China Launches New Push Against Dalai Lama Photos in Ngaba

China Launches New Push Against Dalai Lama Photos in Ngaba

Police in western China’s Sichuan province have launched a new drive to find and destroy photos of the Dalai Lama, raiding Tibetan homes at random in a search for images of the exiled spiritual leader, who is widely reviled by Chinese authorities as a dangerous separatist.

The raids, which were held to enforce restrictions already in place, were recently conducted in several areas of Dzamthang county in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, one local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“No photos were discovered during the raids, however, so no arrests were made at that time,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “China has warned that anyone not complying with government orders against possession of the photos will face severe consequences,” he added.

Authorities in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture had earlier also launched a push against possession of photos of the Dalai Lama, traveling to remote areas that had previously escaped police attention, Tibetan sources told RFA in July.

The campaign, which began at the end of April, targeted Serthar county in Kardze but was also being enforced in other areas of the eastern Tibetan region historically known as Kham, one source, a Tibetan living in Switzerland, said.

The Dalai Lama, 84, fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule, and displays by Tibetans of the Dalai Lama’s photo or public celebrations of his birthday have been harshly punished in the past.

Chinese officials have meanwhile toured Tibetan villages and towns in neighboring Qinghai province to promote a campaign against organized crime and other activities considered threatening to Beijing’s control over Tibetan areas of China, RFA’s source said.

“During their tour, the Chinese officials explain the purposes of the campaign, speaking in both Tibetan and Chinese,” the source said, adding that the online activities of local Tibetans are monitored especially closely by internet censors and police.

Authorities in Tibetan areas of China frequently monitor discussions on social media and search mobile phones for what they consider politically sensitive content, and foreign news broadcasts are heavily restricted.

‘Evil forces’

Also speaking to RFA, a Tibetan living in exile confirmed the crackdown in Qinghai against criminal gangs and other “evil forces,” saying the campaign has now widened to include a broader suppression of political activity by Tibetans.

“Many Tibetans living in Qinghai and in some parts of Gansu province are facing severe restrictions amid the crackdown,” RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the region.

“In this atmosphere of ‘Big Brother watching,’ Chinese spies are now placed everywhere in Tibetan society, leaving Tibetans in a state of constant fear,” he said.

“Chinese authorities are doing everything they can to block outside political news and information from reaching Tibetans, and also to prevent any local news from leaking out.”

Though China’s campaign to crack down on ‘evil forces’ was aimed at first at criminal gangs, gambling, rape, and other social ills, “the enforcers have departed from their initial goals,” the source said.

“Now, the campaign has become a tool to crack down on any expression of Tibetan culture and identity and political dissent.”

The campaign demands absolute loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and local officials are required to report to higher authorities on the success of the campaign’s implementation in Tibetan areas, the source said.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Yachen Gar Demolition Has Displaced As Many as 6,000 Monks and Nuns

Yachen Gar Demolition Has Displaced As Many as 6,000 Monks and Nuns

China’s ongoing demolition at the Yachen Gar Tibetan Buddhist center in Sichuan province has removed “five to six thousand homes” and led to the eviction of a similar number of monks and nuns, a source in the region told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

The source told RFA that so far almost six thousand monks and nuns have been evicted from their homes in Yachen Gar. Most were from the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), to the west of Sichuan.

“Yachen Gar once had about 13,000 dormitories that housed Tibetan monks and nuns, but now almost five to six thousand dormitories have been demolished,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

“Many of those monks and nuns who still dwell in Yachen Gar come from the Palyul (in Chinese, Baidu) and Ba area, with a few from Dzachu,” said the source.

“The evictees who were from Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) have much less hope of getting back into any monastic institutions to practice Buddhism,” added the source.

The latest account from the region, which is remote and under heavy Chinese security, follows a report issued Monday by the advocacy group Free Tibet which carried satellite images it said “verify that large-scale demolitions have leveled almost half” of the complex.

“The demolitions took place in August and are part of a long-term effort by Chinese Communist Party authorities to cut the number of residents at the site,” said Free Tibet.

