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TCHRD releases 2012 Annual Report on Human Rights Situation in Tibet

In the year 2012, the human rights situation in Tibet hit a new low even as Tibet remained closed to independent media, UN monitors, international fact-finding delegations or visitors. The Chinese government effectively blocked communication channels and prevented information about human rights abuses from going out of Tibet. Despite heavy surveillance and restrictions, individual Tibetans continued to let the world know about the real situation in Tibet often at great personal risk. As the UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food told the Human Rights Council session in March 2012: “We know that regularly the communication systems: Internet, the phones, SMS’s are blocked and Tibet is completely closed to independent observers, including the media.”

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Tibetans sentenced for ‘murder’ at show trial to discredit self-immolation protests

In the backdrop of relentless crackdown on self-immolation protests including arbitrary arrests, detention, intimidation, monetary inducements and long prison terms, the Chinese authorities have sentenced two Tibetans on “intentional homicide” charges, one was given suspended death sentence while the other received 10-yr prison term for “inciting” and “coercing” eight people to self-immolate, out of which three died. The five others did not self-immolate after they changed their minds or due to police intervention, so goes the account published in official Chinese newspapers.

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Tibetan man self-immolates near Labrang

The morning of 22 October 2012, TCHRD received information from a reliable source that at 9.45am (Tibet time) a Tibetan man has self-immolated near the Labrang monastery in Sangchu county, Amdo, Eastern Tibet. This protest comes only two days after the self-immolation of Tibetan man, Lhamo Kyab in the same region.

Eyewitnesses report that Chinese police took the man's body away, but his current whereabouts and situation are unknown. We are still trying to get more details on this protest and will update further when we have them.

This brings the current total of self-immolations in Tibet to fifty-seven people.




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Elderly Tibetan nomad burns himself alive in protest

TCHRD can confirm that there was another self-immolation yesterday in Tibet. Dhondup, a nomad and farmer, aged around 65, set himself on fire yesterday morning about 9.30 am (Tibetan time) at the right side of a monastery called Serkhang, [གསེར་ཁང་ "golden house" or "golden temple"] in Labrang [Ch: Xiahe Tib: Sangchu County], in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Prefecture, Gansu province.

Dhondup's body at Labrang

Dhondup's burned body at Serkhang Monastery. We believe the white object is a rubber can or rubber bucket.

The self-immolation took place on the circumambulation route and near the entrance of Labrang Monastery. Eyewitnesses who saw the protest said the flames coming from his body produced a huge blaze.

The local Chinese army arrived immediately after the self-immolation. Those present reported that the soldiers put Dhondup’s body in a bag and took it away. Tibetan sources have confirmed that Dhondup died after the self-immolation, and that he had already been cremated. It is unknown who carried out the cremation because the Chinese soldiers confiscated his body.

monks at Labrang

Monks gathering to pray, near Serkhang temple.

Yesterday, monks from Labrang Monastery attempted to hold a prayer ceremony for Dhondup at the place of his protest. But local Chinese police, officials from the local Government, and the Monastery Management Committee tried to stop the prayer service. Local Tibetans were offering khatag (traditional Tibetan ceremonial scarves) at the place, and more Tibetans were gathering there too.

Our sources have been trying to get more information, but people are too scared to talk on the phone. After Lhamo Kyab's self-immolation in Bora monastery two days prior to this one, the restrictions in Labrang are draconian and repressive, and the Chinese authorities have blocked the phone networks.

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His Holiness the Karmapa initiates a historic transmission, mainly for female practitioners

(26 October, 2012, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh) In an unprecedented three-day event, His Holiness the 17thKarmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is granting initiation and teachings on Chöd. A spiritual practice developed by Machig Labdron, a Tibetan yogini in the 11th century, Chöd is practiced by nearly all sects of Tibetan Buddhism to this day. Approximately 1,000 people from across the Himalayan region and around the world are here to attend this historic Dharma transmission, which is being conferred for the first time by His Holiness in response to a supplication made by a western Buddhist woman, Lama Tsultrim Allione, on behalf of all women practitioners. Lama Tsultrim was ordained in 1970 as a Buddhist nun by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, and later pursued the path as a lay practitioner.
The teachings and empowerment are taking place through 28 October and hosted at Dorzong Monastic Institute (Jangchub Jong) in Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh, by His Eminence the 8th Dorzong Rinpoche, a highly respected senior lineage holder within the Drugpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dharma transmission is reserved for serious practitioners, while a long-life initiation to be offered to the general public on 29 October at Dorzong  Institute. Apart from several hundred Buddhist nuns from around the Himalayas, the event has attracted disciples from dozens of different countries.
Expressing his delight regarding the occasion, His Holiness the Karmapa said: “Since the time of the 3rd Karmapa who wrote the first commentary on Chöd, the Karmapas have maintained a close connection to this practice. I myself feel a deep bond with these teachings coming from Machig Labdrön. She is the perfect embodiment of wisdom and compassion and has inspired Buddhist practitioners for many centuries.  I am especially pleased that I can offer this encouragement and support to female practitioners from around the Himalayan region and the world, and pray that the good merit from this event generates peace.”

