Chinese authorities displace Tibetan farmers to build airport

Chinese authorities displace Tibetan farmers to build airport
April 23, 2018

Radio Free Asia, April 17, 2018 – Chinese authorities have seized farmland in southern Tibet to build an airport, displacing Tibetan villagers and offering far less in compensation than the land is worth, according to a Tibetan living in the area.

The land, belonging to Yushang village in the Chusha municipality of Shigatse prefecture’s Lhatse county, was targeted for development according to a plan announced in January by officials in the prefecture and the Tibet Autonomous Region, the source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“For Tibetans in Chusha, farming has been their main source of livelihood for many years, and is a tradition handed down to them by their ancestors,” the source said, adding that, “The loss of so much land to Chinese development projects is having a negative impact on the daily life of the local people.”

“Now Chinese authorities are planning to build an airport on [Chusha’s] farmland, and local Tibetans are being compensated at rates less than the land’s market value,” he said.

Chinese projects have already been under way on vast stretches of land lying near Lhatse county, with new buildings being constructed, for more than a decade, the source said.

“But there is now a promise of new airports and railway stations in all these areas, and these will form a hub of activities for tourists and transportation links in all directions,” he said.

China’s construction of airports and other development projects in Tibet have done little to lift Tibetans out of poverty and serve mainly to consolidate China’s presence on the Tibetan plateau, according to a researcher at the Dharamsala, India-based Tibet Policy Institute (TPI).

“Tibetans who are the owners of the land draw little benefit from these,” TIP researcher Rinzin Dorjee said in a 2016 paper, “China’s Transport and Infrastructural Build-Up in Tibet.”

“Primarily, the infrastructure build-up in Tibet is unilaterally decided and imposed by Beijing without the consent [of] or consultation with the Tibetan people.”

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

US State Department notes ‘severe’ repression in Tibet in 2017 Human Rights Report
April 23, 2018

International Campaign for Tibet, 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 reported 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.

The report describes disappearances; torture by government authorities; arbitrary detentions, including political prisoners; and government curtailment of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, assembly, and movement as the most significant human rights issues in Tibet. In a section on enforced disappearances, the State Department notes: “The whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the second-most prominent figure after the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism’s Gelug school, remained unknown. Neither he nor his parents have been seen since Chinese authorities took them away in 1995 when he was six years old.”

The issue of lack of access to Tibet has been highlighted in the report. It says, “The [Chinese] government regulated travel by foreigners to the TAR, a restriction not applied to any other provincial-level entity in the PRC. In accordance with a 1989 regulation, foreign visitors had to obtain an official confirmation letter issued by the TAR government before entering the TAR. Most tourists obtained such letters by booking tours through officially registered travel agencies. In the TAR, a government-designated tour guide had to accompany foreign tourists at all times. It was rare for foreigners to obtain permission to enter the TAR by road. In what has become an annual practice, authorities banned many foreign tourists from the TAR in the period before and during the March anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Foreign tourists sometimes also faced restrictions traveling to Tibetan areas outside the TAR”.

It added that “foreign officials were able to travel to the TAR only with the permission of the TAR Foreign Affairs Office and only on closely chaperoned trips arranged by that office. With the exception of a few highly controlled trips, authorities repeatedly denied requests for international journalists to visit the TAR and other Tibetan areas.”

Also specifically noted is Tashi Wangchuk, who was held throughout 2017 with a trial, and who is now still in detention awaiting a verdict following his trial in early January (2018). Chinese authorities ‘often’ fail to follow legal requirements for the notification of the relatives of detained persons, and it is unclear how many Tibetan detainees are held under detention without judicial review, according to the Report.

In another section, the State Department asserts that PRC propaganda against Tibetan “pro-independence forces” contributes to discrimination against ordinary Tibetans in Chinese society.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama welcomes nuclear disarmament by North Korea

His Holiness the Dalai Lama welcomes nuclear disarmament by North Korea
April 23, 2018, April 22, 2018 – I welcome North Korea’s announcement that it will halt nuclear and missile tests with immediate effect. I am particularly encouraged that this move is taking place in the context of efforts to achieve agreement through dialogue.

It is my hope that the forthcoming meeting between the two Korean leaders, followed by a summit with the President of the USA, can take place in a spirit of amity, compromise, and transparency, enabling the resolution of past disagreements. I am optimistic that these talks will lead to the establishment of trust between the two Koreas resulting ultimately in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Such a process, if successful, can serve as the model of a human approach to peace in the region. This in turn will have a deep impact on the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide.