“Satellite images from before and after the most recent demolitions show a clear contrast on the west bank of the river running through Yachen Gar, with a densely-populated area of the community now removed and bare ground where it once stood,” it said.

Free Tibet noted the difficulty of getting information about the complex and the demolition.

“Foreign visitors are currently barred from the area and Chinese authorities have increased levels of surveillance inside Yachen Gar, with around 600 military personnel now deployed there to monitor the inhabitants,” it said.

The Free Tibet report traced similar developments as an Aug. 28 RFA report that found that nearly half of the sprawling complex had been turned into a vast patch of grass.

Demolition of the nuns’ dwellings the sprawling center began on July 19 and moved ahead quickly, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA at the time.

The destruction followed the forced removal beginning in May of over 7,000 residents of Yachen Gar, which once housed around 10,000 monks and nuns devoted to scriptural study and meditation.

Restrictions on Yachen Gar and the better-known Larung Gar complex in Sichuan’s Serthar (Seda) county are part of “an unfolding political strategy” aimed at controlling the influence and growth of these important centers for Tibetan Buddhist study and practice, a Tibetan advocacy group said in a March 2017 report.

“[Both centers] have drawn thousands of Chinese practitioners to study Buddhist ethics and receive spiritual teaching since their establishment, and have bridged Tibetan and Chinese communities,” the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet said.

During 2017 and 2018, at least 4,820 Tibetan and Han Chinese monks and nuns were removed from Larung Gar, with over 7,000 dwellings and other structures torn down beginning in 2001, according to sources in the region.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

National Day Arrests, Forced Singing of China’s Praises Rankle Tibetans

National Day Arrests, Forced Singing of China’s Praises Rankle Tibetans

China arrested Tibetans for sending money and forced elderly Tibetans to sing patriotic “red” songs praising the country in the run up to Oct. 1 National Day celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, a Tibetan-American recent visitor to the region told RFA on Thursday.

“The arrests began in July leading up to Oct 1st National Day. Those arrested include Tibetan retirees on charge of corruption,” said Lhundup Dorje, who returned the U.S. after a recent visit to Lhasa, the Tibetan regional capital.

“Even several Tibetan youths who sent money to their siblings in India via red envelop through WeChat are among the arrested,” he said, referring to the money transfer service of the popular Chinese communications app.

“One Tibetan youth who sent money via red envelop was arrested and beaten because his money contribution was a prayer offering to the private office of the Dalai Lama for a deceased person,” said Dorje.

Dorje’s account matched a report issued last month by a Tibetan advocacy group, which said Chinese authorities had tightened controls in Tibet ahead of Oct. 1, hoisting Chinese flags on monastery roofs and forcing monks to sing songs praising the ruling Communist Party.

In the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Tibetans are also being coerced to attend events promoting government policies and are hanging scrolls with pictures of senior Chinese Communist Party leaders on the walls of private homes, London-based Free Tibet said in its report.

Dorje told RFA’s Tibetan Service that “all Tibetan retirees were ordered to practice singing patriotic songs [called red song] praising the motherland.”

“And all along the roads in Lhasa, and everywhere Chinese flags were flown high” he said.

“All Tibetan government officials, retirees and school students refrained from going to the Jokhang Temple in central Lhasa during the lead up to the anniversary for fear of offending the communist government.”

“The Chinese government even warned Tibetan parents, that their kids will be removed from schools, and government would stop giving subsidies to those Tibetan find worshipping and visiting the Jokhang Temple during the 70th anniversary,” said Dorje.

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India following a failed 1959 national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan region nine years earlier.

Chinese authorities have maintained a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated prefectures of Chinese provinces ever since, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Yangdon Demo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

Ahead of Modi-Xi meet, Tibetan govt-in-exile passes resolution on reincarnation of the Dalai Lama

Ahead of Modi-Xi meet, Tibetan govt-in-exile passes resolution on reincarnation of the Dalai Lama
October 7, 2019

By Geeta Mohan, India Today, 5 October 2019, Read the original article here.

