The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), in its annual report for 2014 (covering the period from fall 2013 to fall 2014) released on October 9, 2014, has said that in Tibetan areas there was an increase in harsh security and punitive measures. It also said Chinese government leaders showed no willingness to reexamine policies toward Tibetans that deny the cultural, religious, and linguistic rights or to engage in dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama.
In its recommendations to Members of the U.S. Congress and Administration officials, the CECC said they should urge “the Chinese government to resume contact with the Dalai Lama or his representatives and engage in dialogue without preconditions.” It added, “A Chinese government decision to engage in dialogue can result in a durable and mutually beneficial outcome for the government and Tibetans that will benefit local and regional security in coming decades.”
The CECC further recommended that they “Stress to the Chinese government the importance of respecting and protecting the Tibetan culture and language. Urge Chinese officials to promote a vibrant Tibetan culture by honoring the Chinese Constitution’s reference to the freedoms of speech, association, assembly, and religion, and refraining from using the security establishment, courts, and law to infringe upon and repress Tibetans’ exercise of such rights.”
Following are the findings and recommendations on Tibet in the report.
Formal dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Chinese Communist Party and government officials has been stalled since the January 2010 ninth round, the longest interval since such contacts resumed in 2002. The Commission observed no indication during the 2014 reporting year of official Chinese interest in resuming a dialogue that takes into account Tibetan concerns regarding the Tibetan autonomous areas of China.
- The frequency of Tibetan self-immolation reportedly focusing on political and religious issues declined steeply during the Commission’s 2014 reporting year, and followed an increase in Party and government security and punitive measures. The Commission has not observed any sign that Party and government leaders intend to respond to Tibetan grievances in a constructive manner or accept any accountability for Tibetan rejection of Chinese policies. One Sichuan province county issued provisions in April 2013 (unreported until February 2014) imposing collective punishment intended to deter Tibetans from self-immolating.
- Pressure on Tibetan Buddhists to accept Communist Party and government control of the religion remained high. Party leadership continued to characterize the Dalai Lama as a threat to Tibetan Buddhism’s “normal order” instead of as a principal teacher, and urged that he be “separated” from the religion and the title “Dalai Lama.” State-run media reported that a deployment of Party cadres to every Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) village, monastery, and nunnery, completed in March 2012, involved 60,000 cadres—nearly triple the 21,000 initially reported. Officials detained, imprisoned, or beat to death a number of monastic leaders, interfered with identifying a reincarnation, and imposed a ban on travel for religious purposes to Mount Kailash.
- The Commission observed no indication this past year that Party and government leaders intend to develop a “harmonious society” inclusive of Tibetan preferences toward their culture and language. The government asserted that learning and using Tibetan language is “protected by law” but officials closed non-government-run programs and detained Tibetans who promoted use of the language. The Party accepted no accountability for Tibetan grievances contributing to protests and blamed them on external factors, especially the Dalai Lama. In September–November 2013, a prominent example of crackdown developed in one Tibetan county: as of September 1, 2014, the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database contained records of 58 detentions related to the crackdown including 15 resulting in prison sentences of up to 18 years.
- The Party and government continued to prioritize economic development as a prerequisite for “social stability.” Authorities reportedly detained or imprisoned Tibetans who protested against mining activity, seizure or forced sale of land related to mining, or development projects that allegedly damaged the environment. The westward railway segment from Lhasa city to Rikaze (Shigatse) city reportedly was “put into use” in August 2014 and provided the first extension since the Xining- Lhasa segment of the Qinghai-Tibet railway opened in 2006. After 2009, TAR yearbooks ceased to report county-level population data, hindering demographic analysis.
- As of September 1, 2014, the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database contained records of 639 Tibetan political prisoners believed or presumed currently detained or imprisoned. Of those, 621 are records of Tibetans detained on or after March 10, 2008; 44 percent of them are Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns, teachers, or trulkus.
