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The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in other provinces to be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s United Front Work Department, headed by Du Qinglin since late 2007, oversees the PRC’s Tibet policies. As in other predominantly minority areas of the PRC, ethnic Han CCP members hold almost all top government, police, and military positions in the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its nine-member Standing Committee in Beijing. Chen Quanguo succeeded Zhang Qingli as TAR Party Secretary on August 25. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
The TAR and other Tibetan areas continued to be under increasingly intense and formalized systems of controls, many of which appeared to be aimed at facilitating enforcement of “social stability” and undermining the religious authority of the Dalai Lama. The government’s attempts to assert control over all aspects of Tibetan Buddhist monastic and religious practice through such means as compulsory “patriotic education” and “legal education” campaigns at monasteries, compulsory denunciation of the Dalai Lama, establishing permanent CCP and security personnel presence at monasteries, and taking over the identification and training of reincarnated lamas (tulku), provoked acts of resistance among the Tibetan population, who saw it as a threat to the foundations of Tibet’s distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identity. These acts of resistance, in turn, led to enhanced attempts by PRC authorities to maintain control, thus creating cycles of repression that resulted in increasingly desperate acts by Tibetans, such as a series of self-immolations by Tibetan Buddhist clergy and laypersons in China’s Tibetan areas.
There was severe repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and movement. Authorities continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial detentions, and house arrests. The preservation and development of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and unique high plateau environment remained a concern. As in prior years, authorities intensified controls over speech, travel, assembly, and religious practice in the TAR and other Tibetan areas prior to and during politically sensitive dates, such as the third anniversary of the March 2008 protests and riots in Tibetan areas, the observance of “Serf Emancipation Day” on March 28 (see Academic Freedom and Protection of Cultural Heritage), the 90thanniversary of the founding of the CCP on July 1, and the 60th anniversary of the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet on July 19. The government strictly controlled information about, and access to, the TAR and Tibetan areas outside the TAR, making it difficult to determine accurately the scope of human rights abuses.
The consequences of the 2008 protests continued to affect the human rights situation in Tibetan regions of the PRC. People’s Armed Police (PAP) presence remained at high levels in many communities across the Tibetan Plateau. In March all major monasteries in the TAR and other Tibetan areas outside of the TAR were guarded by security forces, and many shops in Lhasa closed March 14 to mark the anniversary of the demonstrations and police crackdown. Students and monks in several areas were detained after reportedly demanding freedom and human rights and expressing their support for the Dalai Lama.
Deprivation of Life
There were reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings; however, it was not possible to verify independently all of these reports. There were no reports that officials investigated or punished those responsible for such killings.
According to sources cited by the International Campaign for Tibet, on December 9, police beat to death Chonjor, a Tibetan man in his twenties in Xiahe (Sangchu), GansuProvince, reportedly in a case of mistaken identity. Authorities reportedly paid his family one million RMB (approximately $158,000) as compensation.
Jampa Pelsang (also known as Puloe), one of several Ganden Monastery monks imprisoned for reportedly defying a “patriotic education” campaign implemented by the TAR government in 1996, was released from Qushui (Chushur) Prison May 6, reportedly in grave physical condition, and died at his home on May 23.
Trinley, a native of Ganzi (Kardze) County, Ganzi (Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), died August 10, reportedly due to injuries sustained from severe beatings he endured during seven months in custody following his 2009 detention for participating in protests in Ganzi.
Jigme Guri, a Tibetan Buddhist monk from Labrang Monastery in southern GansuProvince, reportedly was taken into police custody on August 25. His whereabouts and the charges against him were unknown at year’s end. In 2008 Jigme Guri recorded a YouTube video detailing abuses he allegedly suffered at the hands of prison officials during previous detentions. By his own account, the prison beatings left him unconscious for six days and required two hospitalizations.
The whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, Tibetan Buddhism’s second-most prominent figure after the Dalai Lama, remained unknown. In 2010, a government official in Tibet stated that Gedun Choekyi Nyima was “living a very good life in Tibet” and that he and his family “want to live an ordinary life.”
Torture and Other Cruel and Degrading Treatment
According to the PRC’s constitution, “the State respects and protects human rights.” In practice, however, judges cannot apply the constitution in court cases since its interpretation is reserved exclusively to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. PRC law prohibits torture and the unlawful taking of life. China signed and ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment but made a reservation on Article 20 that exempts it from accepting investigations of abuse allegations.
The police and prison authorities in Tibetan areas employed torture and degrading treatment in dealing with some detainees and prisoners.
