Melissa Parke's Speech to House of Representatives on Dhondup Wangchen's release

Federal member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke MP, is a long time advocate for Tibet and a member of the Tibet Parliamentary Friendship Group.  In 2009 Melissa travelled as part of a Parliamentary Delegation to India and met with HH Dalai Lama and other high-level lamas and Tibetan parliamentarians in exile. At this time Ms Parke advocated for the release of Tibetan political prisoners including filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, whose footage was made into a documentary, 'Leaving fear behind'. 
Dhondup Wangchen was recently released after serving 6 years in prison in Qinghai, and Ms Parke again spoke out in the Federal Parliament expressing her relief and reaffirming her commitment for the release of other such prisoners, including the Panchen Lama who has been in custody since 1995, when he was 6 years old

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CTA launches International Awareness Campaign

THE Central Tibetan Administration’s leader, or Sikyong, today unveiled the administration’s most concerted effort to date to bring about basic freedom for Tibetan people.  After decades of Chinese occupation, Tibetans inside Tibet expressed their categorical rejection of Beijing’s failed policies, in Tibet, through self-immolations since 2009.   The urgency on the ground has never been so palpable.

Based on the Middle Way Approach (Umaylam in Tibetan), the Tibetan leadership and His Holiness the Dalai Lama persist in seeking a peaceful solution through dialogue. One that is realistic and bears in mind both Tibetan and Chinese interests.  For Tibetans, the Middle Way Approach implies not seeking independence, but genuine autonomy within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. This vision is articulated in the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, which was presented to the Chinese government in 2008.

Ensuring that the international community is aware of our earnest efforts is a formidable task. To succeed, we appeal to all those who believe in truth, peace, and the preservation of Tibetan cultural identity, to join us in our efforts.

“With the Middle Way Approach Campaign, we are trying to engage the international community – young people, diplomats, media, people from all walks of life across different nations — to counter the Chinese Government’s misinformation campaign about the policy.

“The Middle Way Approach information materials – including an interactive website, short documentary video, Social Media campaign, timeline of the Tibetan struggle and FAQs – many of them available in 7 languages including Chinese – will make it very easy for people around the world to understand exactly what the Tibetan administration is proposing in terms of genuine autonomy within China,” Dr. Sangay said.

“By visiting our website they will learn the exact nature and intent of the policy, and then by clicking on through to such forums as our UMAYLAM page on Facebook and making a ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ they can show their support for the Middle Way.”

The Middle Way Approach is already supported by international leaders including US President Barack Obama and many Chinese intellectuals, such as imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo.   The name, the Middle Way, refers to ‘the middle way’ between repression and separation.  Dr. Sangay said the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) had spent the past year creating a set of documents and multimedia materials that would make it clear how long His Holiness and the Tibetan administration had stuck firm to this policy, about its impact to date and its intentions for the future.

During an auspicious inauguration ceremony today, the Sikyong presented His Holiness the Dalai Lama – who has devolved his political responsibilities to the elected leader – with the information package.  He said that His Holiness and the then-Tibetan administration formulated the “Middle Away Approach” policy in 1974 as a realistic option to solve the issue of Tibet. This foresight of His Holiness was affirmed in 1979 when Chinese paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, stated that, “apart from independence, all issues can be discussed” and offered talks with His Holiness.   His Holiness presented the Middle Way Approach to the Chinese leader, and a long period of contact and discussions between Dharamsala and Beijing resulted.  “Since this time, there have been 9 Rounds of Talks, four fact-finding delegations to Tibet and regular visits by Tibetans to the Tibetan regions,” Dr. Sangay said

“We are calling on the people of the world – young and old – to join the UMAYLAM:
Middle Way Approach Campaign and help secure the future of the Tibetan people.”

Social Media hashtags:       #middleway       #umaylam       @Umaylam  

link to:   UMAYLAM website    UMAYLAM facebook     UMAYLAM Twitter

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama's message on the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square

"Today, as our Chinese brothers and sisters commemorate the 25th anniversary of the June 4, 1989 event in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, I offer my prayers for those who died for freedom, democracy and human rights.

These values are the foundation of a free and dynamic society.  They are also the source of true peace and stability.  While great progress has been made to integrate China into the world economy, I believe it is equally important to encourage China to enter the mainstream of global democracy.  This will help China to gain the trust and respect of the rest of the world, enabling China to fulfill its potential in playing a leading role in global affairs." HH Dalai Lama

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alai Lama, on Tiananmen 25th anniversary, urges China to embrace democracy

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Dalai Lama, on Tiananmen 25th anniversary, urges China to embrace democracy

Tibetan PM: China Must Implement Its Laws
India Real Time
30 Dec 2013

“We are asking China to implement its own laws, and that could amount to autonomy for us,” Mr. Sangay, who in 2011 was elected head of the exiled Tibetan government in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, told The Wall Street Journal.

China’s constitution provides for “regional autonomy” in areas where “people of minority nationalities live in compact communities.”

Tibetans living on the Tibetan plateau fulfil that requirement, argues Mr. Sangay, ergo China must change its constitution, or accept the demand for full autonomy. The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, describes this as a “Middle Way” approach.

The deadlock and distrust between Tibet and China has existed for over half a century, since China incorporated Tibet into its territory in 1950, claiming that the land was always an inalienable part of China.

Things worsened in 1959 when 80,000 Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India following a failed uprising.

China created the Tibet Autonomous Region, located on the Tibetan plateau, between China and India in 1965, as part of an agreement between Tibetan representatives and Beijing.

“But it’s not autonomous, honestly… only in name and on paper,” Mr. Sangay said sipping tea at the New Delhi representative office of the Dalai Lama.

In support of his contention, Mr. Sangay presents the evidence.

Schools and universities in the region teach in Chinese, Mr. Sangay says, contrary to the Chinese constitution, which gives minorities nationalities the right to use their own languages.

Leading political figures in the Tibet Autonomous Region politburo are Han Chinese, the dominant or majority ethnic group of China or have a Chinese spouse, Mr. Sangay claimed. Although the region’s governor is Tibetan, the office is subordinate to the branch secretary of the Communist Party of China, who is always Chinese, the exiled prime minister added.

According to him, the majority of private businesses in the Tibetan Autonomous Region are owned or run by Chinese people, and unemployment among Tibetan school and college graduates there is running at 40%. Wages on offer in some businesses in Lhasa, the capital are openly greater for Han Chinese employees than non-Chinese workers, Mr. Sangay added.

The size of the territory that makes up the Tibet Autonomous Region is also a point of dispute. Some parts of the Tibetan plateau have, since the 1950s, been incorporated into neighbouring Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan.

Mr. Sangay’s solution to this would, he says, benefit the Chinese authorities as well as the Tibetans living there.

“From the administrative point of view, it’s far more efficient and effective to have one policy and one implementing mechanism for all the Tibetan people because they are of the same culture, language, economy and custom,” he said.

Beijing says clubbing of Tibetan areas into one unit is unreasonable because that would amount to a quarter of China.

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CTA holds special prayer service for Tibetans suffering repression in Tibet
27 Dec 2013

Thousands of Tibetans gathered at the main temple here today to offer prayers and solidarity with all those Tibetans who have self-immolated to protest against China’s repressive rule in Tibet, and those suffering unimaginable repression. 

The prayer service, organised by the Central Tibetan Administration was presided over by Kirti Rinpoche, the head of Kirti Monastery. Senior officials present at the prayer service include members of the Kashag and parliamentarians. 

Prayers were offered for Tsultrim Gyatso, a 43-year-old monk Achok Monastery in Labrang Tashikhyil, who died after setting himself on fire in Sangchu county in Kanlho prefecture in northeastern Tibet (incorporated into China’s Gansu Province) on Thursday (19 December). 

He left a note before he committed self-immolation. He wrote: “…Tibetans are driven to suffering and the treasures of Tibet are being looted under the repressive law of China. To whom can we tell the sufferings of the six million Tibetans? Thinking about these brings tears to my eyes. I have set myself on fire in fervent prayers for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, the release of Panchen Lama from the prison and the well-being of six million Tibetans.”

In his address at the prayer service today, Tibetan political leader Dr Lobsang Sangay said: “124 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since 2009. 124 is neither simply a number nor a list of names. They are human beings just like any one of us who will wish to live a complete life, if given a choice.”

Political repression, cultural assimilation, social discrimination, economic marginalisation, environmental destruction and lack of religious freedom are the primary factors driving Tibetans to self-immolation. The only way to end this brutal and grave situation is for China to change its current hardline Tibet policy by respecting the aspirations of the Tibetan people, he said.

The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamsala has repeatedly appealed to Tibetans not to resort to drastic forms of protests, including self-immolation. 

The total number of Tibetans who set themselves on fire to protest against the Chinese repressive rule has now risen to 124. They have called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his homeland and freedom for Tibetans.

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No Tibet Talk says Chinese Confucius funds
25 Dec 2013

When a Beijing organization with close ties to China’s government offered Stanford University $4 million to host a Confucius Institute on Chinese language and culture and endow a professorship, it attached one caveat: The professor couldn’t discuss delicate issues like Tibet.

“They said they didn’t want to be embarrassed,” said Richard Saller, dean of Stanford’s school of humanities and sciences. Stanford refused, citing academic freedom, and Chinese officials backed down, Saller said. The university plans to use the money for a professorship in classical Chinese poetry, far removed from the Tibet dispute.

China is expanding its presence on U.S. campuses, seeking to promote its culture and history and meet a growing global demand to learn its language. Hanban, a government-affiliated group under the Chinese education ministry, has spent at least $500 million since 2004 establishing 350 Confucius Institutes worldwide and about 75 in the U.S., four times the number in any other country, according to its annual reports and website.

Once confined to teaching Mandarin and traditional arts such as calligraphy at state university campuses, China-funded Confucius Institutes are making inroads into elite higher education by contributing millions of dollars for research, sparking faculty concerns about muting criticism of China’s government. The Association for Asian Studies, a leading group of China scholars with 8,000 members worldwide, decided in March it wouldn’t seek or accept Hanban support, due to the lack of a firewall separating China’s government from funding decisions.

No Tibet Talk

“By peddling a product we want, namely Chinese language study, the Confucius Institutes bring the Chinese government into the American academy in powerful ways,” said Jonathan Lipman, a professor of Chinese history at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. He also sits on the China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies.

“The general pattern is very clear,” Lipman said. “They can say, ‘We’ll give you this money, you’ll have a Chinese program, and nobody will talk about Tibet.’ In this economy, turning them down has real costs.”

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Tibet : Tibetan detained for speaking out against Beijing-backed religious figure
Dossier Tibet
21 Dec 2013

Chinese police have detained a Tibetan for speaking out against a Beijing-backed religious figure.  Tsokye, a resident of Akchen village in Nagchu, was taken into custody on Dec.13.  Local Tibetans believe he was detained for speaking out strongly against the enthronement of the Chinese-backed reincarnation of Shak Rongpo Choje, the senior-most lama, or religious teacher, of the local Rongpo monastery.  Chinese paramilitary police have now surrounded Tsokye’s village, he added.

The selection of Tibetan reincarnate lamas is officially subject to approval by the Chinese government, with the ruling Chinese Communist Party seeking to cultivate high-ranking monks as politically reliable figures who will not call for Tibetan independence from Beijing's rule.

In 2010, Lama Dawa, a leading Rongpo monk, was handed a seven-year jail term by a Chinese court on charges he had contacted exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama regarding the search for the previous Rongpo Choje’s reincarnation.

Local Tibetans and the monks appealed to county authorities for his release, but the authorities refused to listen and shut down the monastery.

The move led to clashes between local Tibetans and government work teams sent to monitor the monastery’s affairs, leaving several Tibetans detained.

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How the ‘Soul of Tibet’ Was Turned Into a Pigsty
Epoch Times
Lin Hui
21 Dec 2013

Generally speaking, people have an understanding of the brutality of China’s Cultural Revolution, but, for some reason, people know very little about the Cultural Revolution in Tibet.

I recently read the precious book, Forbidden Memory: Tibet During the Cultural Revolution, written by Tibetan writer Woeser and her father Tsering Dorje. It depicted Tibet during the Cultural Revolution through words and photos.

What shocked me the most was the destruction of Tibetan culture, which was as heartbreaking and tragic as the complete destruction of traditional Chinese culture.

For example, a large number of Tibetan lamas were forced to resume secular life, and many precious scriptures were burned. By 1976, only eight of the original 2,700 monasteries were left.

What Jokhang Temple, known as the “soul of Tibet,” suffered during the Cultural Revolution is undoubtedly the epitome of those 2,700 monasteries.

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is located in the center of the old city of Lhasa and is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Tibet. It was first constructed in the year 647 during China’s Tang Dynasty and Tibet’s Tubo Dynasty, by King Songsten Gampo to commemorate Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal’s coming to Tibet.

Through additions and repairs, the Jokhang Temple complex expanded to occupy 270,000 square feet. Its architectural style blends Tubo Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Nepalese, and Indian styles and has become the model for Tibetan religious architecture through the ages.

Jokhang Temple housed many Buddha statues, relics, and ritual instruments. It also had amazing mural paintings dating from the Tubo period to the more recent Gesang Phodrang time period. As a religious shrine, Jokhang Temple is respected by a variety of sects, and its customary Monlam Prayer Festival is very famous.

