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ICT President Speaks at UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet discussion on Access to Tibet

May 10, 2018

Yesterday afternoon (9 May 2018), the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet[1] hosted a roundtable discussion on the issue of access to Tibet, led by Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), who presented a new ICT report to the group.

The group, which is co-chaired by Chris Law, MP for Dundee West and Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, saw one of its largest turnouts in over five years.

The issue of access to Tibet has long been a sore point of discussion for the Chinese authorities. Despite claims to the contrary by government officials in Beijing, Tibet remains largely closed to foreign visitors[2]. The detention and subsequent expulsion of two New York Times journalists who were visiting Eastern Tibet in February 2018 is but one of China’s more recent attempts to limit who enters the territory and control what kind of information reaches the outside world.

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New ICT report reveals China’s strategies of weaponizing access to Tibet

Access Denied: China’s enforced isolation of Tibet, and the case for reciprocity

May 8, 2018

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet calls for a more robust international approach on Tibet, based on the principle of reciprocity and an emerging awareness that China’s increasing authoritarian influence under Xi Jinping has extended beyond the borders of the PRC. This influence threatens to subvert and reshape our democracies in ways that pose a serious threat to our shared future.

China promotes Tibet as being open to the world, and tells foreign governments and journalists that they should see the world’s highest and largest plateau for themselves. But multiple requests by governments to visit Tibet have been refused in recent years, in contravention of usual diplomatic practice between countries and international organizations, and journalists reporting on Tibet have been threatened, detained, and expelled from the PRC. While Tibetans are “locked in” to Tibet and international observers are locked out, there has been an upsurge in the number of Chinese official delegations that have been sent abroad to “tell the world the story of Tibet in China.”

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Panchen Lama

United States government commemorates birthday of the Panchen Lama

April 27, 2018

In a statement linked to the 11th Panchen Lama’s 29th birthday, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert delivered a statement calling on Chinese authorities to release him. The Panchen Lama has not been seen in public since he was taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at age six, making him the world’s youngest political prisoner. Earlier this week United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan people.

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US Senate passes unanimous resolution calling on China to end interference in Tibetan Buddhism

April 26, 2018

Yesterday, on the 29th birthday of the Panchen Lama, the US Senate unanimously passed Resolution 429, which expresses support for the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhists. The resolution specifically references their right to identify reincarnate lamas without Chinese government interference, and recognizes March 10, 2018 as Tibetan Rights Day.

The resolution, which was introduced by Senators Leahy, Cruz, Feinstein, and Rubio, also recalls the abduction of the Panchen Lama by the Chinese government in 1995. The Panchen Lama has not been seen since then, and the Chinese government has repeatedly refused to provide information regarding his whereabouts.

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ICT meets US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom to reiterate call for release of Panchen Lama disappeared since 1995

April 25, 2018

April 25, 2018 marks the 29th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, who has not been seen in public since he was taken away by Chinese authorities in 1995 at age 6.

In a meeting with United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, ICT President Matteo Mecacci discussed the important role the United States government can play in securing the Panchen Lama’s release. Ambassador Brownback reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to call on the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama and provide the truth on his wellbeing and whereabouts, as well as ensuring the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan people.

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Grace Spring

Long-Time Activist for Tibet Grace Spring Passes Away

March 30, 2018

Grace Spring, artist, long-time Tibet supporter and a Board member of the International Campaign for Tibet passed away in Middlebury, VT, on March 29, 2018. She had Alzheimer’s.

A resident of Washington, DC for many years, Grace relocated, in early 2017, to Middlebury in Vermont, close to where her daughter Cassandra Corcoran resides. Corcoran said that in the period before her passing away, Grace was in an incredibly happy mood.

In a message of condolence, the Board of Directors and staff of the International Campaign for Tibet expressed deep sadness and sent their thoughts and prayers to her family. Board Vice Chairman Gare Smith said, “Grace was a steadfast, loyal, and creative supporter of the cause and her spirit will be missed.”

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China: Dramatic deterioration of human rights situation in Tibet detailed in report for UN review

March 29, 2018

Brussels, Paris: In a joint report submitted today for the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) and the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) documented a dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in Tibet. The joint FIDH-ICT report also offers a set of concrete recommendations that United Nations (UN) member states should make during the third UPR of China, which is scheduled to be held in November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“China’s relentless attacks on the fundamental rights, identity, and culture of the Tibetan people have intensified under President Xi Jinping. The impact of these attacks is sadly manifested in the number of self-immolations of Tibetans that has reached 150 since 2009. It is imperative that China proves it is a responsible global leader and adheres to its human rights obligations with regard to Tibet,” said ICT President Matteo Mecacci.

