NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche wins Parkdale-High Park, becoming first Tibetan ever elected to public office in North America

NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche wins Parkdale-High Park, becoming first Tibetan ever elected to public office in North America
June 12, 2018

The Toronto Star, June 7, 2018- Bhutila Karpoche made history Thursday night, becoming the first Tibetan ever elected to public office in North America. The rookie NDP candidate won the Parkdale-High Park riding by a wide margin, securing nearly 60 per cent of the vote.

The crowd chanted “BHU-TI-LA! BHU-TI-LA!” as she entered her campaign’s victory party at The Rhino on Queen St. W.

“I want to give a special shout out to the Tibetan community,” she said. “We made history tonight!”

After thanking her volunteers and supporters, Karpoche reflected on how her family was welcomed into Toronto’s Little Tibet 15 years ago.

“Only in Parkdale-High Park could a Tibetan come to Canada, be embraced, loved and lifted to be the representative of this riding,” she said, before turning her attention to her role in opposition to Doug Ford’s government. “Tomorrow and onwards Parkdale High-Park will be ground zero in fighting Ford’s agenda here in Ontario.”

Parkdale-High Park has been in NDP handssince Cheri DiNovo won a by-election for the riding in 2006. DiNovo won three more terms before leaving politics earlier this yearto become minister at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts.

Before the election she told the Star she was “really, really happy to have passed the torch to Bhutila.”

Karpoche spent eight years working for DiNovo, first in her constituency office and more recently as her executive assistant at Queen’s Park. DiNovo had wanted to add a Tibetan speaker to her staff to better liaise with Parkdale’s large Tibetan population, so she asked organizers with Students For a Free Tibet if they knew anyone who might be interested.

Karpoche arrived and quickly became indispensable, DiNovo said.

“She knows Queen’s Park and she’s way ahead of the game in terms of what I walked in there with.”

Karpoche, 34, moved to Toronto from Nepal when she was 18, settling into Parkdale, where she became a community organizer. She is fluent in four languages — English, Tibetan, Nepalese and Hindi — and is a PhD candidate at Ryerson University in public health policy.

Prominent dissidents jointly urge Beijing to embrace middle way Tibet solution

Prominent dissidents jointly urge Beijing to embrace middle way Tibet solution
June 12, 2018

Tibetan Review, June 8, 2018- A group of 67 Chinese scholars, activists, policy experts, journalists and individuals living mainly in the USA but also in the UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Taiwan, and conceivably China itself have signed a letter to express solidarity with the Tibetan people on the latter’s Middle Way Approach of seeking autonomy within, not independence from, Chinese rule. And they have called on Beijing to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue, according to the Tibet.net, run by the Central Tibetan Administration, Jun 7.

The letter, titled as ‘Chinese stand in support and solidarity with the Middle Way Approach’, was stated to have been initiated by Professor Ming Xia, City University of New York, on May 20.

Calling the Middle Way Approach “a valuable proposal for solving the Tibet issue, promoting reconciliation between China and Tibet, and promoting democracy in China”, the letter expresses hope that “the Chinese government will cherish the wisdom and courage shown by the Dalai Lama and give a sincere response, seize the fleeting historical opportunity, restore negotiation with the Dalai Lama and his representatives and strive for the Dalai Lama and Tibetans to return to Tibet as soon as possible to jointly establish a free and peaceful Tibet that enjoys genuine autonomy.”

Not all Tibetans support the exile Tibetan’s official Middle Way Approach, however. A notable section among them, including the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest grassroot exile Tibetan group, campaigns for the restoration of Tibet’s independence.

The independence campaigners do not, however, oppose Dalai Lama’s resolute stand in favour of autonomy as a compromise solution to the issue. And the Dalai Lama’s position is that Tibet, though historically independent, was now seeking a new start as a genuinely autonomous entity within the People’s Republic of China as a mutually beneficial solution.

