Friday, January 30, 2009

Gunshots at monastery, monks arrested:sources

Monks of Derge monastery in Derge initiated a vigorous protest Tuesday night in its campus, sources told Voice of Tibet radio service.
5 or 6 monks have been reportedly arrested.
Gunshots were heard in the vicinities of the Monastery but it is unclear whether anyone has been killed or wounded.
In the run up to Tibetan New year, a massive deployment of Chinese armed forces is reported in various Tibetan cities and towns.

Tibetans urged to cancel New Year festivities over latest Chinese crackdown

Ethnic Tibetans are being urged not to celebrate the Chinese New Year, in protest at a renewed crackdown by Chinese officials in the regional capital, Lhasa.
In the past 11 days, 81 people have been detained and nearly 6,000 have been called in for questioning by police. Now, in a campaign spearheaded by the Tibetan Youth Congress labelling 2009 "a black year", Tibetans have been encouraged not to take part in next month's Lunar New Year festivities.
"The TYC calls upon China to end the illegal occupation of Tibet and to immediately release all Tibetan political prisoners currently languishing in Chinese gulags," said Tsewang Rigzin, spokesman for the Tibetan Youth Congress, at a press conference.
The Tibetan New Year starts with the new moon in late February, exactly one month after the start of the Chinese New Year of the Ox, which began on Monday.But the date has been picked by the Tibetan Youth Congress as a timely moment to protest continued Chinese rule over the province.
"As the year 2009 also marks 60 years since China's invasion and 50 years since China's occupation of Tibet, TYC delcares the year of 2009 as a black year and shall organise campaigns."
Australia Network's Ian Burrow's reports that the campaigns has already begun, with a series of hunger strikes and the burning of effigies of Chinese leaders in the streets of Lhasa.The Tibetan government in exile has also appealed to the international community to intervene in the latest Chinese crackdown.

Germany urges talks
The call came as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made his first visit to Europe since cancelling a visit to the region late last year, in anger at meetings between the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr Wen was urged during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkl in Berlin to hold talks with the Dalai Lama."From the German side, I once again underlined that we have an intense interest in the talks with the representatives of the Dalai Lama gaining momentum again," Ms Merkl told reporters after the meeting on Thursday."And I offered our help, if Germany can make a constructive contribution, we are ready to do so."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

China detains 81 people in Tibet crackdown: media

At least 81 people in Tibet have been detained for suspected criminal activity amid a security sweep in the Himalayan region, including two who are being held for having "reactionary music" on their mobile phones, state media reported.

Tibet independence advocates said Wednesday the anti-crime crackdown appeared to be aimed at intimidating Tibetans ahead of sensitive anniversaries in coming weeks, including the 50th anniversary of a crushed independence uprising.

China has been preparing for the possibility of more unrest in Tibet since deadly rioting in the capital Lhasa on March 14 last year sparked the biggest anti-government protests among Tibetans in decades — and a major military crackdown.

The public security bureau of Lhasa, the region's capital, launched a "strike hard" campaign against crime on Jan. 18, with raids on numerous residential areas, rented rooms, hotels, guesthouses, Internet cafes and bars, the Tibetan Daily said in a report on the China Tibet News.

By Saturday, authorities had detained 51 people for unspecified criminal activities and taken in another 30 people for robbery, prostitution, theft, according to the report dated Sunday.

Two people were being held because "reactionary music" was found in their cell phones, the report said.

A woman who answered the phone at the Lhasa public security bureau hung up after saying the office was not authorized to speak with the media. Calls to the Lhasa government office rang unanswered Wednesday amid a weeklong national holiday to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The International Campaign for Tibet said the latest "strike hard" campaign "appears to be intended to intimidate Tibetans still further" ahead of the Tibetan New Year in late February and the period in March that marks the 1959 independence uprising and the Dalai Lama's flight to India.

The 'strike hard' campaigns are crime crackdowns in which normal arrest and prosecution procedures are usually waived to maximize the numbers detained. Though they normally focus on criminals, in places like Tibet and the restive northwest region of Xinjiang, people suspected of anti-government activities are also targeted.

In December, Chinese state media reported that authorities in Tibet detained 59 people accused of disseminating rumors aimed at inciting ethnic tension and were cracking down on illegal downloads of "reactionary music" online.
"Last year was washed by blood,
In Lhasa, countless compatriots
Were fallen under a piercing arrow,
This year, no Losar for us,
In Sichuan, countless people
Buried under the earth,
This year, no Losar for us,
There is only the word 'no' on your lips.
We are speechless,
You are filled with anger
We have no bitterness
For the sake of the deceased valiant heroes
Let us offer our regrets.
For the deceased people,
Let us make offerings."
Cha medsha

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ICT Report

Some reports stated that local authorities had ordered that Tibetan New Year celebrations should be brought forward by one month to coincide with Chinese New Year.
A blog by one Tibetan on a Tibetan website reported that the county government had told Kirti monastery in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) in Sichuan province to change the dates of new year and winter religious ceremonies to coincide with the Chinese NewYear.
This year, the two new years are a month apart , although in some parts of the Tibetan area of Amdo, the New Year has been celebrated according to the Chinese calendar. Security was stepped upon the streets near Kirti, where at least 10 Tibetans were shot dead during a protest last March.
One source told ICT: "Local people [inNgaba] are not celebrating [the New Year]. Tibetan women are in the streets, with solemn faces, showing sadness rather than happiness, and to symbolize the non-celebratory mood they carry around dry bread and eat that."

