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.

US Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Vows Strong Policy Supporting Tibet

US Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Vows Strong Policy Supporting Tibet
Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would take a strong stand against China’s human rights abuses in Tibet, and take measures to support Tibetans’ cultural and religious rights, including meeting exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
“As President, I’ll put values back at the center of American foreign policy,” Biden said in a Sept. 3 statement.
“I’ll meet with [exiled Tibetan spiritual leader] His Holiness the Dalai Lama, appoint a new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and insist that the Chinese government restore access to Tibet for U.S. citizens, including our diplomats and journalists,” Biden said.
“My administration will [also] sanction Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet, and step up support for the Tibetan people, including by expanding Tibetan language services at Radio Free Asia and Voice of America to get information from the outside world into Tibet,” Biden said.
Biden also pledged to work with U.S. allies to press Beijing to return to talks with “representatives of the Tibetan people” to achieve greater freedoms and autonomy in the formerly independent Himalayan country, which China took over by force nearly 70 years ago.
Nine rounds of talks were held between envoys of the Dalai Lama and high-level Chinese officials beginning in 2002, but stalled in 2010 and were never resumed.
The Dalai Lama has met with the last four U.S. presidents, sometimes in unofficial drop-by encounters during scheduled meetings with other senior U.S. government figures, but has not yet met with Donald Trump, who has not invited him to the White House, media sources say.
Reached for comment, Karma Choeying—a spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibet’s India-based government in exile—welcomed Biden’s statement, noting that successive U.S. administrations and the U.S. Congress have “continuously supported the just cause of Tibet.”
“Today, the U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate is promising to do the same, and we welcome his statement,” Choeying said.
“Whether it is religious freedom in Tibet, human rights, the preservation of culture and protection of the Tibetan people’s values, or expansion of the Radio Free Asia and Voice of America Tibetan language services—all of these agendas listed in Joe Biden’s statement are needed and good,” added Pema Jungney, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile in Dharamsala, India.
“If he wins, I hope he will do what he’s promised,” Pema Jungney said.
“For now, [Biden] is a candidate and not yet elected,” Nima Dorjee, a Tibetan resident of Dharamsala, said. “And the words of a presidential candidate and a sitting president have different weight. If he wins and stays true to his words, this would be good news.”
Visas for Chinese officials restricted
Tibet policy initiatives of the Trump administration have drawn support from the India-based CTA and the Washington-based Tibetan advocacy group the International Campaign for Tibet.
On July 7, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo announced U.S. visa restrictions on selected Chinese officials deemed responsible for policies restricting access for foreigners to Tibetan areas of China, pursuant to the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act signed into law by President Trump in December 2018.
The law also requires the State Department to provide to the Congress each year a list of U.S. citizens denied entry into Tibet.
Washington has long complained that Chinese diplomats, scholars, and journalists enjoy unrestricted travel in the United States, while China tightly restricts the access of U.S. counterparts to Tibet and other areas.
A formerly independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force nearly 70 years ago, following which the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.
Reported by Ugyen Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Thousands of Tibetans Driven From Their Homes by China to Make Way For National Park

