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European Parliament adopts an urgency resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk and Tibetan monk Choekyi

January 18, 2018

Brussels – The European Parliament adopted today a new urgency resolution on China, expressing deep concern regarding the cases of two Tibetan political prisoners, the language advocate Tashi Wangchuk and the monk Choekyi.

The resolution which also covers the cases of Chinese human rights activists Wu Gan, Xie Yang, and Lee Ming-cheh “expresses its deep concern at the arrest and continued detention of Tashi Wangchuk, as well as his limited right to counsel, the lack of evidence against him and the irregularities in the criminal investigation; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk”.

“The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which underscores once again the critical role of the European Parliament in standing up for victims of human rights abuses in China and Tibet” said ICT’s EU Policy Director Vincent Metten. “We hope that this strong-worded resolution, along with the expressions of concerns by a number of European governments and EU institutions in the last few months, will have an impact on the outcome of Tashi Wangchuk’s trial and on Choekyi’s condition. We also applaud the call for the resumption of the dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives, the condemnation of anti-Buddhism campaigns and the adoption of the Counterterrorism Law, which could lead to the penalisation of peaceful expression of Tibetan culture and religion”.

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Marriott Hotels’s statement on Tibet raises serious concerns for endorsing Chinese government’s propaganda

January 17, 2018

Following Chinese government’s objection to its labelling of Tibet (amongst others) on a survey drop-down menu under “countries” the President of Marriott, Arne Sorenson, issued a statement on January 11, 2018 in which it said, “…we don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.”

The International Campaign for Tibet is seriously concerned and feels inappropriate for a multinational corporation to have a political position on a future of a community.

The right of people to self-determination is a cardinal principle that is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We have therefore written to Mr. Sorenson expressing our concern and saying that since he has opined on the political future of the Tibetan people, he should also state his position on the universally acknowledged human rights violations suffered by the Tibetan people under the rule of the Chinese government. Failing to do so would mean endorsing the Chinese government political propaganda on Tibet.

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Trial of Tibetan language advocate today ends without known verdict

January 4, 2018

The trial today of a Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who appeared in a New York Times video documentary, received global attention as he and his Chinese lawyer refuted charges of ‘separatism’.

In unprecedented scenes in the courtroom in Yushu, Qinghai, the New York Times video was shown in which Tashi Wangchuk is seen travelling to Beijing to present an appeal about the rights of Tibetans to speak and learn their own language. Tashi Wangchuk and his lawyer pleaded not guilty, and no verdict has yet been returned.

Tashi Wangchuk’s lawyer Liang Xiaojun said in a microblog today (January 4, 2018) that a judge heard oral arguments for four hours and will issue a verdict at an unspecified date. Liang Xiaojun also posted a summary of the case by the authorities at Yushu People’s Intermediate Court, Qinghai, which stated that in the video documentary, Tashi Wangchuk had “intentionally attacked” the Chinese government, and “incited ethnic hatred”. The statement also said that the New York Times video had conveyed a “negative image” of the Chinese authorities to the world.

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ICT fears for lack of fair trial for Tibetan language advocate

January 3, 2018

Tibetan shopkeeper Tashi Wangchuk, who has been in prison since January 2016 after he sought to defend Tibetans’ right to education in their own language, is due to be tried on January 4.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “Tashi Wangchuk did nothing more than defend a cultural right to use one’s own language, protected under the Chinese Constitution and international human rights law. He should never have been arrested, and it is indefensible that he now faces criminal prosecution, and the lack of a fair trial, and should be released immediately.”

Tashi Wangchuk was critical of Chinese cultural and educational policies on Tibetans in an interview with The New York Times in 2015, published in both print media and as a video that circulated widely. According to a microblog posted by his attorney, Liang Xiaojun, the Yushu Intermediate Court in Qinghai Province has scheduled the trial for January 4, 2018.

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Young Tibetan man dies after self-immolation in Ngaba

December 27, 2017

A young Tibetan man called Konpe set fire to himself on December 23 (2017) and died in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), close to the site of the first self-immolation in Tibet eight years ago. In a harrowing video circulating online, a woman can be heard calling out, “Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama], grace us with your compassionate gaze.”