An anonymous Tibetan blogger posted the following comment on a Chinese-language, Tibetan-run website on January 25:
"The 2009 Losar was always going to be unusual because so many people have been killed. In our family, our father can never come back, our mother has visibly aged, uncles and brothers have been detained - some of whom we still don't whether they're dead or alive. Last night, the eldest brother in the neighbor's family was taken away. There's a guy from a village nearby who used to roam all over the place doing business who was locked up for a few months and recently released. But his body is so fragile now that he has to stay in bed with his wife and children looking after him. When you go out, although the police on the streetsaren't as evident as they were a few months ago, there are still a lot. There are armed PAP [People's Armed Police] guys on the roofs'maintaining social stability'. Leaders on television are going roundpaying their respects and urging people to have a good year... I myself will not be celebrating the new year because those who died were my compatriots, and I knew several of those who died - they were shot dead. I haven't dared call home since March of last year because I don't want to cause them any trouble. And so I don't know how they are. I've had no information on them, and just hope they're okay."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CTC releases documents from Canada’s Tibet file

The Canada Tibet Committee today released sixty-eight pages of declassified federal government documents, including a 1950 legal opinion from the Department of External Affairs that concluded from the point of view of international law, Tibet qualified for recognition as an independent state at the time Chinese forces invaded the country.
“No matter how zealously the Chinese government tries to rewrite history, fifty years after the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, history will not be erased,” said CTC Executive Director Dermod Travis. “It is the height of absurdity that the Chinese government has chosen to celebrate their military invasion as ‘Serf Emancipation Day’ when Canadian government reports and memoranda lay waste to any claim that China was liberating the Tibetan people when they invaded Tibet.”
In a November 1950 memorandum to Ottawa, Canada’s High Commissioner to India, Warwick Chipman, noted: “…if China owned Tibet…there would certainly be no point in sending an army to conquer it. The sending of an army is surely a confession that the matter is not domestic.” Five days later, Canada’s External Affairs department was circulating a legal opinion on the international status of Tibet.
The opinion contained in a 1950 memorandum stated: “The question is, should Canada consider Tibet to be an independent state, a vassal of China, or an integral portion of China. It is submitted that the Chinese claim to sovereignty over Tibet is not well founded. Chinese suzerainty, perhaps existent, though ill-defined, before 1911, appears since then, on the basis of facts available to us, to have been a mere fiction.
In fact, it appears that during the past 40 years Tibet has controlled its own internal and external affairs. Viewing the situation thus, I am of the opinion that Tibet is, from the point of view of international law, qualified for recognition as an independent state.” “Tibetan history will not be erased,” Travis said. “Despite the ‘Patriotic Education’ campaigns forced upon Tibetans by the Chinese government to this day, the Tibetan people will continue to resist any attempt to extinguish their history, their culture, and their spirit.”
As the Canadian Legation, Chungking, China advised Ottawa in 1944: “…there is no doubt that official China is determined to ‘swallow’ Sinkiang, Tibet, Outer Mongolia, Kansu and Sikang, no matter what the people living in those regions may feel about the matter.” The Legation added: “The Chinese do not see that the attempt to compel the Tibetans to allow themselves and their country to be incorporated as an integral part of China is most definitely an act of aggression.”
The documents prepared between 1944 and 1969, posted at the CTC website (, include memorandums updating the Canadian government on Chinese military aggression in the area, a 1950 National Defence document “The Strategic Importance of Tibet”, and a 1961 letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
The Canada Tibet Committee is an independent non-governmental organisation of Tibetans and non-Tibetans living in Canada, who are concerned about the continuing human rights violations and lack of democratic freedom in Tibet.

No New Year movement gains momentum

As the Tibetans all over the world plan to skip celebrations of the Tibetan New Year 2136, the act of passive resistance is gaining momentum everywhere including Dharamsala, the exile headquarters of the Tibetan government.

Four NGO’s of the Tibetan community vowed to observe the Tibetan New Year with prayer vigils and minus any festivities to mourn the slaying of over two hundred Tibetans by Chinese forces in the aftermath of March uprising in Tibet last year, and to protest China's ongoing crackdown.

The Tibetan Women's Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Ex-political Prisoners Movement, National Democratic Party of Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet (India), through a press release issued today, said, “Instead of the usual celebrations marked by singing, dancing and other festivities, silence will be observed and butter lamps will be lit in the temples and homes to pray for the deceased.”

Dr. B. Tsering, president of the Tibetan Women's' Association, said, "This year, we honor the sacrifices of countless Tibetans who rose up to show China and the world that even after 50 years of brutal occupation, Tibetans are determined to regain our freedom."

Ven. Ngawang Woebar, president of Gu-Chu-Sum Ex-Political Prisoners' Movement, said, "On the eve of the commemoration of two historic uprisings - one in 1959 and the other in 2008 - we call on Tibetans worldwide to join us in re-dedicating ourselves to the cause of our nation."