This past year, officials detained, imprisoned, or beat to death monastic leaders including Abbot Gyurme Tsultrim, Abbot Karma Tsewang, chant master Thardoe Gyaltsen, Geshe Ngawang Jamyang, and Abbot Khedrub. Officials detained or imprisoned cultural advocates, including writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen, singer Gebe, and environmental activists Choekyab and Tselha. Officials released filmmaker Dondrub Wangchen upon completion of his sentence in June 2014; as of September 1, authorities had not permitted him to travel to the United States for reunification with his family.
Members of the U.S. Congress and Administration officials are encouraged to:
- Urge the Chinese government to resume contact with the Dalai Lama or his representatives and engage in dialogue without preconditions. Such a dialogue should aim to protect the Tibetan culture, language, religion, and heritage within the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces. A Chinese government decision to engage in dialogue can result in a durable and mutually beneficial outcome for the government and Tibetans that will benefit local and regional security in coming decades.
- Urge the Chinese government to recognize the role of government regulatory measures and Party policies in the wave of Tibetan self-immolations and other protests. Stress to Chinese officials that strengthening the measures and policies that Tibetans resent is unlikely to promote “social stability” or a “harmonious society.” Urge the government to refrain from using security and judicial institutions to intimidate Tibetan communities by prosecuting and imprisoning Tibetans with alleged links to a self-immolator or for sharing self-immolation information.
- Urge the Chinese government to refrain from using intrusive management and legal measures to infringe upon and repress Tibetan Buddhists’ right to the freedom of religion. Urge the government to cease treating the Dalai Lama as a security threat instead of as Tibetan Buddhism’s principal teacher. Urge the government to respect the right of Tibetan Buddhists to identify and educate religious teachers in a manner consistent with Tibetan Buddhist preferences and traditions. Stress to Chinese officials that increasing pressure on Tibetan Buddhists by aggressive use of regulatory measures, “patriotic” and “legal” education, and anti-Dalai Lama campaigns is likely to harm social stability, not protect it.
- Request that the Chinese government follow up on a 2010 statement by the Chairman of the TAR government that Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama whom the Dalai Lama recognized in 1995, is living in the TAR as an “ordinary citizen” along with his family. Urge the government to invite a representative of an international organization to meet with Gedun Choekyi Nyima so that he can express to the representative his wishes with respect to privacy.
- Stress to the Chinese government the importance of respecting and protecting the Tibetan culture and language. Urge Chinese officials to promote a vibrant Tibetan culture by honoring the Chinese Constitution’s reference to the freedoms of speech, association, assembly, and religion, and refraining from using the security establishment, courts, and law to infringe upon and repress Tibetans’ exercise of such rights. Stress the importance of respecting Tibetan wishes to maintain the role of both the Tibetan and Chinese languages in teaching modern subjects, and to refrain from criminalizing Tibetans’ passion for their language and culture.
- Encourage the Chinese government to take fully into account the views and preferences of Tibetans when the government plans infrastructure, natural resource development, and settlement or resettlement projects in the Tibetan areas of China. Encourage the government to engage with appropriate experts in assessing the impact of such projects and in advising the government on the implementation and progress of such projects. Encourage the government to report accurately and comprehensively data on population in Tibetan areas of China.
- Continue to stress to the Chinese government the importance of distinguishing between peaceful Tibetan protesters and rioters; condemn the use of security campaigns to suppress human rights; and request the government to provide complete details about Tibetans detained, charged, or sentenced for protest-related and self-immolation-related “crimes.” Continue to raise in meetings and correspondence with Chinese officials the cases of Tibetans who remain imprisoned as punishment for the peaceful exercise of human rights.
- Encourage the Chinese government to respect the right to freedom of movement of Tibetans who travel domestically, including for the purpose of visiting Tibetan economic, cultural, and religious centers, including Lhasa; to provide Tibetans with reasonable means to apply for and receive documents necessary for lawful international travel; to respect the right of Tibetan citizens of China to reenter China after traveling abroad; and to allow access to the Tibetan autonomous areas of China to international journalists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, representatives of the United Nations, and U.S. Government officials.
The full text of the Tibet section of the report can be seen here.