As an avowed campaigner for demilitarization throughout the world and the elimination of all nuclear weapons, I hope these positive developments will contribute to concerted efforts to do away with these dreadful weapons and secure genuine and lasting peace in our world.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks about oneness of humanity to over 1000 tourists in Dharamsala

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks about oneness of humanity to over 1000 tourists in Dharamsala
April 16, 2018

Central Tibetan Administration, April 16, 2018- His Holiness the Dalai Lama today met around 1000 foreign tourists at the Tsuglagkhang courtyard in Dharamshala for a brief interaction. The tourists have come from 68 countries in Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America, and Africa.

During the meeting, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke about the oneness of humanity and the basic nature of humans as compassionate. He called for more understanding among each other and said that the 21st century should not repeat the mistakes of the 20th century.

“There are over seven billion human beings on this planet. Unlike animals, we humans are equipped with the faculty to think and communicate. We should use this faculty to foster harmony and peace,” His Holiness said.

“If we keep thinking about oneself, then the world will become very lonely. For instance, if I think of myself as the Dalai Lama and the rest as others, I will be very lonely,” His Holiness explained.

His Holiness expressed that modern education focuses too much on the minor differences such as nationality, faith, economic conditions, etc. His Holiness said that we should look at children and how they behave among each other to understand the oneness of humanity. “As children, we don’t differentiate among each other but we start doing that as we grow up,” His Holiness noted.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also expressed admiration at the secular nature of India’s thousands of years old tradition which respects all religious traditions. His Holiness however condemned the discriminating caste system of India and said that this should be discontinued.

Speaking about inner peace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that inner peace is the basis of self-confidence, and that children should be taught about inner values and moral principles through a secular approach in schools instead of self- centered attitude.

His Holiness further spoke about religious harmony and lauded India’s multicultural traditions. “India is home to all of the world’s major religious traditions and also respects non believers. This is really wonderful and something to be proud of,” His Holiness said.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also emphasised the importance of Tibetan language and said that the Tibetan language is the only language that has preserved India’s ancient knowledge. “The rich ancient knowledge of Nalanda is lost to the world now. However, due to the painstaking effort of the Tibetan translators, this knowledge is now available only in Tibetan language. Therefore, the preservation and study of Tibetan language is crucial,” His Holiness said.

The talk was followed by a question and answer session where the audience posed questions ranging from world peace to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s desire to return home to Tibet.

Sweden charges man with spying on Tibetan exiles for China

Sweden charges man with spying on Tibetan exiles for China
April 16, 2018

Reuters, April 11, 2018- Sweden has charged a man with spying on Tibetan exiles on behalf of the Chinese security services, the state prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The man is suspected of gathering information about exiles’ housing, family situation, political activities and meetings, state prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a statement.

He then passed this information on to a Chinese security agent, according to the statement.

“This is a very serious crime,” Ljungqvist said. He gave no further details on the identity of the suspect.

China’s embassy in Stockholm declined to comment.

Chinese forces entered Tibet in 1950 and took control in what the government terms a “peaceful liberation”.

International human rights groups and exiles routinely condemn what they call China’s oppressive rule. They say pervasive surveillance and displays of military force are being used to intimidate and quell dissent.

China rejects the accusations.

There are around 140 Tibetans living in Sweden, according to the Tibetan Community in Sweden.

Human-rights group urges sanctions against Chinese state media for forced confessions

Human-rights group urges sanctions against Chinese state media for forced confessions
April 16, 2018

The Globe and Mail, April 10, 2018- Dozens of times over the past five years, high-profile detainees in China have memorized scripts admitting guilt and denouncing “anti-China forces.” They then delivered them to cameras under the direction of police, who in some cases demanded weeping for dramatic effect and spent hours recording retakes to obtain the final result: a polished confession released to the public, typically on television by state media.

Chinese authorities have honed the “weaponization” of such admissions, says Scripted and Staged, a lengthy new report by human-rights group Safeguard Defenders that has investigated 45 televised admissions since 2013. Some of those confessions, delivered by foreign citizens or people of global concern, have become tools of foreign policy as well as domestic propaganda.

Now, the authors of the report are calling for foreign countries to act against the broadcasters of those confessions, including through imposition of travel bans and asset freezes against executives at state media.