China, being a one-party, totalitarian dictatorship do not tolerate any criticism of its rule and has always reacted to appeals and calls for democratic tolerance and political compromise with utmost hostility.
World Tibet News

Tibetan farmland confiscated for new airport

Tibetan farmland confiscated for new airport
June 12, 2018

Free Tibet, June 6, 2018- Tibetans from Lhatse County in southwest Tibet have been forced off their land to accommodate the growing tourism industry in occupied Tibet.

According to local sources, the land adjoining Lhatse and Dingri counties is being turned into an airport. This would be the second airport for nearby Shigatse City and the sixth in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

In an interview on 23 March 2018, Chairman of the TAR Che Dalha spoke of the government’s efforts to build new airports and expand existing ones to boost tourism in Tibet. Chinese authorities in Tibet have also offered incentives to attract tourists such as discounted hotels and air tickets.

The results of these policies were highlighted in a report by China’s state-run media outlet Xinhua, which stated that the TAR received nearly 40,000 foreign tourists from January to April 2018. This is a 50.5% increase on the previous year. Meanwhile Tibet received nearly 2.7 million domestic tourists, again an increase compared to 2017.

The Chinese regional tourism development committee has boasted of the tourism revenue generated over this period. It estimates the region took in 26.7 million US dollars.

NEGATIVE EFFECTS

This rapid development contrasts with the negative effects experienced by the local Tibetan population. Sources confirmed to Tibet Watch that huge chunks of farmland, bordering Lhatse and Dingri counties, have been confiscated as part of the development of tourism infrastructure. Due to the tense political situation, photos of the land have been impossible to obtain.

Information on the land seizures has been further restricted by strict surveillance on communications, along with a notice given to local Tibetans warning them against sharing any news. One local source has had her number listed by local authorities, allowing her communications to be traced or put under surveillance. Meanwhile, another source’s WeChat account has been closed from a group that maintains communications with exiled Tibetans in India.

Many of the areas of land seized were farmlands, integral to the livelihoods of locals. Nevertheless, those affected have reportedly been given little in the way of compensation.

Confiscations of land are commonplace in Tibet and have also taken place in the name of developing economic zones or mining. A similar land grab took place in Nyimo County, central Tibet, earlier this year.

Further information on the growth of the tourism industry in Tibet, and the adverse effects it has had on the lives of Tibetans and on Tibetan culture, can be found in Tibet Watch’s report ‘Culture Clash: Tourism in Tibet’ .

Tibetan activist who promoted his native language is sentenced to prison

Tibetan activist who promoted his native language is sentenced to prison
May 22, 2018

New York Times, May 22, 2018 – A Tibetan businessman who campaigned to preserve his native language from the encroaching dominance of Chinese was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday, after a controversial prosecution based on interviews that he gave to The New York Times.

The businessman, Tashi Wangchuk, heard the verdict in Yushu, a heavily Tibetan town in Qinghai Province, northwest China, his defense lawyers, Liang Xiaojun and Lin Qilei, said by telephone. Mr. Tashi had warned that there and across many historically Tibetan areas in China, the Tibetan language was threatened by official policies to make Mandarin Chinese the language of schooling and government.

Mr. Tashi, 33, was arrested in early 2016, two months after he was featured in a New York Times video and article about Tibetan language education. He stood trial in Januarythis year, charged with “inciting separatism” for comments he had made to The Times. His prison term will start from the time of his arrest, meaning that he will be due for release in early 2021, his lawyers said.

“Tashi already told us before the verdict that he wanted to appeal if he was found guilty,” Mr. Lin said. The two lawyers were not at the hearing in the remote town, but said Mr. Tashi’s family told them of the verdict.

“Just two members of his family were allowed in to hear the verdict,” Mr. Liang, the other lawyer, said. “At the hearing, Tashi was asked if he understood the verdict. He said, ‘Understood’ but didn’t say much more.

The guilty verdict came as no surprise. China’s Communist Party-controlled courts rarely find defendants in criminal trials innocent, and virtually never do so in politically charged cases like this.

