News from Tibet
News related to Tibet
Updated: 58 min 28 sec ago
More than 130 people from 23 states converged on Capitol Hill to lobby for Tibet the week before Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida on April 6. Although the leaders' meeting is expected to focus on trade and the need for China to do more to rein in the nuclear and missile programs of its neighbor and ally North Korea, Tibet remains a contentious issue between the two nations. "Congress has shown a strong interest in Tibet since the 1980s, passing dozens of laws and resolutions related to Tibet, speaking out about conditions in Tibet, and welcoming visits by the Dalai Lama," according to a 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service. "Such actions have long been a source of friction in the U.S.-China relationship. China charges that they amount to support for challenges to Chinese rule in Tibet." Bhuchung Tsering of the International Campaign for Tibet in Washington, which organized Tibet Lobby Day, said, "Looking at the meeting of President Xi of China and President Trump, we want to send a message to President Trump, through Congress and to Trump directly, that there is traditional bipartisan support for dialog with China on Tibet," he said, adding "Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson says he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama." Tibet Lobby Day was held simultaneously in Washington, Brussels and Canberra, Australia, March 27-29. "U.S. policy has not changed," Anna Richey-Allen, a spokeswoman for the State Department's East Asia and Pacific Bureau, said Friday, adding that the U.S. recognizes the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures to be a part of the People's Republic of China. "We remain deeply concerned about human rights abuses and restrictions, including those imposed on religious freedom, in the TAR and elsewhere in China," she said. "We remain committed to supporting meaningful autonomy for Tibetans and the preservation of their unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions. "The United States encourages the People's Republic of China to engage with the Dalai Lama and his representative without preconditions." Ngawang Norbu of Boston, Massachusetts, was one of the Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters who spoke with more than 250 members of Congress and their staffs during Tibet Lobby Day. The activists asked them to continue funding Tibet programs and to promote efforts to gain access to Tibetan areas for U.S. officials, citizens and journalists. They also want the Trump administration to implement the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 (TPA), which has the stated purpose of supporting "the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity." "The important thing today is that there's a new administration in America and, along with that, the exile Tibetan administration in India has declared 2017 to be a year of action for Tibet, and so that's why I'm here," Norbu told VOA on Wednesday. "It's our responsibility and obligation to lobby for Tibet, and whether our requests are responded to or not is, of course, up to the leadership here, but in our mind we think our objectives and efforts will bear fruit." Bhuchung expects to see the reintroduction of the proposed Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act by Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts; Representative Randy Hultgren, a Republican from Illinois; Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican; and Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat. North Carolinian Marah Litchford, who has expressed concern about religious freedom in Tibet, participated in the Washington movement. "They listen," she said. "You just have to talk loudly." Nike Ching and Steven Herman contributed to this report, which originated with reporting by Dondhon Namling of the VOA Tibetan service.