“China’s use of forced television confessions warrants urgent global attention,” the report states. Media that collaborate in the process, it says, are “as culpable as the Chinese state in committing this deceptive, illegal and human rights-violating practice.”

Those who have made such confessions include accused fraudsters, drug users and terrorists, as well as human-rights lawyers, activists and journalists. Critics say China obtains confessions by coercion and their public airing violates the basic legal rights of confessors, many of whom appear on television before they appear in court.

The report also recommends the registration of Chinese media employees abroad as foreign agents, and the use of Magnitsky legislation – which has been adopted in Canada, among other countries – to pursue sanctions on human-rights grounds against media owned or controlled by China’s Communist Party.

The call for sanctions follows similar action taken in 2013 by the European Court of Justice against executives with Iran’s Press TV for its role in airing forced confessions. The network was also dropped from some international satellite services, a move it called a “flagrant violation of freedom of speech.”

“The danger is if we do not make a concrete response and clear objection to China’s televised confessions, then not only will China continue the repugnant practice, then such abuse will become normalized,” said report editor Rachael Tyrell.

State media are a key component of Beijing’s bid to shape global perceptions of the country. Last month, the Chinese government made public plans to merge some of its media operations into a new broadcaster, Voice of China, whose operation will fall under the leadership of the Communist Party’s Central Publicity Department.

China’s People’s Daily has said it needs a “‘super voice’ to drown out the anti-China propaganda and give people a clearer picture of China.”

Tibetan pilgrim disappears after Chinese police interrogation on her way to Lhasa

Tibetan pilgrim disappears after Chinese police interrogation on her way to Lhasa
April 16, 2018

Radio Free Asia, April 13, 2018- A 60-year-old Tibetan woman making a religious pilgrimage to Lhasa went missing this month after police stopped her en route, Tibetan sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.

Lhamo Dolkar, left her hometown of Bora, in in Gansu’s Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on March 28, along with several of her relatives.

After one week traveling, the group arrived in Darlag (Dali) County in Qinghai province’s Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where several Chinese plainclothes security agents in took Lhamo Dolkar away for interrogation.

“Since then, there is no word of her whereabouts, and she has disappeared,” said Ngawang Tharpa, a member of Tibet’s parliament in exile in Dharamsala, India.

“The Chinese public security bureau officers even warned her relatives they would face dire consequences if they ever make Lhamo Dolkar’s custody case public,” he told RFA.

The reason for Lhamo Dolkar’s detention is believed to be related with her visit to a political prisoner in jail six years ago, suggested another Tibetan source.

“In 2012, a monk named Sangye Gyatso staged a protest in the street of Bora village, calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After Chinese police arrested and put him in jail, Lhamo Dolkar went to see him in prison and brought him food. Since then, the Chinese authorities, start to suspect and restrict her movement,” the source told RFA.

“The Chinese authorities had been keeping an eye on her and she was followed and questioned by them as soon as she left her house during the politically sensitive anniversary of March 10 and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday,” added the source.

March 10 is the anniversary of a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, during which Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India

“Lhamo Dolkar is an ordinary Tibetan woman, with little political awareness and no formal education,” the source said.

US Congressional Delegation visits Central Tibetan Administration, assures strong support for Tibet

US Congressional Delegation visits Central Tibetan Administration, assures strong support for Tibet
April 9, 2018

Central Tibetan Administration, April 4, 2018- A two-member US congressional delegation comprising of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Representative Claudia Tenney visited the Central Tibetan Administration today. The delegation is on a three-day visit to Dharamshala, the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration led by President Dr Lobsang Sangay organised a welcome reception for the delegation at the new Tibet Building in Gangchen Kyishong this evening.

In his welcome remarks, CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay expressed his gratitude to the United States government and the Congress for their continued bipartisan support to the Tibet issue. He said the presence of the two US congresswomen at the Central Tibetan Administration today lends credence and credibility to the voice of Tibetans inside Tibet who have been suffering for too long under the Chinese government.

Explaining the structure of the Central Tibetan Administration, he described the harmonious blend of the three pillars of Tibetan democracy and the resulting vibrant democratic functioning of the Tibetan administration. He proudly confessed to the fact that the CTA is an administration with zero corruption, thanks to the rigorous auditing and verification system of the administration.

He also spoke briefly about the evolution of Tibetan democracy from the early stages of Tibetan exile to the complete devolution of political authority by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011. He further informed the delegation about the ‘Thank You India’ programme being organised by the CTA to express gratitude to India for sixty years of assistance and hospitality.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehniten, in her address, said that the US congress understands the issue of Tibet and that it’s working side by side with the CTA and other organisations in a cooperative manner to formulate a US policy in support of the people of Tibet.