But human rights organizations and advocates of Tibetan self-determination promptly denounced the verdict as a sign of the Chinese government’s growing intolerance of critics of its ethnic policies, even relatively mild ones like Mr. Tashi.

“He has been criminalized for shedding light on China’s failure to protect the basic human right to education and for taking entirely lawful steps to press for Tibetan language education,” Tenzin Jigdal of the International Tibet Network, a coalition of groups supporting Tibetan self-determination, said in an email.

The Chinese Communist Party for decades maintained policies intended to keep ethnic minorities, especially Tibetans and Uighurs, under political control while giving them some space to preserve their own languages and cultures. But under Xi Jinping, the staunch Communist Party leader who came to power in 2012, China has adopted more assimilationist policies, designed to absorb these minorities into the fold of one Chinese nation.

At his trial in January, Mr. Tashi, speaking in Chinese, rejected the idea that his efforts to rejuvenate the Tibetan language were a crime. He has said that he does not advocate independence for Tibet, but wants the rights for ethnic minorities that are promised by Chinese law, including the right to use their own language.

After Mr. Tashi’s trial, six experts advising the United Nations on rights said, “We condemn the continued detention of Mr. Wangchuk and the criminalization of his freedom of expression.”

They added: “Free exchange of views about state policies, including criticism against policies and actions that appear to have a negative impact on the lives of people, need to be protected.”

While most Tibetan residents in Yushu still converse with one another in a Tibetan dialect, Mr. Tashi worried that the growing primacy of Chinese would leave future generations of Tibetans strangers to their native language. Tibetans speak a variety of dialects that experts say are under threat, and Tibetan language activists like Mr. Tashi have been especially worried that children will lack the ability to read and write in Tibetan.

“This directly harms the culture of Tibetans,” Mr. Tashi told The Times in 2015. “Our people’s culture is fading.”

A nine-minute video documentaryalso made by The Times with Mr. Tashi’s cooperation showed him traveling to Beijing in 2015, in a failed attempt to bring a lawsuit forcing officials in Yushu to improve Tibetan language instruction. Mr. Tashi also tried in vain to get the main Chinese state television network, CCTV, to pay attention to his cause.

“In politics, it’s said that if one nation wants to eliminate another nation, first they need to eliminate their spoken and written language,” Mr. Tashi said in the video. “In effect, there is a systematic slaughter of our culture.

Mr. Liang, the defense lawyer, said that those words were among the comments cited by the prosecutors to argue that Mr. Tashi was inciting separatism, a vague chargethat can lead to a prison sentence of more than five years.

Todd Stein, a former United States State Department official who dealt with China and Tibetan issues, said by email that the prosecution of Mr. Tashi raised difficult questions about how journalists should report on people whose views may rile the Chinese government.

“They face the conundrum of how to report a story without becoming part of it, when the government is all too willing to use the story to punish the subject of the story,” Mr. Stein said. “The bad actor here is the Chinese government, which is punishing Mr. Wangchuk for nothing more than asserting his legal rights to protect his own language.”

Mr. Tashi told Times journalists that he did not support Tibetan independence and just wanted the Tibetan language to be taught well in schools, and for Tibetan to be used in government offices. Asked about the risks of speaking out, Mr. Tashi had insisted on doing on-the-record interviews, saying that only those would give force to his words.

“No one would want to live in an environment that’s full of pressure and fear,” he said in an interview. “But I have no choice, because the whole Tibetan nation and culture is facing a situation and risk of disappearing.”

The Chinese Revolution directly impacted Chinese authority in Tibet.