During the festival, tens of thousands of monks from the three main monasteries of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden in Lhasa and other temples will gather in Jokhang Temple. They hold activities such as practicing Dharma, having sutra-debates, exorcism, and welcoming the Jampa Buddha of the future.

The Dalai Lama (the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism) and Ganden Tripa (the title for the spiritual leader of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism) of past dynasties have all taught the Dharma there.

The importance of Jokhang Temple is not limited to religion. It was also one of the locations for the Tibetan Kashag (Tibet’s governing council since China’s Qing Dynasty, 1644-1911).

Since Jokhang Monastery held important spiritual and secular roles, it became a major target for “destroying the four olds” during the Cultural Revolution.

In August of 1968, the Red Guards in Lhasa took red-tasseled spears with them to start robbing Jokhang Monastery. According to the story told in Forbidden Memory, Jokhang Monastery experienced unprecedented destruction.

A large amount of vestments, books, Buddha statues, and prayer wheels were smashed, destroyed, and burned.

A dunce cap with insulting words written on it was placed atop Shakyamuni’s statue. The precious clothes on the statue were taken, the gold painted on his body and face was scraped off, an incomparable jewel set between his eyebrow and a pair of old gold earrings were taken.

The army stationed in Jokhang Monastery used the upper level as a dormitory and the lower level as a pigpen. The soldiers shipped out the remaining Buddhist instruments and Buddha statues, which later were destroyed. It is said that only Buddha Shakyamuni’s statues were not smashed.

A monk who once sent pig food said, “They set up a bathroom at one corner of Jokhang Monastery and we can see they pee on the ground. The other side of Jokhang Monastery was set up as a livestock slaughter house.”

One more reincarnation, one more long sigh, while the evil party hasn’t been brought to justice yet.

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Australian government approves China's $4.4 bln
power sector purchase

20 Dec 2013

 The Australian government has approved the purchase of stakes worth as much as A$5 billion ($4.4 billion)in the country's power companies by State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), the world's largest state utility.

Treasurer Joe Hockey on Friday gave the greenlight to State Grid's purchases of 19 percent of electricity supplier SP Ausnet , and 60 percent of energy infrastructure company SPI (Australia) Assets Pty Ltd (SPIAA).

The approval comes just weeks after the Treasurer blocked the A$2.8 billion takeover of GrainCorp by U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), citing national interest.

State Grid has been building its presence in the Australian energy sector, buying a 41 percent stake in unlisted South Australian electricity supplier ElectraNet from the Queensland state government's Powerlink last year.

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Diru Crackdown: Senior Tibetan Buddhist scholar beaten to death in police custody
19 Dec 2013

China’s relentless crackdown in Diru (Ch: Biru) County in the name of Xi Jinping’s ‘mass line’ policy has claimed another Tibetan life, even as sources from Tibet continue to report on increasing number of arbitrary arrests and secret detention.

According to information received by TCHRD, a senior Tibetan Buddhist scholar known for his keen intelligence and mediation skills died while being detained in police custody. Ngawang Jampel aka Ngawang Jamyang, 45, was among the three monks from Tarmoe Monastery who were detained on 23 November 2013 while on a vacation in Lhasa. The second monk has now been identified as Kelsang Choklang (see photo) while the identity of the third monk remains unknown as he continues to be secretly detained. Kelsang Choklang’s whereabouts remain unknown.

A source with contacts in Diru told TCHRD that on 17 December 2013, less than a month after his secret detention, Buddhist scholar and master Ngawang Jampel died following which the police lost no time in handing over the body to Ngawang Jampel’s family. “It was clear that Ngawang Jampel was beaten to death while in secret detention. He was a healthy, robust man when he left his monastery to visit Lhasa,” said the source.

Ngawang Jampel has become the latest addition to the long and growing list of well-informed and educated Tibetans who are being targeted by Chinese authorities. Other sources in Diru told TCHRD that since 2008, Chinese authorities have systematically targeted educated Tibetans, thus silencing the most articulate voices representing the suffering and aspirations of the Tibetan people. For instance, Topden, the nomad and writer from Diru who was sentenced to five years in prison for writing a poem had written about the arrests of educated Tibetans: “By arresting all educated Tibetans/Freedom of mind, body and speech is denied.”

The source also told TCHRD that the police have threatened the deceased’s family not to speak about Ngawang Jampel’s death to others. “They [police] have issued threats that the family would meet the same fate if the news about the custodial death get out of Tibet.”

Ngawang Jampel, Kelsang Choklang and an unidentified monk from Tarmoe Monastery from Diru disappeared in late November 2013 following their arrest in Lhasa where they were spending their holidays.

At the moment, Tarmoe monastery and nearby villages have been surrounded by Chinese security forces. The monastery is closed indefinitely. Local Tibetans fear that after Ngawang Jampel’s death, it would be difficult for Tarmoe Moanstery to function as efficiently as before. “He [Ngawang Jampel] was the most efficient administrator, teacher and a very conscientious person. Tarmoe would never be the same again without him,” the source told TCHRD quoting local Tibetans.

The Chinese security forces have also surrounded Rabten and Drong Na monasteries in Diru, and have detained eight monks belonging to Rabten Monastery, who had earlier studied in Pelyul, Sershul, and Serthar Buddhist institutes in Kham province (Sichuan).

In fact since last month, the provincial and county authorities have increased the number of local cadres [who have been decreed to work with the masses], thus stepping up government propaganda and repression in the area.

The source further said that the Chinese authorities, as a result, assert that Tibetans in Diru must be subjected to ‘re-education campaigns’ day in and day out. Towards this end, the authorities have organized meetings and issued orders to the monks belonging to various monasteries in Diru to return to their homelands from their study centers outside of Diru, in provinces like Qinghai and Sichuan.

Further, the monks who once studied in India and in the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan are subjected to intense ‘re-education’ sessions.

The monks of the Tarmoe monastery have returned to their homes for a one-month winter holiday. The Chinese cadres therefore had to interrogate the few remaining monastic staffs at the monastery such as the caretaker and watchmen regarding the whereabouts of the monks.

The cadres also issued the following orders to the monastic staffs:

  • To recall the monks back to the monastery
  • To expel monks who are less than 17 years old from the monastery
  • To handover the keys of the rooms of the monks

When the few remaining monks at the monastery refused to handover the keys saying they didn’t possess them, the security forces surrounded the monastery and barged into the rooms by breaking up the locks. The security forces then confiscated laptops/computers and other items from the rooms of the monks.

The security forces also surrounded the villages and families of the monks; some of the security forces wearing dark uniforms barged into the houses [of monks’ family homes], confiscating items such as mobile phones, satellite dishes, small boxes, photographs, old knives and other miscellaneous items.

When the local cadres ordered the monastic staffs to open the doors of the monks’ rooms, they responded by stating that they would open them up only when the security forces release the monks and local Tibetans who were earlier detained for no particular reason.

In the last three months, a few hundred Tibetans from Diru have been arrested and sentenced to prison. Many of them have disappeared.

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Tibetan monk dies of self immolation in Sangchu
19 Dec 2013

Tsuiltrim Gyatso, aged 43, is confirmed dead, and his body is at Amchok monastery where around 400 monks are conducting prayers as part of the post death rituals for the deceased, a Tibetan source told phayul.

According to the Tibet Times, Tsuiltrim had left behind a handwritten note in Tibetan calling for unity amongst Tibetans, return of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and the release of the jailed Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima.

Golden drops of tears

How sad! Dear brothers, did you hear? Did you see?
To whom can I tell the suffering of six million of Tibetans?
This is a very hard prison of black Chinese, they took our treasures of gold and silver, they made Tibetan people suffering. When we think on it, drops of tears are flowing down. There is no choice but to burn even our precious lifes for it.
May His Holiness Dalai Lama come back to his homeland and Panchen Rinpoche be freed from prison.
May six million Tibetan people be free of suffering and enjoy the happiness.
Therefor, I make this burning offering of my body.
May all sentient beings be freed of three poisons and reach the enlightenment of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This is my aspiration and dedication.
I pray for blessings of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. May they take care of us.
May all Snow Mountain's brothers be united forever and help each other.

The testament of Tsultrim Gyatso, monk from Amchok Gonchen monastery, self-immolated on December 19, 2013


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Monk sets himself on fire in Tibet to protest Chinese rule,
The Tibet Post
19 Dec 2013

Emerging reports coming out of Tibet say a Tibetan Buddhist monk has set himself on fire in an apparent protest against Chinese repressive policies in Tibet on December 19, has passed away.

"The latest report coming out of the north-eastern region of Tibet confirm that Tsultrim Gyatso, aged around 41 set himself in Amchok township, Tsoe County, (Chinese: Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures, southwest of Gansu Province) Amdho region of eastern Tibet, on Thursday evening, (2.45pm local time), 19 December, 2013.

"He died in his fiery protest. Local Tibetans took his body inside his room in the monastery soon after the incident. Local Tibetans, including over 400 monks were gathered at the monastery to offer traditional prayer services," report to TPI news said, citing sources in the region.

In a note he wrote the words: 'Where do I express the "Sufferings" of the six million Tibetans?'
'Can you see? Can you hear me? China took away our every treasures,'when I think these "Sorrows," my tears fall.'
In the note, he also called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and  for the release of 11th Panchen Lama. "For the end of sufferings of the six million Tibetan people, I set my body on fire as an offering of light.

The burning protest by Tseten brought to 124, the verified number of self-immolations since the wave of burnings began in 2009 in protest against Chinese repressive rule and of them 106 were reportedly passed-away from their severe burn injuries.

The Tibetan self-immolators called for freedom for Tibetan people and the return of the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. The Central Tibetan Administration based in India has consistently appealed to and discouraged Tibetans from drastic action, including self-immolation, as a form of protest. The blame as well as the solution for the self-immolations lies with the Chinese government.

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China wary of Abbott's 'harder' foreign policy
Financial Review
19 Dec 2013

The Chinese government is concerned about a shift in Australia’s foreign ­policy since the election of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and has warned the hardening of attitudes towards Beijing could threaten the recently signed ­strategic partnership.

Foreign policy experts, security sources, economists and military ­figures have all noted the cooling of relations since the Coalition came to power in September.

They cite the upgrading of relations with Taiwan, moving closer to Japan, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s intervention in a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

“I think there is an obvious shift in foreign policy under the new government, compared to the previous Labor government,” Wang Zhenyu, a research fellow at a think tank linked to China’s Foreign Ministry, toldThe Australian Financial Review.

“There is some concern from the Chinese side. Chinese followers of the bilateral relationship are a little bit worried about the current situation.”

Mr Wang said if relations did not improve, the Strategic Partnership, which was signed in April by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and locked in during annual leader meetings, could be rendered “meaningless”.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, accounting for a record $9.1 billion in exports during October, double that with the US and Japan.

This reliance on the world’s second-biggest economy comes at a time of heightened strategic conflict in east Asia between China and Australia’s long-term security partners, Japan and the US. A perception that Canberra is siding with Tokyo and Washington could force the Coalition to miss its self-imposed deadline of September next year for signing a free trade agreement with Beijing.

Hugh White, a professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National ­University, said Beijing was already cautious about Mr Abbott before the election and had him on the “watch list”. But their concern was elevated by Mr Abbott’s reference to Japan as an “ally”, which is not technically true, and Australia’s “best friend in Asia”.

“Abbott and Bishop came to office with a strong disposition to support the US and strengthen the relationship with Japan. There was a conviction they could do both of these things without any cost to the relationship with China,” Mr White said.

“This showed a curious and ­deep-seated naivety about the strategic realities in Asia in 2013. North-east Asia is more strategically contested than at any time since the end of World War II.”

Mr White said the Abbott government miscalculated its response to China’s creation of the Air Defence Zone. “Australia chose not just to say something but to stick its head way above the parapet on this issue.

“The Korean statement was more moderate than ours,” he said.

“Calling in the ambassador on a ­diplomatic scale [in terms of a reaction] is a seven out of ten. I think the Chinese were genuinely surprised.”

The Chinese government would have also noted the Coalition’s pledge ahead of the election to restore annual ministerial-level visits to Taiwan and “have a strong relationship with China while managing differences over sensitive issues like ministerial contact with the Dalai Lama.”

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China arrests two monks in Golok, expels schoolteacher
18 Dec 2013

Chinese police in Pema County in Golok have arrested two monks of Jonang Akong monastery, reported the Voice of Tibet radio. The Chinese police entered the monastery on the night of Dec. 9 and arrested Dhelo Kyab and Choepa Kyab, both monks of Akong monastery.

There is no further information about the two due to strict monitoring of all communication facilities in the county, a Tibetan source said. Earlier last month, seven Tibetans including three monks of Jonang Akong monastery were arrested for their alleged links to the recent self immolation protest by a Tibetan youth named Tsering Gyal on November 11.

In another incident, the Chinese authorities have raided the home of Khenpo Yeshi Nyingpo, the abbot of Chokri monastery in the County on Dec 1. The same source said Chinese police suspect Khenpo to be in possession of "banned pictures" in his WeChat App. Police took pictures of his home but could not arrest him as he was not home on the day of the raid, the source added.