China’s government spends millions of dollars each year to try to advance its views overseas, but this flood of cash has been met with setbacks, from the expulsion of Confucius Institutes at universities overseas, to student group tussles over speaking engagements for the Dalai Lama. In recent months, Beijing’s "charm offensive" in the U.S. has come under increased scrutiny, especially investments in Hollywood, raising concerns the iron-fisted Communist Party is seeking to spread its own style of censorship and control. But such fears, analysts argue, are largely overblown. Telling "China’s" story As China’s economic might expands and global influence grows, Beijing is looking to correct what it regards as inaccurate portrayals of itself. Chinese President Xi Jinping frequently talks about what he says is an effort to "tell China’s story well" - to tell its story on its own terms. Beijing aims to portray China as "a civilization that is ancient, rich," said Clayton Dube, director of the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute. "With China's advanced economic strength, it's been able to invest mightily in developing modern communication technologies, investing heavily in broadcast, investing heavily in internet, websites and news-gathering and these sorts of things, but also investing in the Confucius Institutes to try to increase American understanding of China," he said. Some of this is being done openly through state media broadcasts overseas such as China Central Television, recently rebranded as China Global Television Network, or CGTN. It also comes in the form of "advertorials" in leading American newspapers. In other cases, covertly. On campuses, there are Confucius Institutes, the more than 100 Chinese language and learning centers that have a growing physical presence at universities and institutes of higher learning in the United States. The centers claim to be a non-governmental organization, but administratively, its parent group falls under China’s Ministry of Education. And in recent years, several have been shut down over concerns about transparency and the impact they were having on academic freedom. Philip Clart, Director of the University of Leipzig’s Confucius Institute and Professor of Chinese Studies at its Department of East Asian Studies, argues that when it comes to Confucius Institutes, they can be beneficial if handled correctly. Clart said that while censorship and free speech issues remain a concern, these are not necessarily inherent to the program and can be avoided if there is a clear functional and institutional separation between the program and the university. However, "if you are at a place where you don’t have an independent Chinese or Asian studies department, where the [Confucius Institutes] is brought to actually for the first time offer anything, any Chinese instruction, and there is no other voice, this becomes more difficult." Packaging authoritarianism Chinese student groups are also a growing force that at times are seen as forwarding the Communist Party’s agenda overseas. For example, when Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was invited to speak at the University of California, San Diego in June, a group of Chinese students at the university launched a protest to stop his speech. As the group rallied against the invitation, arguing strangely enough that the invitation to the Dalai Lama goes against "diversity" and "political correctness," its connections to the local Chinese consulate were thrust into the limelight. That incident and others highlight the difficulties Beijing faces and how the line between telling the China story well and spreading the Communist Party’s propaganda can easily blur. Media inroads A Reuters investigation in 2015 uncovered that more than a dozen stations across the United States were airing programming from state broadcaster China Radio International in the United States. And while reaching an English speaking audience may be difficult, analysts note that the Communist Party has made major inroads when it comes to Chinese language media in the U.S. While under the radar for most part, much of the landscape is Beijing-controlled or aligned. It targets mostly ethnic Chinese who may also be exposed to English coverage, but it shapes and in some ways limits the information they receive. Ultimately, the goal for the Communist Party is for it "to be accepted as effective, legitimate and good," said Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson Center. But selling one-party authoritarianism is a "pretty difficult pitch." "People listen to China, people know China is important, but they (Beijing) really don’t have a good story to tell that would convince Americans that one-party authoritarianism is, in fact, okay," Daly said. Kowtowing to profits The biggest challenge of them all, however, is when "American architects of soft power cave in to Beijing for money," said Daly. This is most commonly seen in Hollywood, but also in publishing and even gaming. In some cases, content that might in some way be undesirable to Beijing gets scrapped to ensure access to China’s market. "Because the size of the Chinese film market is so large, everybody wants a part of it. So everybody would like to have their films screened in China, if they have a chance," Dube said. "And they know that certain films will not have a chance." Daly said this is what he calls "purchasing power times authoritarianism." But it is the actions of Americans, and not Beijing, that he finds most troubling. "It’s not that China is strong-arming us – it is that we are bowing down in the name of profits, and that’s the real issue," he said. "Not what they do through the Confucius Institutes, not what they do through China Central Television or Radio Beijing." While some argue that more should be done to restrict China’s media access to the U.S. or even investments in Hollywood, others believe that more exposure leads to better understanding, Dube said. "By curtailing that openness, by curtailing that free flow of information, we are sending a signal that we are afraid of that," he said. "America’s great success and its soft power comes from its openness, comes from its engagement."
