US Mission hosts talk on ‘Religious Freedom in Tibet and the Appointment of Buddhist Leaders and the Succession of the Dalai Lama’

US Mission hosts talk on ‘Religious Freedom in Tibet and the Appointment of Buddhist Leaders and the Succession of the Dalai Lama’
December 8, 2020
Published By Bureau Reporter
Geneva: The Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva hosted a virtual panel discussion on “Religious Freedom in Tibet: The Appointment of Buddhist Leaders and the Succession of the Dalai Lama” on 4 December 2020.
The talk was hosted by the US Permanent Representative to the UN and Other International Organizations in Geneva Ambassador Andrew Bremberg and had US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Robert A. Destro; US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback; Director of Outreach of the International Campaign for Tibet Tencho Gyatso and President of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr. Lobsang Sangay as speakers in the panel.
Ambassador Bremberg opening the talk referred to the recent communication by the Five UN Independent Human Rights Experts which criticized China’s interreference in the religious practices of the Tibetan Buddhists including their right to select their own religious leaders. Noting that the right to practice one’s own religion is a fundamental human rights recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on China’s interference, Ambassador Bremberg said, “it is important to remember and address the long suffering of the Tibetan Buddhist community and their legitimate aspirations to openly practice their culture and worship freely.” He further noted that, “The issue of reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist lamas is one of the most pressing concerns facing Tibet today, one which the CCP has also attempted to interfere with and cynically use for its own political purposes. While His Holiness the Dalai Lama defends the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, Beijing- an explicitly atheist regime has forcible asserted its claims to control Buddhist reincarnation in Tibet in contravention of Tibetan religious traditions” and called upon all the UN Member States to defend the right of freedom of religion of Tibetans.
The US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Mr. Robert A. Destro recognized the golden threads which knit the Tibetan culture together: the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. Secretary Destro called ou China for engaging in “Information Warfare” with the Chinese communist party aiming “to control not only the information landscape but the very thoughts of all whose perspectives and approaches to life and community differ from those of the communist party.” He noted how China is trying to sinicize Tibetan Buddhism especially refering to the case of Panchen Lama who was abducted by the Chinese Communist Party when he was merely six-years-old. He categorically noted that Tibetan Buddhism does not belong to China, it belongs to Tibetans and only Tibetan Buddhists have the right to select their religious leaders. Secretary Destro assured that “the united states is committed to helping Tibetan safeguard their way of life not just in Tibet but also in India, Nepal, Bhutan and everywhere that it flourishes” and called upon like-minded friends and partners “to pass their own versions of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. Together we must force the issue by continuing to press the people’s republic to respect the unique language and culture of Tibetans.”
Calling China’s desire to appoint the next Dalai Lama an “absolute ludicrous”, the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback highlighted the destruction carried out by the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet denying Tibetans their basic right to practice religion. He noted that with China’s war on faith “the beautiful fabric that intertwines the Tibetan Buddhist faith with Tibetan language and culture is at risk.” Ambassador Brownback assured that “the US government stands with Tibetan Buddhists” and called on other countries to join the US in “supporting Tibetans religious freedom and this fundamental human right.”
Thanking the organizers, Director of Outreach of the International Campaign for Tibet Tencho Gyatso welcomed the “international diplomatic efforts to support a sustainable political solution” to the issue of Tibet. She noted that “the Dalai Lama symbolizes Tibetan religion culture and identity. The institution of the Dalai Lama and the current 14th reincarnation in particular has been the lifeline of the Tibetan people. There is a strong historical bond that goes back five centuries between the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet which will be broken if we allow Chinese communist authorities to dictate and impose their will on this sacred tradition concerning the search confirmation and installation of Tibetan religious leaders including that of a future Dalai Lama.” She called on the international community to support the call of the UN independent experts to establish independent mechanism on China and continue to issue joint calls on China’s human rights situation.
President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay President Sangay dedicated the talk to Tibet’s longest serving political prisoner who passed away recently and whose 49th day prayer service since his funeral coincided on the same day as the talk. President Dr. Sangay broadened the discussion by reiterating his earlier statement that “when it comes to China either we transform china or china will transform you. Hence the challenge before us is whatever china says or the communist party of china says the underlying deception and underlying threat to the universal values of democracy and human rights and religious freedom ought to be recognized and confronted.”. He noted that the poverty alleviation for China means herding the Tibetans and Uyghurs in force labour camps and concentration camps. President Dr. Sangay further highlighted that China’s election to the UN Human Rights Council undermines the body with the world’s worst human rights abuser becoming the judge of human rights violations.
Speaking on religious freedom in Tibet, President Dr. Sangay noted with irony that on the one hand Mao Tse-tung called religion a poison and on the other hand the Chinese Communist Party is issuing “reincarnation certificate” for Tibetan Buddhist lamas. Highlighting the larger implication, President Dr. Sangay said, “Today they claim authority over Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, tomorrow they will claim to have authority to appoint Bishops, Pope, Imams and Rabbis.”
In his concluding remarks, President Dr. Sangay called upon the world leaders and governments to join together and recommended the countries to use multilateral coordination while tackling China. “So unless we get our act together and fight for our values that’s democracy and human rights and religious freedom they will impose your pope on you your imam on you your rabbi on you and your lamas on you and your Hindu priests on you.”
Just as anticipated, the Chinese wolf warrior diplomacy became active after the talk and the Chinese Mission in Geneva issued a statement criticizing the US for hosting the event calling it a “gross interference.”
-Report filed by Tibet Bureau Geneva