Meanwhile, a female Tibetan teacher named Yangtso has been sacked from her job by the authorities who reportedly found pictures of self immolator Tsering Gyal and texts requesting post death prayer offerings for Gyal in her WeChat App. Yangtso is currently undergoing treatment in a hospital for injuries she sustained after being beaten up by the police.

Tsering Gyal, 20, died after a self immolation protest against Chinese government in Pema County in Golog on Nov. 11. Engulfed in flames, Gyal collapsed after walking a few meters towards the County headquarters from a giant lotus made up of concrete at the centre of the town. Chinese police on street patrol arrived at the scene and doused the fire. Tsering was rushed to the county hospital but he succumbed to his burns on the way to a bigger hospital in Xiling.

Following the self immolation protest by Gyal, a large number of armed forces have been deployed in the Akong monastery campus and nearby areas.

Since 2009, 123 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies.

The Chinese government vows to respond to the self-immolations with even harsher policies, criminalizing the fiery protests and sentencing scores of people to heavy prison terms on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in self-immolation protests.

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Tibetan Teen Detained Over Freedom Posters in Driru
Radio Free Asia
18 Dec 2013

Chinese police have detained a young Tibetan who put up posters calling for freedom as authorities further tighten controls in a county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) that has been resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, sources said.

Sonam Tobgyal, 16, a resident of Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the TAR’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, was taken into custody on Nov. 26, a day after he posted notices declaring that Tibetans have no freedom under Beijing’s rule, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

“He put his name on each poster and pasted them around a cultural center built by the Chinese authorities in Driru’s Chaktse township,” Driru Samdrub said, citing sources in the area.
“He did this on Nov. 25 while government workers and security personnel were asleep inside the building, and the authorities detained him the next day and took him away,” he said.
No information concerning his present whereabouts or condition has been made available, Samdrub added.

'Politically unstable'

Chinese security forces in recent weeks have been raiding monks’ quarters and family homes in “politically unstable” Driru county, seizing computers and mobile phones and conducting daily political re-education classes for area residents, according to sources in the region and in exile.

About 1,000 Tibetans have been detained since authorities launched a crackdown in Driru in September when Beijing began a campaign to force Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources say.

The campaign intensified in early October when villagers refused to fly the flags, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.

“The Chinese government has identified Driru as a county without political stability,” one source told RFA in an e-mail forwarded from Tibet.

“It believes that if Driru is not brought under control, this could have a disruptive impact in other areas,” RFA’s source said.

Area monks who have studied at Buddhist institutions in neighboring Chinese provinces are being recalled for indoctrination, while monks who have visited India and Nepal are being targeted for “intense re-education sessions,” he said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 124 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

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China Detains Two Senior Tibetan Monks
Radio Free Asia
17 Dec 2013

Chinese police have detained two popular Tibetan religious leaders on suspicion of promoting Tibetan national and cultural identity, triggering widespread concern in the Tibetan community, according to sources.
Kartse and Gyurme Tsultrim, who were separately detained on Dec. 6 and Nov. 29 respectively, are both well-respected figures in Nangchen (in Chinese, Nangqian) county in Qinghai province’s Yulshul (Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the sources said.

“Monks and local Tibetans are worried and tense because they have no information about them,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity

“Both Khenpos are well respected and popular in the Nangchen area,” the source said, using a religious title denoting a senior religious teacher or abbot in Tibet’s monastic system.

The reasons for Kartse’s detention were not immediately clear, the source said.
“[But] he is alleged to have had some connection to incidents at Karma monastery in Chamdo [Changdu],” a protest-hit prefecture in the neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
“When the monks and local Tibetans learned he had been detained, about 400 Tibetans—both monks and laypersons from about 30 villages in the Nangchen area—signed a petition saying they would protest at the county center if he was not released,” the source said. “Later, Kartse called his monastery in Nangchen to say he was being held by a group of Chamdo prefecture police.”

Secretly detained
The second detained monk, Gyurme Tsultrim, was taken away “in secret” from Takna monastery in Nangchen on Nov. 29, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA, citing sources in the region.
“Local Tibetans suspect he was detained because of a speech he gave during a prayer festival in Nangchen in which he urged the promotion of Tibetan Buddhism, the Tibetan language, and moral ethics,” RFA’s source said.

Area monks and villagers went to the Yulshul county center to appeal for his release, and though both men were at first believed to have been quickly released in response to popular pressure, RFA sources say they are still in police custody. “Both Khenpos are still being held,” a local Tibetan told RFA on Monday.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the area in 2008.

A total of 124 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom since February 2009, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

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China rejects UN recommendations on human rights in Tibet
17 Dec 2013

China has rejected concerns raised by UN member states on its human rights record saying, “Some countries in their comments equated security actions to protect civilians as ethnic cleaning, and called certain criminals in China as human rights defenders. Normal judicial procedures were called political persecution. This is a typical case of politicizing human right. The best persons to know human rights in China are Chinese.”

China further claimed that Beijing has made many improvements in promoting and protecting the rights of its citizens.

Several United Nations member states have expressed need for China to improve the human rights situation in Tibet during the Universal Periodic Review of China's human rights record in Geneva.

Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Iceland questioned China on human rights situation inside Tibet. These nations also highlighted issues such as lack of religious freedom, minority rights, access for UN officials to Tibet, and called on China to resume dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama.

New Zealand urged China to resume dialogue with Tibet to address the interests of all communities in Tibet while Iceland recommended facilitating access for Special Rapporteurs to various human rights issues in Tibetan areas.

Poland noted the joint communications of eight Special Procedures with regards to alleged systematic attempts to undermine the rights to freedom of religion, culture and expression of the Tibetan Buddhist community. It further recommended that China take necessary measures to ensure that the right to religion, culture and expression are fully observed and protected in every administrative entity of China.

In 2009 report of China’s UPR, China accepted some recommendations on the promotion of human rights in general but played down recommendations including measures to provide freedom of information and expression; ensure the independence of the judiciary and lawyers; safeguard detainees’ access to counsel; protect lawyers from attacks and harassment; and grant freedom of religion and movement to ethnic minorities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs.

Since 2009, 122 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

A well-known Chinese dissident and democracy activist Yang Jianli said, “Today I was struck by China’s ability to tell such blatant lies with a straight face. This is another example of why China does not deserve to be re-elected to the Human Rights Council. China’s re-election defies logic reason and common sense. We need look no further than the Tibetans, who have received unspeakable suffering at the hands of this regime.”

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EU report condemns human rights abuses in Tibet
16 Dec 2013

 A new report adopted by the European Parliament raises strong concern about the human rights situation in Tibet, detailing the high number of self-immolations, displacement of Tibetan nomads, religious repression, and the threats to the survival of the Tibetan language.

Although not binding, the European Parliament report sends a strong political signal to other EU institutions on what priorities they should adopt in their work on human rights issues.

The report reiterated the importance of mainstreaming human rights and democracy in all EU's activities, and called upon the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security as well as the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to pursue the EU's commitment of placing human rights at the center of all EU's relations with third countries, including its strategic partners. It also stressed the crucial role played by civil society in the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights, calling on the EU to ensure a stronger cooperation with both civil society and human rights defenders.

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) shares the EP's concerns regarding the lack of concrete progress in several of the EU's human rights dialogues, specifically pointing at the failure of the EU-China dialogue on human rights to achieve significant and tangible results. In this context, the EP urged the EU to pursue a more determined, ambitious and transparent human rights policy. These dialogues should be accompanied by clear public benchmarks for measuring their success objectively and when they are not constructive, the EU should draw clear political conclusions.

This year's report saw the addition of a new section on Business and Human Rights, highlighting that European companies should respect human rights standards in all their business and trade activities, including when operating outside the EU in developing countries and when cooperating with authoritarian regimes.

This topic is becoming ever more important for ICT's work in light of the launch of the negotiations for a bilateral EU-China Investment Agreement and with China's plans for massive mining of mineral resources in Tibet, which will have devastating environmental and social consequences.

ICT joins the EP in its calls on the EU to challenge the Chinese government on its human rights performance in both China and Tibet, and to promptly implement the EP's recommendations in all its relations with China.

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Chinese Embassy "intimidated" by Human Rights Day vigil
The Tibet Post

16 Dec 2013

Chinese officials in London said they felt "intimidated" by activists holding a candlelight vigil outside the Chinese Embassy to mark Human Rights Day on 10 December. The Embassy refused to accept a giant postcard calling on the Chinese government to make immediate reforms to improve human rights for all of its citizens.

The vigil was held to remember all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience who sacrificed their freedom and lives to promote and protect the human rights of those living under the Chinese Communist Party's regime in East Turkestan, Tibet and across China. The vigil was organized by Chinese Uyghur & Tibetan Solidarity UK, a coalition of organizations and activists of which Tibet Society is a founding member.

At the start of the vigil, organizers were informed by police that they would not be allowed onto Embassy property to deliver a giant postcard addressed to the Chinese Ambassador. The police said they had been informed that Chinese officials felt "intimidated" by the presence of human rights activists and supporters, and had been instructed not to let anyone approach the front entrance.

Paul Golding, Campaigns Coordinator of Tibet Society, told those gathered for the vigil, "The admission that we intimidate the Chinese Embassy officials, shows not only have they noted our presence, but are embarrassed by the vigil and fear the truth - the truth of the Chinese government's appalling human rights record and oppressive policies in Tibet and East Turkestan."

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Tibetans displaced within region 'amid rampant mining'
By Navin Singh Khadka Environment reporter, BBC News
13 Dec 2013

A record number of Tibetans have been displaced in their own homeland amid rampant mining and river damming in vacated areas, according to reports.

Tibetan leaders and researchers claim that this displacement has been going on over the last few years under China's nature conservation policy.

The allegation comes at a time when the figure for Tibetans reaching other countries as refugees has been falling.

Chinese authorities did not respond to requests for comment by the BBC.

However, China's government has previously issued strong denials that forced evictions are used in the relocation of Tibetan pastoralists.

Tibetan officials in Dharamashala, India, which hosts the office of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, say that between 1.5 and two million Tibetan pastoralists have been forcibly displaced from their pastoral lands, while mines for gold and copper ore extraction have been mushrooming.

They say most of the displaced people are not happy and of the more than 130 self-immolations by Tibetans since 2008, about 20 were by members of the nomadic community who were forced to leave their pastoral lands.

"Tibetans who have come from [the region] as refugees have told us that they have seen for themselves how their pasture land is illegally grabbed and then mined for mineral resources," said Tenzin Norbu, who heads the environmental desk at the Central Tibetan Administration office in Dharamashala.

"They told us that Chinese authorities warned [via loudspeaker from a vehicle] that anyone who protested against mining would be seen as protesting against the state because China needs natural resources to develop.

"These people who managed to flee Tibet also said that Chinese officials went to each house and made them sign papers that they would not protest if there were mining activities."

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ADJOURNMENT Speech - Human Rights Day
Australian Tibet Council
10 Dec 2013

Senator Lisa Singh (Tasmania): It was in 1950 that the UN General Assembly declared 10 December as Human Rights Day. This day—today—was established to bring into focus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the standard we should work towards achieving for all people of the world. Today we acknowledge and celebrate the people who work tirelessly to achieve a global standard in human rights. In Australia, these include organisations such as Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. Many others are included, but in particular I congratulate all the recipients of the 2013 Human Rights Awards.

Our focus on this day remains as relevant to our current world as it was in 1950, as human rights atrocities continue to plague our modern society. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, state security forces, rebels and foreign armed groups have committed numerous and widespread violations against citizens. War crimes including executions, rapes and child recruitment continue throughout the region. National elections that symbolise a new beginning instead become the focus of acts of violence, with an unknown number of opposition party supporters killed or imprisoned. The simple act of voting becomes a life-or-death situation for many civilians.

I wish these were isolated incidents, but we continue to see armed conflict and human rights violations in Darfur, Burma, Tibet, against the Uyghur people and in many more parts of our globe. In Darfur, the Sudanese government continues to flout international humanitarian law by targeting villages indiscriminately with no regard for hospitals or schools or civilians. Today I want to recognise the impact of human rights particularly on women in these regions. Women are targets of sexual assaults and are often shamed by their communities. The voice of women is vital for a groundswell of positive action, and we need to help support these women in areas of crisis as they work towards creating better communities and prospects for themselves and for their children.

Human Rights Day is an important reminder for the parliament to reflect upon the need for further reform of how Australia can protect our own human rights. Today is also about highlighting the importance of international days to embrace all nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and religions.

My commitment and support for human rights from work and activities before becoming a senator and my time in this place have continued my resolve to stand up for a just and humane world free of discrimination and for equality. One example of that comes from my involvement with the Australia Tibet Council. I had the privilege last year of travelling to Dharamshala in India, which is the exiled capital of Tibet. This experience gave me an undeniable insight into the desperate plight of Tibetans and to understand more fully the human rights abuses taking place in our global community. I had the pleasure this evening of joining some of the Tibetan community here in Australia in Parliament House to recognise the struggles that continue for their families and friends living in Tibet.