The Chinese Revolution directly impacted Chinese authority in Tibet.
May 22, 2018

Sunday Guardian, May 19, 2018- Tibet’s tempestuous political history and upheavals of its past are well recorded and archived. The 14th (present) Dalai Lama arrived in India on a yak by crossing the border at Khenzimane on 31 March 1959, travelling a fortnight after leaving Lhasa perhaps during the darkest phase of his last night spent in his homeland. Upon arrival in India, the first Indian post was at Chuthangmu, north of Tawang (then part of Kameng Frontier Division). Once past the Indo-Tibetan border, the Assam Rifles accorded him a guard of honour in Tawang and escorted the Dalai Lama. Following a stay in Bomdila, the Dalai Lama travelled to the hills of northern India and set up the Tibetan Government-in-exile on 29 April 1959. It is 60 years since his passage to India, and over a century of India’s deeply rooted relationship with Tibet.

Prior to the present Dalai Lama, his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama (1876-1933) fled first to Mongolia in 1904 and thereafter to China. Upon his arrival in Peking, the Chinese did not accord him the same honour that his antecedents had received by the previous Mongol emperors. From the earliest times, the political relations existing between Tibet and China were based primarily on the special personal equation shared by the Dalai Lamas with the Mongol emperors. With the collapse of the Manchu dynasty in 1912 following the Chinese rebellion, the relationship ceased to exist.

Sensing that its position inside Tibet was getting stronger China planned to conquer and control Tibet. To deflect attention, Peking conveyed to the Tibetans that the approaching Chinese troops intended to protect the Tibetans against the British. By 1909 the new Chinese military administrator Chao Erh-feng was actively pushing troops towards Lhasa launching attacks in three Tibetan provinces.

Upon the 13th Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet from China, Chao—appointed “Resident of Tibet”—was known to be committing excesses through his troops, including destroying monasteries, looting monastic properties and tearing up sacred books. It was during this stint that the 13th Dalai Lama met Charles Bell, whose work Portrait of The Dalai Lamapublished in 1946 is amongst the finest accounts on Tibet and its chequered history.

Bell chronicles personal conversations with the 13th Dalai Lama, in which the latter described how the Chinese military converted leaves from holy Tibetan scriptures as soles for soldiers’ boots. In wake of the growing Chinese aggression and atrocities, which he later described as a breach of the peaceful arrangement between him and the Chinese in Peking, the 13th Dalai Lama was compelled to flee to Darjeeling in India.

Subsequently, the Chinese Revolution of 1912 overthrew the Qing (Manchu) dynasty and created a republic with a provisional Constitution promulgated by the Nanjing Parliament, and the government transferred to Peking. This was also the time when the 13th Dalai Lama returned from India to Tibet. The Chinese Revolution directly impacted Chinese authority in Tibet. The strains started becoming visible when in 1913-14, during a conference held in Delhi, the Chinese, Tibetan, and British envoys (Henry McMahon, assisted by Charles Bell) discussed three major points.

These included that the frontier between China and Tibet should be drawn approximately along the upper waters of the Yangtse; that a frontier should be defined between India and Tibet running along the main range of the Himalayas; and that the Tibetans were to have greater self-determination. Although the agreement was initialled, the Chinese refused to proceed with the full signature. Nonetheless, it was agreed to maintain three Trade Agencies in Tibet—at Gyantse, which lay between the Himalayas and Lhasa; at Yatung, north of the Himalayas; and also at Gartok in western Tibet.

The 12 August 1912 agreement between the Chinese and Tibetan representatives in presence of Gorkha witnesses discussed a “three-point” proposal, which stated that all arms and equipment including field guns and Maxim guns in the possession of the Chinese at Dabshi and Tseling in Lhasa shall be sealed; bullets and gunpowder shall be collected and deposited in the Doring house; and the Chinese officials and soldiers shall leave Tibet within 15 days. As he drew nearer to Lhasa in 1912, the 13th Dalai Lama uncovered that the government of China had broken its pledges of not interfering with Tibet or his position.

Describing the life and times of Tibet, Basil Gould, a British trade agent in Gyantse from 1912-13 narrates in his notes published in November 1949 that the problem of Tibet’s future was whether China would continue to seek to dominate and destroy Tibetan national identity, religion, and its distinct culture. Suffice for me to conclude that Gould’s notes on Tibet’s history have become its present-day destiny, in a fateful paradox.

