Tibet

China releases imprisoned Tibetan nomad

A Tibetan nomad imprisoned for eight years for publicly calling for the return of the Dalai Lama was released after serving his full term, his supporters said this week. Runggye Adrak was taken into custody on Aug. 1, 2007, after shouting slogans from a stage during an annual horse-racing festival in Lithang county in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province. His arrest sparked days of protests in Lithang. He was sentenced in November 2007 for "inciting to split the country" and "subverting state power." He was severely beaten and tortured in prison. "There is no information available on his [present] physical and psychological condition," The India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said in a statement. Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet has cited unconfirmed reports that this year’s festival in Lithang has been canceled "as a crackdown in the area deepens" following the unexplained July 12 death in prison of popular spiritual leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. (RFA, July 31)

Burma: Dalai Lama challenges Suu Kyi on Rohingya

The Dalai Lama has appealed to Burma's Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to speak up for the country's persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority amid a worsening refugee crisis according to a May 28 report in The Australian. The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said he is alarmed and saddened by the predicament of thousands still believed to be stranded at sea after weeks of being turned away by nations in the region. "It's not sufficient to say: 'How to help these people?'," he said from his office in the Indian Himalayan hill station of McLeod Ganj, where he has lived in exile since his escape from Chinese-­occupied Tibet in 1959. "This is not sufficient. There's something wrong with humanity's way of thinking. Ultimately we are lacking concern for others' lives, others' wellbeing." He said there could be no justification for violence against the estimated 1.3 million Rohingya in Burma, who have been denied citizenship and subject to persecution by the state and Buddhist extremists. He appealed to his Burmese co-religionists to "remember the face of the Buddha" when dealing with the minority, sometimes referred to as the world's "least-wanted" population.

Facebook enforces censorship of Tibetan struggle

It emerges that Facebook has deleted a post from Beijing-based Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser showing the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Kalsang Yeshi—the latest in a long string of such martyrs. Seemingly adopting a deliberately inarticulate style to lampoon the limits imposed by censorship, Woeser posted to her Facebook page after the deletion: "This ban, by deleting this, then banned, deleted, and proceed, then, and then, you know." She also compared the Facebook moderation team to a "little secretary"—a reference to Beijing's apparatchiks charged with enforcing censorship. (It isn't explained how Woeser maintains her Facebook page, given that the social network isn't accessible in China. Either she has found a way around the Great Firewall, or she posts via intermediaries abroad, presumably.) Facebook responded with a statement saying that the video was too graphic for its users. The statement claimed that in response to users' objections over graphic content, the company is "working to give people additional control over the content they see." But: "We do not currently have these tools available and as a result we have removed this content." (The Independent, Dec. 29; Inquisitr, Dec. 27)

Urgent action for imprisoned Tibetan leader

Students for a Free Tibet have issued an urgent action alert for Khenpo Kartse, a respected Tibetan Buddhist abbot and human rights defender imprisoned by Chinese authorities for over six months. He is seriously ill with liver and lung disease, and recent reports state that he has been coughing up blood—but has been denied access to his doctor. The action alert calls for supporters around the world to conctact the local Chinese embassy and express concern for Kartse. Arrested in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in early December, Kartse is being held in the Tibet Autonomous Region's Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) prefecture, in "an extremely cold room with no access to sunlight" and is being inadequately fed, a source close to the case told RFA's Tibetan Service in March. After meeting for the first time with Kartse on Feb. 26, defense lawyer Tang Tian Hao called on Chinese authorities to allow regular medical examinations for the imprisoned monk, "as provided for under the law," the source said. Kartse—who holds the title “Khenpo” denoting a senior religious teacher or abbot—is being held on suspicion of involvement in "anti-state" activities at a monastery in Chamdo. Supporters say Kartse, who is also known as Karma Tsewang, is being persecuted for his work to promote the Tibetan language, culture, and religion. He was also active in social work in the Yulshul area, including in relief efforts following the devastating April 2010 earthquake.

Tibetan dissident film-maker released in China

International rights groups welcomed the release June 5 of Tibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen, who was imprisoned in China in 2008 for producing the documentary Leaving Fear Behindwhich depicted conditions faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule. Wangchen was released from prison in Qinghai's provincial capital, Xining, but faces an unspecified term of deprivation of political rights, according to Wangpo Tethong, a member of the Switzerland-based Tibetan film company Filming for Tibet who spoke to the New York-based Committee to Protect Jouranlists, which has rigorously campaigned for his release. "We are relieved that Dhondup Wangchen has been released, but Chinese authorities will never be able to return the six years they've already taken from him," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "China should seek to end its stigma as one of the world's leading jailers of the press by releasing the many journalists unjustly imprisoned for their work."

Arson attacks on Tibetan monasteries?

A fire in the ancient Tibetan town of Dukezong, Yunnan province, destroyed hundreds of buildings, including one with Chinese-recognized "monument status" dating to the early 17th century, on Jan 11. The town is in Shangri-la county, and is a tourist attraction, as it was apparently the inspiration for the fictional Shangri-la. Two days earlier, a mysterious blaze badly damaged the Larung Gar Institute in Serthar, Sichuan province, one of the world's largest Tibetan Buddhist learning centers and home to some 10,000 monks and nuns. On Nov. 16, the Lithang Monastery, Sichuan, was also badly damaged in a fire, said to have been caused by faulty wiring. The string of incidents has caused Tibet solidarity websites to speculate on a possible arson campaign. The India-exiled Central Tibetan Administration only said it "prays for quick restoration" of the Larung Gar Institute, "which became one of most influential Tibetan Buddhist learning centres in Tibet following liberalisation of religious practice in 1980s after the Tibetan culture and religion suffered systematic annihilation during China's Cultural Revolution." Dukezong, Serthar and Lithang and all lie within the "Greater Tibet" claimed by the Central Tibetan Administration. (AP, CTA, SCMP, Shanghaist, Jan. 11; Save TibetTibet Truth, Jan. 10; Tibet Post, Nov. 18)

Tibetan monk imprisoned for 'splittism': report

Sources in China's Sichuan province told the Tibetan exile media that a Tibetan monk in Ngaba county (Chinese: Aba) was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on charges of promoting efforts to "split the nation." The sentence was reportedly handed down against Shal-ngo Hortsang Tamdrin on Oct. 29, after he led a public prayer in Zamthang town for Tibetans who have self-immolated, and allegedly called for uniting "the traditional provinces of Tibet." Ngaba county is part of the traditional Tibetan region of Amdo, which is not recognized as an administrative entity by Chinese authorities. The public prayer reportedly took place in April at the Tsangpa Monastery, which was subsequently placed under heavy surveillance by a large contingent of security forces. The number of Tibetans who have self-immolated now stands at 122, with 104 fatalities, according to a count by exile organizations. (Tibet Post, Nov. 21)

Tibet: anti-mining protests spread

Over 100 ethnic Tibetans were injured and one man committed suicide in Yulshul (Chinese: Yushu) prefecture* in the Kham region of Eastern Tibet (officially in Qinghai province), as Chinese military forces broke up protests against diamond mining in the area Aug. 19. As in similar protests elsewhere in Qinghai earlier that week, protestors put up large banners printed with President Xi Jinping's recent speech on environmental protection, and charged that the mines have not been approved by China's central government. The clash apparently began when some 1,000 protesters occupied two traditional Tibetan sacred sites, identified as Atod Yultso and Zachen Yultso, at a mine in Dzatoe (Chinese: Zaduo) township, and security forces fired tear-gas to disperse them. Eight protesters were detained, but two identified as leaders are reported to have "disappeared."

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