It was on 22 October 2013 that the UN Human Rights Council reviewed China's human rights record as part of their universal periodic review. This was the second review for China and it allowed for a review of the recommendations and pledges made by China during the 2009 session as well as encompassing a review of the overall human rights record of China. Sadly, from all reports the overall human rights situation in China, particularly in Tibet and also against the Uygur people, has continued to deteriorate over the last four years. I take this opportunity to highlight the important region of Xinjiang in China where the native Uygurs continue to fight religious intolerance and discrimination. Labelled as terrorists, their plight has become increasingly difficult.

Repressive policies and the continuous suppression of fundamental human rights are causing immense suffering. Tibetans have peacefully struggled and held hope of obtaining freedom—freedom of religion, freedom to celebrate their culture and language, and freedom of expression. Since China's first UPR in February 2009, Tibet witnessed its very first self-immolation by a young 20-year-old monk by the name of Tapey. This act of desperation was Tibet's first in its 60-year continuous suppression of human rights. Tapey should never have lost his life. He should never have had to resort to such an act. In 2009 the loss of his life was already one too many, and since that time there have been many more.

I wish I could report that his life was the only one taken by self-immolation, but they have continued to increase since 2009 and a confounding 122 cases have been confirmed to date. This is no small number and it clearly shows the desperation and repression of those in Tibet. In what is another constraint to human rights, recent reports confirm friends and relatives of self-immolators are now being subject to sentencing by Chinese authorities for alleged association with the self-immolators.

Tibet's spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has travelled the globe seeking compassion and peaceful solutions for his country in exile. This year I once again had the privilege to meet His Holiness here in Australia. His struggle for liberation of Tibet has always strongly opposed the use of violence. His Holiness understands the power of universal responsibility for all things and through his leadership he has actively pursued peaceful solutions to human rights abuses.

Today is the 24th anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness. In 1989 the Norwegian Nobel Committee declared His Holiness worthy of this prestigious prize. I believe, and I am sure many will agree, that his leadership through non-violent action and spiritual guidance to the Tibetan people is most commendable and worthy of global recognition. During his acceptance speech the Dalai Lama spoke of cultivating a universal responsibility and said:

I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share.

These words are valuable and worth reflecting on, particularly today as we mark Human Rights Day and celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Today as we acknowledge Human Rights Day we should acknowledge the ongoing struggle of those living in Tibet. We should not only acknowledge but also commit to act on their behalf.

Australia recently had the honour of hosting Aung San Suu Kyi. Today I am reminded of her words, 'Please use your liberty to promote ours.' Her story is one which should inspire Australians. Despite being placed under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years, she has steadfastly continued her dedication to nonviolence in pursuing a democratic and free society for Myanmar.

In Australia, Human Rights Day is a day when we can reflect on the rights we enjoy in our country, the rights and freedoms we so often take for granted. It is also a day when we can make a commitment to be a voice for those who have been silenced and for those we are yet to represent.

Since eight this morning the Australian flag on Parliament House has flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to the late Nelson Mandela AC on this special day of Nelson Mandela's memorial service. At the moment of his passing I felt the world stopped as it recognised it had lost one of its greatest peacemakers, who through all his own adversity united so many. Yet, for the people of South Africa, it was the first time in 95 years they had awoken in their land without Mandela. And so I give my deepest condolences to his family and to the people of South Africa, who, like so many around the world, are in mourning.

Despite spending a quarter of his life imprisoned and the harsh treatment he endured there, Nelson Mandela remained unwavering in his commitment to bring reconciliation for the people of South Africa and to achieve racial unity through the end of black and white segregation, the policy known as apartheid. And, despite being imprisoned, he continued to influence so many in his efforts for racial unity.

Mandela was a true legend on showing the way on the power of forgiveness and what it can bring to so many and on how forgiveness can triumph over hate. When freed after 27 years, he focused not on anger towards the white people of South Africa but on unity, freedom and injustice. He said:

… as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.

It is that inspiration that has given so many people the energy and belief that they too can play their part in helping change the world. And, for that, his courage, his fearless pursuit of freedom, his decency and humanity, he belongs in the company of other great fighters for justice, equality, human dignity and the end of racial prejudice: Steve Biko, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. His profound words that united so many are what will always remain with us. They have left an indelible impression in our hearts and minds, like when Mandela said:

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

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Bishop must pressure the Chinese on Human Rights

The Age
6 Dec 2013

If Bishop stays silent, she would not only be selling out the many courageous Chinese activists pressing for change - many of whom are locked up in China's prisons - but she would also be harming Australia's long-term interests. China is Australia's biggest trading partner. How the Chinese leadership responds to widespread discontent that stems from endemic corruption, pollution, forced evictions, crackdowns on free speech, limits on labour rights, arbitrary detention and repression of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang will have important implications in Australia for decades.

Trade is built on the foundation of the rule of law, an independent judiciary to resolve commercial disputes and a free press and unfettered flow of information to inform trade partners.

Without these, the market seems rigged, raising risks and costs and ultimately damaging economic benefit.

In the worst cases, people in disputes with powerful people can end up in jail.

Indeed, a number of Australians engaged in business are currently detained in China, including Du Zuying in biotechnology, Matthew Ng in tourism and Charlotte Chou in education.

Without due process of law and independent courts, what protects Australian businessmen and women from ending up in a jail cell when local officials start hankering after their businesses?

Under the previous government, Australian diplomacy failed to acknowledge the scale and scope of human rights abuses in China, whether by playing down the issue in key documents such as the 2013 China Country Strategy or by holding closed-door bilateral ''human rights dialogues'' with China that lacked benchmarks and transparency.

Bishop has a chance to reverse this failing strategy. But she should not fall into the trap for those with little experience in dealing with China by accepting the advice that ''only quiet diplomacy works'', or that speaking out in public will make China's leaders ''lose face''.

China's leaders expect criticism from leaders of democracies; indeed, they have long ago priced it into the cost of relations. When governments play the game of not speaking out, the Chinese see them as weak and vulnerable - not just on rights but on trade and other matters.

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Writer among nine Tibetans sentenced to prison in Diru
3 Dec 2013

China’s ongoing crackdown in enforcing the government’s ‘mass line’ policy has resulted in the sentencing of nine Tibetans in Shagchu (Ch: Xiaqu) town in Diru (Ch: Biru) County, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). All three identified so far have been charged of maintaining contacts with “Dalai clique” and for “engaging in activities to split the nation.”

Among the nine sentenced to varying terms is Topden, a nomad and a writer who writes under the pseudonym Dro Ghang Gah. Topden, 30, was arrested on 28 October 2013 and sentenced to five years in prison on 30 November 2013, according to information received by TCHRD. He hails from Village No. 4 in Shagchu town and has a wife, Dakar, and three young children.

Sources say Topden was imprisoned for “keeping contacts with Dalai clique and for engaging in activities to split the nation”. Some who have contacts in Diru contend that he might have been punished for writing a poem detailing the atrocities faced by local Tibetans in Diru County since early this year. TCHRD has received a copy of this poem, a translation of which is provided at the end of this report. The poem encompasses events during the early years of Chinese rule in Tibet particularly Nagchu area during 1969 when thousands of Tibetans were starved, imprisoned and killed.  It also contains details on some of the recent crackdowns in Diru County including the beating and continued incommunicado detention of lay man Dayang, 69, in Dongla Rudo Village in Tsachu Township. The writer also mentions the sacred Naglha Dzamba Mountain where hundreds of Tibetans protesting mining activities at the holy mountain have clashed with armed police in recent years.

Two other Tibetans, lay man Tenzin Rangdol and monk Kunchok Choephel, were among the nine sentenced in Shagchu town. TCHRD has earlier reported on the arrest of Tenzin Rangdol, 32, a self-employed father of three. Rangdol’s arbitrary arrest had led to an overnight protest the next day on 19 October 2013 by Tibetans outside the government office. He was arrested on 18 October 2013 and sentenced on 30 November 2013 to five years in prison for the same charges as Topden. Rangdol hails from Village No. 4.

Kunchok Choephel, 28,  was arrested on 18 November 2013 and sentenced on 30 November 2013 to six years in prison on same charges as Topden and Rangdol. Monk Kunchok Choephel hails from Nga-yang Village in Shagchu town.

Sources also reported to TCHRD that Lobsang Tashi, a monk from Rabten Monastery was arrested while he was doing his daily meditation. The arrest occurred at around 4 pm (local time) on 23 September 2013 when local Public Security Bureau officers also seized the monk’s personal cellphone and “other electrical gadgets”, according to sources.  Lobsang hails from Village no. 8 in Dathang Township and has since disappeared. There are no additional details on Lobsang Tashi. TCHRD had earlier reported the violent suppression of local protest in Dathang Township by People’s Armed Police force.

The identities of six others sentenced are not known immediately due to extreme government censorship and surveillance in Diru and neighbouring counties in Nagchu Prefecture.

Click here to read full article including a poem written by Topden

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Tibetan immolations: Desperation as world looks away
BBC News
2 Dec 2013
BBC's Damian Grammaticas has gained rare access to the region:

"We are high in the jagged mountains that rise towards the Tibetan plateau. Harsh and beautiful, this region outside Tibet itself is home to six million Tibetans.
A monk is sweeping snow from the steps that lead to a small stupa. Tibetans, wrapped in blankets to keep out the cold, circle inside it, spinning prayer wheels.
Further up the hillside, a morning mist hangs over the golden roofs of the monastery behind. Scattered through these Alpine valleys, the monasteries preserve Tibet's way of life.
Monks in claret robes emerge from their morning devotions, while women adorned with beads circle the monastery, then prostrate themselves on the ground.
Since Chinese troops asserted control over Tibet more than half a century ago, and the Dalai Lama fled into exile, the number of monasteries has fallen precipitously.

And for months now, journalists have been kept out of Tibetan areas as tensions have simmered in the region. We slipped in unnoticed. China does not want foreign interference here.
The monks we approached were nervous, China has been stepping up surveillance.
One young monk shook his head indicating he didn't want to talk; other monks waved us away or retreated into their quarters. They have good reason to be cautious.

China has been tightening its hold, not just on the monasteries, but all aspects of Tibetan life and culture.

 Amongst Tibetans there have been growing frustrations. And there's an impression that, since the financial crisis, the outside world, and the West in particular, are not so keen to tackle China on its human rights record.

What nations want is access to China's markets and its finances.

So Tibetans have been resorting to extreme protests, setting themselves on fire. More than 120 are thought to have done so in the past three years in protest at Chinese rule in their homeland.

Some are said to have called for the return of the Dalai Lama as they have carried out their immolations.

Acts of desperation they may be, but China says the immolators are incited, even paid by the Dalai Lama.

Fearing widespread unrest, it has clamped down even harder, arresting and even jailing Tibetans accused of aiding those who have self-immolated.

Prayer flags flutter outside the home of home of one man who took his own life. We tracked down his family, but have to keep their identity secret. His brother told us the father of two had not received money from the Dalai Lama. The mere suggestion, he said, was insulting.

He said the authorities had been many times to question him. They wanted to know why his brother had set fire to himself, but all he could tell them was his brother was a good man acting out of conscience. Tibetans, he added, are frustrated.

"I often feel as a Tibetan I am inferior," he explained. "I feel very bad about this.

"Tibetans who go to the cities to find work are seen as darker and dirtier than other people; we're often discriminated against. I do think I am treated differently."

He insisted there had been no reprisals against his family by the authorities. But the man's father and mother were clearly nervous about talking to foreign reporters.
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Rare glimpse of Tibetan grievances
BBC News
2 Dec 2013

David Cameron wants his visit to China to focus on improving links and promoting trade but some campaigners say the human rights situation in China's Tibetan areas is getting worse and more than 120 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the past 2 years in protest at the nature of Chinese rule.

They insist Mr Cameron should raise the issue with Chinese leaders.

Most journalists have been prevented from reporting from Tibetan areas in recent years but our China correspondent Damian Grammaticas has gained rare access for this report.
Watch video here:

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China detains seven people over self-immolation protest in Tibet
The Tibet Post International
2 Dec 2013

Dharamshala: - Chinese authorities have detained seven Tibetans in response to the latest self-immolation protest against Chinese repressive rule in Tibet.

Tsering Gyal, a 20-year-old Buddhist monk from Akyong monastery, set himself ablaze on Nov. 11 in Pema county in the Golok. He died the next day after calling for freedom for Tibetans and an end to Chinese rule, sources said. The seven detainees were accuced of involvement in Gyal's fatal protest.

Three of those detained were fellow monks from Akyong monastery. Several other monks from the monastery have also been questioned. Sources stated that "three laymen from Chokriyultso village- Tsewang, Bhumkyab and Janpo were also arrested. Their whereabouts, the charges against them, and their condition remain unknown."

Tsering Gyal's self-immolation has led to a security crackdown in Pema county. Groups of 15 Chinese armed paramilitary police are stationed at every turn of the road in the county.

"The police at one checkpoint then contact police at the next checkpoint to let them know the Tibetans are coming their way, in order to 'hand them over,'" the source said, adding that Internet service to the area has now been disconnected and local Tibetans are being restricted in their movements, with some searched at gunpoint.

Officials warn that if a self-immolation happens again, those involved will be severely punished.