"We mourn our brothers and sisters who were killed in China's violent crackdown while we stand in solidarity with those who continue to suffer under China's totalitarian rule," added Dr. B Tsering.

Meanwhile, young Tibetans expressed their will to skip the New Year celebrations at a weekend event called “Talk Tibet” where discussions are held and films are screened on Tibet. “This could be the singular historic moment of becoming the most participated Tibetan political event, simply because, it is an act of passive resistance, in which everybody can take part,” adding, “It is simple yet a very powerful nonviolent resistance against which China has no power.

Tsering, a monk from Kirti Monastery said, “No Losar” is a call I first heard from Tibet way back in November 2008 and the idea of nonparticipating has been spreading among Tibetans in Tibet and exile through blogs and word of mouth”.

Dhondup Lhadhar, General Secretary of Tibetan Youth Congress, who was at the discussion, said, “whatever we are doing, both inside or outside, our message should be one, it's to remember and pay tribute to the Tibetan martyrs of 2008 Tibet uprising and to mark 2009 as Black Year, as it is the 60 year of Chinese invasion of Tibet and 50 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet and our exile.”

With the Tibetans in Tibet wowing to skip celebrations this year of the Tibetan New Year, reports are coming in that the authorities in China are deliberately encouraging the Tibetans in Tibet to celebrate the New Year with pomp and festivity.

The authorities are giving out gifts and special presents to Tibetans to encourage them for celebrations, sources with contacts in Tibet told phayul. An anonymous person from Tibet has sent a poster calling for 'NO Losar' to phayul.

Tibetan New Year or Losar is one of the most auspicious and festive holidays in the Tibetan calendar and is traditionally celebrated with grandeur for a minimum of three days. This year Losar falls on 25th - 27th of February, just over two weeks before the 50th commemoration of the March 10th Tibetan National Uprising of 1959. March 10 will also mark one year since protests by Tibetan monks in Lhasa erupted into a nationwide uprising.


China beats Tibetan youth to death

Pema Tsepak, one of the three Tibetan youths who protested in Dzogang county of the Chamdo prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region has died on January 23 after succumbing to his injuries sustained from beatings by Chinese authorities.

On January 20, the three Tibetans, identified as Thinley Ngodrub, 24, his brother Thargyal, 23, and Pema Tsepak, 24, all from Punda town in Tsawa Dzogang, had carried a white banner reading ‘Independence for Tibet,’ thrown paper fliers in the air, and shouted slogans, before getting arrested by the Chinese security forces. A Tibetan girl named Dechen Dolma, who was found in possession of Pema Tsepak’s mobile phone, was also detained but freed later on January 24.

According to Tsawa Community of Dharamsala, Pema was taken for treatment at Dzogang county hospital but he was so serious that he had to be taken to prefecture hospital in Chamdo where he succumbed to his injuries. Pema had sustained serious injuries to his intestine and kidney, Yeshi Tsomo of the Tsawa Community told phayul.

In a separate incident on Jan. 22, three Tibetans participated in a protest demonstration and were detained immediately. They were identified as Thinlay Gyatso, 44, Norbu Tashi, 29, and Lobsang Lhamo, 27, all from Tsawa Dzogang. Thinley Ngodrub and Thargyal are jailed in Chamdo (TAP) prison and Norbu Tashi in Dzogang county prison. Thinlay Gyatso and Lobsang Lhamo were released on January 24.

A candle light vigil and prayer session will be held here later today to mourn Pema’s death by the Tsawa Community in conjunction with the Tibetan Women's Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Ex-political Prisoners Movement, and Students for a Free Tibet (India).

The exile Tibetan government says the violent crackdown on Tibetan protesters following the unrest in March left 219 Tibetans dead, 1294 injured, 5,600 arrested or detained and more than 1000 still missing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Calling Tibet? Please Hang Up and Try Again

"You have the wrong house. I have no son." This is what 19-year-old Legdup heard when he called his mother in Tibet from Dharamsala, India. Sitting in a dark café with a tantalizing view of the Himalayan foothills that separates the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh with his homeland, a monk nods silently when I tell him about Legdup, and confides that his own family back in Tibet refuse to speak with him. Another young man says that his mother has insisted that he stop calling her. Yangzom, a 24-year-old student who left Tibet in 2006, has given up trying to call home because she doesn't want to put her parents in danger. Ask anyone in this town and you hear the same story. People afraid to receive calls. People afraid to make them.

The fear is well founded. In April 2008, Radio Free Asia reported that a popular singer and writer, Jamyang Kyi, was detained and tortured for sending text messages to her friends about the protests. In November, the International Campaign for Tibet reported that a Tibetan woman named Norzin Wangmo was sentenced to five years imprisonment for trying to get information about the situation in Tibet by phone and internet to the outside world.

Your call might abruptly end in mid-sentence, say exiled Tibetans, especially if you mention anything "sensitive." One man I spoke with recently asked his aunt about the prison sentence of his brother who had been arrested for his participation in the Spring protests. Click! The line went dead. Sometimes callers from overseas hear Chinese voices on the line. A Tibetan-American man tells me that calls to his family near Lhasa often mysteriously re-route to a residence in India.