Tibetan govt-in-exile visit to White House may escalate tensions

Tibetan govt-in-exile visit to White House may escalate tensions
22nd November 2020, 22:03 GMT+11
Washington [US], November 22 (ANI): In a historic feat for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Dr Lobsang Sangay, President of Tibetan government-in-exile on Friday formally entered the United States White House, a move which could escalate existing tensions between the US and China over Tibet.
Last month, Dr Sangay was invited to the US State Department for the first time in six decades.
The New York Post reported that Beijing has asserted control over Tibet since 1950, and has accused the US of trying to destabilise the region.
In October, after Sangay was invited by the State Department, the Chinese government had asked the US to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs or undermining the development and stability of the Tibet region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing had said that US Assistant Secretary and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Robert Destro “violated the commitment and the policy stance of the US side on not supporting Tibet’s independence and not acknowledging this government in exile”.
Slamming and opposing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcement of appointing the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Zhao had said: “The US appointment of so-called ‘special coordinator for Tibetan issues’ is a political manipulation to interfere in China’s domestic affairs and undermine Xizang’s (Tibet) development and stability”. “China firmly opposes it and has never acknowledged it.”The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had also warned of possible diplomatic retaliation, saying, “China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its interests.”Several critics, including the exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama, have termed China’s control over Tibet as a ‘cultural genocide’.
In July, Pompeo had accused China of violating Tibetan human rights, stating that the US-supported ‘meaningful autonomy’ for the region, reported The Hill.
In the same month, Pompeo had announced visa bans targeting Chinese officials involved in restricting foreign access to Tibet, since which Beijing officials have accused the United States of using Tibet to try to promote “splittism” in China.
The US, time and again, has expressed concerns with the People’s Republic of China’s repression of the Tibetan community and severe restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and cultural traditions within China.
According to a release from the office of Tibet in Washington, Dr Sangay became the first Sikyong (President of CTA) to be formally invited to the US State Department to meet Destro.
For the last six decades, the head of CTA was denied entry to the US State Department and White House, as the US government does not recognise the Tibetan government-in-exile. (ANI)