Thousands of Tibetans Driven From Their Homes by China to Make Way For National Park
Plans by China to build a national park in Tibetan-populated areas of Qinghai province are forcing thousands of nomads from their ancestral land, with final removal of the herders scheduled by the end of this year, Tibetan sources say.
The evictions will clear the way for the creation of the Mount Qilian National Park, a 50,200 square kilometer parkland and wild animal preserve straddling parts of Qinghai and neighboring Gansu, with the greater part lying in Gansu.
Around 4,000 Tibetan farmers and herders living in Themchen county’s Muru township and Suru and Drugkhyung villages have now been ordered off their land and told to move to Golmud city in Qinghai by the of 2020, one local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“The relocation project is in full swing right now, and the forced displacement of Tibetan nomads from their homes has become a matter of great concern for the local people,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The nomads from these areas are not willing to part from their ancestral land, but who is really able to defy China’s policies?” the source said.
On Sept. 3, Themchen county authorities held a meeting led by county governor Sengdrug in which Tibetan residents were pressured to comply with government orders to move, with officials adding that establishment of the national park was in line with Chinese president Xi Jinping’s concern for environmental conservation.
The official website of the Themchen county government on Sept. 3 confirmed the meeting had been held, saying it was “convened to appraise the local Tibetan nomads that the relocation project has to be completely carried out by the end of the year.”
Illegal mining had been carried on for many years at Mount Qilian, RFA’s source said.
“And now, in the name of environmental conservation and protection, Tibetan nomads must leave and move to Golmud. Local Chinese authorities have carried out a campaign to collect signatures and have held ‘awareness training sessions’ urging the nomads to willingly accept the project and their orders to move,” he said.
Also speaking to RFA, Tsering Dhondup—a former Tibetan political prisoner now living in Australia and a native of Bongtak Themchen, one of the affected areas—said that any Tibetan speaking out against China’s policy of displacement would face serious political consequences.
“In reality, in the name of environmental protection, the Tibetan people and their lives are being completely upended,” Dhondup said.
Resettlement schemes in Tibetan areas of China in recent years have driven thousands of Tibetans from their homes and into urban areas where they often live in crowded conditions with large families piled into single dwellings and opportunities for employment cut off, sources say.
According to the International Campaign for Tibet, Chinese authorities announced in 2017 in a policy criticized by Tibetans that “vast areas of Tibet will be turned into ‘national parks’ – contingent upon the removal of Tibetans from their ancestral lands.”
Reported by Thaklha Gyal. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Tibetan School Year Begins Under New Restrictions, Mandarin-only Instruction

Tibetan School Year Begins Under New Restrictions, Mandarin-only Instruction
The school year for children living in Tibetan areas of China has started under harsh new restrictions, with children in one Qinghai county ordered by authorities out of their homes and into Chinese boarding schools, and the language of classroom instruction in another county switched from Tibetan to Chinese, Tibetan sources say.
In several towns in Qinghai’s Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county, local primary schools have been closed by government order, and Tibetan children are being forced against their parents’ wishes into boarding schools in areas far away, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“The Tibetan parents have appealed to Chinese authorities not to separate their children from them by sending them off to other regions for schooling,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And when the authorities did not heed their request, some of them staged a protest.”
The parents’ protest quickly triggered a crackdown by police, with police vehicles and blaring sirens responding quickly to the protest scene, and one male protester was taken into custody, the source said.
“Several children at the protest were so frightened by all the commotion that they fainted,” the source said, adding that the children’s parents were finally forced to send their children away to the Chinese government-designated boarding schools.
The single protester taken into custody was later released, he said.
Classes taught only in Chinese
In Qinghai’s Themchen (in Chinese, Tianjun) county, two middle schools in the Bongtak area were meanwhile merged, forcing Tibetan schoolchildren into classes taught only in Chinese and following a similar merger of nearby primary schools, another local source told RFA.
“Previously, Tibetan parents had a choice of sending their children to a Tibetan-language or a Mandarin-language school, and the Tibetans would send their children to the Tibetan schools,” RFA’s source said, also speaking on condition his name not be used.
“But now most of these schools have been merged, creating ethnically mixed classes, which is a huge concern for us,” the source said.
“The Tibetan language itself is now the only subject taught in Tibetan, leaving Mandarin as the medium of instruction for all the other subjects taught in school,” the source said, adding that the move appears aimed at implementing China’s new policy of eroding language rights to destroy minority cultures.
The enactment of similar policies in China’s Inner Mongolia region have led in recent weeks to widespread protests and boycotts of the schools, with hundreds of ethnic Mongolians arrested or forced to resign from public office after they resisted the changes to the curriculum, which were kept under wraps until the start of the new semester at the end of August.
China’s Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law says that agencies in ethnic autonomous areas have the right to make decisions about education, including the language used in classroom instruction, said U.S.-based China analyst Ganze Kyab Lama.
“But many restrictive policies have now gained momentum under the leadership of Chinese president Xin Jinping as local officials look after their own political advantage and gain,” Kyab said.
Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses in the monasteries and towns typically deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Dorjee Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.