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Chinese response to Tibet reciprocity bill signals its fear of US support for Tibet

January 7, 2019

Giant thangka painting of mass murderer Mao is assertion of ‘red culture’ in Tibet

  • As Chinese authorities reacted angrily against President Trump signing into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, they stepped up criticism of the Dalai Lama, republishing baseless negative articles that exposed China’s fear of the new law, which received strong bipartisan and bicameral support in the US.
  • Local authorities in an area of eastern Tibet launched a “clean-up” drive to eliminate pictures of the Tibetan religious leader and replace them with pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders.
  • In a development that would be unthinkable in Chinese cities such as Beijing or Shanghai, a massive image of Mao Zedong has been created in a Tibetan area in the form of a Tibetan thangka (a Buddhist religious painting), involving 12,000 people in its production and costing more than 4 million yuan ($580,000). It is a move apparently designed to assert Tibetan subjugation to the image of Mao, who was responsible for the invasion of Tibet in 1949-50. Its announcement coincided with statements from Xi emphasizing the Communist Party’s dominance at important meetings in Beijing in December 2018.
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Americans rank Dalai Lama among most admired men in the world, showing continued US support for both him and Tibet

The Tibetan spiritual leader is eighth on Gallup’s 2018 Most Admired Man list, marking his ninth appearance in the top 10.

The list, released today, is based on a survey that asked more than 1,000 adults across the United States which living person they admired most. Former US President Barack Obama came up first for the 11th consecutive year, while his wife, former first lady Michele Obama, topped the list of most admired women.

As a leader who for decades has advocated a peaceful solution to the Tibetan crisis—earning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989—and as an eloquent voice of compassion and tolerance across religions and cultures, the Dalai Lama is often voted as one of the most respected figures around the globe.

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White House statement

Tibet Reciprocal Access bill becomes law, marking new era in US-China relationship and US support for Tibetans

December 19, 2018

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act is now law, signifying a more vigorous interest by the United States in Tibet and the Tibetan people.

This law marks a new era of US support for Tibetans and a challenge to China’s discriminatory policies in Tibet. Following unanimous passage by both the House and the Senate, President Donald Trump signed it on December 19, 2018.

The legislation calls for American diplomats, journalists and ordinary citizens to have equal access to the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas as their Chinese counterparts enjoy in the US.

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Teen monk beaten and arrested as wave of protests and self-immolations continues in Tibet

December 18, 2018

On a major anniversary in Tibet, a 17-year-old monk was beaten and arrested for calling out for Tibetan freedom, just one day after unconfirmed reports said two teens lit themselves on fire in protest of Chinese rule.

On Dec. 10, the anniversary of the Dalai Lama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, 17-year-old Sanggye Gyatso of the Kirti monastery in Ngaba in northeastern Tibet carried out a solo protest, calling for ‘Freedom for Tibet.’ As he attempted to walk along the main street, he was detained immediately by police, who beat him as they took him away, according to two Kirti monks living in exile in Dharamsala, India.

Sanggye Gyatso has now disappeared into custody, and there is no further information about his safety or whereabouts. According to the two monks in Dharamsala, he is from Soruma village in the Choejema area of Ngaba county and joined Kirti monastery at a young age from a family of pastoralists.

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Facial recognition technology

Developing technological totalitarianism in Tibet: Huawei and Hikvision

December 17, 2018

In August 2018, US President Donald Trump signed a law that forbade US government agencies from buying surveillance products from Chinese firms including Hikvision, ZTE Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. A month later, it was reported that the US was considering sanctions against companies and Chinese officials over Beijing’s mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in concentration camps.

Hikvision, a company that is controlled by the Chinese government and has internet-enabled cameras installed in more than 100 countries, has installed surveillance systems in a re-education camp in Xinjiang (East Turkestan) and mosques and has also been directly involved in a large-scale integrated surveillance program in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region that is terrifying in its scope and scale.[1] The company also has offices in Lhasa and has provided surveillance tech for the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Hikvision’s work in Tibet is particularly associated with the former Chinese Communist Party chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Chen Quanguo, who is now in charge in Xinjiang. In Tibet, Chen used surveillance tech supplied by Hikvision as part of the development of one of the most dystopian and intrusive police and security states in the world—a system of technological totalitarianism.