Torture: Tibetans returned from Nepal reportedly suffered torture while incarcerated or otherwise in official custody, including electric shocks, exposure to cold, and severe beatings, as well as being forced to perform heavy physical labor. Security forces routinely subjected prisoners to “political investigation” sessions and punished them if they were deemed insufficiently loyal to the state.
According to the Dharamsala-based TibetanCenter for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), on March 16, police severely beat Phuntsog, a monk at Kirti Monastery in Aba (Ngaba), Tibetan and QiangAutonomousPrefecture (T&QAP), SichuanProvince, after he set himself on fire. Phuntsog succumbed to his injuries the next day, after which up to 1,000 local Tibetans reportedly staged a peaceful protest that was violently suppressed by the PAP. A series of 12 reported self-immolations by Tibetan Buddhist clergy and laypersons followed during the year. Eight of the 12 Tibetans who self-immolated were affiliated with Kirti and other monasteries located in Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP, SichuanProvince, where repression was particularly intense. Of the remaining four self-immolations, three took place in Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, QinghaiProvince, and one in the TAR.
On July 25, the Tibet Post International (an online publication of Tibetan journalists in exile) reported that Wangchuk, a political activist from QinghaiProvince, was diagnosed with brain damage following his June 8 release from prison after serving a three-year sentence for separatist activities. Wangchuk reportedly was arrested in 2008 for planning to demonstrate with a Tibetan flag outside a monastery.
According to the TCHRD, Sonam Choedon, a nun detained after participating in a 2008 protest at Pangri-Na Nunnery in LhobaTownship, Ganzi (Kardze) County, Ganzi (Kardze)TAP, was released from detention in October 2010, reportedly suffering from severe mental disability after having been pistol whipped in detention.
PRISON AND DETENTION CENTER CONDITIONS
In 2009 the deputy director of the TAR Justice Bureau told a foreign diplomat that there were 3,000 prisoners in the five TAR prisons, which are separate from the Reform Through Labor (RTL) system.
According to numerous sources, political prisoners in Tibetan areas endured unsanitary conditions and often had little opportunity to wash or bathe. Many prisoners slept on the floor without blankets or sheets. Former detainees reported being confined side by side with 20 to 30 cellmates for many days. In addition prison authorities banned religious observances.
Former detainees reported that prisoners were not provided with enough food. According to sources, prisoners rarely received medical care unless they had a serious illness. Former detainees also complained that they often failed to receive money, food, clothing, and books sent by their families because such items routinely were confiscated by prison guards.
According to local sources in LhagongTownship, Kangding (Dardo) County, Ganzi (Kardze)TAP, Yondan Gyatso, a 30-year-old monk, was released to his family in early 2010 following three months of detention. Blind, deaf, and unable to walk or remember anything at the time of his release, Yondan Gyatso reportedly recovered some memory but remained severely disabled following his ordeal. Local Tibetans who know the monk suspected that authorities used psychoactive drugs that resulted in permanent physical and mental damage. There were other reports of suspected abuse of psychiatric drugs with detainees in Tibetan areas.
Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Arbitrary arrest and detention continued to be a problem in Tibetan areas. With a detention warrant, police legally may detain persons for up to 37 days without formally arresting or charging them. Police must notify the relatives or employer of a detained person within 24 hours of the detention. Following the 37-day period, police must either formally arrest or release the detainee. In practice, police frequently violated these requirements. Many prisoners were subject to the RTL system operated by the Ministry of Public Security or to other forms of detention not subject to judicial review.
During the sustained official crackdown on the Kirti Monastery in Sichuan’s Aba (Ngaba) County following the self-immolation of a Tibetan monk there in March, authorities forcibly removed hundreds of monks from the monastery, sending some back to their hometowns and detaining others. The several hundred monks who remained in the monastery were required to spend months participating in small-group “legal education” sessions led by approximately 100 government officials.
Denial of Fair Public Trial
Legal safeguards for Tibetans detained or imprisoned were inadequate in both design and implementation. In 2009 a TAR Justice Bureau official claimed that all seven city- and prefectural-level administrative divisions in the TAR had established legal assistance centers that offered services in the Tibetan language. Prisoners had the right to request a meeting with a government-appointed attorney, but in practice many defendants, particularly political defendants, did not have access to legal representation. During the year the heads of the TAR Legal Affairs Committee, Justice Department, Procuratorate, and Public Security Department were all ethnic Han.