For Tibetans outside Tibet, this is simply another heartache in a long list that continues to plague them. Already cut off from friends and relatives through the reality of exile, they now have to sacrifice their last form of contact with those they love. "You have to try to put these things in perspective," says Alison Pinkney, a Scottish documentary filmmaker who has spent a lot of time speaking with young Tibetans in Dharamsala. "The worst thing I can expect when I call my mum in Scotland is a bad connection." Even if they manage to get the call through, Tibetans try to keep to the most mundane topics like food and the weather. "No matter what is going on, my family in Tibet will say, "I'm fine," a young NGO worker explains. "We know it's not true, but no one dares dig any deeper."
It's the self-censorship that muzzles the most. If you don't know where the line is, you will likely stop short of crossing it. Just in case. Everyone in Tibet knows that phone calls are monitored, and cell phones have proved to be no safer than landlines. Public Security Bureau police might turn up on your doorstep if you've been speaking to people overseas, particularly India -- for Beijing, the home of the much-maligned "Dalai Clique", and a place where Tibetans pick up dangerous notions like democracy and freedom of speech.

Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights describes the freedom "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers." The architects of the Declaration clearly understood how the control of personal communications is key to the function of a modern police state such as is effectively in place in today's Tibet.

But as concerned as China's leaders may claim to be about popular dissent being fostered from outside influences, it is the homegrown freedom lobby that must be keeping them awake at night, especially when it hints at the unification of freedom movements within the country. The following comments were made during a Radio Free Asia call-in show. The caller is a Tibetan student named Losang who is studying in mainland China.

"Right now, a lot of us younger Tibetans inside Tibet feel that we need to do something to stand up...We are a people oppressed by another, and little by little, pieces are being cut off and destroyed....I feel that the people inside Tibet need to 'start the fire'...The Chinese are deceiving not only the world, but their own people with pictures of a peaceful Tibet...We need to work not only for the Tibetan people but for democracy for the whole of China."
In spite of Olympian efforts to the contrary, freedom is fast becoming a hot topic in China. And with 200,000 new cell phone accounts opening daily there, its surveillance industry will need to work over time to keep up with the conversation.


Dalai Lama greets Chinese people on New Year

While lauding the progress China has made in terms of political, economic and military might, the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama said China “cannot perform the responsibility of a super power in this modern and progressive world if there is no freedom, rule of law and transparency in the country.”
The Tibetan leader today sent an open letter to the Chinese people wishing them on the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. “On the occasion of the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, I extend my affectionate greetings to all our Chinese brothers and sisters across the globe, including those living in Mainland China.”The 73 year old Tibetan Nobel Laureate wrote that President Hu Jintao's policy of creating a harmonious society is indeed laudable but that “It cannot be brought about by brute force and autocracy.”“Such a policy is indispensable for China as well, if it were to make a mark globally. Harmonious society should, however, come about through mutual trust, friendship and justice.”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

China grills 5766 Tibetans Under Winter "Strike Hard" Campaign in Lhasa

In the latest move to tighten its grip on the Tibetan people in Tibet and intensify its hard-line policies prior to any major events, the Chinese authorities' in Lhasa city launched a stipulated 42-day winter "Strike Hard" Campaign beginning 18 January 2009.
According to information given in the official newspaper, Lhasa Evening News (Ch: Lasa Wen Bao) today, "Within three days of the launch of Winter "Strike Hard" Campaign beginning 18 January 2009, Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) office had deployed 600 officers, around 160 police vehicles and conducted raids on 7 housing blocks, 2922 rented houses, 14 guest house and hotels, 18 bars and 3 internet cafés in Lhasa. After conducting the raid on these locations, the PSB were able to round up 5766 suspects and questioned them. This figure highlights the result of the launch of the "Strike Hard" campaign in Lhasa since it was launched three days ago." The official report did not mention about the number of people detained or released following the raid.
Apart from this campaign, recently Lhasa City government issued official notice requiring all the outside visitors wishing to stay for more than 3 days or less than a month in Lhasa City to apply for a temporary stay permit from the PSB office. The notice warned that those failing to procure the same would be severely dealt with legal actions.
Although the primary objective of the current winter "strike hard" campaign was cited as securing public security and stability of Lhasa city, however, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) believes the sole objective as authorities' attempt to detain those Tibetans suspected to be involved in the 2008 spring protests, target former political prisoners and many Tibetans from outside Lhasa city and does not have official temporary stay permit (Ch: Zan zhu zheng). Under this campaign, the State law enforcement bodies abuse the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people through arbitrary arrest, detention, interrogation and torture, dismissal from jobs and expulsion from religious institutions. TCHRD condemns the launch of so called winter "strike hard" campaign and doubts the motive behind the launch of the campaign prior to major events in Tibet.
"Strike hard" campaign was first launched in China in 1983 with primary objective of fighting corruptions and crimes However, the motive of launching this campaign in China and in Tibet is totally different. In China, the official objective of this campaign is to crack down severely on general crime and end corruption practices. However, in Tibet the motive is to intimidate and eliminate those supporting Tibetan independence and human rights activists in Tibet. "

Friday, January 23, 2009

4 Tibetans detained for protesting, explosion reported in Chamdo

Chinese authorities beat up and detained three Tibetan youths for protesting Chinese rule in Tibet in the run-up to politically sensitive anniversaries, reported Radio free Asia. “On Jan. 20, three Tibetan youths protested in Dzogang [in Chinese, Zuogong] county of the Chamdo [in Chinese, Changdu] prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region,” RFA quoted a Tibetan man as saying on condition of anonymity.“They carried a white banner reading ‘Independence for Tibet,’ threw paper fliers in the air, and shouted slogans,” the man said.