Speaking exclusively to India Today TV after the session, Lobsang Sangay, president of the Tibetan-government-in-exile, said that China has no locus standi on the issue of “reincarnation” and therefore the Communist Party should not interfere in the matters of religion.

Days ahead of the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Tibetan government-in-exile held a three-day special general meeting of Tibetans in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. It was attended by 345 representatives or Tibetan religious leaders from 24 countries.

On Saturday, four resolutions were passed unanimously, the most important being on the question of reincarnation of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Speaking exclusively to India Today TV after the session, Lobsang Sangay, the Sikyong or the president of the Tibetan-government-in-exile, said that China has no locus standi on the issue of “reincarnation” and therefore the Communist Party should not interfere in the matters of religion.

“On reincarnation, the resolution we had was that document number five issued by the Chinese government in 2007 on reincarnation is unacceptable and China has no credibility in interfering in the reincarnation process because document number five said that the Communist Party will decide the recognition of reincarnation at district level, state level and the national level according to the hierarchy and their categories. The Communist Party should not interfere in the religious matter… As far as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is concerned, only he and him alone will decide on reincarnation and no one else”, he said.

The discussions revolved around two themes – the 550 vision of Central Tibetan Administration and the relationship between the lineage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Pema Jungney unanimously passed a resolution to adopt the suggestions in the group discussion, along with the Deputy Speaker.

The first resolution was on long and healthy life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the Tibetan people. The second resolution states that the reincarnation process will continue until the Tibetans exist in this world.

The third resolution is that the authority of the Dalai Lama will remain with him and Gaden Phodrang (the office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama). The fourth resolution is that the members unanimously rejected the Chinese government 2007 resolution order number 5.

China has been insisting that the next Dalai Lama reincarnation would be in Tibet. But, Tibetans abroad insist that the reincarnate could be from anywhere since they fear that Beijing would put up a puppet leader.

President Sangay added, “His Holiness has made it very clear that the reincarnate would be born in a free country where the Dalai Lama has religious freedom. We feel His Holiness will not be born in China where Buddhism is discouraged and monasteries are destroyed.”

To a question on the timing of the meet since it comes just days ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile insisted that it was a mere “coincidence”.

“It is pure coincidence that President Xi Jinping’s visit is happening right after the special general body meeting of Tibet. We decided to have this meeting in February. Our message is very clear that the Chinese government should not interfere in religious matters, it should be left to the religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama”, said President Sangay.

He said, “We would like to see a resolution of the issue of Tibet. Based on the middle-way approach what we seek is a genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese Constitution. This is a win-win solution for both, the Chinese government and for the people. This is a moderate stand and the Chinese government should consider it for a peaceful resolution of the Tibet question.”

Press Release: 70th Founding Anniversary of People’s Republic of China Marks 60 years of Occupation of Tibet

Press Release: 70th Founding Anniversary of People’s Republic of China Marks 60 years of Occupation of Tibet
October 1, 2019

Published By Bureau Reporter

Press Release

70th Founding Anniversary of People’s Republic of China Marks 60 years of Occupation of Tibet

On 1 October 2019, the People’s Republic of China is celebrating its 70th founding anniversary with great pomp and fanfare, the main highlight being an unprecedented military parade in a brute show of force to demonstrate country’s emergence as a global superpower. Its message is very clear: “China has the capability to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity and any country that attempts to provoke China and threaten China’s territorial sovereignty and integrity should think twice,” China’s state tabloid Global Times reported earlier.

As Beijing gears up for huge national celebrations, because of the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong as well as the gross violation of human rights in Tibet and East Turkestan, the PRC’s founding anniversary has been dubbed by some as a “Day of Grief”.

As far as Tibet is concerned, to put in the words of the late X Panchen Lama, “Tibet has lost more than gained under Chinese rule.” China’s military conquest of what was once a peaceful, independent country was followed by decades of gory death and destruction. Over 1.2 million Tibetans have perished within three decades following China’s invasion of Tibet in 1949/50. Nearly 6,000 monasteries were ransacked and destroyed. China’s so-called development projects in Tibet have induced a massive influx of Chinese population along with a wanton destruction of its pristine ecology. In what many view as a form of cultural genocide, China’s policy of Sinicization has resulted in a wholesale assault on all vestiges of Tibetan national identity, most notably their language, religion and culture.