Nearly six decades after he fled his homeland, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama had an emotional reunion on Sunday with the border guard who escorted him into India when he was 23 years old. The Buddhist monk, now 81, met the border guard, Naren Chandra Das, who is 79, in Guwahati, the capital of the northeastern Indian Assam state, at a ceremony organized by the state government. The Dalai Lama had trekked for two weeks across the Himalayas in 1959 disguised as a soldier and seeking asylum in India, following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. Embracing Das, who escorted him for part of his journey in India, the Tibetan spiritual leader said he was very happy to meet with him. “Looking at your face, I now realize I must be very old too,” he told him in jest. It was the first exchange of words between the two. Das recalled he and several other guards who escorted the Dalai Lama had been given orders not to speak to him when he crossed into India. They had never met since. Das later told reporters he was overwhelmed by the warmth with which the Dalai Lama met him. ‘I experienced freedom’ The Tibetan spiritual leader, who arrived in Guwahati en route to the famous Buddhist Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, said he had an emotional attachment to the region that revived his memories of escape from Tibet. The Dalai Lama recalled how when they sent some men to the Indian border, they readily agreed to give them entry. “The days prior to my arrival in India were filled with tension and the only concern was safety, but I experienced freedom when I was received warmheartedly by the people and officials and a new chapter began in my life,” the Press Trust of India quoted him as saying. The visit has raised China's ire. Beijing, which calls the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, has strongly protested the Indian government's plans to host him in the sensitive border state of Arunachal Pradesh, that is controlled by New Delhi, but is also claimed by Beijing. The Indian government has responded by saying it is a religious visit and has no political meaning. The Dalai Lama has called China's opposition "normal."
One of the thousands of casualties of the protests against Chinese rule of March, 2008, is a man who was released from prison today. His name is Trinley Tsering, and he was a young monk at Kirti monastery, situated on the outskirts of Ngaba, a town in today’s Sichuan province which incorporates large areas of the historical Tibetan provinces of Amdo and Kham. He was arrested on March 28, 2008, 18 days after the start of the protests in the region and right in the middle of the crushing security crackdown that followed in which police shootings of peaceful protesters were reported to have killed as many as 20 Tibetans and wounded hundreds more. Tsering was charged with ‘leaking state secrets to forein countries’ by a Chinese court in Barkham county and given a nine year prison sentence for his alleged act of sharing news about the crackdown on his monastery with the outside world. And this morning, almost nine years to the day from his arrest, Tsering was released from Mianyang prison, located outside Chengdu, the same infamous prison where many other Tibetan political prisoners have languished over the years, including Rongye Adrak, the man who in 2007 strode on stage during a large public gathering to call for the return of the Dalai Lama, and dissident writer Theurang, among many others. But a strange thing happened to the released prisoner and the family members who had come to take him home – they were stopped from leaving Chengdu for several hours by the authorities and told that the authorities would escort them to his hometown, a journey of eight to nine hours by car. VOA has learnt from sources that the motive for the forced delay in travel was in order to ensure a late night time arrival in Ngaba which would prevent Tsering from receiving a hero’s homecoming welcome in broad daylight. Public welcomes for political prisoners were inconceivable even in the 1990s, after the harsh martial law like period of the early years of Chinese rule in Tibet starting in 1959 , but they’ve been taking place with the release of almost every political prisoner over the last five or six years. The Chinese authorities appear to be viewing the large public displays of affection and support for the released prisoners as a show of defiance and disapproval for their imprisonment, which almost always include harsh treatment, including beatings and torture, as recounted by many former political prisoners. So around 10PM tonight, Trinley Tsering and his family were dropped off near his home by the authorities, long after the expected welcoming crowd had departed. However, as seen in photographs received by VOA Tibetan, Tsering was received by his fellow monks. One photograph shows him with a sumptuous brocade shawl covering his prison issue lay clothes, an unmistakable sign of respect and honor. In the photograph, Tsering is seen sitting on the ground on a handwoven rug with flower vine design, appearing to be listening to purification prayers being recited to cleanse him of his time in Chinese prison, and for his entrance back into the clergy. Another photograph shows Tsering wearing his monk’s robe once again and holding ceremonial brocade offerings in his arms, considered auspicious in Tibetan tradition. While the Chinese authorities had sought to micromanage even the trip home of a political prisoner to deprive him of a daylight homecoming, it’s clear from the images coming out of Tibet, that the Tibetans view Trinley Tsering as a hero in brocade, even in the dead of night.