The three Tibetans were identified as Thinley Ngodrub, 24, his brother Thargyal, 23, and Pema Tsepak, 24, all from Punda town in Tsawa Dzogang. A Tibetan girl named Dechen Wangmo, who was found in possession of Pema Tsepak’s mobile phone, was also detained, the source told RFA. It is not known as to where the four had been taken. RFA also reported that a protest had taken place the next day by women who marched to the county seat to demand the release of the four detainees. However, they were sent back by police before reaching the county seat.

Meanwhile, an explosion occurred at a government building nearby Jomda county in Chamdo on Jan. 5 though no casualties were reported, Jamcho, a monk at Drepung monastery in South India, told RFA, citing sources in the region. “Some buildings and cars were damaged, but no suspects have been detained.”A Chamdo police official confirmed the explosion to RFA. “It happened in Dengkok in Jomda county … We don’t know who did it or why it was done.”

According to Jamcho, local Tibetans suspect the bombing was in retaliation against the Chinese government’s attempts to force celebrations of the 50th anniversary of ‘democratic reforms’. Anniversary phobic and commemoration savvy Chinese government on January 19 declared March 28 as “Serf Emancipation Day”.China says it freed millions of Tibetans from serfdom of the Dalai Lama and aristocrats 50 years ago while the Tibetans reject the claim saying their country was invaded by People’s Liberation Army for China’s imperialist motives, and that more than a million Tibetans were killed following the invasion.

Sources in Tibet say the Chinese government is forcing people to arrange celebrations for Tibetan New Year (Losar) and the “Serf Emancipation Day” as Tibetans, both inside and outside Tibet, plan to skip this year’s losar celebrations. The exile Tibetan government cancelled this years’ Shoton, a Tibetan Opera festival, scheduled for March 2009. The exile Tibetan government says the violent crackdown on Tibetan protesters following the unrest in March left 219 Tibetans dead, 1294 injured, 5,600 arrested or detained and more than 1000 still missing.


Dalai Lama calls for immediate end use force against Tibet by China

Dalai Lama has called for an immediate end to the use of force against the Tibetan people by China and said that the stability cannot be created by force, but rather by trust.

While addressing the students of Madras University, the Tibetan Leader said "The trust should come out of mutual respect and therefore the people and government of China must deal with the issue realistically and logically. He further added that, I am sure we will achieve's only a matter of time before that will happen."

"While the spirit and determination of the present generation of Tibetans is stronger than the previous ones, there is more global awareness about our struggle," His Holiness said, adding that the Tibetan issue is supported by a section of the people of China.

Many Chinese people, including students, teachers, lawyers and intellectuals have expressed support for the Tibetan people's peaceful call for freedom in Tibet and their deep-seated against the wrong policies of the Chinese government. The Chinese government must look at our struggle logically and realistically," His Holiness said. Stating that he wanted the modernisation and development of Tibet, His Holiness asserted that the people would not take to violent ways of struggle.

His Holiness expressed his gratitude to the Government of India for offering the 'best facilities' to Tibetan refugees.
"No country in the world offers as good educational and other facilities like India does to Tibetan refugees," His Holiness said.
O Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) lançou o seu Relatório Anual 2008: "Human Rights Situation in Tibet" em Tibetano e Inglês.
O relatório anual foca as esferas em que são violados os direitos humanos dos Tibetanos: Liberdades civis e políticas, Direito à Informação e Liberdade Religiosa.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chasing shadows in Dharamsala