Biden says he will meet Dalai Lama, sanction China over Tibet

Biden says he will meet Dalai Lama, sanction China over Tibet
The nominee also vowed to impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet and “step up” support for Tibetans.
Sep 05, 2020, 08:06 IST
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden has accused Trump of maintaining a “deafening silence” on Chinese actions in Tibet.(REUTERS PHOTO.)
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has said that as president he will meet the Dalai Lama, continuing a decades-old practice followed by American presidents with the exception of President Donald Trump, and press China to resume talks with Tibetans for “meaningful autonomy”.
The nominee also vowed to impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet and “step up” support for Tibetans.
Biden accused Trump of maintaining a “deafening silence” on Chinese actions in Tibet and focussing instead on an “empty trade deal” and nurturing his “very good friendship” with China’s President Xi Jinping.
“As President, I’ll put values back at the center of American foreign policy,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “I’ll meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; appoint a new Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues.”
The nominee called out Trump for not meeting the Tibetan leader yet, saying “It’s disgraceful, though not surprising, that Trump is the first American president in three decades who has not met or spoken with His Holiness the Dalai Lama”.
The appointment of a special coordinator is mandated by the US Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 — “to promote substantive dialogue between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representative”. The position has been vacant since January 2017, when President Trump took office.
Biden went on to say: “I’ll work with our allies in pressing Beijing to return to direct dialogue with the representatives of the Tibetan people to achieve meaningful autonomy, respect for human rights, and the preservation of Tibet’s environment as well as its unique cultural, linguistic and religious traditions.”
He will also “step up” support for the Tibetan people, he said, by, among things, expanding Tibetan language services at Radio Free Asia and Voice of America to get information from the outside world into Tibet.
But the Trump administration has not been soft exactly on China over Tibet, as charged by Biden. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions in July on some Chinese officials because of Beijing’s restrictions on US diplomats, journalists and tourists from travelling to Tibet and for “human rights abuses” there.

Tibetan Woman Dies in Custody | Two Detained for Sending Money to India

Tibetan Woman Dies in Custody | Two Detained for Sending Money to India
(New York) – Chinese authorities should investigate the death of a Tibetan woman in custody and release her wrongfully detained cousin, Human Rights Watch said today. Lhamo, a herder from Driru county in Nagchu, Tibet Autonomous Region, died in a local hospital in August 2020 shortly after being transferred there from police custody. Charges against her cousin Tenzin Tarpa should be immediately dropped.
In June, the authorities detained Tarpa, a 39-year-old entrepreneur from Chaktse township in Driru dealing in medicinal herbs and other local products, apparently on charges of having sent money to family members or other Tibetans in India, a common practice. Lhamo, a 36-year-old mother of three, was detained two days later, apparently on the same charges. She had been in good health before her detention. In August, her family members were summoned to the hospital, where they found her badly bruised and unable to speak. She died two days later, and her body was immediately cremated, which prevented a medical examination.
“The death of Lhamo, a Tibetan herder, is the latest in a pattern of apparent torture and death in Chinese state custody,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “Tibetan regional authorities should be held accountable for serious violations, including arbitrary detention, torture or ill-treatment, and deprivation of the right to life.”
Although sending money outside the country is not formally a crime under Chinese law, the authorities regard contact between Tibetans in Tibet and those abroad as “endangering national security.”
The cases also illustrate the Chinese government’s long-running mistreatment of Tibetans, Human Rights Watch said. Tarpa, a former monk, had been under suspicion by local authorities since 2012, when he was among a number of monks from the Tibet Autonomous Region forced out of the famous Larung Gar monastery in a Tibetan area of Sichuan province. Tarpa then started a Tibetan-medium school for children in Chaktse, but the authorities closed it down, contending that it was “illegal.” After that, he started the Local Produce Trading Company, which became successful.
Due to the government’s extreme restrictions on communications for minority populations in China, reports of cases like Lhamo and Tarpa’s rarely become known outside the country. This is particularly true of Driru county, where local authorities crushed peaceful protests in 2013-2014, and restrictions on basic freedom are among the most severe in the region.
United Nations standards adopted by the General Assembly set out that all death-in-custody cases should be subjected to “prompt, impartial, and effective investigations into the circumstances and causes” of the death. As the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions has noted, since there is a presumption of state responsibility due to the custodial setting and the government’s obligation to ensure and respect the right to life, the government has to affirmatively provide evidence to rebut the presumption of state responsibility. Absent proof that it is not responsible, the government has an obligation to provide reparations to the family of the deceased.
The Chinese government also has rules dealing with deaths in custody. These require the police to “immediately conduct” an investigation into the cause of death by viewing and preserving the surveillance video of the detention cell and questioning fellow detainees, doctors, and guards, among other measures.
A collective statement from UN human rights experts in June underlined the need for independent investigation of the range of human rights violations by the Chinese government. They expressed grave concern over China’s failures to respect human rights and abide by its international obligations, and recommended establishing an impartial and independent UN mechanism to monitor and report on abuses “in view of the urgency of the situations” in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and Tibet.
“For decades Chinese officials have gotten away with detaining people without justification and mistreating them, including to the point of death,” Richardson said. “Those officials cannot be relied on to investigate these violations, creating an urgent need for independent, international investigations by UN human rights experts.”

