.

Dzongsar monk Sonam Topgyal, who has died in hospital according to Tibetan sources, left a note tucked into his prayer book, saying that China’s policies are aimed at eradicating Tibet’s religion, culture and traditions, and destroying the environment. Tibetans have no recourse to express their views about the situation, he added in the note, which was discovered after his self-immolation.

Read full story Comments are closed

Congressman McGovern Statement on Death of Tibetan Activist Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

July 20, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), a senior House Democrat and Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, released the following statement on the death of Tibetan activist Tenzin Delek Rinpoche:

“Last week I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of the well-known Tibetan monk, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Tenzin Delek was serving a life sentence under very harsh conditions for allegedly ‘causing explosions’ and ‘inciting separatism,’ charges against which he steadfastly maintained his innocence. Just last April, I had written to the U.S. State Department to encourage our government officials to prioritize Tenzin Delek’s release on medical parole, because he was reported to be suffering from serious health problems. In late June, the State Department assured me the message had been transmitted, but now we see that China turned a callous blind eye to my pleas and those of many others. The Chinese authorities bear direct responsibility for Tenzin Delek’s unnecessary death.

Read full story Comments are closed
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Body of revered Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche cremated in remote high-security prison facility

July 16, 2015

  • The body of revered Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was cremated today (July 16) amid high security at a remote detention facility where he died in his 13th year of a life sentence. His ashes are being taken back to his home county and monastery by his sisters and other relatives, according to his relatives in exile, where prayer ceremonies are expected to be held.
  • When the authorities refused to allow the body to be returned to his family for traditional prayer ceremonies, it was negotiated for some members of his family to visit the body late last night. They were taken to a high-security detention facility in an isolated area several kilometers from Chengdu – not Chuandong Prison where they had thought he was being held. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s body, still in prison uniform, was in a bed in a cell. According to the same sources, his mouth and nails were stained black, and details of the circumstances of his death are still not clear.
  • Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s family had urged the authorities not to rush a cremation, citing a provision in Chinese law that allows families to appeal against hasty cremations of prisoners. In an appeal letter they have written to the authorities, translated in full into English below, one of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s sisters said: “2. The body of the deceased cannot be taken home. We suspect the cause of death has some connection to the Prison. Please tell us clearly, which legal article states that the body of the deceased cannot be returned home.”
Read full story Comments are closed

Sisters of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche temporarily detained; sit-in outside prison where revered lama died

July 15, 2015

  • The two sisters of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the revered Tibetan lama who died on July 12, were detained for some hours today (July 15) in the prison where their brother had died yesterday after they refused to sign a document purportedly about his health condition.
  • Around a hundred Tibetans gathered outside Chuandong Prison in Chengdu, Sichuan, yesterday (July 14) to hold a peaceful sit-in calling upon the Chinese authorities to release the body of the popular monk to his family and monastery after some Tibetans were refused permission to see the body.
  • The exile Tibetan administration in Dharamsala, India, released images of Tibetans who had been wounded when police opened fire at Tibetans anguished at Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death in his home county, Nyagchuka in Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Kham): http://tibet.net/2015/07/grievous-photos-emerge-of-tibetans-injured-in-chinese-firing/
Read full story Comments are closed
Richard Gere

Testimony of Richard Gere Chairman of the Board of Directors International Campaign for Tibet before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

July 14, 2015

Co-chairman McGovern and Co-chairman Pitts, and other Members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, thank you for holding this important hearing today, and for inviting me to speak on the human rights situation in Tibet.

I am here as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Campaign for Tibet (or ICT for short), which, since 1988, has been working to promote human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet. I feel that it’s particularly appropriate for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to be holding this hearing today in light of Tom Lantos’ steadfast commitment to Tibet, and his deep relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

It is with profound sadness that I give these remarks today. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was one of the most highly respected and revered Tibetan lamas. He was a teacher to tens of thousands of Tibetan and Chinese students. Arrested in 2002, Rinpoche spent the last 13 years of his life serving a life sentence for crimes he did not commit. After being tried in a closed session on charges of “terrorism and inciting separatism” and without due process of law, the worst possible outcome has arrived. Rinpoche has died in prison, while in the custody of the Chinese government. This is a profound tragedy for Tibetans and Buddhists throughout the world. The death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is a tragic reminder of the injustices endured by Tibetans for exercising their right to religious freedom, and of the grim state of human rights in Tibet.

Read full story Comments are closed
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Chinese troops open fire, beat Tibetan protestors after death of revered lama in prison

July 14, 2015

The Chinese authorities responded to peaceful protests yesterday following the death of Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche by deploying armed police to fire tear-gas and use physical violence against Tibetans.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the influential and popular Tibetan lama who was one of Tibet’s most well-known political prisoners, died on July 12 in his 13th year of a life sentence in prison.

Around a thousand monks and local people gathered near his monastery in his home area of Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) in Kham to urge the local authorities to negotiate with the Sichuan Provincial Prison Management Bureau over returning the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche to his family and monastic community. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is believed to have passed away in Chuandong Prison, Chengdu, Sichuan, where he was being held, although the authorities have not provided information on the circumstances of his death.

Read full story Comments are closed
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.
Read full story Comments are closed