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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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ICT 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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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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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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State Department

Senate confirms nomination of Mr. Rex Tillerson as the next United States Secretary of State

February 1, 2017

Earlier today (February 1, 2017) the United States Senate voted to confirm Mr. Rex Tillerson as the next Secretary of State. In his prepared statement for the confirmation hearing on January 11, 2017, he said the following about China:

“We should also acknowledge the realities about China. China’s island building in the South China Sea is an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms. China’s economic and trade practices have not always followed its commitments to global agreements. It steals our intellectual property, and is aggressive and expansionist in the digital realm. It has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curb North Korea. China has proven a willingness to act with abandon in pursuit of its own goals, which at times has put it in conflict with America’s interests. We have to deal with what we see, not with what we hope.”

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ICT Welcomes European Parliament Urgency Resolution on Larung Gar Demolitions and Ilham Tohti

December 15

Brussels, 15 December 2016 – The European Parliament today adopted an urgency resolution on breaches of human rights, democracy, and rule of law in China, in which it urged the Chinese authorities to stop the dismantling at Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist academy.

This resolution follows the September visit of the Dalai Lama to the European Parliament where he met former President Schulz and addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee in Strasbourg calling on Europe to engage in ‘constructive criticism’ of China[1].

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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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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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Dalai Lama

EU, Parliament officials ignore China pressure to welcome Dalai Lama in Strasbourg, Paris, Brussels

September 16, 2016

The Dalai Lama called on Europe to engage in ‘constructive criticism’ of China after being welcomed by the President of the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday (September 15) following high-profile visits to Paris and Brussels.

Despite pressure from the Chinese mission to the EU to cancel the meetings – framed by the Chinese side as “repeated persuasion” – the Dalai Lama held discussions with European Parliament President Martin Schulz and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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China showcases new plans at Tourism EXPO in Lhasa, while top-down imposition of economic model and repression continues

September 13, 2016

The Chinese authorities have announced a dramatic development of its tourism industry in Tibet as they showcase the city of Lhasa to an invited group of international journalists and businesses this week at a Tourism Expo.

As part of its “Third China Tibet Tourism and Culture Expo” in Lhasa (September 10 – 16), the Chinese authorities have announced a dramatic increase in international brand hotels in Lhasa to boost the industry further.[1]

Consistent with the top-down imposition of elaborate and ambitious economic policies in Tibet, consultation on the expansion of tourism fails to engage Tibetans, who are actively excluded from opportunities in the industry.

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New Party boss in Tibet Autonomous Region associated with hardline campaigns, anti-Dalai Lama struggle

September 2, 2016

  • A new Communist Party chief has taken over in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), using his first statement to underline the importance of the political ‘struggle’ against the Dalai Lama. Chinese official Wu Yingjie has spent almost his entire career in Tibet, unlike most of his predecessors, and is known for his involvement advancing hardline Party campaigns and crackdowns.
  • The appointment of the top Party boss in the region – a post that has never been held by a Tibetan – was announced following three high-level visits by Party leaders, including Yu Zhengsheng to the TAR in mid-August. The announcement, part of a reshuffle including the transfer of the outgoing TAR Party chief Chen Quanguo to Xinjiang, followed the highly secretive annual gathering of Party leaders at the seaside resort of Beidaihe in Hebei this summer.
  • Images have emerged of an intense military presence in Lhasa this week at the time of a religious festival controlled by the Chinese authorities.
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UNHRC

ICT Highlights China’s Repressive Policies and “Security Architecture” in Tibet at UN Human Rights Council Session

June 21, 2016

At the ongoing session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) once again highlighted issues pertaining to China’s repressive policies in Tibet. At a side event organized by the Society for Threatened Peoples, Kai Müller, Executive Director of ICT Germany who heads ICT’s UN advocacy Team, said that the Chinese “security architecture” in Tibet creates neither peace nor stability. In his speech, delivered on June 20, Müller detailed policies, laws and regulations as well as local and regional measures that amount to a climate of repression and fear in Tibet, and which are in contravention of international human rights law. The event was moderated by Ngodup Dorjee, Representative of the Dalai Lama in Geneva. Tienchi Martin-Liao, President of the independent Chinese PEN, was among the panelists.

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NGOs Urge US Government to Press China on Human Rights

Early next week in Beijing, the U.S. and China will hold its 8th Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the last of the Obama Administration

June 2, 2016

Earlier today, in advance of the Obama Administration’s final U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED) which will convene in Beijing June 6-8, the International Campaign for Tibet, along with nine other advocacy NGOs, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, calling on the Administration to press China publicly on a wide range of human rights issues.

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Tibetan detainees

New Report Highlights High Rate of detentions of Tibetans by Chinese Government’s Suppression Campaign

May 24, 2016

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has published a new report on May 22, 2016 that says the “Chinese government’s campaign to suppress peaceful dissent in Tibetan areas has continued to produce a high rate of detentions, prosecutions, and convictions since the outbreak of widespread unrest eight years ago.”

The 86-page report, “Relentless: Detention and Prosecution of Tibetans under China’s ‘Stability Maintenance’ Campaign,” shows how changing patterns of unrest and politicized detentions, prosecutions, and convictions from 2013-2015 correlate with the latest phase of the government’s “stability maintenance” campaign – a policy that has resulted in unprecedented surveillance and control in Tibetan villages and towns.

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US Commission on International Religious Freedom releases its 2016 annual report, finds continued crackdown and suppression of Tibetan Buddhists

May 3, 2016

On May 2, 2016, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. government advisory body, released its 2016 Annual Report. Shortly before the release of the Report, the State Department redesignated China as a “country of particular concern” (CPC). A CPC is defined as a country that engages in or tolerates “particularly severe” religious freedom abuses; such violations are “systematic, ongoing and egregious,” and can include torture, arbitrary detention, disappearances, or “other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.” The State Department has designated China as a CPC since the inception of the CPC mechanism in 1999.

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Dalai Lama

Unprecedented diplomatic action in Geneva on China’s human rights record

March 16, 2016

The international community has sent a strong message to China with unprecedented diplomatic action in recent weeks including the first collective statement at the U.N. Human Rights Council, a rare joint statement drawing attention to human rights abuses and a high-profile appearance by the Dalai Lama at an event with human rights defenders in Geneva last week moderated by the Deputy U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Diplomats were among a packed audience listening to the Dalai Lama speaking about human rights and civil society on Friday (March 11). China’s mission in Geneva had urged them to stay away from the event billed as a side event to the ongoing U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, and co-sponsored by the United States and Canada. The discussion, built around a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, can be viewed here.

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