China’s Narrow Win of UN Human Rights Council Seat Signals Eroding Support

China’s Narrow Win of UN Human Rights Council Seat Signals Eroding Support
China narrowly won a seat on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council Tuesday, prompting a rights group to call the vote “embarrassing” for a country that has worked overtime to whitewash its image and used its growing power to stifle criticism of its persecution of ethnic Uyghurs and Tibetans. The Asian power secured only 139 votes during a secret ballot at the 75th U.N. General Assembly in Geneva from among 193 member-nations, placing fourth out of five countries vying for four seats in the Asia-Pacific region.
China beat out only Saudi Arabia, which has faced its own share of condemnation over its rights record. Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Nepal also won seats in the race to represent Asia-Pacific countries on the 47-member council. Fifteen nations in total secured seats on the council Tuesday—including Russia and Cuba, whose rights records the U.S. called “abhorrent”—and will serve for three years from January next year. The vote marks the fifth time China was elected to the council, after winning seats in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016.
Sophie Richardson, China director for New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), called China’s vote tally “a significant drop” from the support it received when it was elected to the council in 2016. “It’s an incredibly embarrassing loss for China—it got 11 fewer votes than Nepal and it came in fourth out of five for that regional group, doing better only than Saudi Arabia,” she said. “That’s a pretty bad standard.” Richardson noted that in 2016, China’s Foreign Ministry said that the 180 votes the country received in 2016 reflected “global support” for its position on human rights issues. “I’m extremely eager to hear how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tries to spin having hemorrhaged support at this year’s vote,” she said. “I want to be very clear that Human Rights Watch called for China not to be elected to the council. But seeing this drop in support is significant and I think it tells us a lot about what we can try to accomplish at the Human Rights Council, even though China is a member again.” Richardson said that having a seat at the council is a “two-way street,” noting that member governments “are also subject to greater scrutiny themselves.” “And so, in that sense, I think we can probably reasonably hope to see more discussion of Beijing’s appalling human rights violations against Tibetans and against Uyghurs,” she added.
Eroding support
A press release issued by China’s mission to the United Nations welcoming its election to the council said Beijing “attaches great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights” and suggested that “following a path with Chinese characteristics, China has made great achievements in human rights development.” In addition to working to promote international exchange and cooperation, the mission said China will use its seat on the council to “oppose the politicization of human rights issues and wrong practices of double standards to make greater contributions to the healthy development of international human rights.”
Last week, the U.K. and Germany led a group of 39 member states at the U.N. General Assembly in condemning China’s policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since early 2017. The two nations—as well as the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and several members of the European Union—insisted that China also respect human rights in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), where Tibetans have similarly seen their freedoms eroded under Beijing’s rule and are facing forced labor and other abuses seen in the XUAR. The condemnation marked a significant increase in the number of countries willing to stand up to China’s threats of cutting off trade with nations that support such statements. A similar resolution last year received only 23 backers.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration—which withdrew the U.S. from the Human Rights Council in 2018 in part for what it has said are membership rules that “allow the election of the world’s worst human rights abusers to seats on the Council”—condemned the General Assembly vote in a statement issued by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Prior to making this decision, and after our exit, the United States has urged U.N. member states to take immediate action to reform the Council before it became irreparable,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, those calls went unheeded, and today the U.N. General Assembly once again elected countries with abhorrent human rights records, including China, Russia, and Cuba.” The administration has sanctioned Chinese officials for rights abuses in both the XUAR and the TAR, despite Beijing’s claims that its policies in the regions protect the country against “terrorism,” “religious extremism,” and “separatism.”
Exile groups dismayed
Uyghur and Tibetan exile groups expressed dismay over Tuesday’s vote, saying China’s re-election must serve as a means by which member states can hold China to account for its rights violations. “Governments committing genocide shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Human Rights Council,” said Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) executive director Omer Kanat,” in a reference to a June report about a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of forced sterilizations and abortions targeting Uyghurs. Author Adrian Zenz believes the campaign may amount to government-led genocide under United Nations definitions. “It’s clear from the vote, however, that China has been losing the confidence of the international community over time,” Kanat added.
Rushan Abbas, executive director of Campaign For Uyghurs, said in a statement that China’s participation as an equal in the United Nations “effectively cripples the U.N. from fulfilling the purpose for which it was formed.” “No words can express the feeling of watching the world’s greatest human rights abuser be granted a greater platform to perpetuate its genocidal ideology,” she said. “The U.N. has made its own reputation the laughingstock of the world, and its corruption has compromised the lives of billions.”
Kai Mueller, executive director of the International Campaign for Tibet’s Germany office, called the vote a “setback” and warned that activists will now “need to be more aware of the … intention of the Chinese government to change the international perception of human rights” to fit more with that of the country’s ruling Communist Party. “The Chinese government will more forcefully push the narrative on so-called ‘development,’ of so-called ‘poverty alleviation’ in Tibet, and Tibetans need to be ready to counter those positions by the Chinese delegation at the Human Rights Council,” he said, referring to pretexts that Beijing uses to justify its policies in the TAR.“ China is certainly pushing for support, is certainly organizing support, at the United Nation bodies such as the Human Rights Council … Foremost it’s those unfortunate human rights violators such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Belarus, Russia for example, that speak out for China and that should give reason for concern for the international community.”