In 2013 alone, 24 Tibetans set themselves on fire to protest against China to end its government's hardline policies against Tibet and the Tibetan people.

The burning protest by Tsering brought to 123, the verified number of self-immolations since the wave of burnings began in 2009 in protest against Chinese repressive rule and of them 104 were reportedly passed-away from their severe burn injuries.  The Tibetan self-immolators called for freedom for Tibetan people and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

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Confrontation with China cannot solve Tibet issue: HH Dalai Lama 
The Times of India
1 Dec 2013

Tibetans are not insisting on independence as any confrontation with China cannot solve the issue and autonomy for the region will be mutually beneficial for both sides, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Sunday.
"We are not seeking independence for mutual benefit. (If) we insist independence, this results in confrontation but confrontation cannot solve problems," he said at a special public address here.

Stressing that Tibet's autonomy would be mutually beneficial to Tibetans and the Chinese, the 78-year-old Dalai Lama said he was "not seeking a separation". He, however, said people of Tibet should have "full sovereignty about their culture, environment, and language."

"Previously, there have been talks with the Chinese leadership but with no concrete results. Tibetans who are culturally highly developed, are also one of the pure living traditions of Buddhism and sovereignty will be mutually beneficial," he said.

"Over two years, thousands of articles in China have expressed support for the Tibetan movement. Violence was past century's mistake, and costs both sides. Whether we like it or not, we have to live together," the Dalai Lama said.

The spiritual leader also said the Chinese have accused Tibetans of being separatists and called him a "demon".

Calling himself a "refugee", a "homeless" person and the longest guest of India, he expressed gratitude towards the Indian government and said he feels both psychologically and emotionally close to the country.

Emphasizing that violence has never been able to shape a better world, the Dalai Lama said that government of India, the US and the European Union have stood in full support of the "free Tibet movement".

The spiritual leader said events of violence like that in Israel-Palestine, the Shia-Sunni conflict or the conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in Burma have not created a better world, adding that "religious intolerance has made people hypocrites".

Addressing dignitaries and students from India and Bhutan, the Dalai Lama called India a living example of promoting a sense of compassion and responsibilities through secular means.

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Asian states angered by new Chinese passports
RT News

25 Nov 2013

India has joined a number of Asian states condemning China’s new microchip-equipped passports, which show China's claim on disputed territories. ­The map depicts India's Arunachal Pradesh state and the Himalayan region of Aksai Chin within Chinese borders. India says China holds control over 41,440 square kilometers (16,000 square miles) of its territory in Aksai Chin, in Kashmir. At the same time, Beijing insists that the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 1,050-kilometer (650-mile) border with the Chinese-run region of Tibet, is within Chinese territories.

The border dispute has been a long-lasting argument. The two Asian neighbors fought a brief border war in 1962, and in the 1990’s the two countries signed an agreement honoring what is known as the “Line of Actual Control.” However, large stretches of the India-China border are still not demarcated.

The map in the new passports also angered both the Philippines and Vietnam, as it depicted disputed islands in the South China Sea, which hugs the coastline of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and a small part of Indonesia.  The Philippines formally protested Beijing’s inclusion of its territories, with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario issuing a note to the Chinese embassy.  Chinese carrying the new passport would be violating Philippine national sovereignty, a Foreign Ministry spokesman also said.

Vietnam called the passports with disputable maps unacceptable, with that country's passport control office saying it will not stamp visa pages in the new passport.  Earlier, Vietnam’s government issued a formal complaint to the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, demanding that Beijing remove the “erroneous content” printed in the passport. The demand was met with objection in China.  "These actions by China have violated Vietnam's sovereignty to the Paracel and Spratly islands as well as our rights and jurisdiction to related maritime areas in the South China Sea, or East Sea," Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said.

Taiwan was also offended by the so-called "nine-dash" map, which features two of the island’s most famous tourist spots, Sun Moon Lake and Cingshui Cliff, as part of Chinese territory.  Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou called for China not to “unilaterally damage the status quo of the hard-fought stability across the Taiwan Strait.”  The local council responsible for ties with Beijing said the government cannot accept the map.
“This is total ignorance of reality and only provokes disputes,” Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said.

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  Over 1 million stand for Tibet worldwide as UN member states let China walk back onto Human Rights Council 
Joint press statement via stand up for Tibet
12 Nov 2013

Tibetans and supporters were outraged at today’s smooth re-election of China to the UN Human Rights Council, and demand that UN member states use this as an opportunity to hold China accountable for its catastrophic policies in Tibet. A petition launched by Avaaz, supported by over 1 million people, roundly demonstrates that the global community opposed China’s re-election unless its leaders agreed to stop their systematic abuse of the Tibetan people. [1] With no challengers, it was inevitable that China would regain a seat on the Human Rights Council and we applaud the 16 governments who stood up for Tibet and said “No” to China today. [2] However we deeply regret that 176 governments ignored the UN’s own guidance for voting states by voting for China. [3]

“China’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council is the opposite of what 1 million people worldwide wanted, and denies the realities on the ground in Tibet, where urgent change is needed” said Tenzin Jigme of the International Tibet Network [4]. “In the past 4 years, over 120 people have set themselves on fire in Tibet to protest the conditions there, yet China has been allowed to walk onto the Human Rights Council as if nothing needs to change. Only yesterday the critical importance of urgent action on Tibet was again underlined when yet another Tibetan self-immolated; a young monk named Tsering Gyal. [5]

“China will only be moved on Tibet when world governments clearly speak up in unison”, said Tenzin Dolkar of Students for a Free Tibet. “We will now take the voices of a million people to our capitals, and demand that they ensure China doesn’t turn the Human Rights Council into a puppet show for violators. Our governments must spare no effort in following through with the recommendations made on Tibet during China’s recent Universal Periodic Review.” [6]

In the run-up to today’s vote, Tibet advocates from around the world lobbied Foreign Ministries and New York-based diplomats, and delivered a massive petition from online advocacy organisation Avaaz, signed by over 1 million supporters, to 193 UN Missions. Earlier this morning the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York accepted the petition while Tibet activists held a visual demonstration of a Tibetan monk being savagely beaten by Chinese guards in front of the UN headquarters, as a reminder to delegates arriving for the election of the human rights atrocities taking place inside Tibet today. [7] Last month in Geneva, during China’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review, 13 UN member states expressed concern about Tibet, including China’s failure to fulfil a request by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to visit.

“1 million people know this isn’t right – UN General Assembly members should be ashamed of this outcome, which makes a mockery of the Human Rights Council.” said Iona Liddell of Tibet Justice Center. “In order to redress this injustice, UN member states must unite for Tibet and hold China to account for its human rights violations. From now on China must be made to demonstrate its commitment to human rights as a Council member at every opportunity. This should include immediately agreeing dates for an overdue visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and facilitating early visits by Special Procedures.”

Ben Margetts Avaaz Senior Campaigner, added “Tibetans are a peace-loving inspiration to the world. And the UN Human Rights Council should be, too. It is nuts to give China a prestigious Council seat while their soldiers are beating and shooting terrified Tibetans.”

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Apple Censors Dalai Lama IPhone Apps in China

Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service
Dec 30, 2009 11:40 am

Apple appears to have blocked iPhone applications related to the Dalai Lama in its China App Store, making it the latest U.S. technology company to censor its services in China.

Those apps, which appear in most countries' versions of the App Store, do not currently appear in the Chinese version. Another app related to Rebiya Kadeer, who like the Dalai Lama is an exiled minority leader reviled by China's authorities, is unavailable in the China App Store as well. The apparent censorship comes after carrier China Unicom launched iPhone sales two months ago, making regulatory approval of the phone's contents in the country necessary for the first time.

"We continue to comply with local laws," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said in an e-mail when asked about the missing apps. "Not all apps are available in every country"

At least five iPhone apps related to the Dalai Lama are unavailable in the China store. Some of those apps -- named Dalai Quotes, Dalai Lama Quotes and Dalai Lama Prayerwheel -- display inspirational quotes from the Tibetan spiritual leader. Another, Paging Dalai Lama, tells users where he is currently teaching. A fifth app, Nobel Laureates, contains information about Nobel Prize winners including the Dalai Lama.

Test searches done on four out of five iPhones displayed at the Apple Store in Beijing this month returned no results for the term "Dalai." The apps also did not appear for searches done with a computer on iTunes after switching the country selection in the program to China. One of the iPhones at the Apple Store did display the Dalai Lama apps, though it was unclear why.

Chinese officials condemn the Dalai Lama as a dangerous "splittist" seeking to separate Tibet from China, and have called him a "devil with a human face." The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an uprising in the capital city of Lhasa, solidifying Chinese control there. The religious figure remains widely revered by Tibetans.

Kadeer, an exiled leader of China's Uighur minority group, gets similar treatment by Chinese officials and state media. An iPhone app named 10 Conditions, based on a documentary about her life, also did not appear in test searches of the App Store in China.

Apple lets developers choose in which countries' versions of the App Store to sell their products, but it is unlikely that the Kadeer and Dalai Lama apps are unavailable in China by the choice of their makers. The app about Kadeer was submitted to the App Stores in all countries, James Boldiston, the app's developer, said in an e-mail. Other developers said they could not recall if they had excluded China, but most had other apps for sale in the China store, showing that in other cases they had included the country.

"Given that Apple has cooperated with China before (by not distributing games), it's of course very likely that it's Apple, not the developers, that are preventing certain apps from appearing," said one China-based app developer, who asked not to be named, in an e-mail. Games were not sold in the China App Store before recent months.

Boldiston and other developers of the missing items said Apple had not told them their apps were unavailable in China.

"I didn't know the app had been pulled, and wasn't informed," said James Sugrue, who designed the Dalai Quotes app. "Apple reserve[s] the right to do this sort of thing, and while from a censorship point of view I disagree with this, I can understand why they did," he said.

Apple joins other U.S. technology giants including Yahoo and Google that have come under fire for complying with Chinese government demands on sensitive political issues. Human rights advocates criticized Yahoo when Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, landed a 10-year prison sentence in 2005 partly because of e-mail evidence gained from his private Yahoo account. Yahoo said it was obeying Chinese law by handing the evidence to authorities.

Google has been criticized for offering a censored version of its search engine for China at, which blocks pornographic and some politically sensitive search results. Google has similarly said it must follow local laws and regulations.

Chinese authorities previously took aim at Apple last year during the Beijing Olympics, when the U.S. iTunes Music Store was blocked in China after it started selling a new collection of songs about Tibet. The U.S. iTunes Music Store and App Store are both currently accessible from Beijing.

The Chinese iPhone also appears to be subject to the country's set of Internet controls known by critics as the "Great Firewall." Searching the App Store for "Falun Gong," the name of a spiritual sect banned in China as a cult, caused iPhones in the Beijing Apple Store to display a results loading screen indefinitely, though no Falun Gong apps appear to be offered in any countries. In contrast, searches for other terms quickly returned a results page.

Other iPhone apps that might be seen as sensitive by Chinese authorities are still offered in the China App Store. Apps that, for instance, show YouTube videos or let users update their Twitter accounts remain available even though YouTube and Twitter are blocked on the Internet in China.

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Former Czech President Vaclav Havel on President Obama's Postponement of his Meeting with the Dalai Lama...

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, in an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine on December 9 2009
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A27

FP: After President Obama's decision to postpone his meeting with the Dalai Lama, you said something to the effect that these small gestures seem harmless, but over time can have a powerful, cumulative effect. For the hardhearted realists, can you explain that effect?

Havel: We know this from our modern history. When [French Prime Minister Edouard] Daladier returned from the [1938] Munich conference, the whole nation was applauding him for saving the peace. He made a miniscule compromise in the interest of peace. But it was the beginning of a chain of evil that subsequently brought about many millions of deaths. We can't just say, "This is just a small compromise that can be overlooked. First we will go to China and then perhaps talk with the Dalai Lama." . . .

FP: You make it sound so easy. But how, as president, do you decide when these small compromises are worth it and when they might lead to something more dangerous?

Havel: Politics . . . means, every day making some compromises, and to choose between one evil and another evil, and to decide which is bigger and which is smaller. But sometimes, some of these compromises could be very dangerous because it could be the beginning of the road of making a lot of other compromises, which are results of the first one, and there are very dangerous compromises. And it's necessary, I think, to have the feeling which compromise is possible to do and which, could be, maybe, after ten years, could be somehow very dangerous.

I will illustrate this with my own experience. Two days after I was elected president, I invited the Dalai Lama to visit. I was the first head of the state who invited him in this way, directly. And everybody was saying that it was a terribly dangerous act and issued their disapproving statements and expressions. But it was a ritual matter. Later, the Chinese deputy prime minister and the foreign minister came for a visit and brought me a pile of books about the Dalai Lama and some governmental documents about what good care they have taken of Tibet, and so on. They were propagandist, fabricated books, but he felt the need to explain something to me.

I had a press conference with this minister of foreign affairs. And he said, "It was wonderful, meeting, because we were speaking openly. Mr. Havel gave me his opinion, and I explained the opinion of our government. I gave him this book, and he thanked me for it."

This was unbelievable! Why did they feel the need to explain their point of view to the leader of such a small nation? Because they respect it when someone is standing his ground, when someone is not afraid of them. When someone soils his pants prematurely, then they do not respect you more for it.

