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.