China arrests elderly Tibetan man for keeping books and CDs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

China arrests elderly Tibetan man for keeping books and CDs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
May 22, 2018

Free Tibet, May 18, 2018- In the morning of 8 May, Chinese police personnel entered Gangye’s home in Trido Town, Sog county, eastern Tibet.

They searched his possessions and found books by the Dalai Lama and a CD of the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra initiation, items which are banned in Tibet.

These items were confiscated by the police and Gangye was taken away.

While the sudden raid left his family in shock they had suspected that Gangye was under the surveillance of the Chinese authorities for a while. Prior to the raid, both Gangye and his two sons, Choedak and Tenzin, had been summoned and temporarily detained by the police on several previous occasions.

Each time, Gangye was released after being interrogated. This time, however, he has not returned. His whereabouts and situation remains unknown.

China detains over 30 Tibetan villagers protesting against Chinese mining operations nearby a sacred mountain.

China detains over 30 Tibetan villagers protesting against Chinese mining operations nearby a sacred mountain.
April 30, 2018
Radio Free Asia, April 27, 2018- More than 30 Tibetan villagers opposing Chinese mining operations on a nearby sacred mountain have been taken into custody for questioning by police after news of the project leaked last month to foreign media contacts, according to Tibetan sources.
The mountain, called Sebtra Dzagen and located in Driru county in the Nagchu prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is a pilgrimage site and home to many rare wild animals, local sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service in earlier reports.

When Chinese officials at the end of February forced local villagers to sign their approval for the mining to proceed, a village head named Karma refused to sign and was taken into custody, and Chinese workers began on March 5 to set up red flags to make off areas on the mountain to build camps for miners.
Then, after reports of local opposition to the mine appeared in March outside Tibet, Driru police moved quickly to make arrests, a source in the Tibetan capital Lhasa told RFA this week, citing contacts in Driru.

“The mining project on the sacred Sebtra Dzagen mountain was reported by foreign media, and Chinese police began to detain local Tibetans for allegedly leaking the information,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Many of those taken into custody were also beaten in detention, the source said, adding that arresting officers had focused their attention especially on local Tibetans with connections to Tibetans living in India.

“A strict clampdown on mobile phones and other kinds of communication has now been imposed on villages in the area of Sebtra Dzagen to block the flow of information to the outside world,” RFA’s source said.

The whereabouts of Karma, the village head who had earlier refused to sign his approval for the mine, are still unknown, he said.
Tibet has become an important source of minerals needed for China’s economic growth, and Chinese mining operations in Tibetan areas have led to widespread environmental damage, including the pollution of water sources for livestock and humans and the disruption of sacred sites, experts say.

Tibetan nomads appeal for return of land seized for tourist project

Tibetan nomads appeal for return of land seized for tourist project
May 16, 2018

Radio Free Asia, May 14, 2018- Around sixty nomad families living in Tibet’s Nyemo county are appealing the loss of grazing land seized by Chinese authorities for future use as a tourist zone, Tibetan sources say.

The land, which has supported residents of Marthang township’s Lhadul village in Nyemo, an area west of Lhasa city, had already been fenced off in a scheme to promote farming that had yielded no crops, a local Tibetan told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Now, the Chinese have started a project in the area to develop the land for tourism,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Around sixty Tibetan nomad families’ herds and domestic animals depend on this land for grazing,” he said, “And with the seizure of the land, they are being deprived of their main source of livelihood.”

Now, in a video filmed locally and circulating online, the families are appealing for justice to Chinese authorities at a higher level, he said.

Earlier moves by Chinese authorities to settle nomad families by fencing off grazing areas for farming had caused the death of large numbers of herd animals, the source said.