Severe restrictions of basic human freedoms, arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions and torture and unnatural deaths have all become the hallmarks of Chinese rule in Tibet. The grim human rights situation inside Tibet is nowhere more starkly evident than the fact that since 2009 over 153 Tibetans have committed self-immolation in a desperate act of protest against the repressive policies of Chinese government. No wonder Freedom House has ranked Tibet as the second least free region after Syria consistently for four consecutive years.

If recent developments inside Tibet are any indications, China’s repression has only scaled new heights, including the ongoing destruction in Larung Gar and Yarchen Gar religious complexes; forced eviction of monks and nuns from their monasteries and nunneries; and indoctrination and intimidation of monks and nuns. China’s atheist Communist Party is not just controlling the daily life inside the monasteries, but also willfully meddling and manipulating the centuries old Tibetan Buddhist tradition of reincarnation for their own political gains. Worst of all, the so-called grid management system of surveillance has turned entire Tibet into an Orwellian police state.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against the Tibetan people, China has thus far failed to stifle their indomitable spirit and resilience. The past 60 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet is in a way also a story of 60 years of Tibetan people’s peaceful resistance against what has been one of the most brutal regimes on this planet.

Tanks and guns will not silence the voices of brave Tibetans. Force and might will not suppress the spirit and truth of Tibet. As Shri Jayaprakash Narayan rightly said, “Tibet will never die, because there is no death for the human spirit. Communism will not succeed because man will not be a slave for ever…”

Tsewang Gyalpo Arya (Mr.)

Secretary (Information)

Department of Information and International Relations

Statement of the International Campaign for Tibet

Statement of the International Campaign for Tibet

As part of the 70th anniversary of its founding on October 1, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is touting “70 years of progress” in Tibet. However, the truth is that it has been 70 years of subjugation and oppression for the Tibetan people, and after all that, China still lacks legitimacy in its rule over Tibet.

Both the provisional constitution called the Common Program of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference adopted in September 1949 and the subsequent Constitution of PRC boast of providing communities like the Tibetans the freedom to preserve or reform their own ways and customs, use and develop their own spoken and written languages. The Common Program even committed “to preserve or reform their traditions, customs and religious beliefs.”

Following the establishment of PRC, Beijing announced its intention to takeover Tibet. Subsequently, in 1951, it forced the Tibetan side to sign the 17-Point Agreement that established a new framework of Tibetan-Chinese relationship. Despite its controversial signing, the agreement did specify that the then Tibetan government’s decision-making over religion, language and political institutions would remain intact in exchange for its acceptance of Chinese sovereignty. Nevertheless, China itself violated this agreement in subsequent years culminating in the Tibetan National Uprising in March 1959, and the Dalai Lama was forced to seek refuge in India in 1959.

As early as March 10, 1961, the Dalai Lama said in a statement on the second anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day, “The Communists are today forcing what they call reforms down the throats of our people. I have given careful consideration to these so-called reforms and I have come to the conclusion that at the end of the reforms the Tibetan people will be reduced to the state of mental and economic serfdom.”

Today, the conditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people have become as predicted in 1961 by the Dalai Lama. Destruction has been unleashed on Tibet’s monastic and cultural institutes and environment. The Tibetan people’s traditions, culture and religion have been destroyed, and their human rights are consistently violated. Since China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet began, successive Chinese leaders have failed to understand and address the underlying grievances of the Tibetan people.

If China really wants to show maturity and become a responsible member of the international community, it should have the courage to address the political problems in Tibet and respond positively to the Dalai Lama’s offer for a mutually beneficial negotiated settlement through the Middle Way Approach.

Since the mid-1970s, the Dalai Lama has been promoting this approach, which takes into consideration the interests of both Tibetans and Chinese, and calling for a resolution of the Tibetan issue within the framework of the PRC. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping had said in 1979 that other than the independence of Tibet, any other issue could be discussed and resolved. In addition, during the short periods of dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese officials over the past four decades, the Tibetan side even presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People. However, Chinese leaders are not sticking to the commitment made by Deng and have rejected the Tibetan proposals.