Tibetan political leader sees growing U.S. support after meeting new envoy

Tibetan political leader sees growing U.S. support after meeting new envoy
By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The head of the Tibetan government in exile said he met the new U.S. special coordinator on Tibet, whose appointment last week angered China, at the State Department, the first political head of the Tibetans in exile to be hosted there in 60 years.
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U.S. Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo last week appointed senior human rights official Robert Destro as special envoy for Tibetan issues. Beijing responded sharply, saying this was an attempt to destabilise Tibet and that it would not allow any interference there.
While U.S. officials including most U.S. presidents have met the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, at the White House, they have been careful about formally hosting the head of the government-in-exile as this would be seen as a major provocation by Beijing.
Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan Central Administration (CTA), said this was the first time the head of the CTA was received at the State Department.
“So this is historic, they are thereby acknowledging the Tibetans’ democratically elected leader and the CTA. It was a sound political gesture on the part of the U.S government,” he told Reuters over telephone from the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump has not yet met the Dalai Lama but has taken a tough posture towards China. Relations between Washington and Beijing are at their lowest point in decades over a range of issues, including trade, Taiwan, human rights, the South China Sea and the coronavirus.
China seized control over Tibet in 1950 in what it describes as a “peaceful liberation” that helped the remote Himalayan region throw off its “feudalist” past. But critics say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide.”
Sangay said he and Destro agreed on the early passage of the new Tibet Policy and Support Act through the U.S. Senate in the next few months.
The legislation, which was approved by the House of Representatives this year, lay out a stronger U.S. stand on Tibet since the original act in 2002, Sangay said.
It calls for the establishment of a U.S. consulate in Lhasa, the absolute right of the Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama and preserving Tibet’s environment.
“This is big, it is a major revision of the 2002 Tibet policy act,” Sangay said. “Everything we wanted, is there in the act.”
Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky
Nuestros Estándares: Los principios Thomson Reuters.

“We lost a true patriot of Tibet”: CTA mourns demise of Takna Jigme Sangpo, Tibet’s longest-serving political prisoner