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Dalai Lama commends Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for shining a light on human rights violations

December 12, 2018

The Dalai Lama has commended the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) on its 10th anniversary, praising its “positive contribution in shining a light on individuals throughout the world whose fundamental human rights are being violated by those in power.”

The message was posted on the TLHRC website after a December 11, 2018, anniversary reception.

“I have always looked to the United States as a champion of democracy, freedom, human values and creativity,” the Dalai Lama writes. “The U.S. is a leader among free nations, playing a pivotal role in the promotion of peace around the world. I commend the Tom Lantos Commission for its positive contribution in shining a light on individuals throughout the world whose fundamental human rights are being violated by those in power.”

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Legislative landmark: US Congress passes Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

December 11, 2018

In a triumph today for American citizens—including lawmakers, activists and human rights advocates concerned about the decades-long repression in Tibet—the United States Congress unanimously passed a bill that takes direct aim at the Chinese government’s unfair treatment of Americans and pushes back against its isolation of Tibet from the outside world.

The US Senate approved the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act on December 11, 2018. It now goes to the desk of President Trump, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018—which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and in the Senate by Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)—is bipartisan legislation designed to address China’s exclusion of American journalists, diplomats and citizens from Tibet.

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Drugkho

Young Tibetan man sets himself on fire; third self-immolation in Tibet this year

December 10, 2018

According to information from Tibetan sources, a young Tibetan man set fire to himself in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) in the Tibetan area of Amdo on Dec. 8, 2018. News of the self-immolation circulated in Tibetan-language media but was difficult to immediately confirm because the Chinese government imposed an information blackout in the area and punishes Tibetans who discuss such incidents with outsiders.

The Tibetan language newspaper Tibet Times as well as the Tibet Post International identified the man as Drugkho from Ngaba. The Tibet Post also said that he set himself on fire while calling out for the long life of the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet. Radio Free Asia also reported the news, with one source telling RFA: “It has become an emergency issue and the details of the incident cannot be discussed at the moment. Everyone is aware of this self-immolation case in Ngaba, but no one has received a detailed account of the situation.”

It is not clear if Drugkho is still alive.

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The origin of the ‘Xinjiang model’ in Tibet under Chen Quanguo: Securitizing ethnicity and accelerating assimilation

December 10, 2018

Reports on the current situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region describe a climate of expansive surveillance and control, the mass detention of at least 1 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs in re-education camps and an effective information vacuum. In August 2018, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed grave concern over “numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.”

The international community has been justifiably concerned about Uyghurs and Kazakhs who have been severely targeted because of their ethnic identity, culture and religious practice. In November 2018, 15 western ambassadors in Beijing undertook the unprecedented move of writing to Chen Quanguo, the Party Secretary in Xinjiang, to request a meeting to discuss the current situation there. As Chen is the party secretary leading policy design and implementation in Xinjiang, the 15 western ambassadors have good reason to seek him out.

While the latter appears to be a promising development, it is questionable how forthcoming Chen would be at such a meeting. To best understand what is unfolding in Xinjiang and the motivation driving Chen and the Chinese Communist Party’s policies, observers should look to Tibet, where Chen previously served as the party secretary for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Chen’s policy goals and projects in Tibet offer insights into the roots of what is being called the ‘Xinjiang model’ of repression, in particular the emphasis on cultural assimilation and the construction of an extensive architecture of surveillance and control.

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Richard Gere receives German Sustainability Award for lifetime commitment for human rights

December 7, 2018

ICT Chairman Richard Gere has received the Honorary Award of the German Sustainability Awards 2019 for his advocacy and lifetime commitment for human rights and for his “work to draw attention and practical solutions to humanitarian crises rooted in injustice, inequality and intolerance,” a statement by the German Sustainability Award Foundation said.

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Dalai Lama letter

Dalai Lama’s message to global climate summit shows need for urgent action in Tibet

December 6, 2018

As a native of one of the world’s most beautiful and endangered landscapes, the Dalai Lama has sent his prayers and advice to the largest annual global climate change summit.

“We have to take serious action now to protect our environment and find constructive solutions to global warming,” the Tibetan spiritual leader wrote in a message to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as the COP24 Climate Conference.

The event, taking place now in the Polish city of Katowice, has brought together delegates from nearly 200 countries to create a roadmap for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

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State Dept. supports reciprocal access to Tibet, and Congress rejects China’s authority to choose new Dalai Lama

December 4, 2018

The US Department of State supports the goals of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and will take steps to implement the bill if it becomes law, a department official said at a hearing today.