The International Campaign for Tibet’s message to the PRC on its 70th anniversary is this: The Dalai Lama is the solution and not the problem for Tibet.

Exclusive: Australia concluded China was behind hack on parliament, political parties – sources   

Exclusive: Australia concluded China was behind hack on parliament, political parties – sources   
Colin Packham

7 Min Read

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian intelligence determined China was responsible for a cyber-attack on its national parliament and three largest political parties before the general election in May, five people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
FILE PHOTO: A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo

Australia’s cyber intelligence agency – the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) – concluded in March that China’s Ministry of State Security was responsible for the attack, the five people with direct knowledge of the findings of the investigation told Reuters.

The five sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue. Reuters has not reviewed the classified report.

The report, which also included input from the Department of Foreign Affairs, recommended keeping the findings secret in order to avoid disrupting trade relations with Beijing, two of the people said. The Australian government has not disclosed who it believes was behind the attack or any details of the report.

In response to questions posed by Reuters, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office declined to comment on the attack, the report’s findings or whether Australia had privately raised the hack with China. The ASD also declined to comment.

China’s Foreign Ministry denied involvement in any sort of hacking attacks and said the internet was full of theories that were hard to trace.

“When investigating and determining the nature of online incidents there must be full proof of the facts, otherwise it’s just creating rumors and smearing others, pinning labels on people indiscriminately. We would like to stress that China is also a victim of internet attacks,” the Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“China hopes that Australia can meet China halfway, and do more to benefit mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, dominating the purchase of Australian iron ore, coal and agricultural goods, buying more than one-third of the country’s total exports and sending more than a million tourists and students there each year.

Australian authorities felt there was a “very real prospect of damaging the economy” if it were to publicly accuse China over the attack, one of the people said.

Australia in February revealed hackers had breached the network of the Australian national parliament. Morrison said at the time that the attack was “sophisticated” and probably carried out by a foreign government. He did not name any government suspected of being involved.

When the hack was discovered, Australian lawmakers and their staff were told by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate to urgently change their passwords, according to a parliamentary statement at the time.

The ASD investigation quickly established that the hackers had also accessed the networks of the ruling Liberal party, its coalition partner the rural-based Nationals, and the opposition Labor party, two of the sources said.

The Labor Party did not respond to a request for comment. One person close to the party said it was informed of the findings, without providing details.

The timing of the attack, three months ahead of Australia’s election, and coming after the cyber-attack on the U.S. Democratic Party ahead of the 2016 U.S. election, had raised concerns of election interference, but there was no indication that information gathered by the hackers was used in any way, one of the sources said.

Morrison and his Liberal-National coalition defied polls to narrowly win the May election, a result Morrison described as a “miracle”.

The attack on the political parties gave the perpetrators access to policy papers on topics such as tax and foreign policy, and private email correspondence between lawmakers, their staff and other citizens, two sources said.

Independent members of parliament and other political parties were not affected, one of those sources said.

Australian investigators found the attacker used code and techniques known to have been used by China in the past, according to the two sources.

Australian intelligence also determined that the country’s political parties were a target of Beijing spying, they added, without specifying any other incidents.

The people declined to specify how the attackers breached network security and said it was unclear when the attack had begun or how long the hackers had access to the networks.

The attackers used sophisticated techniques to try to conceal their access and their identity, one of the people said, without providing details.

The findings were also shared with at least two allies, the United States and the United Kingdom, said four people familiar with the investigation.

The UK sent a small team of cyber experts to Canberra to help investigate the attack, three of those people said.

The United States and the United Kingdom both declined to comment.

Australia has in recent years intensified efforts to address China’s growing influence in Australia, policies that have seen trade with China suffer.

For instance, in 2017, Canberra banned political donations from overseas and required lobbyists to register any links to foreign governments. A year later, the ASD led Australia’s risk assessment of new 5G technology, which prompted Canberra to effectively ban Chinese telecoms firm Huawei from its nascent 5G network.