Konpe, who was aged around 30, was taken away immediately by police. By the morning of December 24 he had died, according to two monks from Kirti monastery in exile in Dharamsala, India.

The two Kirti monks, Kanyag Tsering and Losang Yeshe, said that it was not known what Konpe had shouted as he was on fire, at around 6 pm on December 23. They also said that his father had been detained by the authorities in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang), because officials said that tens of thousands of yuan had been spent on medical treatment for Konpe.

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Dhondup Wangchen arrives safely in the United States

International Campaign for Tibet welcomes former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen to freedom and safety

December 27, 2017

The International Campaign for Tibet strongly welcomes the news that Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen has been able to leave his homeland and reunite with his wife and children in the United States.

Despite having served his prison sentence, Dhondup continued to be limited in his freedom of movement, but was finally able to overcome those challenges, leave Tibet and pursue his deeply held desire to reunite with his family.

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Tibetans observe major Buddhist festival despite intimidating presence of Chinese troops

December 18, 2017

Despite intense security with massed ranks of armed paramilitary forces, Tibetans gathered in large numbers last week across Tibet to mark an important Buddhist festival, Ganden Ngachoe, which marks the death anniversary of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist Master Tsongkhapa, the 14th-century founder of Tibet’s largest Buddhist school, the Gelug. The Dalai Lamas belong to the Gelug school. This festival has been observed in Lhasa over the past few years and can be described as a ‘Festival of Light’ as lighting of butter-lamps is an integral part of its observance.

The gatherings for the festival, including at monasteries in eastern Tibet that have been subject to heavy repression, are consistent with a pattern of large numbers of Tibetans marking prayer festivals at religious sites over the last few years despite an intimidating security presence and increasingly pervasive ‘grass roots’ restrictions and surveillance. This trend, demonstrating a spirit of strong resilience and determination to express Tibetan religious identity, is documented in these images of Tibetans gathering on the evening of the Ganden Ngachoe, which fell this year on December 12.

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Congressman Jim McGovern Asks China to affirm the right of the 14th Dalai Lama to return to his homeland

December 14, 2017

US Representative Jim McGovern delivered a speech on the Dalai Lama and Tibet during the special order period in the House of Representatives on December 14, 2017 afternoon. Under the subject of “Let His Holiness the Dalai Lama Go Home”, Representative McGovern said:

“Mr. Speaker, this week people all around the world are commemorating Human Rights Day, the annual celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Article 13 of the Declaration affirms that “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

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Message from Richard Gere, Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, to the Tibet Solidarity Rally in New York on December 10, 2017

December 2017

Tashi delek dear Tibetan brothers and sisters. As I write to you today, we have just concluded a successful visit to Capitol Hill and our year-end meetings of the Boards of Directors from the United States and Europe. I am sorry I cannot join your gathering in New York today but would like to express my solidarity at this critical time in Tibetan history.

Your rally is timely as the situation in Tibet is both dire and rapidly evolving. Following this recent visit to Washington, I can assure you there are many different people, from many communities throughout the world who care deeply about Tibet and have come together in their work to do whatever they can to help address the situation.

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Ban on access to nature reserves in Tibet raises concern about Tibetan nomads at UNESCO site

December 11, 2017

The Chinese authorities have issued a notice prohibiting access to the Hoh Xil nature reserve in Qinghai – which was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in July – except for security personnel or other authorized officials.

The notice raises further concerns about the exclusion of Tibetan pastoralists who have made skillful use of the remote, wild landscape here and across the plateau for centuries, co-existing with wildlife and protecting the land. It appears to counter Chinese assurances to UNESCO that they would “fully respect” local herders and “their traditional culture, religious beliefs, and lifestyle”.[1] The role of nomads in preservation of the landscape and the need for their free movement was recognized during discussion over China’s nomination for UNESCO status for the Hoh Xil area, including by international conservation body the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which carried out an evaluation mission to the area.[2]

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ICT Chair Richard Gere

Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing calls for reciprocal access, religious freedom, and human rights in Tibet

December 6, 2017

Richard Gere, Chair of the International Campaign for Tibet, testified today (December 6) at a Congressional hearing on U.S. Tibet policy in Washington, DC, saying that he was “knocked out” by the support and proposals from U.S. lawmakers during the nearly two-hour long session.

