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China and Tibet in focus at Human Rights Council despite changing environment

March 21, 2017

As the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is coming to an end on March 24, the human rights situation in Tibet and China has once more been in the focus of civil society organizations and concerned governments. While facing a changing environment due to potential policy shifts of the U.S. government with regard to the Human Rights Council, advocates for human rights in the People’s Republic of China and also Tibet, among them the International Campaign for Tibet, sent a joint letter to Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva, asking governments to sustain the call for accountability of the Chinese Government by making a joint statement, and by coordinating national statements, at the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

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Statement by the TEOM on their follow up visit on the 2016 Tibetan elections in exile

March 14, 2017

Tibetan Election Observation Mission Encouraged by Tibetan NGOs strong Engagement in the Democratic Process

The Tibetan Election Observation Mission (TEOM) returned to Dharamsala to follow up on their election observation mission conducted last year, and present the recommendations in their report on the 2016 Tibetan Elections in exile.

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ICT Joins in Commemoration of Tibetan Uprising Day Anniversary

March 13, 2017

Tibetans and Tibet supporters all over the world marked the 58th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule on March 10. The Tibetan Parliament and Cabinet leaders spoke at a function in Dharamsala (with Dr Arno Kompatscher, President of South Tyrol, Italy, as the chief guest) that was also attended by ICT President Matteo Mecacci. In his statement, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay declared that 2017 would be a year of campaign for Tibet.

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State Department

China Strictly Curtailed Rights of the Tibetans in 2016 says State Department Human Rights Report

March 3, 2017

The State Department’s latest human rights report said China engaged in “severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing the civil rights of the Tibetan population.” The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, released on March 3, 2017 said these rights included “ the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement” and that these were curtailed “under the professed objectives of controlling border areas, maintaining social stability, combating separatism, and extracting natural resources.” The report further said, China “routinely vilified the Dalai Lama and blamed the “Dalai [Lama] clique” and “other outside forces” for instigating instability.”

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ICT Chairman Richard Gere discusses Tibet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

February 9, 2017

Richard Gere, Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, met with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on February 9, 2017 and discussed the situation in Tibet. Gere updated the Chancellor on recent developments in Tibet and spoke about ways in which the international community could help mitigate the plight of the Tibetan people.

Gere is in Germany for the Berlin Film Festival where his latest film, “The Dinner” will premiere.

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State Department

Secretary Tillerson says he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama

February 1, 2017

In response to written questions posed by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Rex Tillerson, who received Senate’s confirmation as Secretary of State on February 1, 2017, has said that he will commit to encourage dialogue on Tibet and to receive the Dalai Lama.

Secretary Tillerson also expressed concern for the restrictions imposed by China on reporters, civil society actors, diplomats and others in accessing to Tibet, for the denial of visas to foreign journalists and the limitations to freedom of movement and information.

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New Freedom House Report ranks Tibet as the least free among countries and territories

January 31, 2017

A new report by Freedom House has ranked Tibet as the least free territory among the countries and territories surveyed. According to Freedom in the World 2017, Freedom House’s annual report on political rights and civil liberties, released on January 17, 2017, 67 countries, including China, suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016. The report says, “China received a downward trend arrow due to the chilling effect on private and public discussion, particularly online, generated by cybersecurity and foreign NGO laws, increased internet surveillance, and heavy sentences handed down to human rights lawyers, microbloggers, grassroots activists, and religious believers.”

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Message of courage and truth from Tibetan scholar monk who was tortured and imprisoned

January 30, 2017

A remarkable statement of courage and resilience by a respected scholar monk recently released from prison is circulating online.

Labrang Jigme, a monk from Labrang in Amdo, endured torture and nearly died following several periods in prison; he was released in October after serving nearly five years and immediately hospitalized. A popular writer and intellectual, he is the only known Tibetan to record on video in Tibet an account of his own imprisonment and views on Chinese policies against the Dalai Lama in which he gave his full identity.

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Kalachakra

Tibetan pilgrims compelled to return from Dalai Lama teaching in Bodh Gaya, India; China calls the teaching ‘illegal’

January 9, 2017

ICT is at the Kalachakra in Bodh Gaya and will provide further updates this week

Thousands of Tibetan pilgrims have been compelled by the Chinese authorities to return to Tibet after travelling to India to attend a major teaching by the Dalai Lama that is underway in Bodh Gaya, a sacred Buddhist site, India, this week. This follows systematic measures in Tibet to prevent them travelling out of the country at all, even though many had spent years obtaining passports for legal travel.

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Tibetans sentenced to long prison terms for involvement in Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebration

December 15, 2016

Nine Tibetans have been handed sentences ranging from five to 14 years in prison for their involvement in celebrations for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday last year. Several of the Tibetans sentenced on December 6 in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) have been imprisoned and tortured before, linked to the protests and self-immolations that have occurred in the area since 2008. Three senior Kirti monks, including a scholar close to the completion of his Geshe degree and the manager of the medical college at the monastery, received the longest sentences of between 12 and 14 years each. Tibetans had been held incommunicado for months without family or friends knowing their whereabouts, according to two Kirti monks in Dharamsala, India.

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Tibetan man heard calling for return of Dalai Lama as he sets fire to himself

December 9, 2016

A Tibetan man was heard calling for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet as he set fire to himself on December 8 and died in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) in Gansu, the Tibetan area of Amdo.