During the same hearing, a US Senator stated that Congress would reject a Chinese-appointed reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.

“I think it’s clear that this Congress would not recognize a Chinese imposition” of a new Dalai Lama, said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who presided today, Dec. 4, 2018, over the hearing titled “The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.”

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The illegality of everything: China’s new campaign offers rewards for information on ‘illegal content’

December 3, 2018

In a nationwide campaign in China against so-called “illegal content,” Chinese authorities are offering rewards to those who inform on others suspected of reading or speaking about, for instance, foreign newspaper articles or broadcasts about Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Coinciding with the campaign, a series of graphic cartoons were distributed in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, including one of a closed fist smashing into two people marked with the Chinese characters for “black (illegal)” and “evil.” The Dalai Lama is characterized as a leader of such “evil forces” by the Chinese authorities.

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Palden Gyatso, Tibetan monk who was tortured and jailed for 33 years, passes away

November 30, 2018

The International Campaign for Tibet mourns the loss of Ven. Palden Gyatso, who endured more than 30 years of torture and imprisonment in Chinese prisons and labor camps in Tibet and died today, Nov. 30, in Dharamsala, India, at the age of 85.

The Dalai Lama described Palden’s life as “one of the most extraordinary stories of suffering and endurance,” saying that he was “an inspiration to us all.”

“Individuals like Palden Gyatso,” the Dalai Lama wrote in a foreword to Palden’s book “Fire Under the Snow,” “reveal that the human values of compassion, patience and a sense of responsibility for our own actions that lie at the core of spiritual practice still survive. His story is an inspiration to us all.”

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ICT launches debate in Europe on reciprocity and access to Tibet

November 26, 2018

BRUSSELS — At a conference it helped organize last week inside the European Parliament on November 21, 2018, the International Campaign for Tibet led a discussion on the need for Europe to expand the notion of reciprocity—which is often invoked by European leaders as a key principle in economic and trade relations with China—to ensure the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms and to promote unfettered access to Tibet.

The conference, “Access to Tibet and the Practice of Reciprocity,” which was organized in collaboration with International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), followed the publication in May of an ICT report revealing China’s strategies of weaponizing access to Tibet in order to prevent international scrutiny of its human rights abuses there.

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Tibetan man calls for Dalai Lama’s long life as he sets himself on fire

November 8, 2018

A young Tibetan man named Dorbe set himself on fire on Nov. 4 in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), Amdo, saying “May the Dalai Lama live long! May we soon behold his golden countenance!” before he died.

Images that emerged depicted the young Tibetan man beside a nomad tent in traditional Tibetan dress.

According to Kanyag Tsering and Lobsang Yeshe, two Kirti monks in exile in India who passed on the news of the self-immolation, Dorbe was 23 and from Jakorma (Chinese: Xiakunma) village in the pastoral Choejema (Chinese: Qiujima) township of Ngaba county in present-day Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province. Ngaba is the area where the wave of Tibetan self-immolations began. Dorbe had been living at the house of his uncle. The Kirti monks said that no further details were known, due to intense restrictions on information flow in the area and grave dangers for Tibetans in speaking to those in exile.

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As China faces critical UN review, its appalling human rights record must not become the new normal

November 5, 2018

Washington/Geneva – As the Chinese government is scrutinized at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, the international community needs to challenge China’s appalling human rights record and prevent it from becoming the new normal, the International Campaign for Tibet said today.

“In its own country, the Chinese government is systematically violating the most basic standards of human rights, and it seeks to weaken those rights in the international discourse. China undermines the work of international rights bodies, denies access, seeks to restrict civil society globally and exports its authoritarian model to countries susceptible to such tendencies,” said Kai Mueller, Head of UN advocacy for ICT and Executive Director of ICT Germany.

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Larung Gar

Prayer festival cancelled amid tightening control at famous Tibetan Buddhist institute

October 25, 2018

Chinese officials have canceled the prayer festival of Dechen Shedrub at the famous Larung Gar institute in eastern Tibet, according to an official notice stating that there would be no more large religious gatherings held there. Religious teachings at Larung Gar, the world’s largest center of Tibetan Buddhist study and ethics, used to attract thousands of Chinese and Tibetan devotees as well as visitors from all over the world. The announcement of the ban states that Larung Gar is a place for religious study rather than religious practice, and that devotees from other areas are not welcome there.

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