“We lost a true patriot of Tibet”: CTA mourns demise of Takna Jigme Sangpo, Tibet’s longest-serving political prisoner
October 17, 2020
Published By Bureau Reporter
Dharamshala: Tributes poured in from around the world on Saturday as word spread that the former Tibetan political prisoner who spent almost half his life in Chinese prison and had spent the remaining in exile relentlessly advocating of the Tibetan cause had died at the age of 91.
Takna Jigme Sangpo, Tibet’s longest political prisoner passed away earlier this morning at an elderly care home in Turbenthal, Switzerland, where he had been based since receiving political asylum in 2003, a year after he completed 37-year sentence in Chinese prison.
President Dr Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration expressed profound condolences at the demise, saying, “I have been an admirer of his courage since my youth days. It was an honour meeting him in person and I also took part in the launch of his autobiography in Dharamshala. We have lost a true patriot of Tibet.”
Having spent 37 years in Chinese prison, Takna Jigme Sangpo was the longest-serving Tibetan political prisoner. He was reportedly first arrested in 1960 while teaching at Lhasa Primary School and charged with “corrupting the minds of children with reactionary ideas”. In 1964 he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in Sangyip Prison over comments regarding Chinese repression of Tibetans and was sent to labour camp in Lhasa. He was again sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in Sangyip Prison for ‘counter-revolutionary’ propaganda in 1970. He had been caught attempting to send a document reporting Chinese atrocities to His Holiness the Dalai Lama via his niece, who was trying to flee Tibet.
At the age of 53, Takna Jigme Sangpo was released from prison in 1979 and transferred to the ‘Reform-Through-Labor’ Unit 1 in Nyethang, west of Lhasa, but he was arrested again on September 3, 1983, by the Lhasa City Public Security Bureau for pasting a ‘personally written’ wall-poster protesting against Chinese authority on the main gate of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.
On 24 November 1983, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for “spreading and inciting counter revolutionary propaganda,” and five years deprivation of political rights. On 1 December 1988, his sentence was increased by another five years for “spreading and inciting counter-revolutionary propaganda”.
On 6 December 1991, Takna Jigme made another bold attempt at an individual protest. During an official visit by a Swiss delegation, Jigme shouted “Free Tibet” in English, a phrase he had specially learnt for the occasion, and slogans in Chinese and Tibetan, from his cell. The authorities tried to explain away the incident by claiming to the delegates that he was ‘mad’.
Takna Jigme was subsequently sentenced on 4 April 1992 to a further eight years imprisonment, and an additional three years deprivation of civil and political rights, bringing his sentence to 28 years and by his release on 3 September 2011, he would have spent 41 years in prison.
He lost his eyesight as a result of suffering forced labour, prison atrocities and harsh prison conditions. “Torture and degrading ill-treatment, inhuman interrogation, solitary confinement, forced labour and indoctrination sessions are common practices used by the Chinese authorities in Tibet’s prisons,” he testified in 2003.
As a result of sustained efforts by the Central Tibetan Administration and international community pressing the Chinese government for his release, Takna Jigme was released on medical parole at the age of 76 in March 2002.
Thirty-seven years behind bars had not deterred the spirit of Takna Jigme Sangpo. In August 2002, he settled in Switzerland as a political refugee and relentlessly advocated for the issue of Tibet and testified at various human rights forums on the gross violations of human rights in Chinese-occupied Tibet. In April 2003, he first testified at the UN Commission on Human Rights, in which he said: “this old man from Tibet, appeals to all nations in this hall to help end the human suffering of the Tibetans. Please urge the Chinese government to open earnest negotiations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to resolve the long-standing Tibetan Issue in the interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. The unfortunate people of Tibet, including the political prisoners, who are the same human being as everyone else in this hall, urgently need your support before it is too late…I pray for an end to the suffering of all political prisoners in this world”. On 6 June 2008, he addressed the UN Council. Takna Jigme Sangpo’s biography titled ‘Metse Nyongtsor’ was released on 24 January 2014 in Dharamshala by Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay and was published by Gu Chu Sum Movement of Tibet.