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Founder of Tibetan cultural website sentenced to 15 years in closed-door trial in freedom of expression case...

International Campaign for Tibet
November 16, 2009

unchok Tsephel, an official in a Chinese government environmental department and founder of the influential Tibetan literary website, Chodme (‘Butter-Lamp’,, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets, according to reports from Tibet received by Tibetan exiles. Some of the charges are believed to relate to content on his website, which aims to protect Tibetan culture, and passing on information about last year’s protests in Tibet.

The news emerged as US President Obama made a pointed reference during his visit to China about the importance of free flow of information and uncensored internet access. Speaking to students in Shanghai today as part of a week-long visit to Asia, President Obama said: “I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable.”

Thirty-nine year old Kunchok Tsephel was detained in the early hours of the morning on February 26. His house was ransacked and his computer, camera and mobile phone seized. His family had no idea where he was until last week, according to the same sources. They were summoned to court on November 12 to hear the verdict of 15 years imprisonment after a closed-door trial at the Intermediate People’s Court of Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu province.

Kunchok Tsephel, who was born into a nomadic family in 1970 in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) county, Gannan, the eastern Tibetan area of Amdo, is fluent in Tibetan, English and Chinese. He studied English and Chinese languages at Beijing Nationality University and from 1997-99, continued to study English at North Western Nationality University in Lanzhou. In 2004, he was recruited as a Tibetan and English language teacher at the Tibetan Nationality Middle School in Machu, in addition to his work for the Chinese government environmental department. He founded his website on Tibetan arts and literature in 2005, together with a young Tibetan poet Kyabchen Dedrol. The website, which was shut down by the authorities several times over the past few years, was self-funded with a mission of promoting Tibetan arts and literature.

According to his friends, Kunchok Tsephel is in poor health after nine months of detention and interrogation and there are fears for his welfare. Until his detention, he provided the main source of income for his family; his wife, who is also a government worker, is currently caring for their sick daughter.

Kunchok Tsephel had undergone an earlier period of detention in 1995 linked to suspicion of involvement in political activities. He was tortured and interrogated but protested his innocence and was released without charge after two months.

One of Kunchok Tsephel’s close friends, who is now in exile, said today: “His family has endured nine months of agonizing waiting after Kunchok disappeared in February. Now they are even more distraught by this long sentence. Because the charges related to state secrets, they do not even know why Kunchok has been sentenced to 15 years, and he has been denied access to a lawyer.”

The Chinese government does not need to define what constitutes a ‘state secret.’ ‘State secrets’ laws and regulations are implemented through Communist Party controlled-government bodies that work together with state security, and through criminal laws, to create an opaque system that controls the classification of—and criminalizes the disclosure or possession of—state secrets.

The human rights monitoring organisation Human Rights in China states: “Tight control over this system by the government bureaucracy, headed by the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets, gives the Chinese Communist Party leadership the power to classify any information it desires as a state secret and thereby keep or - even if it is already public - remove it from circulation. This information includes the state secrets laws and regulations themselves, and without public dissemination of these laws, it is exceptionally difficult for individuals to know for sure when they are violated. Instead of the ‘harmonious society’ being called for by Chinese leaders, what remains is a controlled society where critical voices pay a heavy price.” (‘State Secrets: China's Legal Labyrinth,’ a report by Human Rights in China, June 12, 2007,

Since protests broke out across Tibet in March 2008, the Chinese government has stepped up efforts to silence Tibetans from speaking about the unrest, and have strengthened attempts to cover up the torture, disappearances and killings that have been part of the crackdown. New campaigns directed against Tibetan culture and religion have been initiated, and now almost any expression of Tibetan identity not directly sanctioned by the state can be branded as ‘reactionary’ or ‘splittist’ and penalized with a long prison sentence, or worse. Tibetan intellectuals, writers and bloggers who have expressed views about the situation have been at increasing risk and a number have ‘disappeared’ or sentenced to prison terms (

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Two Tibetans convicted of arson and sentenced to death in April were executed on Tuesday morning in Lhasa...

Jane McCartney in Beijing
Times Online (UK)
October 23, 2009

Tibetan exiles have reported the first executions of those convicted for last year's riot in Lhasa, with at least two people put to death in a rare implementation of capital punishment in the restive region.

Two Tibetans convicted of arson and sentenced to death in April were executed on Tuesday morning in Lhasa, reported The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in the Indian town of Dharamsala - the home in exile of the Dalai Lama.

It said Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak had been sentenced to death for their part in setting fire to five shops in the Tibetan capital, killing seven people, in the riot that rocked Lhasa in March 2008. Officials say 21 people - including three Tibetan protesters - died in the violence, which embarrassed Beijing just as it was preparing to stage the Olympic Games and prompted a security crackdown across the Himalayan region.

The body of Mr Gyaltsen had been returned to his family and then submitted to a river burial - an unusual form of funeral rite that is more common in southeastern Tibet. Sky burial is the usual ceremony in Lhasa. The ashes of Loyak were returned to his family, the centre said.

The centre reported that two other people may also have been executed. One had been sentenced to death, suspended for two years, a form that in almost all cases amount to life in prison. The fourth had been jailed for life.

The use of the death penalty has been extremely rare in Tibet over the last two decades, apparently amid anxiety that such punishments could set off renewed outbursts of anti-Chinese unrest.

In September, 1987, two Tibetans were executed after a public rally in the Lhasa sports stadium that 14,000 people - mostly government workers - were required to attend. While those executed were convicted of ordinary criminal offences, the timing was believed to convey a political message to Tibetans since it came just a week after the Dalai Lama had unveiled a peace plan in Washington.

Within days, Lhasa erupted in violence when Tibetans rushed through the streets calling on the Chinese to leave Tibet and set fire to a police station opposite the Jokhang Temple in the city centre on October 1. More riots followed in early 1988 and in 1989, when martial law was imposed in the city.

The next executions were not until 1990 when two Tibetans accused of planning a jailbreak after receiving suspended death sentences on murder charges were shot by firing squad. Internal court documents showed the pair had also started a pro-independence cell while in prison, along with other inmates.

The only other reported executions came during a nationwide crackdown on crime in 1996. State media said 29 people, including 18 Tibetans, were put to death in various Tibetan cities. Across China, more than 2,200 people were executed in that 'Strike Hard' campaign.

In the only politically linked execution to be publicly acknowledged, nomad Lobsang Dondup was executed in January 2003 in a Tibetan area of neighbouring Sichuan province for a series of bomb attacks over the previous four years.

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Australian university cancels Dalai Lama award

By Rowan Dix
ABC - Radio Australia News

An Australian university has denied it was pressured by the Chinese government into withdrawing an honorary degree for the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama is due to visit the University of Tasmania at the end of the year.

University's vice-chancellor Professor Daryl Le Grew says the spiritual leader's website was incorrect in reporting he would receive an honorary doctorate.

Australian Greens Party leader, Bob Brown, says he suspects the offer was withdrawn after a meeting with the Chinese consulate.

"So let's have it out in the open. I don't think Australians like that very much at all," the politician said.

But Professor Le Grew says the university decided not to proceed with the degree nomination before a meeting with representatives from the Chinese consulate.

He says the Dalai Lama's visit later this year will celebrate a successful Buddhist studies exchange program.

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Dalai Lama Receives US Civil Rights Award

By Paul Westpheling
VOA News

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of six million Tibetans, has been named recipient of the 2009 International Freedom Award.

Given by the (U.S.) National Civil Rights Museum, the Dalai Lama is cited for his "steadfast commitment to protecting and defending the rights of the oppressed people of Tibet and elsewhere in the world."

The Dalai Lama

Announcing the award, the National Civil Rights Movement board chair Benjamin L Hooks described the Dalai Lama as "a living example of Martin Luther King and (Mahatma) Ghandi's non-violence in the face of political oppression and suffering.

"We've given this award since 1991 to people who have made a total commitment to making sure that the world is a better place," Museum spokeswoman Gwen Harmon told VOA. "For us, the Dalai Lama speaks to that mission totally."

The Dalai Lama will receive the award in a ceremony on Sept. 23 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.

The National Civil Rights Museum chronicles the struggle for equality in the United States. It was built adjacent to the Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

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Family Fear for Detained Tibetan Filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen; Beijing Lawyer Barred from Case

London, 20th July 2009

The wife and cousin of detained Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen have expressed serious concern for his health and treatment in prison and called on the international community for help. According to recent information, Wangchen suffers from Hepatitis B and receives no medical treatment in detention. Wangchen's family appointed lawyer in Beijing, under government pressure, has been forced to drop the case.

"Before hearing this latest news, I hadn't had any news about Dhondup Wangchen for over a year", said Lhamo Tso, Wangchen's wife living in exile in Dharamsala, north India. "Ive always known him to be a healthy and active person, I cannot imagine what terrible torture he has gone through in Chinese custody. Knowing that he is receiving no treatment for Hepatitis B makes me fear for his life, I dare not tell our four children here about his condition", Lhamo Tso continued.

Wangchen, 35, has been in detention since March 26, 2008, for filming interviews with ordinary Tibetans on their views on the Olympic Games, the Dalai Lama and Chinese government policies in Tibet. The interviews were made into a documentary film Leaving Fear Behind and first shown to journalists in Beijing two days before the start of the Olympics in August 2008.

"Dhondup Wangchen has committed no crime and should not be in prison at all", said Gyaljong Tsetrin, Wangchen's cousin based in Zurich, Switzerland." Documenting the views of ordinary people is a basic human right and freedom of expression is guaranteed in Chinese law. The Chinese government has shown no regard for rule of law and has even barred an independent lawyer from taking up this case. Therefore I call upon human rights organisations and supporters all over the world to urge their government representatives in Beijing to pressure the Chinese government to unconditionally release Dhondup Wangchen."

To date, Leaving Fear Behind has been shown in over 30 countries worldwide and further translated into many foreign languages including French, Spanish, German, Polish, Hungarian, Japanese and Chinese. International organisations who have so far expressed concern about Wangchen include Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International.

English: Dechen Pemba: +44 (0) 77 848 23907
German: Tenzin Tsedoen: +41 (0)79 384 05 63
Tibetan: Gyaljong Tsetrin: +41 (0) 76 462 67 68

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China's Latest Tibet - Why Beijing won't Compromise in Xinjiang

By John Lee

Posted Jul 6, 2009

After scolding the West for interfering in the internal affairs of Iran, Beijing's public relations department will now be on the defensive following riots in Urumqi, the capital of the westernmost region of Xinjiang. Chinese state media has admitted that 140 people have been killed and almost 1,000 arrested. Hundreds had taken to the streets to protest the local government's handling of a clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in far southern China in late June, in which two Uighurs died. The police responded to the rallies with force, claiming that the unrest was the work of extremist forces abroad and that a heavy reaction was necessary to bring the situation under control.

Given the region's population of 20 million -- barely 1.5 percent of the country's people -- many are wondering: Why has Beijing taken such a hard line in Xinjiang? The reason is summed up in one of the ruling party's favorite mantras: "stability of state." Unrest of even a small magnitude, the Chinese authorities believe, can spell big consequences if it spirals out of control.

Instability of the sort in Xinjiang today is hardly new for China. Behind Shanghai's glamour and the magnificence of Beijing, there are large swaths of disunity and disorder. Taiwan, which mainland China still claims as its own, remains recalcitrant and effectively autonomous. Residents of Hong Kong want guarantees that Beijing will not dismantle the rights they enjoyed under British colonial rule. And traditional Tibetans, who fear a complete political and religious takeover by the ethnically Han majority, want cultural and administrative autonomy -- even if most have abandoned hopes of achieving outright secession. Many of the 10 million Uighurs in Xinjiang want the same. The current violence is just the latest manifestation of their simmering anger.

There is widespread disorder even in provinces that pose no challenge to Beijing's right to rule. In 2005, for example, there were 87,000 officially recorded instances of unrest (defined as those involving 15 or more people) -- up from just a few thousand incidents a decade ago. Most protests are overwhelmingly spontaneous rather than political; they arise out of frustration among the 1 billion or so "have-nots" who deal with illegal taxes, land grabs, corrupt officials, and so on. To deal with the strife, Beijing has built up a People's Armed Police of some 800,000 and written several Ph.D.-length manuals to counsel officials on how to manage protests. Those documents detail options to deal with protest leaders: namely the tactical use of permissiveness and repression, and compromise and coercion, on a case-by-case basis. The tactics are designed to take the fuel out of the fire. Sometimes leaders of protests are taken away; other times they are paid off; still other times they are given what they want.

Much of this is done quietly, which is perhaps why the current riots stand out. When it comes to what Beijing sees as separatist behavior, subtlety is no longer an option. Although their populations are relatively small, Xinjiang and Tibet together constitute one third of the Chinese land mass, and Beijing will not tolerate losing control over these territories. To be sure, the protesters in Urumqi and their supporters cannot spark an uprising throughout China. The protests will eventually be quelled, and their leaders will no doubt be dealt with brutally. But as the history of the Chinese Communist Party tells us, when the regime's moral and political legitimacy is threatened, the leadership almost always chooses to take a hard, uncompromising line.