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US Congress Confirms Support For Funding For Tibet programs in 2018 Budget

March 23, 2018

The United States Congress continued its steady support for Tibet through the provision of approximately $20 million for Tibet programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 1625). The House of Representative approved the legislation on March 22, 2018 with a vote of 256 to 167, and the Senate passed it early on March 23 by a vote of 65-32. The Bill will now need to be signed by President Donald Trump.

“Through this legislation the United States Congress once again confirms its decades-long support for Tibetans’ efforts to preserve their culture and identity,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. He added, “While these programs are but a minuscule part of the overall foreign aid budget, this investment yields big dividends for Tibetans and their efforts to preserve their culture and identity.”

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Tibetan writer Shokjang released upon completion of prison sentence

March 20, 2018

Shokjang, a popular Tibetan intellectual, blogger, and writer, has been released after spending three years in prison linked to his writings. According to Tibetan sources, upon the expiry of his sentence on March 19 (2018), he was returned to his hometown of Gangya village in Sangchu country (Chinese: Xiahe) in the Amdo region of Tibet (currently administered by Gansu province). The Tibetan language service of Radio Free Asia quoted a Tibetan source saying that Tibetans “from many different areas” came to welcome him home (RFA, March 19, 2018).

Shokjang, also known as Druklo, was originally detained by police in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Qinghai, on March 19, 2015, and sentenced to three years in prison. Known for his reflective and thought-provoking articles on issues of ethnic policy in the People’s Republic of China, Shokjang wrote an eloquent letter from detention appealing against his prison sentence:

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ICT Completes 30 Years of Service to the Tibetan People and Receives Video Message of Support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama

March 15, 2018

March 15, 2018 marks the 30th year of the International Campaign for Tibet’s service to the Tibetan people and we are marking the occasion releasing a strong message of support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama providing us with a roadmap on our future direction. On this occasion, we launch a new logo that encapsulates our past work as well as our preparation for future challenges.

In March 1988, the International Campaign for Tibet was established in Washington, D.C. to support the Tibetan people and the vision of H.H. the Dalai Lama. For us the 30th anniversary is not a celebration but a time to honor the dedication and support shown to the people of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama through the dedication of our membership, Members of Congress, successive U.S. administrations and friends from all over the world.

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The United States, Canada and European government express concerns about Tibet at UN Human Rights Council

March 14, 2018

Geneva – The United States, Canada, the European Union and a number of European governments expressed strong concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet today in their item 4 statements to the ongoing 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Among the countries specifically raising Tibet in their statements were Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany and the United States. Bulgaria’s statement – made on behalf of the European Union- was supported by a number of states, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Slovenia.

Speaking under the key Item 4 “Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention,” the governments delegations to the Human Rights Council expressed alarm at the ongoing violations of the fundamental rights of Tibetans, saying they were incompatible with China’s national and international commitments. Many also called on China to release all those detained solely for exercising or protecting fundamental rights –some explicitly mentioning the case of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk.

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125 Participants from 21 states in the 10th Annual Tibet Lobby Day in Washington, DC

March 8, 2018

Tibet Lobby Day 2018 has concluded, following two days of meetings with the offices of Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill. This year more than 120 participants came from 21 states, including from faraway places such as California and Oregon, to lobby their elected representatives in Washington DC to stand up for Tibet. Participants met with Members of Congress, legislative directors, and foreign policy staffers in meetings arranged by the International Campaign for Tibet and presented them with legislative and appropriation requests to benefit Tibet.

The foremost ask this year was for the passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, a bipartisan bill designed to end China’s restrictive access policies, which prevent American journalists, diplomats, citizens (including Tibetan-Americans), and others from visiting Tibet. They also urged Congress to continue funding Tibet programs, advocate for the release of Tibetan political prisoners, and to hold Chinese leaders accountable for their human rights violations in Tibet. Finally, participants asked their Members of Congress to sign a bill calling on the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act and nominate a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and thanked those who had already done so.