A Chinese national, Lei Xun, was arrested in December 2008 in Dharamsala, the seat in exile of the Dalai Lama in India, for spying and acting as an agent provocateur. Reports received by TibetInfoNet about the case reveal persistent, albeit unsuccessful, and at times clumsy, efforts to produce or, if need be, fabricate evidence that would expose the Dalai Lama as the mastermind behind the Tibetan unrest in spring 2008. It appears that the undercover operation was planned on the basis of negative preconceptions about the Tibetan exile society rather than any accurate information. The case also points to the anxiety of the security forces in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) who ordered the operation to come up with some success after their failure to predict and contain the unprecedented disturbances across Tibet in spring 2008.
Lei Xun, a native of Sichuan province, joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Special Operations Ground Force (Chin: Lujun Tezhong Budui) in Nanjing in 1995, where he was trained in the Surveillance Department (Chin: Zhencha Budui). In 1997, he moved to the People's Armed Police (PAP) Traffic Unit in Chengdu where he remained until 2000. During this period, he was transferred to Kongpo/Nyingtri (Chin: Gongbu/Lingzhi) prefecture in the TAR. He was compelled to leave the PAP in 2006 on disciplinary grounds. It seems likely that Lei Xun's subsequent attachment to undercover operations formed part of a special probation scheme used by the Chinese authorities "to make amends for previous faults by performing good services" (Chin: jiang gong bu guo).
Soon after the Lhasa riots of 14 March 2008, Lei was assigned by the Domestic Security Division (Chin: Guonei Anquan Zongdui/Guobao Zongdui) of the TAR Public Security Bureau (PSB) the task of identifying purported underground Tibetan exile networks in Lhasa and penetrate them in order to gather information on the planning and execution of violent activities inside Tibet. The Domestic Security Division operates directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Security (Chin: Gong An Bu), and the TAR wing of the PSB oversees the affairs of Tibetan exiles. Four officials were directly involved in assigning Lei his tasks:
Peng Xi Long, deputy chief of the TAR PSB; Pemba, a Tibetan official in charge of Tibetan exile affairs in the Dram area (Chin: Zhangmu, Nep: Khasa), the gateway between Tibet and Nepal;Dondrub, another Tibetan in charge of Tibetan exile affairs in Nepal; and Wangyal, a third Tibetan, who oversees both Nepal and the areas along the Nepalese border and as such is the line manager of the other two.
Both Wangyal and Dhondup are based in Lhasa. Lei Xun was provided with handsome remuneration for the task in Lhasa, on a par with a senior company manager.
It seems that because his search for clandestine activities in Lhasa that originated from Tibetan exiles was unsuccessful, Lei Xun was sent via Kathmandu to Dharamsala. He first visited the Himalayan town in May 2008 for 10 days, during which he managed to have an audience with the Dalai Lama. He paid two further short visits in August 2008, coinciding with the Beijing Olympics, and in October 2008. Lei made his ultimate visit on 11 December 2008. A three-member support team had reached Dharamsala about three months prior to this, allegedly to help facilitate his return to China. His superiors assured him that he would be safe in Nepal but if he faced any problems in India, he would have to get in touch with the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.
On his first visit, Lei made contact with a member of staff of the Branch Security Office of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) who, due to his knowledge of the Chinese language, is frequently tasked with escorting Chinese visitors around Dharamsala. Lei presented himself as a devoted follower of the Dalai Lama and expressed the desire to meet with the Tibetan leader personally. As part of his cover, he claimed that he had taken out a substantial loan to make the journey by mortgaging his home and other property. Lei sweet-talked the CTA staff into establishing contact with one of the Dalai Lama's Chinese translator, as well as a section secretary in the office of the Dalai Lama.
Lei returned from his first visit with no evidence of any of the Tibetan readiness for violence that his commissioners back in Lhasa had alleged. He brought with him some documents, including the statement of the Dalai Lama to the Chinese people issued publicly on 28 March 2008, various statements made by the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), which the Chinese authorities accuse of fomenting violence in Tibet, and pamphlets relating to the ‘Return March to Tibet' organised by pro-independence groups in spring 2008. All of these documents had been in the public domain and had been made available on the Internet for many weeks.
To lend credence to the suspicions of his superiors in Lhasa and ease the pressure to find agents of the 'Dalai clique' in Tibet, Lei passed on information about a Tibetan monk from Lithang, who was in Dharamsala in May 2008 to attend the Dalai Lama's teachings. He accused him of working undercover for the CTA's Department of Security, making the monk's return to Tibet impossible.
In an apparent move to fabricate the direct involvement of the Dalai Lama in financing activities in Tibet, Lei requested a substantial donation from the Tibetan leader, allegedly to build schools and create a charitable organisation for the welfare of Tibetan children in Tibet. It has been alleged that he even threatened to commit suicide if he was not given the funds.
Following his return to China, and in what appears to be an increasingly desperate attempt to produce evidence for an elusive Tibetan terrorist plot, Lei undertook more direct attempts to entwine members of the Dalai Lama's entourage in subversive schemes that involved violence. He called the Chinese translator, whom he had met in Dharamsala, and told him of a plan to form a terrorist organisation in China and assassinate Hu Jintao. Despite being rebuffed and advised that the Dalai Lama's commitment to non-violence clearly prevents indulging in such activities, Lei was persistent; he called again and spoke of a plan to target the Qinghai-Tibet railway in a bomb attack.
On his second visit, Lei was tasked to gather information pertaining to the possibility of any exiled Tibetans launching violent activities inside Tibet, and any plans for this. On his return to Lhasa Lei, in an apparent bid to cover his failure in finding any subversive activities amongst Tibetans, played up the incidents of an armed attack on Chinese police by Uighur groups in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and bomb blasts in Yunnan and Shanghai during this period, in which security agencies suspected Tibetan involvement. He conveyed to his handlers that Tibetans had attempted to sabotage the Olympic Games and planned a violent attack. To support his claims he supplied videos of protests rallies held by Tibetans involved in the 'Return March to Tibet' campaign, whose declared goal was to enter Tibet.
After Lei Xun's third, very brief visit to Dharamsala, the Chinese authorities seem to have started losing patience with him because of the lack of any convincing proof of Tibetans planning sabotage and pressed him to come up with evidence. On 11 December 2008, Lei landed at Gaggal airport, close to Dharamsala, and inferred to the translator, who he seems to have considered as his main contact, that he was on a special assignment for the Chinese government and needed some "important information". Lei Xun was unmasked soon thereafter and taken into police custody, before appearing in court on 22 December 2008 and held on remand.
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Question for the Record submitted by SFRC Chairman Kerry, with answer by Secretary-designate Clinton