The Tibetan man, who has been named as Tashi Rabten, self-immolated on the same street of the county town where his relative, 20 year old Tsering Kyi, set fire to herself and died on March 3, 2012, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.[1] Video and images depicted a body engulfed in flames with a young boy looking on, and a woman standing nearby reciting prayers. A second video circulating on social media shows police arriving to take away the body.[2]

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protest video

Two young Tibetan women stage peaceful demonstration with Dalai Lama image in Ngaba

November 16, 2016

Two young Tibetan women staged a bold and peaceful demonstration yesterday (November 15) in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county town. The two women were filmed walking calmly down the street, dressed in traditional Tibetan chubas, bearing photographs of the Dalai Lama aloft and calling “Long live the Dalai Lama!”

No information is yet known of the identity of the two Tibetan women, although footage is circulating online of their demonstration. Two Kirti monks in exile in Dharamsala, India, said: “We have not heard from anyone who saw them being arrested, but we know that the local authorities in Ngaba have never ever spared any peaceful demonstrators in the streets since 2008. Even on the remote chance that they weren’t arrested at the time, armed forces would be deployed to hunt down those protesters. Tensions are still very high in Ngaba.”

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Distressing scenes at Tibetan Buddhist Academy Larung Gar as monks and nuns compelled to leave

November 3, 2016

Distressing scenes of monks and nuns being forced to leave Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in the last few days have emerged on footage shared on social media. Many monks and nuns have been compelled to sign a document stating that they would not return to the globally renowned religious centre in Serthar (Chinese Seda) eastern Tibet (in present-day Sichuan province), where thousands of Tibetan and Chinese monastics have studied over the years.

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International Campaign for Tibet Delivers Members’ Petitions to U.S. Democratic and Republican Presidential Candidates

November 1, 2016

Over the last few months members of the International Campaign for Tibet have been signing petitions to the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to strengthen and reiterate American support to the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet. ICT delivered around 8,000 of these petitions to the Clinton and Trump campaigns on November 1, 2016.

A cover note reminded the candidates of the long standing support of US institutions for Tibet, and the need to strengthen it to counter China’s continuing use of authoritarian and oppressive policies in Tibet. Every US President since George H. Bush has met with the Dalai Lama and expressed support to his leadership in promoting a peaceful solution to the Tibetan issue.

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Labrang Jigme

Respected scholar monk Labrang Jigme released from prison

October 27, 2016

A respected scholar monk known as Labrang Jigme returned home yesterday after being released two months after his five-year prison sentence expired.

Jigme Guri, a monk at Labrang monastery in Amdo, who had been previously imprisoned and severely tortured in 2008 and 2010, is well-known as a writer and intellectual who is the only known Tibetan to record on video in Tibet an account of his own imprisonment and views on Chinese policies against the Dalai Lama in which he gave his full identity. He gained tremendous popularity among Tibetans particularly for his writings and determination to bear witness. Tibetan writer Woeser writes: “Because of this, Tibetan people everywhere recognized him as a hero of their people, naming him ‘Labrang Jigme’.” His release from prison yesterday was greeted with great relief; there have been serious fears for his welfare as he was believed to have been hospitalized while in prison.

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Suffocating religious freedom in Tibet: China’s draft regulations on religious affairs

October 25, 2016

“These tiny hermitages, built from the foundation with money that our parents accumulated, and with the blood and tears of our friends, were where we received transmissions and meditated.”

From “From Larung Gar By Woesel Nyima”[1], an anonymous Tibetan commenting on the demolition of housings at the Buddhist institute of Larung Gar, Eastern Tibet.

In the past months, the Tibetan Buddhist institute of Larung Gar in eastern Tibet has come into the focus of international attention, as Chinese authorities have ordered the demolition of large parts of this authentic place of Buddhist religious life, which over the past years has become a destination for thousands of Buddhist practitioners, from Tibet and China.[2] While the Chinese authorities’ measures at Larung Gar have come under scrutiny by a concerned international public, the Chinese government has drafted a revision of its religious affairs regulations[3] that may have a far reaching effect on Tibetan Buddhism, as it will consolidate the state’s repressive approach towards religious groups.

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Tom Lantos

US Congress’ Human Rights Commission Asks China to Reverse Larung Gar Demolition Policy

October 20, 2016

The Co-Chairs of the United State Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Representatives James P. McGovern and Joseph R. Pitts have expressed concern at the demolition and related action at the Tibetan Buddhist institute of Larung Gar saying “these actions by Chinese authorities clearly violate the religious freedom of the persons affected and the Tibetan community at large.”

In a letter to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, dated October 19, 2016, they said, “We strongly urge your government to reverse course, stop the demolitions and evictions, rebuild and restore the affected infrastructure, and permit all those people under Chinese jurisdiction who wish to pursue their Buddhist faith to do so without government interference or “guidance.””

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US Government “Tibet Negotiations Report” Highlights China’s Unreasonable Conditions for Resumption of Dialogue

October 7, 2016

In the 14th annual report to Congress on the status of Tibet negotiations, the Obama Administration has reaffirmed that encouraging substantive dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership is a key objective of his administration’s policy. Noting that there has not been dialogue since 2010, the report says the US is concerned by China’s insistence on “unreasonable and unattainable conditions in order for China to resume dialogue.” It says, “We consider this position counter-productive and contrary to the expectations of the United States and the international community. We support dialogue without preconditions.”

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