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Monks beaten, detained, in Nyitso Zilkar Monastery raid

On Saturday, 1 September, China police forces raided Nyitso Zilkar Monastery in Zatoe (Chinese: Zaduo) town, Tridu (Chinese: Chenduo) County in Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu), Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, and arbitrarily arrested five monks, while dozens were beaten by the People's Armed Police.

"Around 60 vehicles full of armed police forces raided the Nyitso Zilkar Monastery on Saturday without any explanation, and locals say it's because of the monastery's role in preserving and teaching Tibetan language, culture, and Buddhism in the region," reliable sources in exile told TCHRD this week.

In addition to their arbitrary detention, the residences of the five monks were searched and some computers and CDs were confiscated.

Following is the list of the monks known to have been arrested amid beatings and raids at the monastery:

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China’s Ethnic Assimilation Policy will Deepen Tibetan Resentment: US Congress Report

DHARAMSHALA: A US Congressional report on China has warned that any attempts by the Chinese government, as advocated by a key communist party official earlier this year, to abrogate ethnic minority status could adversely affect the Tibetan people’s cultural and linguistic identity and further deepen their resentment against the government.

The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in its 2012 Annual Report on developments in human rights and rule of law in China, released Wednesday, said: “This past year, the Chinese Communist Party and government increased pressure on and interference with the Tibetan people’s aspiration to preserve the viability and vibrancy of their culture and language. Zhu Weiqun, UFWD Executive Deputy Head and Director of the Party’s General Office of the Central Coordinating Group for Tibet Affairs, wrote in a February 13, 2012, article that he favors ending or changing some policies that have the potential to benefit ethnic minority cultures. His views, if implemented, could adversely affect the Tibetan people’s cultural and linguistic identity and further deepen resentment against the government.”

The report said the trend of self-immolation incidents in Tibet was concurrent with the increasing Chinese government measures to repress and control core elements of Tibetan culture, including the Tibetan Buddhist religion and monastic institutions, and with the China-Dalai Lama dialogue’s failure to achieve any sign of progress.

“The [Communist] Party and government have not indicated any willingness to consider Tibetan grievances in a constructive manner and to hold themselves accountable for Tibetan rejection of Chinese policies, and handled the crisis as a threat to state security and social stability instead of as a policy failure,” the report added.

The report also documented sustained protests by Tibetans against the Chinese government’s development policies affecting Tibet’s linguistic identity and natural environment.

It said, as of 1 September 2012, there are 1,312 Tibetan political prisoners detained on or after 10 March 2008.

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Longest-serving political prisoner expected to be released next year

A Tibetan political prisoner who has spent 24 years in prison, is expected to be released next year if the prison authorities conclude that he has exhibited "good behavior" during his imprisonment, according to information received by TCHRD.

Lobsang Tenzin, the longest-serving known political prisoner in Tibet, is serving life imprisonment in Chushur (Chinese: Qushui) Prison, located in the northern part of Lhasa.

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Caught between a rock and a hard place

A Tibetan porter's personal account of the anguish, heartbreak and struggle he and other Tibetans faced on trying to re-enter Tibet. Their crime: attempting to attend the Kalachakra teachings in India.

Tibetan porter, Trinley Norbu gives this first-hand, moving account of the struggle and anguish he and three other ordinary Tibetans faced on re-entering Tibet after their attempt to attend the Kalachakra teachings in India was blocked by the Nepali authorities. The TCHRD got exclusive access to this human story of how he and four other men were detained several times in Tibet before they were driven back to Nepal. It’s a story of how they were denied entry to their homeland and access to their families simply for wanting to attend Buddhist teachings; and of how other ordinary, working Tibetans faced imprisonment, beatings, deception and paranoid questionings regarding His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the exiled political head Lobsang Sangay. Norbu's testimony also tragically reveals the complicity of the Chinese and Nepalese authorities (taking photos of themselves together); and how the Tibetans became caught in 'a no-man's land' being sent back and forth like pawns between the Nepalese and Chinese police corruption. Their torment finally came to an end when UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, came to their aid in a Nepalese prison. Here is Trinley Norbu's account in full:

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Tibetan Nomad arrested for 2008 protests ‘missing’

A 34-year old Tibetan nomad, Shonu Palden, who was detained last June by Chinese security officers has gone 'missing', a family friend of Shonu tells TCHRD.

Shonu was arrested on 18 June 2012 from his home in Rongkor nomadic area in Belpen village in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) County, Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, for allegedly leading protests in 2008.

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