While some U.S. officials and diplomats have welcomed such steps by Australia and praise the countries’ strong intelligence relationship, others have been frustrated by Australia’s reluctance to more publicly confront China, according to two U.S. diplomatic sources.

On a visit to Sydney last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered thinly veiled criticism of Australia’s approach after Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Canberra would make decisions toward China in based on “our national interest”.

Pompeo said countries could not separate trade and economic issues from national security.

“You can sell your soul for a pile of soybeans, or you can protect your people,” he told reporters at a joint appearance with Payne in Sydney.

Morrison’s office declined to comment on whether the United States had expressed any frustration at Australia for not publicly challenging China over the attack. The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Colin Packham in SYDNEY; Additional reporting by Jack Stubbs and Guy Faulconbridge in LONDON, Christopher Bing in WASHINGTON and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Lincoln Feast and John Mair.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

China Raises Reward for Informants in Tibet

China Raises Reward for Informants in Tibet

Chinese authorities in Tibet are offering large cash rewards to informants in a bid to stamp out online activities considered threatening to Beijing’s control over the restive Himalayan region, with amounts paid out now tripled over amounts offered last year, sources say.

Rewards of 300,000 yuan (U.S. $42,582) are now being promised for information leading to the arrests of social-media users deemed disloyal to China, according to a notice issued on Feb. 28 by three government departments of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Behaviors specified as illegal include online activities aimed at “attempting to overthrow [China’s] socialist system,” “advocating extremism,” “destabilizing national security,” and “defaming the People’s Republic of China,” according to the document, a copy of which was obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Also banned are online expressions of support for exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way Policy,” which calls for greater autonomy for Tibet while acknowledging Beijing’s sovereignty over Tibetan areas now part of China.

Attempts to send information on conditions in Tibet to foreign contacts will also be severely punished, the document says.

Authorities in Tibetan areas of China frequently monitor online discussions and search cellphones for what they consider politically sensitive content, and foreign news broadcasts are heavily restricted.

‘No space left for anyone’

“Under these new regulations, the Chinese government is basically curbing the free flow of online information from within Tibet,” Tsering Tsomo, director of the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), told RFA in an interview.

“And though [the authorities] have linked these regulations to the protection of cybersecurity and national security, in fact they are just another way to keep people uninformed and to bar them from expressing their views,” Tsomo said.

“Raising the amount of the reward to informants from 100,000 yuan in 2018 to 300,000 yuan this year is a threat to citizens who are simply exercising their freedom of expression,” Tsomo said.

Also speaking to RFA, Sonam Topgyal, a researcher at the Dharamsala-based Tibet Watch, said that similar restrictions on internet activities have already been in force in Tibetan areas of China “for a long time.”

“These laws have even been implemented in elementary schools in Tibet,” Topgyal said, adding, “The Chinese government has left no space for anyone to criticize the government in any way, and has deployed informants within different parts of the Tibetan community.”

China’s roll-out in February of the raised reward amount comes amid the launch of a separate Tibet-wide campaign against organized crime and “black and evil forces” that sources in the region say is being used as an excuse to crack down on Tibetans and has led to mistrust within local communities.

The campaign has resulted in the “detention, arrest, and torture of human rights and environmental activists and of ordinary Tibetans promoting the use of the Tibetan language,” TCHRD said in a report released in May.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Tibetan Monk Sentenced, Two Others Missing in Detention

Tibetan Monk Sentenced, Two Others Missing in Detention

A Tibetan monk enrolled in Sichuan’s restive Kirti monastery has been sentenced to four years in prison, with his present whereabouts and the charges made against him still unknown, Tibetan sources in exile say.

Lobsang Thamke, age about 37, was sentenced on July 30 after being arrested last year, Kanyag Tsering—a monk living at Kirti’s branch monastery in Dharamsala, India—told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

“But other than that, no details are available regarding what he was charged with and where he is now imprisoned,” Tsering said, citing sources in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county, a part of Tibet’s historical eastern region of Kham.

