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Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk sentenced to five years in prison

May 22, 2018

Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk was sentenced to five years in prison today, accused of ‘separatism’ after appearing in a New York Times video speaking of the importance of protecting Tibetans’ ‘mother tongue’.

The verdict, handed down by a court in Yushu, Qinghai, today (May 22) signals China’s harsh and extreme approach to Tibetan culture and the criminalization of moderate, peaceful efforts within Chinese law to protect the use of Tibetan language.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “This could not be a clearer and more absurd indication of the extremist position of the current Chinese leadership, in which Tashi Wangchuk was condemned ultimately for seeking to speak his own language, and expressing his concern about a future when Tibetan children might not be able to do so. In this case, minority rights outlined in China’s Constitution were on trial, and the outcome reflects the emptiness of China’s claims to protect Tibetan language and culture.”

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Tibetan prisoner released after more than a decade in prison following 2008 protests

May 18, 2018

A Tibetan who participated in the March 2008 protests in Lhasa has returned home two months after the end of a decade-long prison sentence.

Dashar, from Sershul in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), the Tibetan area of Kham, was imprisoned in Lhasa charged with involvement in protests on March 10, 2008, beginning a wave of demonstrations that swept across Tibet prior to the Beijing Olympics that summer.

He was due for release on March 15 but was not released until this week. Dashar’s daughter, who lives in exile, confirmed his release and his welcome home by Tibetans with ceremonial scarves. Details about his state of health are also not known; most released prisoners need thorough checkups and often many months of medical care.

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Monks who studied in India banned from teaching in Tibet; new ruling bans schoolchildren from religious activity

May 17, 2018

  • Highly educated Tibetan monks who studied in India are being banned from teaching Buddhism when they return home to the Lithang area in eastern Tibet. The new ruling by the Chinese authorities is an indication of China’s denial of religious freedom to Tibetan Buddhists who seek to receive teachings from qualified masters, as monks who have studied in India are highly valued for their deep understanding of the teachings. It is also a chilling signal of the Communist Party’s intentions of eradicating the Dalai Lama’s influence and using religion as an instrument to achieve hardline political objectives.
  • In another alarming measure, the Chinese authorities have prohibited Tibetan schoolchildren in the Tibet Autonomous Region from engaging in traditional devotional practices during the holy Buddhist month of Saga Dawa, which began yesterday (May 16).
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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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USCIRF report recommends re-designating China as a Country of Particular Concern and advocates for passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

April 27, 2018

In a scathing annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that Tibet under Chinese rule has increasingly come to resemble a police state. The Commission recommends that the United States government re-designate China as a Country of Particular Concern, use the Global Magnitsky Act against Chinese officials and agencies responsible for human rights abuses, appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and pass the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act.

Characterizing China’s strategies towards Tibet as ones of “antagonism and hostility,” the Commission describes pervasive controls on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and heightened interference at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, culminating in the eviction of almost 5,000 monks and nuns. The report covers China’s increasingly concerted efforts to isolate the Dalai Lama and punish Tibetans for expressing loyalty to him:

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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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French President Macron’s statement on the Dalai Lama and Tibet

April 26, 2018

George Washington University – On April 25, 2018 French President Emmanuel Macron, on his first official visit to the United States, held a town hall question and answer session with George Washington University students in the U.S. capital. One student raised a question on a possible meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, leading to the following exchange:

Question: Hello President Macron. Thank you for being here, we welcome you. My name is Walter James, I am a Senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs. In 2016, the Dalai Lama made an official visit to France, but President Holland did not meet with him, nor any member of the French government. Given Beijing’s repression of Tibet and its persecution of the current Dalai Lama, who’s exiled in India, and given France and EU’s positive relations with the PRC, would you meet with the Dalai Lama if he were to return to France?

