Tibet Weekly Update – February 14, 2014

A listing of the top news developments in and around Tibet during the previous week.

Tibetan self-immolations: 5 years on

Phagmo Samdup

Phagmo Samdup with his family.

The 127th Tibetan self-immolation took place on February 13, when a 25-year old former monk named Lobsang Dorje set fire to himself in the restive Tibetan area of Ngaba. While his current well-being and whereabouts are unclear, he was reported alive when taken away by police. Lobsang Dorjee is the eleventh former monk from Kirti monastery, located in Ngaba, to self-immolate. His fiery protest comes only days after a young husband and father of two named Phagmo Samdup set fire to himself. His whereabouts and wellbeing are currently unknown after police who were on patrol put out the flames and took him away. Known as an experienced Buddhist practitioner, Phagmo Samdup is the fifth Tibetan from his home area in the northeastern Tibetan region of Amdo to self-immolate, in what has now been five-years since the first self-immolation protest in Tibet.

Hundreds gather to protest detention of religious leader

gathered to push for the release of popular Tibetan lama

A huge crowd of Tibetans gathered to push for the release of popular Tibetan lama Khenpo Kartse at a prayer festival in Nangchen, Kham.


Large numbers of Tibetans continue to organize peaceful gatherings to call for the release of Khenpo Kartse, a highly respected religious leader who authorities have held in detention since December. The latest peaceful protest took place at a prayer festival in the Tibetan region of Kham, where hundreds held a sit-in demonstration in support of Khenpo Kartse. While Tibetans continue to hold peaceful demonstrations in support of his release, fears continue to mount that Khenpo Kartse may face politically motivated criminal charges.

Spanish parliament vote could signal end to Tibet cases

Tibet case in the Spanish court

(From left to right) Alan Cantos, Director of Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT) and international coordinator of the Tibet case in the Spanish court, Thubten Wangchen, Tibetan Parliamentarian and plaintiff in the Tibet law suits, Palden Gyatso, who bore witness in the cases following 33 years in prisons and labor camps in Tibet, and Jose Elias Esteve Molto, international lawyer, Tibet legal expert and main lawyer who researched and drafted the Tibet case in the Spanish court.

While Tibet supporters around the world make a stand for Tibet, the Spanish Parliament has voted to proceed with a measure that will severely limit the ability of Spanish courts to investigate human rights abuses in Tibet under the legal principle of “universal jurisdiction.” The move is the latest development in a series of lawsuits being brought in Spain against former Chinese leaders who the courts have indicted over their involvement in grave human rights abuses in Tibet, to which the Chinese government has vigorously lobbied Spanish officials for political intervention. The parliamentary vote comes just days after a Spanish High Court judge ordered arrest warrants be issued for five former Chinese leaders, including former president Jiang Zemin, who the judge found “exercised supervisory authority over the people who directly committed abuses, which makes him responsible for acts of torture and other major abuses of human rights perpetrated by his subordinates against the people of Tibet.”

While the Spanish Parliament has decided to look the other way, the crimes in Tibet continue, with news only now emerging of one young Tibetan who died last December after he was tortured in police custody. Another case of severe torture has also been reported, this one involving police in Lhasa who detained a young Tibetan man named Norgyay, when photos of the Dalai Lama and audio recordings of teachings given by the Tibetan spiritual leader were found on his cell phone. Norgyay was detained on January 14 during a police spot check of cell phones carried by Tibetans, and subsequently tortured while in custody, according to RFA.

More recent detentions have also been reported concerning monks who posted pro-Tibetan independence leaflets, and in a separate case, a group of teenagers who were found to have written “May Tibet gain independence!” in sand across a frozen river.

Dalai Lama: corruption is “a form of violence”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Speaking to an audience of students and teachers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the Dalai Lama described corruption as a “form of violence.” The Tibetan spiritual leader stated that, “[v]iolence is not necessarily with weapon and killing and bullying but corruption is also a form of violence,” according to Voice of America’s Tibetan service. While mainly addressing concerns over corruption in India, the Dalai Lama’s comments coincide with major revelations over the widespread use of offshore tax havens by Chinese elites, facilitated by Western accounting firms.

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