In cases that authorities claimed involved “endangering state security” or “separatism,” trials often were cursory and closed. Authorities denied multiple requests from foreign diplomats to observe the trials of those charged with crimes related to the 2008 unrest. Authorities sentenced Tibetans for alleged support of Tibetan independence regardless of whether they were alleged to have committed violent acts.
According to the Tibet Daily (the official TAR Party newspaper), the TAR was implementing a policy of strengthening the CCP’s management of lawyers in the region to ensure their work was carried out “in the correct direction.” According to an April 18 Tibet Daily article, as of 2009 there were 17 law firms and 101 attorneys in the TAR, as well as 72 government law offices operating under the direct supervision of the TAR Justice Bureau. Of the 17 law firms, 11 had their own CCP committee and six shared a CCP committee with the Justice Bureau in their prefecture. As is required throughout the PRC, a CCP development leader was assigned to law firms that had no party organization.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
An unknown number of Tibetans were detained, arrested, and/or sentenced as a result of their political or religious activity. Many prisoners were held in extrajudicial RTL prisons and never appeared in public court.
Based on information available from the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s (CECC) political prisoner database, as of September 1, 527 Tibetan political prisoners were imprisoned in Tibetan areas. The actual number of Tibetan political prisoners and detainees was believed to be much higher, but the lack of access to prisoners and prisons, as well as the dearth of reliable official statistics, made this impossible to determine. An unknown number of prisoners continued to be held under the RTL system. Of the 527 Tibetan political prisoners tracked by the CECC, 483 were ethnic Tibetans detained on or after March 10, 2008, and 44 were Tibetans detained prior to March 10, 2008. Of the 483 Tibetan political prisoners who were detained on or after March 10, 2008, 264 were believed or presumed to be detained or imprisoned in Sichuan Province; 160 in the TAR, 23 in Gansu Province, 34 in Qinghai Province, one in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and one in Beijing Municipality. There were 113 persons serving known sentences, which ranged from 1½ years to life imprisonment; the average sentence length was seven years and two months. Of the 113 persons serving known sentences, 62 were monks, nuns, or Tibetan Buddhist teachers.
On August 30, Xinhua News Agency reported that the Ma’erkang (Barkham) People’s Court located in Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP convicted three monks from the Kirti Monastery of “intentional homicide” in relation to the March self-immolation of Phuntsog (see Torture and Other Cruel and Degrading Treatment above). The court sentenced Tsering, Tenzin, and Tenchum to 13 and 10 years in prison, respectively, for allegedly instigating and assisting Phuntsog’s self-immolation. In a separate trial, another Kirti monk, Phuntsog’s uncle Drongdru, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on similar charges.
A number of monks were sentenced to prison terms in the lead-up to and during the politically sensitive period when China celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CCP on July 1 and the 60th anniversary of the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet on July 19. Several of the monks were from Kirti Monastery.
According to TCHRD, eight monks (Karma Samten, Jigtak, Sherab, Gaya Tashi, Urgen Samten, Karma Soepa, Karma Monlam, and Dosam) from Surmang Monastery, NangchenCounty, Yushu (Yulshul) TAP, QinghaiProvince, were arrested July 12 for refusing to celebrate the CCP anniversary. The eight reportedly were detained and taken to NangchenCountyPoliceDetentionCenter after approximately 300 monks walked out of a mandatory “legal education” meeting convened by county and PSB officials at the monastery.
TCHRD reported that on July 10, PSB officials severely beat and took into custody three young men--Lobsang Phuntsok, Samphel Dhondup, and Lobsang Lhundup--all students in Dhargye Norzin Village, Ganzi (Kardze) County, Ganzi (Kardze)TAP, who shouted slogans and distributed pamphlets that contained the phrases “Freedom in Tibet,” “Bring Back the Dalai Lama,” and “May the Dalai Lama and all Tibetans Unite Soon” at Ganzi (Kardze) County market in Ganzi (Kardze) TAP. According to TCHRD, a Ganzi (Kardze) County court sentenced Samphel Dhondup to three years in prison on August 20 and released Lobgsang Phuntsok and Lobgsang Lhundup the same day.
According to human rights groups, the Aba (Ngaba) County Court sentenced two Kirti Monastery monks, Lobsang Dhargye and Kunchok Tsultrim, to three-year prison terms in May. Although the charges against the two monks were unknown, Lobsang Dhargye had previously been detained for five months after appearing on film participating in the March 2008 protests.