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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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State Department notes ‘severe’ repression in Tibet in 2017 Human Rights Report

April 20, 2018

The State Department’s latest Human Rights Report, released on April 20, 2018, documents pervasive repression and high levels of deployments by the paramilitary People’s Armed Police in Tibet. Among other issues, the report tracks the many fronts Chinese authorities have opened in their attacks on the Dalai Lama, including strengthened punishments for Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members who secretly harbor religious beliefs, and the detention of Tibetans who express support for him.

“The U.S. report on the situation of human rights in Tibet confirms the information that the International Campaign for Tibet has been gathering about the deteriorating situation in Tibet,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “This message from the Administration complements a series of legislations before the United States Congress, including the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, and their approval would strengthen the call for human rights in Tibet,” Mecacci added.

Examining the ethnic dynamics of Chinese rule in Tibet, the report notes that ethnic Chinese CCP members hold “the overwhelming majority of top party, government, police, and military positions” in Tibet, and that on the national level, none of the members of the CCP Politburo or the Standing Committee of the Communist Party are Tibetan.

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Sweden charges Tibetan with espionage for Chinese government, highlighting pressures on exile communities

April 19, 2018

In the first known case of a Western government bringing criminal charges against a Tibetan accused of espionage, Sweden has indicted a 49-year old man for spying on Tibetans in exile for the Chinese government. The case, which will be the subject of a court trial, highlights the threats to Tibetan communities all over the world as China continues to intensify both its heavy securitization and surveillance mechanisms in Tibet and its overseas influence operations.

While it is known that Tibetans are informed upon across the Tibetan diaspora, particularly due to the heightened and more systematic activity of China’s United Front Work Department, this is the first time that a Western government has brought criminal charges against a Tibetan. In 2010, in a linked investigation, Sweden sentenced a Uighur man who had been caught informing on other Uighurs to a year and ten months in prison – the highest penalty ever for an intelligence case of this kind in Sweden.

In a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday (April 11), state prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist described the Chinese government as a “totalitarian regime”, telling the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that: “This is a very serious crime. Espionage affects very vulnerable people. People who have escaped to Sweden from totalitarian regimes must feel safe to enjoy their basic freedoms, such as the right to protest against a regime without their relatives being put at risk.”

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Congressional Delegation visits Dharamsala, meets Dalai Lama and Tibetan leadership

April 6, 2018

A US Congressional Delegation composed of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and accompanied by staffers from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the US Embassy in India concluded a three-day visit to Dharamsala, by meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the morning of April 6, 2018.

The Dalai Lama welcomed the delegation and thanked the United States Congress and government for their decades-long support for the Tibetan cause. This support, he added, provides inspiration not only to the Tibetan people, but also for communities that are battling oppression all around the world. The Dalai Lama reaffirmed his commitment to the preservation of Tibetan culture and identity as they can provide benefit not only to Tibetans, but also to the entire world.

Following the meeting, Representative Ros-Lehtinen expressed her feelings in a tweet saying, “Blessed to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala. It was great to listen to his wisdom, knowledge and compassion. I reaffirmed my support and that of the US Congress for the people of Tibet. Beijing should listen to him too!”

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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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Photo with Tibetan flag led to Tibetan activist’s 10-day detention in Nepal

March 28, 2018

A Tibetan activist in Nepal was detained for nearly 10 days by Nepalese police and threatened with deportation after he posted a picture of himself with a Tibetan flag on Facebook in early March, and wrote to international embassies in Kathmandu about human rights concerns in Tibet. There are increasing dangers for Tibetans in Nepal as the Nepalese authorities deepen their relationship with China, with rumors of a high-level Chinese delegation visit to Kathmandu soon.

Three days after posting the image, the Tibetan activist, Adak, was near the Boudha stupa in Kathmandu when he was approached by police, he told ICT. They showed him the photograph and when he confirmed that it was his picture in response to their query, they took him into custody. Adak, who is in his early forties, said that he was slapped and kicked in the process but was not further beaten in custody. He said that police threatened to deport him to Tibet. Prior to his arrest at Boudha, Adak had also taken photographs of police at a nearby Buddhist monastery, according to Nepalese human rights supporters who helped to facilitate his release.

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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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