98. The government of China and the Dalai Lama of Tibet disagree on the issue of greater autonomy for the Tibetan Autonomous Region, which has been a stumbling block in their ongoing dialogue. Meanwhile, many Tibetans have lost faith in the possibility of a negotiated compromise, while Chinese leaders have expressed a deep distrust of the Dalai Lama’s intentions and foreign contacts. What options may be acceptable to both sides? What kinds of international pressure, if any, would be helpful in promoting a resolution?
The Obama Administration will speak out for the human rights and religious freedom of the people of Tibet. If Tibetans are to live in harmony with the rest of China’s people, their religion and culture must be respected and protected. Tibet should enjoy genuine and meaningful autonomy. The Dalai Lama should be invited to visit China, as part of a process leading to his return. We will condemn the use of violence to put down peaceful protests, and call on the Chinese government to respect the basic human rights of the people of Tibet, and to account for the whereabouts of detained Buddhist monks. We will also continue to press China on our concerns about human rights issues at every opportunity and at all levels, publicly and privately, both through our mission in China and in Washington.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

China braces for more Tibet unrest

This year, March 10 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet. Tibetans and Tibet experts, however, say that renewed riots on a scale seen in March last year are unlikely with Chinese security so intense, even though the anniversary will be viewed as significant.

A Tibetan in Lhasa who does not wish to be identified told Al Jazeera that the condition in the city "is very, very bad." He said there are armed troops everywhere and many Tibetan pilgrims in Lhasa are being rounded up and sent back to their homes in the countryside.The intense security in Tibetan areas is evidence that China is nervous about more protests this year, say analysts."Undeclared martial law"Dr Lobsang Sangay, a Tibetan-in-exile and a scholar at Harvard, describes the situation on the ground in much of Tibet as "undeclared martial law.""It is a segregated society at the moment in Lhasa – with Tibetans on one side and Chinese on the other… the situation is very, very tense. Even old friends dare not talk to each other."

Such intense security will be maintained, he says, for much of 2009 – a particularly sensitive year as not only is March 10 the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape, but June 4 is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and October 1 is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.Would-be protesters will not have a chance, says Sangay."Even if 10 or 20 Tibetans start to demonstrate, they will be rounded up very quickly. On every block there are military [personnel] armed with loaded AK47s all over Tibet," he explained. "Having said that, I think Tibetans will make their discontent shown through sporadic protests here and there, such as the pasting of posters.

"In March last year, Tibetans in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other Tibetan regions in neighbouring provinces staged violent protests which killed more than 20 people according to China. The area was sealed off for three months while the military quashed the unrest.Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile based in northern India for instigating the wave of protests. The Dalai Lama denied involvement and Tibetan exiles and many Tibetans inside China say they were sparked by years of resentment against Chinese rule.

Woeser, a prominent Tibetan writer living in China, agrees that Beijing is taking extreme measures to prevent more unrest around March 10 in 2009. "At several of the important temples in Lhasa recently, they have posted People's Armed Police units, which are an addition to the normal police that have already been stationed there," said Woeser whose blog writings, including those on the March protests, are blocked inside China."So now many temples are completely controlled by the authorities. Also, recently, pilgrims from other Tibetan regions, including Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces, have not been permitted to make pilgrimages to Lhasa or even to do business there."

Woeser is no stranger to harassment herself. At times the authorities placed her under house arrest at her home in Beijing for her outspokenness.Hope in negotiations

Some Chinese academics are placing their hope in dialogue.Professor Gong Yuxuan at Beijing Foreign Studies University's School of Philosophy and Social Science says trouble is less likely if Beijing can make amends with the exile community."This [the likelihood of more protests] depends on the contact between the Dalai clique and the Chinese government," Gong said. "Take Taiwan, for example, now the Chinese government and Taiwan have established a good relationship… If the Chinese government can do the same with the Dalai clique then it is less likely for any riots to happen in Tibet." This is looking increasingly unlikely, however.

The latest round of negotiations between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Chinese officials ended sourly in November. Beijing accused him of plotting ethnic cleansing against Chinese if he ever regained power in Tibet, while the Dalai Lama said he now had little faith a resolution would ever be hammered out.Cracking down on freedom of expressionWell over 100 monks and laypeople have been given jail sentences for their part in the March protests, according to Chinese media.

The latest, as reported in the Lhasa Evening News, happened on November 8, when seven Tibetans were given prison terms ranging from eight years to life. One of those given life was Wangdu, a Tibetan HIV project officer working for an Australian non-governmental organisation, the Burnet Institute. He was convicted on charges of spying – sending information about the riots overseas.Human rights groups also say that in recent weeks the authorities have been stepping up arrests related to freedom of expression.

The most notable, according to Human Rights Watch, is the arrest of an 81-year-old printer in Lhasa. Paljor Norbu was secretly sentenced to seven years in November for crimes related to printing "prohibited material." No other details were given to his family.The factor of anniversariesSuch measures will be ramped up further this year, as March approaches and the region will likely be out of bounds to foreigners again, said Sangay."The Chinese really care about anniversaries," and they won't be taking any chances, he added.