Status of Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of Speech: Tibetans who spoke to foreign reporters, attempted to relay information to foreigners outside the country, or communicated information regarding protests or other expressions of discontent through cell phones, e-mail, or the Internet were subject to harassment or detention. The whereabouts of 59 individuals convicted in 2009 for “creating and spreading rumors” after the 2008 unrest remained unknown. Lhasa residents reported they avoided sensitive topics even in private conversations in their own homes.
According to reports, Tibetan writer Kalsang Tsultrim was sentenced on December 30 to four years’ imprisonment by the Kanlho Intermediate People’s Court, Gansu Province, for releasing a video message with political content.
Freedom of Press: The government severely restricted travel by foreign journalists to Tibetan areas. The entire TAR was closed to foreigners in the lead-up to and during the politically sensitive month of July, when the PRC celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CCP on July 1 and the 60th anniversary of the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet on July 19. Foreign journalists reported they could gain access to the TAR only by participating in highly structured government-organized tours, where the constant presence of government minders made independent reporting difficult. Outside the TAR, foreign journalists frequently were expelled from Tibetan areas despite government rules, adopted in 2008, which stated that foreign journalists did not need the permission of local authorities to conduct reporting.
On June 11, the “All-China Project Everest Conference on Sweeping Out Pornographic and Illegal Publications” was held in Lhasa. The conference highlighted the achievements of “Project Everest,” which was initiated in 2009 to crack down on publications in the TAR and other Tibetan areas that contained content related to Tibetan independence.
The government continued to jam radio broadcasts of Voice of America’s (VOA) and Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibetan- and Chinese-language services in some Tibetan areas, as well as the overseas-based Voice of Tibet. In Tibetan areas of southern Gansu Province and the Ganzi (Kardze) TAP in Sichuan Province police confiscated or destroyed satellite dishes suspected of receiving VOA Tibetan-language television as well as VOA and RFA audio satellite channels. Some dishes were replaced with government-controlled cable television systems. Some Tibetans reported they were able to listen to overseas Tibetan-language radio and television broadcasts through the Internet.
In June official news media reported that the Lhasa City Radio and Television Bureau confiscated 100 illegal satellite dishes in Lhasa. Tibetan sources confirmed that such official seizures were common across the TAR and Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces.
Domestic journalists generally did not report on repression in Tibetan areas, and the postings of bloggers who did so were promptly censored, and their authors sometimes faced punishment. Official media rarely referred to unrest in Tibetan areas, although some official publications targeting the overseas Chinese community published articles blaming the “Dalai clique” and other “outside forces” for instigating the Tibetan self-immolations. Journalists who worked for the domestic press were tightly controlled and could be hired and fired on the basis of political reliability. For example, on March 19, the Lhasa Daily contained an advertisement from the Tibet Justice Daily, which was seeking five new reporters. According to the advertisement, applicants had to meet five conditions, the first of which was that they must support the CCP party line, principles and policies, safeguard national unity, and be politically steadfast.
Violence and Harassment: On July 5, PSB officers reportedly removed writer Pema Rinchen from his home in Luhuo (Draggo) County, Ganzi (Kardze) TAP. He was brought the next day to the county hospital for emergency treatment for injuries sustained during severe beatings while in police custody. Pema Rinchen had self-published a book in January entitled Look. The book included interviews with Tibetans who had been arrested and tortured in connection with the 2008 protests, as well as criticism of government policies, including the official suppression of the 2008 protests and the official response to the April 2010 earthquake in Yushu (Yulshul) TAP, QinghaiProvince.
Cellular phone and Internet service in the TAR and Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces were curtailed during politically sensitive periods, such as the March anniversaries of the 2008 protests and “Serf Liberation Day” (see Academic Freedom and Protection of Cultural Heritage) and the July anniversaries of the founding of the CCP and the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet. In addition many Web sites were shut down and Internet cafes closely monitored during major religious, cultural, and political festivals in Tibetan areas.
Official censorship greatly hampered the development of Tibetan-language Internet sites. Although government-funded projects designed to improve Tibetan-language computer interfaces made Tibetan language computing easier, security agencies responsible for monitoring the Internet often lacked the language skills necessary to monitor Tibetan content. As a result, Tibetan-language blogs and Web sites were subject to indiscriminate censorship, with entire sites closed down even when the content did not appear to touch on sensitive topics. The popular social media microblogging site QQ in 2009 ceased permitting users to log on in Tibetan.