Thamke, a son of Lhade Gongme Lokho, had previously graduated from the Buddhist Youth School formerly attached to Ngaba’s Kirti monastery but later closed by Chinese authorities, added Lobsang Yeshi, also a monk at Kirti’s branch in India.

“They said they would not allow the school to operate as a part of Kirti, and they transferred it to the county’s jurisdiction. But after having a lot of difficulty it was finally closed at the end of 2002,” Yeshi said.

Missing in detention

Two other monks from Ngaba have meanwhile gone missing after being taken into custody by Chinese police, Tsering and Yeshi said.

Lobsang Dorje, age about 36 and also a monk at Kirti, was arrested sometime around August 2018, with his present whereabouts unknown. And Thubpa, 32, was taken by Chinese police at night from Ngaba’s Trotsik monastery sometime toward the end of 2017.

“His whereabouts are also unknown,” Tsering and Yeshi said.

Thubpa had previously been arrested for shouting political slogans and burning the Chinese flag during a period of widespread protests in 2008, and his father Kalsang was arrested and jailed for shouting slogans on March 16, 2011 against China’s rule in Tibetan areas, Tsering and Yeshi said.

Ngaba’s main town and nearby Kirti monastery have been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests in recent years by monks, former monks, and other Tibetans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Owing to strict clampdowns on communications by authorities in Tibetan areas of China, news of protests and arrests is frequently delayed in reaching foreign news outlets and other outside contacts.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Benpa Topgyal. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Jailed Tibetan Language Rights Advocate is Refused Visits From His Lawyers

Jailed Tibetan Language Rights Advocate is Refused Visits From His Lawyers

Jailed Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk was denied a visit from his lawyers this week, with Chinese prison officials saying Wangchuk is being punished for being “uncooperative” in prison, one of his lawyers said.

Wangchuk’s lawyers Liang Xiaojun and Lin Qilei were barred from Donchuan prison in northwestern China’s Qinghai province on Aug. 1 despite presenting “all relevant paperwork” needed to permit the visit, attorney Liang told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.

“The prison officials accepted our documents and left the office, and then returned about 30 minutes later to say that what he had given them was not enough, and that we needed a letter from the Ministry of Justice in Beijing,” Liang said.

After reminding prison officials that the Justice Ministry had no mandate to authorize visits, the officials replied that “we would not be allowed to meet with Tashi Wangchuk in any case,” Liang said.

Liang and Lin then went to Qinghai’s Bureau of Prison Administration, where a junior official told them that Wangchuk had never accepted that he had committed a crime, and was uncooperative in prison.

“Given his attitude toward his sentence, you will not be allowed to meet with him,” the official told them, adding that because Wangchuk’s case was “sensitive,” his lawyers should act carefully or risk damage to their careers, Liang said.

“Tashi Wangchuk does not accept his guilty verdict and has told us again to file an appeal, so that’s why we came to see him,” Liang told RFA. “But without meeting him in person, we can’t accomplish many of the tasks required for the appeal.”

Third year behind bars

Wangchuk has now marked his third year behind bars after being convicted on a charge of separatism for promoting the use of his native language in Tibetan areas of China.

He was sentenced on Jan. 4, 2018 by a court in Qinghai’s Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture following a controversial trial in which the prosecution based its case on a video report by the New York Times documenting the activist’s work.

Wangchuk  was arrested on Jan. 27, 2016, two months after the Times ran its report, and was handed a five-year prison term on Jan. 4, 2018 by a court in Qinghai’s Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

His sentence of five years will include his time already spent in detention.

In the video, Wangchuk is seen traveling to Beijing to press his case for the wider use of the Tibetan language in Tibetan schools. Prosecutors used this as evidence at his trial, despite his repeated disavowals of separatism and his stated intention to use China’s own laws to protect the Tibetan language.

Writers, singers and artists promoting Tibetan national identity and culture have frequently been detained by Chinese authorities, with many handed long jail terms, following region-wide protests against Chinese rule that swept Tibetan areas of China in 2008.

Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses typically deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.

Reported by Sonam Lhamo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.