Ignoring the climate of fear and heavy security, other observers say the anniversary may still not be enough to spark major riots."This is totally unpredictable," said Andrew Nathan, a China specialist and professor of politics at Columbia University in the US. "I wouldn't classify it as likely. I think it takes more than an anniversary to trigger something as serious as rioting, but a sequence of events could lead to rioting as it has in the past."And while Beijing's blanket security measures may succeed in suppressing all kinds of organised dissent in 2009, such a status quo is unsustainable, say Tibetans."Under such strict conditions any protest will be quickly suppressed. So I believe that it's not possible to see such protest as we saw last year. But I also believe that such harsh conditions will cause more resentment among Tibetans and, much later, much more serious protests will happen in Tibet," said Woeser.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

China releases prisoners for fear of death in custody

China has begun to release Tibetan prisoners who are likely to succumb to injuries of torture and beatings in prison. This has been an old tactic of the Chinese authorities to escape the blame of a prisoner’s death in prison, say right groups.

"They (China) are turning Tibetan prisoners into live corpses, and handing them over to the families to avoid being blamed for their deaths", said Tenzin Choeying of Students for a Free Tibet, India.

According to the Voice of Tibet radio service, China has released a Tibetan named Guru Dorji from Kardze ahead of his prison term after brutally torturing him in prison. Citing reliable sources, the VOT reported that Guru’s villagers were called by prison authorities to pick him up on January 1. The villagers brought him back to his home the next day in a feeble state. Guru’s wife had passed away while he was in prison. He expressed sadness for he could not see her but said he was not worried about his death lingering on him. Anticipating his death, Guru had distributed his properties among his two children and urged his fellow villagers to take care of them. Guru’s villagers who went to fetch him were forced to sign a letter accepting that he would not participate in any protests should he recover from his injuries.
Sources told VOT that Guru vomited what he ate, and that his condition was serious.

In another incident, a girl name Rigden lhamo, 21, from Kardze was handed over to her family around December 25, 2008, as authorities feared she might succumb to her injuries in prison. She was seriously injured during the protests on May 28, 2008 and was later imprisoned.

On December 22, Rinchen and Jampa Dolma of Getsul nunnery in Kardze were also released prior to their scheduled release date. They were arrested along with two other nuns of Getsul nunnery for their participation in protests on May 22 in Kardze. However, the reasons for their release could not be confirmed yet.

Another nun named Dolma Yangtso of Laru nunnery in Sertha had informed her family of her being sentenced to 2 years in prison. She was fatally wounded after she was shot at by Chinese security during a protest on August 10, 2008, in Kardze.


Monday, January 5, 2009

China to lure tourists to Tibet

China has launched a campaign to attract three million tourists to Tibet this year, after deadly unrest saw a huge drop-off in visitors in 2008, state media reported on Monday.
The government's target is up from the 2.2 million tourists who visited the remote Himalayan region last year, but is still well down on the more than four million who travelled there in 2007, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Unrest broke out in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, on March 14 after four days of peaceful protests against 57 years of Chinese rule. The government immediately sealed off the region to tourists.Authorities only allowed foreign tourists back in at the end of June.
The devastating earthquake in neighbouring Sichuan province in May, which caused a dramatic fall in tourists visiting there, also had an impact on Tibet's tourism industry, according to Xinhua.
Xinhua said the Tibetan government's campaign to lure three million visitors this year involved paying for a "bonus fund" for tourist operators, as well as stepped-up promotion activities.The aim of the government's campaign is to "restore the safe, civilised and healthy image of Tibet as a tourist destination", Xinhua said.
Xinhua gave no other details about the fund or other incentives, or whether the efforts would target foreigners as well as domestic tourists.However a report last week from the state-run Tibet Business News said local authorities had earmarked 50 million yuan (7.3 million dollars) this year to pay for promotions.It also planned to invest 350 million yuan during 2009 and 2010 to improve tourist infrastructure in the region such as road signs, transport hubs and toilets, the report said.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Taiwan to shelter Tibetans who fled China

Taiwan will offer residency to 110 ethnic Tibetans, many of whom fled political conflict in China, to resolve a complex cross-border flap involving expired visas and lost passports, the government said on Wednesday.

The ethnic Tibetans, former residents of India and Nepal, refugees from China and their children, may stay in Taiwan indefinitely for lack of any other legal place to go, an official with the local Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission said.

The ethnic Tibetans reached relatively well-off Taiwan on work, travel or religious mission visas issued throughout Asia as early as 2001, then overstayed and said they had lost their passports, said commission secretary general Chien Shi-ying.

“If we wanted to send them back some place, there wouldn’t be anywhere to send them,” Chien said. “They’re illegal but we can’t send them out. There’s nothing we can do.”

Most of the Tibetans work in factories in northern Taiwan.
Thousands of people fled Tibet, a region of southwest China, after a failed uprising in 1959 against what they describe as repressive Chinese rule.

About 20,000 Tibetans live in Nepal and an estimated 150,000, including Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, live in India. China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.