Official media reported that the Internet Security Supervision Detachment of the Lhasa PSB required the owners of 104 Lhasa Internet cafes to attend an April 29 “Internet Cafe Security Management” meeting, where they had to sign a “responsibility document” pledging to ensure Internet security. The stated purpose of the meeting was to “purify the Internet, safeguard national security and ensure social stability” in the lead-up to and during the dual celebrations in July (i.e., the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CCP and the 60th anniversary of the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet). Also in April, law enforcement officials in Changdu (Chamdo) County, TAR, raided 15 Internet cafes, confiscating equipment that promoted illegal “separatist” or “Tibet independence” content.
In August, following the self-immolation of monk Tsewang Norbu in Tawu (Daofu), Ganzi(Kardze) TAP, local authorities cut off all Internet and text-messaging services in the area.
Most foreign Tibet-related Web sites critical of official policy in Tibetan areas were blocked to users in China throughout the year.
Tibet activists inside and outside of China have been harassed by well-organized computer-hacking attacks originating from within China, according to a foreign-based study group.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
Authorities in Tibetan areas required professors and students at institutions of higher education to attend political education sessions in an effort to prevent “separatist” political and religious activities on campus. Ethnic Tibetan academics were frequently encouraged to participate in government propaganda efforts, such as by making public speeches supporting government policies or accepting interviews by official media. Academics who failed to cooperate with such efforts faced diminished prospects for promotion. Academics in the PRC who publicly criticized CCP policies on Tibetan affairs faced official reprisal. The government controlled curricula, texts, and other course materials as well as the publication of historically or politically sensitive academic books. Authorities frequently denied permission to Tibetan academics to travel overseas for conferences and academic or cultural exchanges.
In a January speech, the director of the TARAcademy of Social Sciences called on the academy to serve as the TAR Party Committee’s think tank and as a strong ideological force for fighting separatism and exposing the “Dalai clique.” At a January 16 meeting in Lhasa chaired by then TAR Party Secretary Zhang Qingli to discuss propaganda priorities for the year, TAR Party and government leaders were urged to continue to criticize the “Dalai clique,” investigate and prevent the influx of toxic cultural influences, and promote such themes as “communism, socialism, and the People’s Liberation Army are good” and “love the Party and the motherland.”
In an opinion piece published in official media in January, the director of the TARState Security Bureau called for the development of Tibet’s tourism and cultural industries to combat the weakening of national identity and other “negative” effects of placing “too much emphasis on the promotion of Buddhist religious faith.”
Policies promoting planned urban economic growth, rapid infrastructure development, the influx of non-Tibetans to traditionally Tibetan areas, the expansion of the tourism industry, the forced resettlement of nomads and farmers, and the weakening of Tibetan-language education at the middle and high school levels continued to disrupt traditional living patterns and customs.
From December 2010 to February 2011, authorities in Lhasa launched another in a series of annual winter “Strike Hard” campaigns. According to official reports, in the early days of the campaign, approximately 575 police raided more than 1,262 guest houses, Internet cafes, entertainment centers, and bars, while 300 police raided Lhasa schools. Although ostensibly an anti-crime operation, police searched private homes, guest houses, hotels, bars, and Internet cafes for photographs of the Dalai Lama and other politically forbidden items. Police examined the cell phones of Lhasa residents to search for “reactionary music” from India and photographs of the Dalai Lama. Reportedly, even certain ringtones were deemed subversive and could lead to detention.
On March 28, the TAR marked its third annual observance of “Serf Emancipation Day,” commemorating the day in 1959 that China’s rulers formally dissolved the Kashag, the Tibetan local government. During the official celebration, government officials and representatives from rural villages and monasteries were required to denounce the Dalai Lama.
Some observers expressed concern that development projects and other central government policies disproportionately benefited non-Tibetans and resulted in a considerable influx of ethnic Han and Hui people into the TAR. Infrastructure upgrades such as improved roads, more frequent air service, and the TAR-Qinghai railway, which made travel more affordable, increased the frequency with which non-Tibetans from other parts of the PRC visited the TAR. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, in 2006 there were 180,000 ethnic Han with household registration in the TAR. According to an official TAR report, by 2011 this number had increased to 245,000. Many people from outside the TAR who had spent years living in the TAR maintained their official registration in another province and thus were not counted as TAR residents.
Even in areas officially designated as “autonomous,” Tibetans generally lacked the right to play a meaningful role in the protection of their cultural heritage and unique natural environment and faced arrest and intimidation if they protested against mining or other industrial activities that they felt were harmful to the environment or sacred sites. In November 2010, 15 Tibetans, including five monks from nearby Lingka Monastery, were detained, and several others injured when armed riot police and PSB officials were dispatched to suppress hundreds of Tibetans who attempted to disrupt operations at the controversial Xietongmen (Shethongmon) copper-mining project near Rikaze (Shigatse), TAR. The detained monks, Khenpo Kelsang, Jamyang Tsering, Tsewang Dorje, Rigzin Pema, and Jamyang Rigsang, reportedly were taken to detention centers in Xietongmen (Shethongmon) and Rikaze (Shigatse).
Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese are official languages in the TAR, and both languages appeared on some, but not all, public and commercial signs. Inside official buildings and businesses, including banks, post offices, and hospitals, signage in Tibetan was frequently lacking, and in many instances, forms and documents were available only in Mandarin. Mandarin was widely spoken and was used for most official communications. In many rural and nomadic areas, children received only one to three years of Tibetan-language education before continuing their education in a Mandarin-language school. According to official figures, the illiteracy rate among youth and working-age adults fell from 30.9 percent in 2003 to 1.2 percent in 2011. Many observers questioned that figure, and some contended that the actual illiteracy rate among Tibetan youth and working-age adults was between 40 and 50 percent.
The Tibetan-language curriculum for primary and middle schools in Tibetan areas was predominantly translated directly from the standard national Mandarin-language curriculum, offering Tibetan students very little insight into their own culture and history. Few elementary schools in Tibetan areas used Tibetan as the primary language of instruction. In Kangding (Dardo), Ganzi (Kardze) TAP, elementary schools did not offer instruction in Tibetan. Despite guarantees of cultural and linguistic rights, in middle and high schools--even some officially designated as Tibetan-language schools--Tibetan was usually used only to teach classes on Tibetan language, literature, and culture, and all other classes were taught in Mandarin. Of more than 15 middle and high schools in Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP, SichuanProvince, only three schools taught primarily in Tibetan. Early in the year, the TAR government launched an effort to strengthen free compulsory bilingual preschool education in rural areas by establishing 217 bilingual kindergartens in the region. QinghaiProvince and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP and Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP in SichuanProvince announced similar programs during the year.
Proficiency in Mandarin was essential to qualify for higher education in the PRC. China’s most prestigious universities provided no instruction in Tibetan or other ethnic minority languages. “Nationalities” universities, established to serve ethnic minority students and ethnic Han students interested in ethnic minority subjects, only offered Tibetan-language instruction in courses focused on the study of the Tibetan language or culture and were widely considered to offer a lower quality education overall. Since Tibetan-language instruction was not offered in other higher-education subjects, there was a dearth of technically trained and qualified ethnic Tibetans, and jobs in Tibetan areas that required technical skills and qualifications were typically filled by migrants from other areas of China. Tibetan Buddhist monks, in some cases the leading scholars on Tibetan studies, were barred from teaching at universities due to their religious office and lack of academic credentials recognized by the Ministry of Education.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt.
Freedom of Movement
The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation; however, in practice, the government severely restricted travel and freedom of movement of ethnic Tibetans.
In-Country Movement: Freedom of movement, particularly for monks and nuns, was severely limited within Lhasa and throughout the TAR, as well as in Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces. Anecdotal evidence indicated this was less of a problem in Tibetan areas of YunnanProvince, where Tibetans made up only one quarter of the population, and rarely protested against government policies. The PAP and local PSBs set up roadblocks and checkpoints on major roads, in cities, and on the outskirts of cities and monasteries, particularly around sensitive dates. Tibetans traveling in monastic attire were subject to extra scrutiny by police at roadside checkpoints. Several Tibetan monks reported that it remained difficult to travel outside their home monasteries, with officials frequently denying permission for visiting monks to stay temporarily at a particular monastery for religious education.
Non-ethnic Tibetan Buddhist monks, particularly ethnic Han, were allowed only temporary visits to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. Local religious affairs authorities often prohibited ethnic Han or foreign Tibetan Buddhists from staying in monasteries for long-term study.
Foreign Travel: Many Tibetans, particularly prominent religious and cultural figures, scholars, and activists, as well as those from rural areas, reported increased difficulties in obtaining new or renewing existing passports. Some attributed this to what they believed to be official attempts to limit Tibetan attendance at Buddhist teaching conferences (Kalachakra) convened by the Dalai Lama. Some Tibetans reported they were able to obtain passports only after having paid substantial bribes or making promises not to travel to India. In other cases, Tibetan students with scholarships to foreign universities were precluded from study abroad because authorities refused to issue them passports. Some monks from Tibetan areas of YunnanProvince who left the PRC for India without proper documentation reported being able to return on a limited basis and then allowed to leave again for India.