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International Campaign for Tibet’s 30 Years of Service to the Tibetan People

March 7, 2018

On March 6, 2018, a special event in the United States Congress marked the International Campaign for Tibet’s 30 years of service to the Tibetan people. Congressional leaders and staffers, State Department officials, members of the NGO community, Tibetan Americans, and Tibet supporters who were in town for the Tibet Lobby Day attended it.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Representative Ngodup Tsering of the Office of Tibet, ICT Board Member Kasur Tempa Tsering, former political prisoner Ngawang Sangdrol, and ICT Board Chairman Richard Gere addressed the gathering.

In March 1988, the International Campaign for Tibet was established in Washington, D.C. to support the Tibetan people and the vision of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Speakers and participants used the event as an opportunity to honor the dedication and support shown to the people of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama by Members of Congress, successive U.S. administrations, and friends from all over the world.

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2018 Tibetan Youth Leadership Program (TYLP) in Washington, DC

March 7, 2018

The Tibetan Youth Leadership Program (TYLP) is a unique week-long leadership development program organized by the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, DC for Tibetan-American college students. It will be held from Saturday, June 2 to Saturday, June 9, 2018.

Are you interested in becoming a leader within the Tibetan community? Are you interested in the US political process and discourse around foreign policy vis-à-vis China and Tibet? The TYLP is designed to motivate and train young Tibetans to become effective leaders within the Tibetan community by providing meaningful exposure to the US political process and the discourse around foreign policy in the American capital. Through workshops, discussions and hands-on activities, participants will develop and sharpen their leadership skills. The program is a starting point for greater involvement as knowledgeable and responsible actors within the Tibetan community worldwide and is specifically geared to meet the need to carry the Tibet movement forward in the United States.

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UN Human Rights Council informed that China’s revised regulations on religion are a further threat to survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet

March 2, 2018

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the ongoing 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 2, 2018, ICT’s Kai Mueller drew the Council’s attention to China’s revised regulations on religion, in effect since February 1, 2018, are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.

Speaking under Agenda Item 3 “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”, he said that in November 2016, six UN special mandate holders expressed their “grave concern” over the “serious repression of the Buddhist Tibetans’ cultural and religious practices and learning” in the Buddhist institutes of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar.

He said that the Council should ask China to “refrain from intervening with religious activities that are protected by principles of freedom of religion or belief.”

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UN Rights Council Urged to Press China to Drop Charges against Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk

March 1, 2018

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 1, 2018, ICT’s Kai Mueller drew attention to the case of Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk as a striking example for the repression against Tibetan Human Rights Defenders.

Speaking under Agenda Item 3 “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”, he welcomed the strong joint communication just issued by five UN Special Rapporteurs on the case of Tashi Wangchuk , as well as similar statements by a number of governments and parliaments calling for his release. He urged the Human Rights Council to join these calls and press China to drop all charges against Tashi Wangchuk and to release him immediately and unconditionally”.

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Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters gather in Washington, D.C. for Tibet Lobby Day

February 28, 2018

Over one hundred Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters from all over the United States are gathering in Washington, D.C., to urge their elected representatives in the government to increase their support for Tibet and the Tibetan people. The 10th annual Tibet Lobby Day will take place from March 4 to 6, 2018.

They will ask Members of Congress to pass legislation that support the aspirations of the Tibetan people, most notably the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017. They will also urge Congress to continue funding Tibet programs, advocate for the release of Tibetan political prisoners, promote access to Tibetan areas for journalists, citizens, and US officials, and to hold Chinese leaders accountable for their human rights violations in Tibet.

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ICT honors long-time activist Grace Spring with Light of Truth Award for being a symbol of activism for Tibet

February 20, 2018

On the auspicious second day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, which fell on February 17, 2018, ICT President Matteo Mecacci bestowed a special Light of Truth award on Grace Spring in recognition of her many decades of work putting a spotlight on Tibet. The event took place in Burlington, VT, near Grace’s current residence, and was held in conjunction with the Tibetan Association of Vermont’s celebration of the Tibetan New Year. The Mayor of Burlington, Miro Weinberger, was present on the occasion.

Grace Spring is an artist, an activist and a Tibetan supporter who, for more than 18 years, held a solo vigil every Friday morning in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington with a Tibetan national flag and a placard, drawing attention to the plight of the Tibetan people.

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