“Last year, several thousand sheep and goats and over a hundred domestic animals starved to death, and this was a huge financial blow to local Tibetan families,” the source said. “And the authorities gave them nothing to relieve them of their hardship.”

“Now, with no domestic animals or herds, the local Tibetans are facing a daunting challenge to survive,” he said.

Threatened with arrest

Because local village heads and township leaders are directly appointed by Chinese authorities, local Tibetans have no role in making the decisions that affect their lives, RFA’s source said.

And when higher-level Chinese officials pay visits to the area, local authorities prevent Tibetan residents from appealing to them directly, threatening them with arrest if they try to speak their minds, he said.

“They claim that the land belongs to the Chinese Communist Party, and that in collaboration with developers they have the authority to take it for whatever use they want.”

“So the local residents have now made a film of the seized land in order to appeal to appeal to higher authorities to intervene as soon as possible, and to ask for justice and care for their well being,” he said.

Chinese development projects in Tibetan areas have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms and local officials of improperly seizing land and disrupting the lives of local people.

Many result in violent suppression, the detention of protest organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes.

Emboldened China – and its webizens – telling foreign firms to fall in line

Emboldened China – and its webizens – telling foreign firms to fall in line
May 16, 2018

The Christian Science Monitor, May 11, 2018 – What’s in a name? To Beijing, an awful lot – especially if it’s Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau. Over the past several months, China has gone on the offensive against foreign companies that have contravened its position on long-standing territorial disputes. Often, the supposed crime is listing those territories as separate from China. This week, for example, Beijing ordered 36 airlines to update their websites. But it isn’t always officials calling out foreign companies for unpatriotic behavior: Sometimes it’s nationalistic Chinese web users who track down perceived offenses and push the government to act. “You need to follow our rules if you want to do business here,” wrote one user on a popular Chinese microblogging site. “If you can’t, get out.” And that popular support, in a market as large as China’s, seems to have made many companies think twice about refusing to comply, particularly as China doubles down on its long-term plan to isolate Taiwan, a self-ruled island that it considers a breakaway province. “The pressure is just going to get stronger and stronger,” one analyst says.

Canada Tibet Committee “cautiously optimistic” as Tibet delegation appears before Parliamentary Committee

Canada Tibet Committee “cautiously optimistic” as Tibet delegation appears before Parliamentary Committee
May 08, 2018

Ottawa, May 8, 2018 – The Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) today expressed cautious optimism that the planned testimony by Tibetan representatives of the People’s Congress of Tibet Autonomous Region, marks a new openness by the Government of China to engage in constructive dialogue about the situation inside Tibet.

The Tibet delegation, headed by Deputy Baima Wangdui, will appear before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development [1]. Wangdui’s testimony is part of a series of meetings organized by the Committee to inform parliamentarians as they prepare a major study on Canada’s engagement in Asia.

As part of its study, the Standing Committee heard testimony last month from CTC spokesperson Carole Samdup [2], and from Ngodup Tsering, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in North America. The Standing Committee had also welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama – who is an honourary citizen of Canada – on two previous occasions in 1990 and 2004.

“The CTC welcomes the exchange between Canadian parliamentarians and our countrymen from inside Tibet” said Sherap Therchin, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. “However, it remains to be seen just how forthcoming these witnesses can actually be, given the realities.”

The unprecedented opportunity for Tibetan delegates to speak publicly in Canada’s parliament stands in stark contrast to the treatment given to Canadian diplomats in China who face multiple roadblocks when seeking permits to visit Tibet. [3] Tibet remains closed to the international community, including journalists. [4]
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[1] http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/FAAE/meeting-96/notice. The hearing will be broadcast at parlvu.gc.ca

[2] CTC testifies before parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, http://tibet.ca/en/library/media_releases/437
[3] Canada must demand reciprocal diplomatic access to Tibet, http://tibet.ca/en/library/media_releases/401
[4] Human Rights Situation in Tibet 2017, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, at http://e.issuu.com/embed.html#33384233/61019923