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Laying tracks in Tibet

Tibetans ordered to prostrate to pictures of Chinese President as Tibet leaders prioritize anti-Dalai Lama stance

January 15, 2019

As authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region emphasized their “clear-cut” stance against the Dalai Lama at meetings of the Region’s Party Congress last week, news emerged from eastern Tibet that Tibetans are being told to prostrate and make offerings to pictures of Xi Jinping.

TAR Chairman Che Dalha announced in his work report to the regional Party Congress that oppressive measures had been heightened, saying: “Tibet has firmly curbed and cracked down on secession, infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces [a political term encompassing the Dalai Lama and Tibet supporters] at home and abroad.”

Amid other signs of an intensified campaign against the Dalai Lama, in the eastern Tibetan area of Serthar county in Sichuan, Tibetans who receive official “poverty alleviation” subsidies from the government have been ordered to remove images of the Dalai Lama from their homes and to destroy their altars, according to information from former political prisoner Golok Jigme. Some families are even being compelled to display images of China’s leader Xi Jinping in their homes, and to prostrate and make offerings.

Another source told the International Campaign for Tibet that new housing provided for Tibetans relocated in settlements in Kham were already equipped with small altars – not with Buddhist icons, but with images of Chinese Party leaders.

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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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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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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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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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Yabshi Takster

Former home of Dalai Lama’s parents demolished in Lhasa

July 30, 2018

  • The former home of the parents of the Dalai Lama, one of the largest and most important of the few remaining historic buildings in Lhasa, has been demolished and a new concrete structure is being built in its place.
  • The Yabshi Taktser residence appears to have been razed within weeks of Lhasa’s protection being discussed at an annual meeting of the world’s leading heritage body, UNESCO from June 24.

The Yabshi Taktser residence was close to the Potala Palace, where the Dalai Lama lived until his escape from Tibet in 1959. It had a particular significance as the home of the late parents of the Dalai Lama. Over many years, the building was neglected and had fallen into a state of disrepair. Tibetans were afraid to recommend maintenance or renovation work because of the building’s association with the Dalai Lama, according to expert sources.

The Yabshi Taktser residence appears to have been razed two months before Lhasa’s protection was discussed at an annual meeting of the world’s leading heritage body, UNESCO, beginning June 24.

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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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New fears for historic structure of Jokhang temple after major fire, as China covers up extent of damage

March 12, 2018

  • There is still no clarity over the extent of the damage caused by a major fire at the sacred Jokhang Temple in Lhasa on the second day of Tibetan New Year, February 17, largely due to China’s imposition of restrictions on the flow of information. There are now new fears that the authorities are engaged in inappropriate repair work to the historic structure – a UNESCO World Heritage site – in order to cover up the damage, which is likely to be extensive, based on assessment by experts of post-fire video footage and stills.
  • An apparent delay of half an hour in fighting the fire has not been explained, given that China told the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in December that the Jokhang Temple has its own fire brigade, based 24 hours at the building, “for the safety and protection of cultural relics.”
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US Members of Congress Introduce Resolutions to Commemorate Tibet’s 1959 Uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day”

February 15, 2018

Today, Senators Leahy (D), Feinstein (D), and Cruz (R) and Representatives McGovern (D) and Hultgren (R), introduced companion resolutions to commemorate the 1959 Tibetan Uprising as “Tibetan Rights Day” on March 10, and to support the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The resolutions recall that on March 10, 1959 the people of Lhasa rose to protect the residence of the Dalai Lama, fearing for his life, and that an estimated 87,000 were later killed during the ensuing violent crackdown orchestrated by the Chinese Communist Party. Furthermore, the resolutions recalls that March 10, 2018 is also the tenth anniversary of the 2008 protests that started in Lhasa and then spread across the Tibetan plateau, which were brutally suppressed by Chinese authorities. At least 152 Tibetans have self-immolated inside the PRC in protest against Chinese rule since then.

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Hearing on U.S. Tibet policy hosted by Committee on Foreign Affairs, December 6

December 5, 2017

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, will testify Wednesday, December 6 before the United States Congress on U.S. Tibet policy, hosted by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service, Radio Free Asia and Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy, will also testify at the hearing.

The Hearing is being held at a critical moment for evaluation of U.S. government Tibet policy following President Trump’s visit to China, where he failed to speak publicly about human rights and Tibet. It follows the introduction of a bipartisan Concurrent Resolution to the Senate on November 16, 2017 asking the Trump Administration to make Tibet an important factor in US-China relations, and calling upon the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act, to promote access of US citizens to Tibet, and to encourage China to speak to the Dalai Lama leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet.

