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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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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.

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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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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.”

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”
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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):
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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.

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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.

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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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EU and China must put human rights at the top of the EU-China summit agenda

June 29, 2015

Amnesty International, FIDH, International Campaign for Tibet, Human Rights Watch

At today’s European Union (EU)-China summit in Brussels, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch and International Campaign for Tibet call on EU and Chinese leaders to ensure that human rights are at the top of the agenda in discussions at the summit and beyond.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-EU diplomatic relations. Today’s summit should be an opportunity to develop a critical partnership which can concretely improve the human rights situation for people in China. With the adoption of the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy in 2012, the EU and its member states committed to place human rights at the centre of all external action. In line with that commitment, they must act to respect, promote and protect universal human rights in diverse aspects of the EU-China relationship, including security, trade, investment opportunities and other political cooperation.

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State Department

State Department Issues Annual Human Rights Reports for 2014

June 25, 2015

In its 2014 annual human rights reports, released on June 25, 2015, the U.S. State Department highlights the continuing egregious human rights violations in Tibet. “Under the professed objectives of controlling border areas, maintaining social stability, and combating separatism, the government engaged in the severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of China’s Tibetan population, including the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement,“ the report said. The report added, “The government routinely vilified the Dalai Lama and blamed the “Dalai [Lama] Clique” and “other outside forces” for instigating instability.”

“We have always urged the United States to make human rights one of its core interests in its relations with China,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “This report clearly indicates that it is in the interest of the U.S. and of all democratic countries that China’s rise is accompanied by significant political and rule of law reforms.”

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EU must include Tibet in upcoming Strategic Dialogue with China

April 30, 2015

Brussels – The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini must address the worsening human rights situation in Tibet during her upcoming visit to China on the occasion of the Strategic Dialogue to be held on 5 – 6 May.

In a recent letter addressing the High Representative, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) called on her to ensure that human rights, both in Tibet and mainland China, remain at the forefront of her agenda and meetings with the Chinese government.

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Lodi Gyari

My Personal Words of Gratitude

It is with humility and gratitude that I present these parting thoughts to the staff, members, supporters and friends of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). You have been the backbone of this organization and ICT would not have succeeded without you being a part of this effort. For almost 25 years I worked concurrently at ICT and as Special Envoy for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and I relied heavily on your support and assistance in discharge of my duties.

Since its founding in 1988 the ICT team has devoted itself to supporting the Tibetan people and the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I am honored to have played a leadership role in this endeavor, from the inception of the organization to the present day. Now as I step down as Executive Chair of ICT and from its Board of Directors, I cannot help but reflect on my work here with a deep sense of satisfaction in our accomplishments.

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