Tibetans continued to encounter substantial difficulties and obstacles in traveling to India for religious, educational, and other purposes. According to reports, ethnic Tibetan government and CCP cadres in the TAR and Ganzi (Kardze) TAP were not allowed to send their children to study abroad. Tight border controls sharply limited the number of persons crossing the border into Nepal and India. During the year 739 Tibetan refugees transited Nepal through the TibetanReceptionCenter run by the UN High Commission for Refugees in Kathmandu en route to permanent settlement in India, down from 874 in 2010 and 2,156 in 2007.
The government restricted the movement of Tibetans in the lead-up to and during sensitive anniversaries and events and increased controls over border areas at these times. There were reports of arbitrary detentions of persons, particularly monks and nuns, returning from India and Nepal. Detentions generally lasted for several months, although in most cases authorities did not bring formal charges against detainees. Travel became increasingly difficult and communications were sometimes cut off, particularly in Sichuan’s Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP as the series of self-immolations at Kirti Monastery that began in March continued.
The government regulated travel by foreigners to the TAR. In accordance with a 1989 regulation, foreign visitors must obtain an official confirmation letter issued by the government before entering the TAR. Most tourists obtained such letters by booking tours through officially registered travel agencies. Foreign tourists were generally only permitted to enter the TAR by airplane or rail; obtaining permission to drive to the TAR was difficult.
In what has become an annual phenomenon, foreign tourists were banned from the TAR in the lead-up to and during the March anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising and the dual anniversaries in July of the founding of the CCP and the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet. During the times that foreign tourists were permitted to enter the TAR, the requirement that they remain with organized tour groups was enforced more strictly than in the past.
Officials continued to restrict severely the access of diplomats and journalists to Tibet. Foreign officials were able to travel to the region only with the permission of the TAR Foreign Affairs Office (FAO), and even then only on closely chaperoned trips arranged by the FAO. Such permission was difficult to obtain. During the year authorities denied three out of four U.S.government requests for official travel to the TAR. Official visits to the TAR that were approved were supervised closely, and delegation members were afforded very few opportunities to meet local residents not previously approved by the authorities. Foreign diplomats who legally traveled in some Tibetan areas outside of the TAR, such as the Ganzi (Kardze) TAP and Aba (Ngaba), T&QAP, were repeatedly approached by local police and forced to leave without reasonable explanation. With the exception of a few highly controlled trips, authorities repeatedly denied requests for international journalists and observers to visit the TAR and other Tibetan areas.
Discrimination and Societal Abuses
Rape and Domestic Violence: There was no confirmed information on the incidence of rape or domestic violence in Tibetan areas, although a Tibetan resident of a Tibetan area of SichuanProvince said that gender-based violence, including rape, was common among Tibetan herders and often went unreported.
Reproductive Rights: Family planning policies permitted ethnic Tibetans and members of some other minority groups to have more children than ethnic Han. Some ethnic Tibetans who had permanent employment in urban areas, or were CCP members or served as government officials, were limited to two children, as were some ethnic Han living in Tibetan areas. Depending upon the county, rural Tibetans in the TAR were sometimes encouraged to limit births to three children. The TAR was one of the few areas of the PRC that did not have a skewed sex ratio resulting from sex-selective abortion and inadequate health care for female infants.
Lack of knowledge about HIV transmission and economic pressure led many female sex workers to engage in unprotected sex. Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, appeared to be nondiscriminatory.
Discrimination: There were no formal restrictions on women’s participation in the political system, and women held many lower-level government positions. Women were underrepresented at the provincial and prefectural levels of government, however. According to an official Web site, female cadres in the TAR accounted for more than 30 percent of the TAR’s total cadres.
According to official policy, primary education was compulsory, free, and universal. According to official TAR statistics, during the year, 99.2 percent of children between the ages of six and 13 attended school, and 90 percent of the TAR’s primary school students attended lower middle school, for a total of nine years of education. In 2003 the UN special rapporteur on the right to education reported that official PRC education statistics did not accurately reflect attendance and were not independently verified.
Feuds among Tibetan herders and the resulting violence, in some cases including killings, was a serious problem. Some Tibetans in Ganzi (Kardze) TAP commented that lack of police protection in cases of violence among Tibetans was also a serious issue.
In mid-December a fight broke out between ethnic Han and ethnic Tibetan students at the ChengduRailwayVocationalHigh School in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Reportedly the culmination of tensions relating to ethnic bullying and anger at preferential treatment given to minority students, the brawl resulted in an unknown number of injuries.