Lawmakers Warn US About Failing to Adapt to Growing Chinese Threat

Lawmakers Warn US About Failing to Adapt to Growing Chinese Threat
U.S. lawmakers are sounding alarms about the threat from China, warning Washington has so far failed to keep up with Beijing as it emerges as a global power. The concerns, voiced in two separate reports Wednesday, criticize U.S. intelligence agencies and policymakers for clinging too long to the notion that increased trade and interaction with China would push Beijing to eventually align itself with Western values.
Instead, the reports argue, the United States is struggling to push back as it faces a real danger of being replaced by China on the world stage. “The stakes are high,” according to a redacted report released by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. “Absent a significant realignment of resources, the U.S. government and intelligence community will fail to achieve the outcomes required to enable continued U.S. competition with China on the global stage for decades to come,” the report said.
The House Intelligence Committee report, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with intelligence officials and reviews of thousands of assessments, criticized U.S. intelligence agencies for becoming overly focused on their counterterrorism mission and for failing to adapt to the threats of a changing world. “While the United States was busy engaging al-Qaida, ISIS [Islamic State] and their affiliates, offshoots and acolytes, Washington’s unchallenged dominance over the global system slipped away,” the report said.
To better counter China and other emerging threats, the report said, U.S. intelligence agencies need to make better use of information commonly available on the internet, social media and elsewhere. The report also said U.S. intelligence officials need to pay more attention to nonimmediate, nonmilitary threats “such as global health, economic security and climate change.” And the report called for a greater focus on recruiting and mentoring what it described as “the next generation of China analysts.” “The good news is that we still have time to adapt,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff in a statement. “It’s my hope that the intelligence community will work hand in hand with the congressional oversight committees to make these necessary changes quickly.”
A second report released Wednesday, by Republican lawmakers, was no less damning, recommending more than 400 changes to Washington’s China strategy. “To preserve democracy and freedom around the world, the U.S. must act decisively with our allies to regain the initiative,” the China Task Force report warned. Chinese Communist Party ideology “is undermining the core principles of the international system and putting Americans’ safety and prosperity at risk,” it said. “Leniency and accommodation of the CCP and its oppressive agenda is no longer an option.”
The report calls on policymakers to boost counterintelligence operations against China and to make sure that the U.S. medical and national security supply chains no longer need to reply on Chinese-made goods. It also recommends increased spending on defense to better counter Chinese nuclear capabilities as well as China’s growing conventional forces. “For more than 40 years, we have tried to bring them into the family of nations as a responsible partner, but they have refused to behave responsibly,” China Task Force Chairman Michael McCaul said in a statement.

Lhasa Braces For Air-Raid Drill as China Responds to India’s Purchase of French Jets

Lhasa Braces For Air-Raid Drill as China Responds to India’s Purchase of French Jets
Chinese authorities in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa will conduct an air-raid drill on Saturday as China calls for combat readiness amid rising tensions along its undefined Himalayan border with India in the mountainous region of Ladakh.
The drill, running from 12:00 noon to 12:15, follows India’s deployment on the border this week of five French-made Rafale jet fighters, and will be held “in order to improve the general public’s national defense concept and civil air defense awareness,” Chinese state media said on Tuesday.
“Citizens, government agencies, enterprises, institutions, and social organization personnel” are being urged to pay close attention to alarms, China’s People’s Daily newspaper said on Tuesday, adding that the scheduled drill is not expected to disrupt the city’s normal life and activities.
A clash between Indian and Chinese security forces in the Galwan Valley in northwestern India’s region of Ladakh in June left dozens of soldiers dead on both sides, with both India and China saying that troops from the other side had crossed into their territory.
The governments of both countries meanwhile continue to accuse each other’s militaries of making provocative maneuvers along the Line of Actual Control, their de-facto Himalayan border.
India had ordered and received the French-made jet fighters at the end of July “as it moves to upgrade its air force amid a spike in tensions with China,” Tsewang Dorjee—a researcher at the Dharamsala, India-based Tibet Policy Institute—told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“The air drill in Lhasa is aimed at strengthening combat readiness for [China’s] People’s Liberation Army in the event of an air strike in Lhasa or other Tibetan areas. This is a worrying and frightening situation for everyone, not only for Tibetans living in Tibet,” Dorjee said.
China had already been holding air raid drills in other major cities in September to mark China’s annual National Defense Education Day, retired Indian Army colonel and satellite imagery analyst Vinayak Bhat said in a written response to questions from RFA.
“But the timing of this drill has raised many eyebrows, as the last time such an exercise was carried out in Lhasa was in 2009,” he said.
“In the current situation of the ongoing border standoff between China and India, this looks like a tactic of psychological warfare by Beijing to create a climate of fear among Tibetans,” he added.
Dual-purpose airports
Five airports are now in operation in the Tibet Autonomous Region: the Lhasa Gonggar Airport, Nyingchi Mainling Airport, Shigatse Peace Airport, Chamdo Bangda Airport, and Ngari Gunsa Airport. Three others—Lhuntze in Lhokha; Tingri in Shigatse county; and Burang in Ngari near the border with India—are being built.
Tsewang Dorjee noted that the airport at Burang will pose a particular threat to India’s security due to its proximity to the border. “The Burang airport will play a key role in the speedy deployment of weapons and military reinforcements in the wake of any military confrontation with India,” Dorjee said.
China’s airports in Tibet are dual-purpose and can quickly be deployed for military use, with civilian air control staff trained to work with China’s air force in cases of emergency, Vinayak Bhat said. “There are also a number of radar sites, and they have integrated air defense which is quite good.”
As many as 16 air-defense sites using surface-to-air (SAM) missiles have recently been established along the border with Tibet, with one set up in the politically sensitive area of Lake Manasarovar near Mount Kailash in Burang, Bhat said.
“They are well aware that Manasarovar is a holy place for India, and yet they are trying to make a battlefield out of it. That is just not acceptable.”
“But the Indian air force is a very mature air force,” Bhat said. “I am sure they will be monitoring these things very closely, and they will take care of these sites very well.”
Reported by Urgen Tenzin and Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Phakdon and Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Tibet’s Exile Government Slams Call by China’s Xi Jinping to ‘Sinicize’ Tibetan Buddhism