Speaking about her own family’s experience of living under a communist regime in Cuba, she said, that experience has taught her what it’s like to be bullied by a communist regime like the one in Beijing. “And this experience has made fighting back against these oppressive regimes one of my highest priorities,” she said.

She condemned China’s repressive restriction on the Tibetan people’s right to travel, a restriction which is also imposed on US citizens who wants to travel to Tibet to help the Tibetan people. She further rebuked China’s attempts to censor Tibetan language, religion and the destruction of Tibetan monastic centers. She called China’s interference in the Tibetan reincarnation system particularly in the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as ‘insulting’ and ‘illogical’.

Referring to the US Congressional gold medal awarded to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, she said that the conferment of the medal to His Holiness symbolises the United State’s expression of solidarity and support for the Tibetan people in their struggle.

She also promised to propose a bill in the congress to pressurise China to resume dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a resolution of the Tibet issue and the release of all political and religious prisoners. She further promised to exert effort for the appointment of a special coordinator for Tibetan issues in the state department and for the passage of the Reciprocal access to Tibet bill sponsored by Congressman Jim McGovern.

Representative Claudia Tenney spoke about the legacy of the Tibetan struggle and urged the younger generation of Tibetans to move forward with pride and dignity to fulfill their destiny of freedom and respect for human rights. She also promised to continue supporting the Tibet issue in the US Congress.

Topgyal Tsering, Secretary of the Kashag Secretariat, delivered the vote of thanks.

Following the welcome reception, the delegation visited the Tibetan Parliament and met the speaker and members of the Tibetan Parliament at the Parliamentary secretariat.

The congressional delegation will have an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama tomorrow followed by visits to Tibetan NGOs and organisations such as TCV, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Tibetan Astro and Medical Institute, Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, etc.

The two-member delegation is accompanied by Mr Nathan Gately; Ms Sadaf Khan, Victoria Marun, ICT President Matteo Meccaci, Richard A Fishel from the US embassy in New Delhi, and Thomas Kress from USAID India, along with OOT Washington Representative Ngodup Tsering and former Representative Kasur Tempa Tsering.

Chinese authorities in Tibet announces cash rewards to spy on Tibetans advocating for greater cultural or religious rights.

Chinese authorities in Tibet announces cash rewards to spy on Tibetans advocating for greater cultural or religious rights.
April 9, 2018

Radio Free Asia, April 4, 2018- Chinese authorities in Tibet’s Nagchu county are promising cash rewards for leads to “criminal” activity, including efforts to promote Tibet’s national culture or language or ties to exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, according to a recently issued official notice.

The March 13 document, a copy of which was obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service, offers amounts up to 100,000 yuan (U.S. $15,856) for information on the activities of what it calls criminal gangs, a term loosely defined to include persons or organizations advocating “separatism,” a charge often leveled against Tibetans calling for greater cultural or religious rights.

Awards of 50,000 yuan are also promised for information, to be verified by police investigation, regarding gambling, drug trafficking, and “the abuse of religion, power, and family connections to illegally encroach on property,” the document says.

Other offenses listed include fundraising activities, environmental activism, the lending of money at high rates of interest, and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, according to the notice, which promises confidentiality in informants’ dealings with the police.

Calls by RFA seeking information from the telephone hotline number listed on the Nagchu notice rang unanswered on April 3.

A notice circulated in February by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) of the Tibetan Autonomous Region meanwhile targets Buddhist monasteries believed to be “using religion to control, to incite, or to coerce the masses to resist the [Chinese Communist] Party and government.”

The 22-point notice also criminalizes persons urging the protection of Tibetan culture and use of the Tibetan language, calling such efforts “reactionary and narrowly nationalistic,” and warns against contacts with the Dalai Lama and “foreign hostile forces” supposedly loyal to him.

Behavior specified as illegal includes support for the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way approach” calling for greater autonomy for Tibet while acknowledging Beijing’s sovereignty over Tibetan areas now part of China.