Hundreds of Tibetan community leaders, students, and supporters from the United States, Europe, and Australia gathered for the annual Tibet Lobby Day to urge their respective governments and parliamentarians to continue their support for Tibet and the Tibetan people. Tibet Lobby Day was held simultaneously in the U.S., Europe, and Australia from March 27-29, 2017. In the US capital of Washington DC, 130 Tibetans from twenty four states visited the offices of more than 250 U.S. members of congress during the two-day lobby program.
A Beijing based China Tibetology Research Center (CTRC) has recently organized a rare and unusual press conference in China's capital to criticize the Dalai Lama's forthcoming visit to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, his reincarnation process, and the future of Sino-Tibetan dialogue. During the press conference, Lian Xiangmin, Director of CTRC, not only stated Beijing's longstanding policy on Tawang issue, China’s determination, and desire to recognize Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama's reincarnation in China, but also the current state of Sino-Tibetan dialogue and the reasons behind its failure. Since Xiangmin's comments were widely covered and circulated in the Indian media, VOA Tibetan's Table Talk program invites Bhuchung K. Tsering, Vice President of International Campaign of Tibet and Kunga Tashi, China Liason Officer at the Office of Tibet in D.C to discuss the contents of his speech in this week's episode.
This video is reported to have been taken today (March 23, 2017) in Sertar Dzong, a town located in a Tibetan region of Sichuan province. It shows what appears to be random Tibetan pedestrians being attacked, beaten severely, and taken away in a bus by Chinese security. In order to protect the individuals VOA has removed the audio of voices expressing shock and sadness with one person saying over and over again that, 'they are doing this for no reason at all.' Sertar Dzong is in the same county as Larung Gar, the world's largest Buddhist institute where thousands of students have been evicted by the Chinese authorities since last summer, and their personal living quarters demolished systematically demolished by bulldozers.
This video is reported to have been taken today (March 23, 2017) in Sertar Dzong, a town located in a Tibetan region of Sichuan province. It shows what appears to be random Tibetan pedestrians being attacked, beaten severely, and taken away in a bus by Chinese security. In order to protect the individuals VOA has removed the audio of voices expressing shock and sadness with one person saying over and over again that
The New York and New Jersey regional chapter of the Tibetan National Congress (TNC) organized a three day exhibition titled, ‘The Knowledge Treasury of Tibetan Independence’ infront of the United Nations building in New York City to highlight Tibet’s past independence status. The exhibit includes Tibet’s past currencies in various denominations, past treaties and agreements with other countries, and other symbols of an independent state like Tibet's past flag, army, etc. Considering Tibet’s past independence status, the group is demanding the United Nations to grant the Dharamsala based Central Tibetan Administration a non-member observer status in the world body. Ahead of this campaign, the group has released a press statement asking the UN body to address the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people and recognize its past status. It said, “The granting of observer status to the Central Tibetan Administration in the UN General Assembly would allow the General Assembly to address the suffering of the Tibetan people, and contribute to international peace and security, and the promotion of respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. Granting of observer status would also be a valid and honorable step for the General Assembly to take, fifty-six years after it first called for the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination”. Tseten Lhagyal, the President of TNC’s New York and New Jersey chapter tells VOA that the organization had spent many months working on the exhibition documents, and that they intend on holding similar exhibitions in various cities of the United States and other countries within the next months. More on the report below:
New herbal products were launched at the celebration of the 56th anniversary of the Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan Medical and Astro. Institute) held at Tibetan Colony at Majnu ka Tilla in Delhi on March 23, 2017. The chief guest of the function, Kasur Ngodup Drongchung, the representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, launched the herbal products. The herbal products are of syrups for cold and flu, cough and lung congestion, hair oil for dandruff, and dental soothers. The Men-Tsee-Khang has four clinics, one wellness center (massage center), and one export cum coordination office in Delhi with 41 medical and non-medical staff including eight doctors. Full report below:
The Tibetan Women's Association(TWA) and Students for a Free Tibet(SFT), both based in Dharamsala, North India observed 'World Water Day' on March 22, 2017. TWA organized street awareness campaigns where they called on every individual to save water in their daily lives and to understand the importance of making conscious decisions to use water efficiently, which is in tune with the International Water Day theme. The Students for a Free Tibet's India chapter, on the other hand, focused on the consequences of the diversion of Brahmaputra water by China, and its impact on India. The representatives of the organizations also discussed China's hydroelectric dam projects and its long-term negative fallout on India with Indian tourists at the main temple of Tsuglag-khang in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala. Full report below:
Tibetans in Lathong, Chamdo County, Eastern Tibet were ordered by the Chinese authorities to cancel their planned township horse festival about two months ago. According to a source in Dharamsala, North India, the officials arrested two Tibetans suspected to be the leading organizers of the festival about a week ago. Although one of them was later released, the whereabouts of the other remains unknown. Nyingmig, who is originally from Lhathog and currently resides in Dharamsala, tells VOA that the winter horse festival was planned and announced via Wechat, a social media app. Another Tibetan in New Delhi who wants to remain anonymous confirmed the arrests of the individuals. Severe restrictions placed on the internet and communication within the region has made it difficult to obtain further information on the detainees.
VOA Tibetan has learnt that Pema Gyaltsen, the young man who carried out a self-immolation protest in Kham Nyarong on March 18, and whose condition was unclear after he was taken away by Chinese security, is still alive today. He is believed to be in a hospital. In the provincial capital city of Chengdu. It is unknown whether any family members are being allowed to be with him, especially after several people who were friends and family who had gone to demand his body following his protest were forced to stay in stress positions all night and severely beaten by the Chinese police before being allowed to leave.
Three Tibetan students from the Dehradun, India based Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) School Selakui and their biology teacher, Mr. Lhakpa Wangyal were selected to participate in the first Asia-Pacific Schools Initiative (APSI) community. Nyima Tenzin, Tenzin Tselha, and Tsering Dhondup are the Tibetan participants at the event, where students from other countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, and UAE are also taking part. Listen to Tseten Chodon's report on the participants as they represent Tibet and Tibetan schools in the educational program organized by the Center for Escalation of Peace (CEP) at Jhalawar, Rajasthan, India.
VOA Tibetan has learnt that Pema Gyaltsen, the young man who carried out a self-immolation protest in Kham Nyarong on March 18, and whose condition was unclear after he was taken away by Chinese security, is still alive today. He is believed to be in a hospital In the provincial capital city of Chengdu. It is unknown whether any family members are being allowed to be with him, especially after several People who were friends and family who had gone to demand his body following his protest were forced to stay in stress positions all night and severely beaten by Chinese Police before being allowed to leave.
Following two months of severe crackdowns and intimidating military parades across Tibetan regions, Individual Tibetans have started to engage with their Chinese rulers using the only means open to them; street protests. VOA Tibetan has learnt that apart from the street protest in Amdo Ngaba on March 16 carried out by Lobsang Dargye, and the self-immolation protest in Kardze on March 18 by Pema Gyantsen, there was another confirmed solo protest carried out in Ngaba on the 18th. A young woman named Dukbey is reported to have marched down the main street of Ngaba Dzong around 3PM, and chanted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s long life, and greater freedoms in Tibet. Within minutes, security police descended on her and took her away, and her family has to date not been informed of her whereabouts. According to a photo of Dukbey that has emerged on social media, she is believed to be in her twenties. A source who wants to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation by Chinese authorities, Dukbey’s family name is Sonamtsang and she is from Rari town in Ngaba.