Although TAR census figures showed that as of November 2010, Tibetans made up 90.5 percent of the TAR’s permanently registered population, official figures did not include a large number of long-, medium-, and short-term ethnic Han residents, such as cadres (government and party officials), skilled and unskilled laborers, military and paramilitary troops, and their respective dependents. According to a Lhasa city official, 260,000 of the 450,000 individuals living in downtown Lhasa during the year belonged to this “floating” population.
Migrants to the TAR were overwhelmingly concentrated in urban areas. Government policies to subsidize economic development often benefited ethnic Han more than ethnic Tibetans, causing resentment. Small businesses, mostly restaurants and retail shops, run by ethnic Han and Hui migrants predominated in cities throughout Tibetan areas. Ethnic Tibetans continued to make up nearly 98 percent of those registered as permanent residents in rural areas, according to official census figures.
The government continued its campaign to resettle Tibetan nomads into urban areas across the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Officials also offered nomads monetary incentives to kill or sell their livestock and move to newly created Tibetan communities in rural areas. There were reports of compulsory resettlement where promised compensation was either inadequate or not paid at all. According to a January Xinhua report, 274,800 households in the TAR, including 1.4 million farmers and herders, were covered by a resettlement project that provided funds for the construction of permanent housing. A November 2010 article in the official press claimed that such resettlement programs were the “foundation for fighting the Dalai clique,” and resettled farmers and herders would “pray to Buddha less and study culture and technology more.”
Improving housing conditions, health care, and education for Tibet’s poorest were among the stated goals of resettlement, although there was a pattern of settling herders near townships and roads and away from monasteries, which were the traditional providers of community and social services. A requirement that villagers build houses according to official specifications within two or three years often forced resettled families into debt to cover construction costs.
Although a 2010 state media report noted that ethnic Tibetans and other minority ethnic groups made up 70 percent of government employees at the provincial level in the TAR, the top CCP position of TAR Party Secretary continued to be held by an ethnic Han, and the corresponding position in approximately 90 percent of all TAR counties was also held by an ethnic Han. Also within the TAR, ethnic Han continued to hold most of the top security, military, financial, economic, legal, judicial, and educational positions. Tibetans holding government and CCP positions were often prohibited from openly worshipping at monasteries or otherwise practicing their religion. Of ChinghaiProvince’s six TAPs, five were headed by ethnic Han party secretaries, and one by an ethnic Tibetan party secretary. GansuProvince’s sole TAP was headed by an ethnic Han party secretary. There were several ethnic Tibetan party secretaries at the county level in Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces.
Economic and social exclusion was a major source of discontent among a varied cross section of ethnic Tibetans, including business operators, workers, students, university graduates, farmers, and nomads. Some ethnic Tibetans reported that they experienced discrimination in employment, and some job advertisements in the TAR expressly noted that ethnic Tibetans were not welcome to apply. Some claimed that ethnic Han were hired preferentially for jobs and received higher salaries for the same work. Some Tibetans reported that it was more difficult for ethnic Tibetans than ethnic Han to obtain permits and loans to open businesses. Restrictions on international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provided assistance to Tibetan communities resulted in the elimination of many beneficial NGO programs and the expulsion of most foreign NGO workers from the TAR and other Tibetan areas.
Government propaganda against alleged Tibetan “pro-independence forces” contributed to growing societal discrimination against ordinary Tibetans. Sources reported that security personnel targeted individuals in monastic attire for arbitrary questioning and other forms of harassment on the streets of Lhasa and other cities and towns. Many Tibetan monks and nuns chose to wear non-religious garb to avoid such harassment when traveling outside their monasteries and around China. Some Tibetans in Chengdu reported that taxi drivers refused to stop for them.
The TAR tourism bureau continued its policy of refusing to hire ethnic Tibetan tour guides who had been educated in India or Nepal. Government officials stated that all tour guides working in the TAR were required to seek employment with the Tourism Bureau and pass a licensing exam on tourism and political ideology. The government’s stated intent was to ensure that all tour guides provided visitors with the government’s position opposing Tibetan independence and the activities of the Dalai Lama. Some ethnic Tibetan tour guides in the TAR complained of unfair competition from government-sponsored “Help Tibet” tour guides brought in from inland China, apparently for their greater political reliability, and put to work after receiving a crash course on Tibet.
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ICT Press Releases
- 3 May, 2013International Campaign for Tibet
- 24 April, 2013International Campaign for Tibet
- 15 April, 2013International Campaign for Tibet