A young Tibetan woman and a leader: “Tibet will set the litmus test for China’s rise”

A young Tibetan woman and a leader: “Tibet will set the litmus test for China’s rise”
April 2, 2018

Deutsche Welle, March 30, 2018 – The Dalai Lama, the revered spiritual leader of Tibetans and an international icon, fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed anti-China uprising. He arrived in India and set up a government in exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

India has continued to host the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetan Buddhist exiles even though China condemns them as dangerous separatists. India’s public embrace of the Dalai Lama has periodically aggravated border tensions and inflamed diplomatic spats between Delhi and Beijing.

Earlier this month, India’s 100,000-strong Tibetan community had planned a celebratory “Thank you, India” event in Delhi as a gesture of gratitude from the Dalai Lama and his followers for India’s role in sheltering them 60 years ago.

But a directive from India’s foreign secretary urged officials to stay away from the events, saying they coincided with a “sensitive time” for Delhi’s relations with Beijing. Invitations to top officials were withdrawn and the event was moved from Delhi to Dharamsala.

DW spoke with 36-year-old Dhardon Sharling, information secretary at the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, about the deep bonds between India and Tibet, the rise of China and what it means for the Tibet cause, and life after the Dalai Lama.

DW: Are you upset that India has disregarded the Tibetan community’s interests to avoid angering China?

Dhardon Sharling: Not at all. China is always offended at anything the Dalai Lama does or says. That is the norm. But it was our own decision to shift the “Thank you, India” event to Dharamsala and not do it in Delhi, and respect what India deems fit for their diplomacy or diplomatic dealings with China.

We’ve been here for the past 60 years, so a small political decision, which I call a temporary phase in political diplomacy, will not undo six decades of deeply rooted bonds and ties. If the Tibet cause is at all alive, if the Dalai Lama is a flourishing icon, it’s thanks to India. We have even gone on record to say the Tibetan freedom struggle is made in India. It’s built on the foundations that India provided us with – education, health, housing etc.

This relationship dates back thousands of years, right from the start of Buddhism. Our language and our script come from India.

India is the only country [Tibetans live in 27 different countries] that allows you to write “Tibetan” as your nationality. Some countries require you to write China.

There’s no denying that India is keen to build good ties with China, which is growing increasingly assertive in the region. The presence of the Dalai Lama in India remains a sticking point between the two Asian giants. Aren’t you threatened by that?

Not really. What seems assertive to you is actually [China's] insecurity. I’ll give you an example. Two months ago, German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz posted an Instagram feed as part of their Monday motivation campaign. It was a picture of a car and a quote by the Dalai Lama saying “Have an open mind and heart and things will be easy.” China lodged a complaint and Mercedes-Benz had to remove that post. Does that look like dominance or insecurity? If someone is really powerful, they won’t be affected by the simple things the Dalai Lama does.

But I agree that China’s dominance is growing in the Asian region and across the globe. We do understand that China will extend its tentacles and try to strangle India. That’s when we’d like India to be more assertive, to stand its ground, look into the eyes of their counterparts and not bow or kowtow, because that’s not in the Indian spirit.

Better ties between India and China don’t necessarily have to lead to India putting pressure on us. That’s because we ourselves are looking for reconciliation, for better relations with China, for engagement with China. I don’t think we’d apply a double standard and say India cannot do that. But that does not mean to abandon or disregard the Tibetan interest as well.Dalai Lama advocates dialogue with

There have been no formal talks between China and the Dalai Lama’s representatives since 2010. Are you still open to dialogue with Beijing?

We are looking for friendship with China. We are looking at something called the Chinese outreach program, which is massive. We have Chinese outreach officers in four countries and we have a China desk in our office. Our official policy of resolving the issue of Tibet is the “Middle Way approach.” It calls for dialogue and engagement with China.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping’s term being extended indefinitely, we will continue to see Tibet being his biggest challenge. Tibet will really set the litmus test for China’s rise. China wants to rise and become powerful, but it will be Tibet that will mirror the reality in China.

What we are saying is that the Dalai Lama is the solution to all the problems that China is confronted with. So Tibet is an opportunity for the Chinese leadership. If Beijing could see wisdom in that, India could be the best possible channel and partner in achieving this harmony between Tibet, India and China.

You say the Dalai Lama is the solution to everything. But the question remains: what happens when the Dalai Lama is gone? He seems to be what has held everything together so far.

There is a growing network of supporters rallying behind us. History tells us that the arc of justice definitely will bend toward a struggle that has survived on principles of nonviolence for 60 years.

Someone once said, “If Tibet fails, the world fails.” I really don’t think the world will fail us in our struggle.

Dhardon Sharling is the information secretary at the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, India.