Tibetans and supporters in New York City organized a protest in front of the Chinese Consulate in solidarity with Pema Gyaltsen, a 24 year-old Tibetan man who self-immolated near Tsokha monastery in Nyarong, Eastern Tibet (today's Sichuan province) around 4PM local time on March 18, 2017. Speaking at the protest, President of the regional Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Mr. Tenzin Kalden said, “We are here to show our solidarity with the Tibetans inside Tibet. Since 2009, there has been 146 self-immolators inside Tibet.” The regional Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) organized a prayer session later in the evening, where the President of TWA said, “We are organizing this prayer in solidarity with the Tibetans inside Tibet; we will try our best to raise awareness about Tibet's situation on international platform”
Monitors say a 24-year-old Tibetan man set himself on fire Saturday outside a monastery in China's southwestern Sichuan province, a region heavily populated by ethnic Tibetans who protest China's policies in their nearby homeland. A statement Sunday from the organization "Free Tibet" said the man self-immolated Saturday afternoon, drawing a large detachment of police and security personnel who took him into custody. Witnesses are quoted as saying Pema Gyaltsen was thought to be alive when arrested. But the statement said activists have been unable to confirm his current condition or whether he survived the ordeal. The statement also said police remained in the area to prevent the spread of information, and that Internet service in the region was cut. Analysts say Saturday's self-immolation is the first in the disputed region since December, when another male set himself on fire and died. Free Tibet says more than 140 Tibetan protesters have set themselves on fire since 2009, when anti-China protesters -- most of them monks and nuns -- began self-immolating to protest what locals describe as Chinese interference in Tibetan customs and religious practices. The majority of those protesters have died. Protesters also have sought to bring attention to demands for the return of their exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Chinese authorities last decade criminalized self-immolation protests, and local courts have imprisoned scores of people for their alleged roles in supporting the protests.
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, inaugurated a three-day international Buddhist conference Friday in Nalanda district in Bihar, India. The Indian government is sponsoring the conference, titled "The Relevance of Buddhism in the 21st Century." In his opening address, the Dalai Lama told Buddhist delegates and experts from 35 countries that all religions share one principle — love and compassion — and that all must promote religious harmony in order to overcome both historical and current problems created in the name of religion. "In this very moment while we are enjoying joyfulness and peace, in the same planet, same human beings are killed [under acts] including in the name of religion," said the Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in India since 1959. "It is unthinkable! The every source of compassion and forgiveness becomes a source of violence! It is like turning medicine into poison." One thousand delegates are attending the conference, according to the Indo-Asian News Service. Previously, some international Buddhist conferences barred the Dalai Lama because of China's opposition. This time, China did not send delegates to the conference, presumably because of the Dalai Lama's presence. A Chinese Buddhist professor working in Japan did attend the Friday meeting, according to Jangchup Choeden, the abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery in India. Speaking to VOA, Choeden said the Dalai Lama emphasized how a 21st-century Buddhist must be. "He said the 21st-century Buddhists must use their intelligence and conduct analytical observation rather than blindly follow the faith," he said. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee is reportedly going to attend on Sunday and address the conference. Mukherjee met with the Dalai Lama in December, causing China to say it was "strongly dissatisfied." This was the Dalai Lama's first meeting with an Indian head of state in 60 years. China calls the Dalai Lama a "dangerous separatist." The Nobel Peace Prize laureate denies espousing violence and says he wants only genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Following two months of severe crackdowns and intimidating military parades across Tibetan regions, individual Tibetans have started to engage with their Chinese rulers using the only means open to them; street protests. VOA Tibetan has learnt that apart from the street protest in Amdo Ngaba on March 16 carried out by Lobsang Dargye, and the self-immolation protest in Kardze on March 18 by Pema Gyantsen, there was another confirmed solo protest carried out in Ngaba on the 18th. A young woman named Dukbey is reported to have marched down the main street of Ngaba Dzong around 3PM, and chanted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s long life, and greater freedoms in Tibet. Within minutes, security police descended on her and took her away, and her family has to date not been informed of her whereabouts. According to a photo of Dukbey that has emerged on social media, she is believed to be in her twenties. A source who wants to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation by Chinese authorities, said Dukbey’s family name is Sonamtsang and that she hails from Rari town in Ngaba.