Tibet’s Exile Government Slams Call by China’s Xi Jinping to ‘Sinicize’ Tibetan Buddhism
Tibet’s India-based exile government hit back this week at a call by China’s President Xi Jinping to Sinicize the Tibetan people’s Buddhist religion, describing the move as an attempt by China’s ruling Communist Party to destroy Tibet’s unique national identity.
“Tibetan Buddhism should be guided in adapting to [China’s] socialist society and should be developed in the Chinese context,” President Xi said on Aug. 29 at the 7th Central Symposium on Tibet held in Beijing.
Efforts to make Tibet’s centuries-old faith comply with China’s culture and political goals are misguided and unrealistic, though, Lobsang Sangay—political leader, or Sikyong, of Tibet’s exile Central Tibetan Administration—said in a response issued by the CTA this week.
“For Tibetans, Buddhism is more important than Communism,” Sangay said, calling Beijing’s attempt to raise China’s political system over the Tibetan people’s faith “a violation of international religious freedom.”
“[The] Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is never going to work,” Sangay said. “The last 60 years of Chinese rule in Tibet is a testament to that fact.”
“The root cause of instability in Tibet is not the Tibetan people’s faith, but the repressive and failed policies of the Chinese government. The continuation of these hard-line policies and repression is only going to make matters worse,” Sangay said.
Chinese police and surveillance teams now regularly monitor life in Tibetan monasteries for signs of opposition to China’s rule, source in the region say. Meanwhile, authorities interfere with Tibet’s traditional recognition of senior Buddhist monks and other religious leaders in order to install politically compliant figures of their own choosing.
“Yet the determination of the Tibetan people inside Tibet is still strong, and [they remain] faithfully devoted to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” Sangay said.
Regarded by Chinese leaders as a separatist, the present Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 Tibetan national uprising against rule by China, which marched into the formerly independent Himalayan country in 1950.
Fear of losing control
China’s continuing attacks on the Dalai Lama meanwhile “show that Tibet is very important to the Chinese government, and also reflect Chinese officials’ fear of losing control,” Ngodup Tsering—the Dalai Lama’s representative in the Washington-D.C. based Office of Tibet—told RFA’s Tibetan Service in an interview this week.
It has been more than a decade since the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s traditional ruler, handed his political authority over to Tibetan exile political leaders now chosen by popular vote, Tsering said. “But China’s continued denunciations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama show that they are still deeply afraid.”
President Xi’s speech signals a “doubling down” of China’s current hard-line and repressive policy in Tibet, said Pema Jungney, speaker of Tibet’s India-based exile parliament, adding, “I can’t interpret it any other way.”
“They are determined to wipe Tibet’s history from the face of the earth.”
China is now establishing Communist Party structures in all areas of Tibet “to strengthen their command, policies, and power, thus suppressing all the freedoms of Tibetans in the spheres of faith and belief, politics, the economy, and culture,” Boston-based Tibet analyst and former assistant director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Jampel Monlam said, also speaking to RFA.
“If these policies of China’s continue much longer, I worry about what will happen to Tibet,” Monlam said.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma and Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.