President Hu Jintao, who incidentally earned early brownie points within the party by leading a crackdown of political dissidents in Tibet in 1989, understands better than anyone that authoritarian regimes appear weak at their own peril. Losing face, he believes, will only embolden the "enemies of the state." The Communist Party's Leading Group on Foreign Affairs, which is chaired by Hu, has often spoken warily about the democratic "viruses" behind the "color revolutions" in Ukraine and Georgia, and perhaps eventually Iran -- the same kind that could conceivably take root in places such as Xinjiang and Tibet. This is why Chinese authorities are deeply suspicious of any group with loyalties that might transcend the state and regime or at least cannot be easily controlled by the state, such as the Falun Gong, Catholics, or independent trade unions.

It's important to remember that, at home, the government's hard line is not wholly unpopular. Most Chinese do not support the separatist agendas of Tibet, Xinjiang, or Taiwan. They would rather see a strong and unified China restored to historic glory. No wonder then that the Chinese state media has been quite upfront about reporting on the current unrest in Urumqi.

Chinese leaders learned much about control in their extensive studies of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their conclusion is clear: It was Mikhail Gorbachev's ill-fated attempts to be reasonable that brought down that empire. The current generation of Chinese leaders is determined not to make the same mistake. And that means no compromise in Xianjiang.

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China Angry at Australia's Dalai Lama Visit

ABC News
South Asia Correspondent Sally Sara

Posted Fri Jul 3, 2009 7:00am AEST

The Chinese Government has reacted angrily to an Australian parliamentary delegation's visit to meet Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in India.

It is the first time a group of Australian MPs and senators has travelled to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala.

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra says the visit constitutes interference in China's internal affairs.

The Dalai Lama says Tibet has been given a death sentence by the Chinese Government.

"No freedom of speech, no freedom of press. Their own people put in dark. It is, I think, immoral," he said.

The Dalai Lama spent more than an hour meeting with members of the first Australian parliamentary delegation to visit him in Dharamsala.

He thanked the all party group of MPs and senators for their support.

"Usually I describe our supporters not like pro-Tibetan, but rather pro-justice," he said.

Labor MP Michael Danby says several members of the delegation are hoping to travel to Tibet later in the year during an official visit to China.

"If the Parliament asks the Chinese Government to allow this group to go, I don't see why they shouldn't be," he said.

"They would be breaking their word and I'm sure the Chinese Government wouldn't like to be seen to be doing that."

The delegation expressed its support for the Dalai Lama's middle way approach of autonomy rather than independence for Tibet.

The Chinese Embassy in Canberra has condemned the Australian visit, saying it constitutes interference in China's internal affairs.

Fifty years after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet, more activists are continuing to arrive in Dharamsala.

The Australian delegation visited a new arrivals centre and met one man who says he was shot by Chinese forces during a protest in March last year.

He told the delegation he thought he was going to die because he was bleeding so heavily.

On Monday, the Dalai Lama will celebrate his 74th birthday and he remains hopeful of returning home.

"Even some of my friends, Tibetan, are now 90 years old. Some, even [though] they [are] also still waiting, one day [will] go back," he said.

"So then I compare them who [are] already in [their] 90s. So I am a bit younger."

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America's Tortured China Policy

Phayul [Wednesday, May 13, 2009 23:27]
By Maura Moynihan

When Americans discovered that the Bush Administration used torture techniques detailed in a Chinese Communist military manual from the 1950’s, citizens and legislators across the nation were outraged and demanded an investigation. Torture is illegal in the United States, and President Obama has stated that torture does not reflect American values.

In the People’s Republic of China there is no such public debate, for in China’s totalitarian dictatorship, soon to celebrate 60 years in power, torture is an integral part of governance.

So why does the United States of America continue to relocate manufacturing, sell T-Bills and hand over all manner of high-tech hardware to the Chinese Communist Party, a regime that routinely tortures Buddhist monks, AIDS activists, bloggers and labor organizers? Has America’s policy of “constructive engagement” with China deteriorated into craven appeasement of a vast totalitarian dictatorship? Our close relationship with China is deemed “vital” to preserving the global economic order, but it has entangled America in a policy that is both morally repugnant and politically dangerous.

As America and China have become close friends and trading partners in recent years, America’s democratic institutions have been dangerously attacked. We have witnessed a shocking erosion of civil liberties and press freedom, the doctrine of “pre-emptive war” and a vigorous effort to legalize torture. Is it merely coincidence? The tragic legacy of allowing bankers to dictate foreign policy? Those Wall Street analysts whose passion for de-regulation created the global economic crisis are the same fellows who for years predicted that market capitalism would magically give rise to democracy in China. Now the global economy is collapsing, China is becoming more repressive and playing tough with every neighbor and trading partner, and getting its way. Where's the free press and independent judiciary that the MacDonald’s Corporation was supposed to fabricate?

If you wish to study the grotesque particulars of Communist China’s torture techniques, study Tibet. Human rights researchers have for decades agreed that China uses Tibet as a torture laboratory, to develop and practice torture methods of extreme cruelty, a reminder to all free-thinking Tibetans that the totalitarian order prevails, and anyone who challenges it will be shackled, whipped, beaten, starved and killed.

Torture in Tibet has increased as an instrument of state policy under China’ “Strike Hard” policy – implemented in 1995, moments after the Clinton Administration de-linked trade and human rights. Tibetan civilians, of all ages, are routinely arrested and tortured for such crimes as waving the Tibetan flag or proclaiming allegiance to the Dalai Lama. New videos and film of men, women and children killed under torture have streamed out of Tibet since the populist uprising of March 2008. The Chinese Communist torture tactics dating from the Korea War are not only still in use, they have been enhanced by new technologies, in particular, electric batons and wires.

Nonetheless, policy makers in the west continue to de-link the obscene record of barbarism in China’s Tibet from the “constructive engagement” myth. Meanwhile, China is exploiting the economic crisis to push human rights and Tibet off the table, and is aggressively punishing heads of state who have the temerity to meet the Dalai Lama, the distinguished Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Many heads of state are bending to Beijing’s will. Support for Tibet is eroding, as foundations, academies and governmental agencies discreetly cancel funding for projects linked to the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. The Dalai Lama’s popularity does not translate into tangible support for his people; the Tibetan refugees hang by a slender thread, which cannot hold indefinitely.

The disastrous misreading of the nature of the Communist China regime has western powers ensnarled in a policy morass. A new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations states: “The EU’s China strategy is based on an anachronistic belief that China, under the influence of European engagement, will liberalize its economy, improve the rule of law and democratize its politics. Yet ... China’s foreign and domestic policy has evolved in a way that has paid little heed to European values, and today Beijing regularly contravenes or even undermines them.”

For decades Chinese soldiers have slaughtered men, women and children in Tibet as heads of state looked away in uncomfortable silence. China's barbarous treatment of a helpless civilian populace in Tibet exposes the uncomfortable truth that China remains a rigid totalitarian state. 30 years of market capitalism and foreign investment did not nurture democracy; it made the Chinese Communist Party rich and powerful.

America spent billions to fight communism in the former Soviet Union, while investing billions in the People’s Republic of China. America has become the Chinese Communist Party’s chief enabler and ally. As the economic crisis threatens the supremacy of the western powers, China is poised to become global emperor, and will likely accrue more power in the Maoist way; from the barrel of a gun. How will the United States and other NATO powers respond should China strike hard on India, Taiwan, Japan, or the West? What cards will the western powers have to play, when it was western corporations who willingly handed China our computer codes and surveillance cameras in the quest for profit?

Chin Jin, of the Federation for a Democratic China, journeyed to Dharamsala to stand with the Dalai Lama on March 10th 2009, the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising. On his last day in India, Chin Jin recalled; “I was a teenager in Shanghai in 1972, when Nixon came to China. An elderly friend of my father’s started to cry when Nixon came, he said, ‘now the USA has come to the rescue of the Communist Party, and this will prolong the suffering of the Chinese people for many more years.’ He was right. If the western powers don’t use their leverage to promote political reform in China, if they keep this dictatorship in power, it will be a tragedy not only for the Chinese and Tibetan people, but the world.”

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PRC's 60th anniversary a chance to review Tiananmen event: Dalai Lama

Phayu l[Thursday, June 04, 2009 11:22]

Dharamsala, June 4 – The 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China presents a great opportunity for the People’s Republic of China to review the events of June 4,1989, said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In message issued on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananemen Square students’ democracy movement of 1989, the Tibetan leader who is currently on Europe tour, expressed his respects for those who died fighting for democracy. The Tibetan leader said the students were not against communism or socialism. “Their speaking out in defence of the Chinese people’s constitutional rights, in favour of democracy, and taking a stand against corruption, truly conformed to the underlying beliefs of the Chinese Communist government.”

His Holiness expressed hopes that the Chinese leaders have “the courage and far-sightedness to embrace more truly egalitarian principles and pursue a policy of greater accommodation and tolerance of diverse views.

A policy of openness and realism can lead to greater trust and harmony within China and enhance its international standing as a truly great nation, the Tibetan leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year added.

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China intensifies restriction on religious activities during holy month in Tibet

By Phurbu Thinley

Chinese government has stepped up restrictions on the religious activities of Tibetans in the capital Lhasa as they observe the Buddhist holy month of Saka Dawa, according to a report on Tibetan Government-in-Exile website.

In Dharamsala, the seat of Tibetan Government-in-Exile in India, hundreds of Tibetan Buddhists, including monks and nuns, have been regularly gathering and offering prayers at the Tsuglag-khang, the main Tibetan temple here, from May 25 that marked the beginning of the holy month.

Meanwhile, the concerned government offices in Lhasa had convened meetings of staff members and people under their respective jurisdictions and subsequently issued strict orders, particularly to students and government officials not to visit temples during the festival, sources in Tibet informed the exile government.

The restrictions come ahead of Saka Dawa festival, which is celebrated on the 15th (full moon) day of the fourth Tibetan month, when hundreds and thousands of Tibetan Buddhists flock to holy sites to offer prayers and engage in meritorious spiritual activities. The annual festival celebrates the three most important events of the life of Lord Buddha - his birth, enlightenment and parinirvana.

The report said the normal life of people in Lhasa has been affected as the Chinese government has sent in more security forces and deployed a large number of intelligence officials across the city.

The authorities also are carefully examining the details of foreign tourists visiting the region, the report said.

Part of the investigation also includes asking questions about whether any member of a family who had earlier visited India or anyone who has now returned to Tibet, it added.

According to the report, those families who have relatives and children in India and in other foreign countries are being asked to provide their conditions and contact details.

Starting from March 2008, the concerned offices have conducted at least eight rounds of such investigations and more than ten times by the village committees, the report cited sources as saying.

Such intensified restrictions were not new in Tibet under Chinese rule.

Restrictions and prohibitions are regularly imposed on religious ceremonies and sensitive anniversaries. Apart from politically sensitive anniversary like March 10 Tibetan Uprising Day, China has also acted with equally heightened vigilance during mass occasions like Losar (Tibetan New Year), Monlam Chenmo (The Great Prayer Festival), Birthday of His Holiness the Dalai lama and the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and other similar events.

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MPs' trip to see the Dalai Lama angers Chinese

The Sydney Morning Herald
Cynthia Banham Diplomatic Editor

TENSIONS between China and Australia will increase with the visit next month by federal parliamentarians to Dharamsala in India, where the Tibetan community in exile is based, to meet the Dalai Lama.

It will be the first such visit by a delegation of Australian MPs, and is expected to prompt protests by a Chinese Government already annoyed that Australia is considering a request by the US to resettle a group of Chinese Muslim Uygurs being held at Guantanamo Bay.

The unofficial delegation comprises the Labor MPs Michael Danby and Melissa Parke, the Liberal MP Peter Slipper, the independent senator Nick Xenophon, and the Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Sarah Hanson-Young.

The delegation will also have meetings with officials in New Delhi to discuss the recent attacks against Indian students in Australia, which have caused a diplomatic headache for Canberra.

Mr Danby, who has long campaigned for the human rights of Tibetans and is heading the delegation, said of the reason for the visit: "A lot of us feel that the non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people to preserve their culture and identity and their very modest political aims for cultural autonomy within the Chinese state is something that we identify with for different reasons."

Over the six-day visit the group will have meetings with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Parliament, the Tibetan cabinet, as well as newly arrived refugees and former political prisoners. On July 6 the group will take part in the public celebration of the Dalai Lama's 74th birthday.

"This is a significant step in Australia's support for a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan situation," Mr Danby said. "It is also a unique opportunity for Australian parliamentarians to learn first-hand about the challenges facing the Tibetan people and Tibetan culture."

The news of the visit follows Chinese Government demands that the Federal Government decline the request by the US President, Barack Obama, to take up to 10 Uygurs captured during the Afghanistan war in 2001 and sent to Guantanamo Bay, but were cleared for release more than four years ago.

"The protesters at the time were calling for less corruption, greater media freedom and greater openness in government, and these of course remain challenges with which the Chinese government today is grappling," Mr Rudd said. "It remains the Australian Government's view that it is in our national interest to further develop a broad and substantive relationship with China, and within the relationship the question of human rights is an important dimension. Australia continues to raise our concerns about human rights with China."