At the hearing, hosted by the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, members of the Committee and the witnesses who gave testimony called for substantive action to resolve the Tibet issue, in the context of a wide-ranging debate covering China’s place in the world, the Dalai Lama and the succession issue, the strategic importance of Tibet to the PRC, and other issues. The Subcommittee hearing came amid efforts to advance the bipartisan Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and a Concurrent Resolution in support of Tibet’s place in American foreign policy. Tenzin Tethong, Director of the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia, and Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, also testified.

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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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Dalai Lama meets former President Barack Obama in New Delhi

December 1, 2017

The Dalai Lama made a special trip from Dharamsala to the Indian capital New Delhi on December 1, 2017 to meet with former US President Barack Obama, who was on a visit to India.

Kasur Tempa Tsering, who is the India and East Asia Coordinator for Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (and a member of ICT’s Board of Directors), told DIIR media that “His Holiness was very happy to meet his fellow Nobel laureate and also a friend”.

He added, “During the 45-minute meeting, both spoke about promoting compassion and altruism in human beings. His Holiness remarked that basically human beings are compassionate in nature but it is the kind of education imparted that makes the binary between you and me and instils a sense of selfishness and self-centeredness. Both the peace laureates discussed the kind of future they envision for the world.”

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Respected Tibetan monk sets fire to himself in eastern Tibet

November 30, 2017

A popular Tibetan monk in his sixties who had worked as a voluntary teacher set fire to himself and died in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi), the eastern Tibetan area of Kham, on Sunday (November 26).

The monk, named Tenga, had studied in Kardze Monastery in Sichuan. He reportedly called for freedom for Tibet as he was burning, according to Tibetan sources.

Tenga is the 151st Tibetan to set himself on fire in Tibet since 2009, in one of the most sweeping and significant waves of self-immolation as political protest globally, and the fifth this year. Two Tibetans in exile in India also set fire to themselves in July (2017).[1]

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ICT statement on China’s cancelation of matches in Germany after Tibet flags were displayed

November 27, 2017

  • Chinese football team cancels matches in Germany after Tibet flag displayed
  • Hostile response in Chinese media indicates unilateral decision after German FA defends freedom of speech

A round of friendly matches in Germany with China’s Under 20 national team was cancelled last Friday after a group of protesters unfurled Tibetan flags at a game last week in Mainz, causing the Chinese team to walk off the pitch.

In a response to the outrage from the Chinese side, Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Football Association, defended the right to free expression and said: “It has been made clear to the Chinese federation that when you play in Germany you also have to deal with the fact that anyone can express their opinion.”

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ICT Inside Tibet: Safety fears over Tibet railway raised amid concern over mega-projects

November 21, 2017

  • An account of safety fears over construction of the newest line of the Tibet railway, the Lhasa to Shigatse route, is circulating on social media, with the blogger saying that the authorities are “turning a blind eye” to the dangers. The author of the blog, who gives a Chinese name, appears to have detailed knowledge of the railway’s construction and its failings and refers to the military and strategic importance of Tibet’s railway and its extension in areas close to the Indian border.
  • The Nepalese press reported that China and Nepal have completed an early study on the cross-border, 100-km railway that they say will connect Kathmandu with the border town of Kyirong (Chinese: Gyirong) in the Tibet Autonomous Region, part of China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ plans, although their account of the extent of underground tunnelling under one of the world’s most seismically active mountain ranges seems unfeasible and highly unlikely.
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Bipartisan resolution supporting the Dalai Lama and Tibet introduced in the US Senate

November 17, 2017

A bipartisan Concurrent Resolution (S. Con. Res. 30) was introduced to the Senate on November 16, 2017 asking the Trump Administration to make Tibet an important factor in US-China relations. The Resolution calls on the Trump Administration to fully implement the US Tibetan Policy Act, to promote access of US citizens to Tibet, and to encourage China “to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives leading to a negotiated agreement with respect to Tibet.” It complements a similar resolution introduced in the House of Representatives (H. Con. Res. 89) on November 1, 2017.

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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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