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Major religious festival cancelled and new police checkpoints at Larung Gar

November 3, 2017

  • A major religious festival, the prayer gathering Dechen Shedrub, has been cancelled at Larung Gar institute despite earlier assurances that it would go ahead, according to Tibetan sources. The new development follows the demolition of monastic residences, expulsion of thousands of monks and nuns and the imposition of direct Communist Party control at one of the world’s leading Buddhist institutes in Serthar (Chinese: Serta), Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan.
  • Checkpoints have been set up on the approach to Larung Gar, indicating the tightened security following the wave of demolitions and the appointment of Chinese Communist Party members to key positions at the institute, the world’s largest center of Buddhist study and ethics, according to new information received by the International Campaign for Tibet.
  • Recent construction work confirms that the Chinese authorities are using the development of tourism as a tool to counter cultural resilience and monastic influence, as the CCP seeks to impose more stringent restrictions in its stated aim of ‘Sinicizing religion’, emphasized at the 19th Party Congress and following the imposition of new religious regulations across the PRC.
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China’s revised religious regulations threaten survival of Tibetan Buddhism

September 18, 2017

  • Revised Chinese government regulations on religion consolidate far-reaching powers of the Communist Party state over people’s lives and beliefs, and are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.
  • The revised rules on religious activity, issued by the Chinese State Council on September 7, 2017, conflate peaceful religious practice with ‘threats’ to China’s security, creating a more dangerous political environment for monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists, isolating them further from their counterparts outside China.
  • According to a newly revised provision of the regulation – and in an apparent attempt to use religion to achieve political goals of the Communist Party – religious groups are now bound to practice “core socialist values.”
  • The Chinese state media also announced a focus on the ‘Sinicization’ of religion, stating: “The direction of religions is to integrate them with Chinese culture” (Global Times, September 7, 2017). The Buddhist community is one of the main targets of ‘Sinicization’ of religion, which represents a more far-reaching effort to mould and shape Tibetan Buddhism to the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party in line with a more entrenched regulatory framework that has already deepened religious oppression over the last decade.
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19th EU-China Summit: European Parliamentarians and NGOs call on President Tusk to raise the issue of Tibet

May 30, 2017

A rally by a coalition of NGOs urging the EU to raise the bleak human right situation in China will take place on June 2, 10.30 am – 12 pm at Schuman circle. The rally will include representatives from the Tibetan and Uyghur communities, the European Parliament, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and International Campaign for Tibet.

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Inside Tibet: Tibetan New Year marked by security agenda; mass deployment of troops for prayer festival

March 7, 2017

The Chinese authorities used the Tibetan New Year (Losar) period last week, traditionally marked by devotional ceremonies, to focus on the security agenda of the Party state and warn of a continuing harsh fight against ‘separatism’, a politically charged term used to blame the Dalai Lama.

There was a major and intimidating deployment of military force at a prayer ceremony at Kumbum monastery, while in Lhasa regional leaders hosted a series of meetings in which monks and nuns were warned about the need to comply with Party policy, and – evidence of the strong Party and police presence in religious institutions – official delegations inspected ‘armed forces’ and cadres at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

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Dr. Tenzin Dorjee

First Tibetan American to be appointed a Commissioner of the US International Religious Freedom Commission

December 8, 2016

In a historic first, Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, a Tibetan American, has been appointed as a Commissioner of the bipartisan US International Religious Freedom Commission. This federal government commission was created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

Dr. Dorjee is Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University at Fullerton (CSUF).

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counter terrorism cover

Dangers of China’s counter-terrorism law for Tibetans and Uyghurs

Special report by ICT & FIDHM

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tashi wangchuk

Imprisoned Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk faces false ‘separatism’ charges

September 19, 2016

A Tibetan man imprisoned for his advocacy for Tibetan language depicted in a New York Times video interview still faces criminal charges, according to his lawyer, and police are pushing for a trial.

Tashi Wangchuk, 31, has been detained by police in his home area of Jyegudo (Chinese: Yushu) in Qinghai since January 27 (2016) following an interview with the New York Times on Tibetan culture and language, published as an article and video in November, 2015. He faces charges of ‘separatism’, although he has not advocated Tibetan independence, and has said that Tibet should have greater regional autonomy, especially in the issue of language, under Chinese governance. His lawyer, Liang Xiaojun said: “All he wants is to try to preserve Tibetan culture.”[1]

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