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Chinese consulate hoodwinks Melbourne city, says ATC

By Kalsang Rinchen - From Phayul

Dharamsala June 3 - Chinese Consulate has deceived the residents of Melbourne on Eve of Tiananmen Massacre Anniversary, said the Australia Tibet Council (ATC) today.

Melbourne Town Hall will today host a photo exhibition funded and organized by the Chinese Government purporting to show the “democratic reform and social and economic development of Tibet, China in the past 50 years”.

The booking for the exhibition, titled “Tibet’s Past and Present”, was made under false pretences by Chinese-Australian businessman Anson Hong, Chairman of the National Liaison Council of Chinese Australians - an organization with strong links to the Chinese Communist Party. An invitation procured by the Australia Tibet Council revealed that Mr. Hong had acted as a proxy for the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne.

The exhibition, a central component in a state-driven initiative to shape international perceptions of the Tibetan situation, has been shown in a number of countries including China, Canada and South Korea. It was recently withdrawn from the Canberra Centre after a series of complaints to the venue and the Canberra Times.

Australia Tibet Council claims the exhibition grossly misrepresents the realities in modern Tibet and is potentially damaging towards ongoing efforts to promote dialogue and reconciliation between Australia’s Tibetan and Han Chinese communities. ATC recently published a report which reveals the alarming extent of covert efforts by Chinese Government officials in Australia to influence Australian politicians, media, NGOs and universities.

“This exhibition is a blatant example of the Chinese Government’s determination to avoid dealing with the Tibetan issue. Instead of addressing the legitimate concerns of the Tibetan people, the Chinese Government persists with its attempt to deny the existence of the problem and mislead the international community about the real situation in Tibet,” said Paul Bourke, Executive Officer of the Australia Tibet Council.

Officials at the City of Melbourne were unaware till yesterday of the exhibition’s link to the Chinese Government. The booking was made directly with Epicure Catering, the company contracted by the City of Melbourne to manage the Town Hall, and was being handled as a commercial booking. A staff member at the City of Melbourne, on condition of anonymity, conceded that they had been “hoodwinked” by Mr. Hong over the exhibition. Nonetheless, contractors Epicure Catering have chosen to proceed with the exhibition and the City of Melbourne has refused to intervene.

Revelation of the exhibition, advertised only through the Chinese language media, has drawn strong objections from Melbourne’s Tibetan community.

“We are very concerned and upset that Melbourne Town Hall is giving legitimacy to this exhibition. It is deeply insensitive and inflammatory towards our community and we appeal in the strongest possible terms to the City of Melbourne to intervene,” said Samdup Tsering, President of the Tibetan Community Association of Victoria.

The Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne sent invitations for the exhibition’s opening to members of the Victorian Parliament and local councils. Members of the Victorian Parliament and Melbourne City Council have since been advised of the nature of the exhibition and are discouraged from attending.

Chinese dissident groups have also expressed concern at the timing of the exhibition, which opens on the eve of the politically sensitive 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989.

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Tibetan nun gives account of rape in custody

ICT Report

A Tibetan former nun in her thirties has given a harrowing account of her rape by Chinese Peoples Armed Police (PAP) officers after she was caught attempting to escape from Tibet near the border with Nepal. Although the incident happened four years ago, in September 2005, the pattern of abuse the former nun describes is consistent with other reports of the treatment of Tibetans caught attempting to escape into exile. Numerous Tibetan sources report facing torture and hard labor when caught by PAP border security during the journey into exile or from Nepal, although cases of rape appear to be less common.

The Tibetan woman, who has now arrived in India and asked for full details of her identity to be withheld, told ICT that she was first detained in a village near the border called Kuchar in Burang (Chinese: Purang) County, with another six people from her village in Ngari Prefecture, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), including two children. They were arrested by the PAP border security at the border and taken to a border security facility somewhere near Burang County. Tenzin, 38, had escaped earlier into exile so that she could practice her religion freely. She was educated at Bir Suja school run by the Tibetan government in exile for three years, then moved to a monastery in Dharamsala where nuns can also study.

In 2005, her father became very sick and her family asked her to travel back to Tibet to see him. She did so, and stayed there for three months. It was when she was attempting to escape back to India that she was detained by PAP security.

Tenzin said: "About two weeks after I returned to see my father, they [the local authorities] somehow came to know that I came from India. Then they started visiting my house very frequently and asked me questions like: Why did I go to India? What is the reason to come back again? They also took me to a place that looks like an army barracks and also to the township headquarters for interrogation. The Chinese authorities are increasingly suspicious of Tibetans who attend Tibetan government in exile-run schools and religious institutes, as they consider them to have been influenced by ideas of separatism."

Tenzin continued: "It was so disturbing that I could not stay in peace. When other people go back to their country, it is supposed to be a time of happiness and family reunion. But for me and for all Tibetans, there is no way that we can enjoy family reunion and moment of happiness of returning to our homelands. It is like a hell of the world, I really mean that, all those ordeals I faced it is really like hell in the world. I don't think that even after I died, I would know such an ordeal."

Tenzin prepared to escape and traveled to the border area of Burang where she and her group were stopped by five soldiers at a checkpoint. Speaking in Chinese, they told Tenzin and the others to get out of the car and show their identity cards. They were then taken to a nearby army barracks, which Tenzin describes as being at least two hours drive away. She said: "I was taken to a very dark room. There was one Tibetan soldier, who asked me if I was a nun" [Tenzin's head was shaved, but she was wearing laymans clothing].
I replied yes, then he said: "You are Dalai's running dog, you betrayed our great nation. They then beat me with whatever they had in their hands, with batons and army belts. Later on I could feel nothing as my body was numb due to the beatings and kicking, and I fell unconscious , but what was worse than the beating was to hear a Tibetan soldier calling me Dalai Lama's running dog. How can a Tibetan do that?"

Tenzin found herself in another cell, handcuffed, when she regained consciousness. They had separated her from the group she was with and began to interrogate them all separately, asking why they had come back from India.

After five days of interrogation and beatings, Tenzin and the rest of the group were transferred to a detention center. She says: "For many days they locked me up in a solitary confinement cell which was big enough for only one person. Both my arms and feet were handcuffed to a wooden bed. Then one night the light was switched off, and two prison guards came into the cell and told me that I had to take some medicine. I said I was not going to take any medicine. I thought that time that they were going to kill me by giving me that medicine. So I struggled to shake my head while they were forcing to put the medicine to my mouth but they forced me to swallow it down by pouring water into my mouth and blocking my nose by pressing it. [The type of medicine or drug given to Tenzin is not known.] After that, two guards went out and chatting with each other outside the cell. Then moments later they came in, and I sensed something bad was going to happen, I screamed as loud as I could in the hope that someone would come to stop them. But all was in vain, one of the guards covered my head with his coat and was trying to stop me from screaming while the other raped me. Later I fell unconscious. I dont know if that was because of the medicine they gave me or out of fear. I could not feel anything, especially the lower part of my body."
Tenzin considered trying to kill herself, but says that her feelings of guilt about the two children in the group were too strong. When she asked the guards to let her meet the children, as she was responsible for taking them to India, the border guards told her that because she had tried to make the children Dalai's running dog she deserved what was happening to her.

Tenzin was transferred to a police department in the Ngari region for seven days and then to a labor re-education camp, láodòng jiàoyng , abbreviated láojiào ). This is a system of administrative detention that is generally used to detain persons for minor crimes such as petty theft or crimes against the state for periods of up to four years. Re-education through labor sentences are given by police, rather than through the judicial system. One of the Tibetan officials told her: "Your brain became very dirty and needs to be cleaned. You betrayed our nation by becoming Dalai’s running dog. So you have to clean your thoughts. You are going to a labor camp, where you will study and work, and you have been sentenced to three years."

She said: "For the first eight days in the labor camp, they locked me in a solitary confinement [cell] with hands handcuffed, and no any water at all, except a small amount of food that was hard to eat. After that, they (the prison authorities) told me that I had to study and work, and undergo military training as well. The study that they meant is that I had to confess what I did was wrong, actually I did nothing wrong but having been to India, and be obedient to what they say."
Tenzin became very ill in prison due to the poor conditions, torture and lack of food. She says she was finally released after approximately a year because the authorities feared that she might die in prison. Her family spent almost all of their savings, approximately 20,000 yuan ($2,900) on medical treatment for Tenzin. She says: "After some months of treatment at different hospitals including the People’s Hospital in Lhasa I was well enough to go home. But my mind could not be at peace, because officials came to visit my family so often. They told me that whenever I had to leave town, I had to report to the township leader." This intense surveillance and kinds of restrictions are common for released prisoners, and lead to the escape of many into exile. Monks and nuns who have been imprisoned are not allowed to return to their religious institutions on release. Tenzin says: "Later the protests broke out in Lhasa [on March 10, 2008], which is something that we all should be proud of, but at the same time, all those educated Tibetans, those Tibetans who love Tibet, those elites of our ethnic group, have been killed, detained, and have ‘disappeared’, that is a big loss. Our hearts are broken." Following the protests in March 2008, increased numbers of troops were deployed across the plateau and restrictions intensified in most areas.

Tenzin and her family were vulnerable due to Tenzin ’s earlier period in detention; former political prisoners are commonly singled out by the authorities at times of tension and frequently returned to custody. Officials began to visit Tenzin’s home once a day and pressed her to denounce the Dalai Lama. "In order to avoid saying anything, I told them that my health was failing due to the intimidation, and I went to a hospital in Lhasa for two months." Tenzin realized that she could no longer stay in Tibet, and despite the risks would have to escape again to India. She arrived in exile three months ago. Due to the rape in prison that she refers to as the ‘incident’, without using the specific word, she is unable to be a nun again.

She said this week: "Thanks to the blessing of Three Precious Jewels [a Buddhist term referring to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Buddhist community, sometimes referred to as ‘The Teacher, The Teaching, The Taught’], I made it to India this time. It is my bad fortune to be out of the wheel of Dharma [the spiritual path], as I can no longer be a nun. Maybe it is my karma, but still I am happy now that I can be here near His Holiness once more." Monks and nuns form a high percentage of the numbers of Tibetans who escape into exile each year, due to the Chinese government’s repression of religious practice and teachings in Tibet.

On arrival in exile, Tibetan monks and nuns are allocated places at different monasteries and nunneries in India run by the Tibetan exile authorities. While previously around 2,500 to 3,500 Tibetans have made the dangerous crossing across the Himalayas into exile in Nepal, and from there to India, each year, the number was dramatically lower in 2008.

This was a result of intensified security in the border areas due to the crackdown against the protests beginning in March, 2008. In around September, 2008, after the stepped-up security throughout China during the Olympics period, more Tibetans began to attempt the journey despite increased risks. Given the continued violent repression and stifling political atmosphere in Tibet, it is possible that more Tibetans may see no other alternative but to seek to escape Tibet in 2009 and beyond.

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Official acknowledgment of suicide of monk after protests due to ‘stress’

ICT Report

The Chinese authorities have made a rare admission that a Tibetan monk committed suicide due to ‘stress’. Forty three year old Sheldrup (named in the Chinese official statement today as Shadri), had been tortured in custody after protests at his monastery in Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) county in Qinghai province in April 2008, although this background was not acknowledged in the report issued today by Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.

The Xinhua report said that Sheldrup was found dead on March 9, 2009 in his monastery after hanging himself with two khatags (white blessing scarves). Details of the means of death could not be confirmed. According to the report, local police said that Sheldrup was suffering from stress due to illness and also due to deaths in his family.

According to information received from Tibetans who knew Sheldrup, he was detained following peaceful protests at his monastery on April 17, 2008, when he and several other monks demanded the release of monks detained during the initial wave of protests a month previously. He was taken into custody and beaten severely and later released. According to the same sources, the local authorities then published his name and details among others on ‘wanted’ posters, indicating he would be detained again. Sheldrup left his monastery to go into hiding, during which time his health deteriorated, and he committed suicide in March 2009, a few weeks after returning to his monastery in February. Sheldrup left Tibet in the mid-1990s to study at Ganden monastery in southern India, and returned to Tibet around 10 years later in 2006.

According to ICT’s monitoring and research, several Tibetans monks, nuns and laypeople have resorted to suicide in acts of despair and of protest. ICT has received reliable information on people who committed suicide because of the distress of being compelled to denounce the Dalai Lama, as well as others who committed suicide as an apparent direct protest against the requirement; other sources have reported that during the height of the protests in 2008, Tibetans committed suicide upon witnessing police brutality against Tibetan protestors; whereas others committed suicide to escape police brutality being inflicted upon them. (See: Tibet at a Turning Point: The Spring Uprising and China’s New Crackdown, ICT, August 2008, available for free download at:

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Bold report by Beijing scholars reveals breakdown of China’s Tibet policy;
Reflects demands for greater state and Party accountability

ICT Report

A bold and remarkable new report by a group of Chinese scholars in Beijing challenges the official position that the Dalai Lama “incited” the protests that broke out in Tibet in March 2008, and outlines key failings in the policy of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on Tibet.

The report is the first such analysis from inside China and comes at a time of crackdown in Tibet when the PRC government is taking an increasingly hardline position against the Dalai Lama. Read more...

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