This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Chinese democrats and their supporters will join with the Tiananmen mothers in support of their demands for truth, accountability and justice for all the victims.
The Candlelit Vigil will be held outside the Chinese Embassy in London (49-51 Portland Place London W1B 1JL) on 4th of June 2022 from 7:30–10 pm and it is expected to draw the biggest crowd ever for this protest in London. Last year’s Tiananmen massacre anniversary in London drew the biggest protesters with speakers from different persecuted communities and their supporters since it started 33 years ago.
Organisers of this year’s Candlelit Vigil: – London Remembers June 4th – Friends of Tiananmen Mothers – Amnesty International (UK) – Chinese Solidarity Campaign – Democracy for Hong Kong (D4HK) – Liberty for Hong Kong – Hongkongers in Britain
Over 20 Tibetans and their supporters gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy in central London to mark the 27th anniversary of the forced “disappearance” of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, the second highest Tibetan spiritual leader.
Born 25th April 1989, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was recognised as the true reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as per the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, on 14th May 1995. Within days of his public recognition, on 17th May 1995, the six-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima disappeared with his parents and Jadrel Rinpoche, Head of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, who was in secretly in touch with the Dalai Lama in India regarding the 11th Panchen Lama’s search. Jadrel Rinpoche was appointed as the Head of the Panchen Lama Search Committee, entrusted by the Chinese Government.
Six months later, China announced its own 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu as the reincarnation of the previous 10th Panchen Lama. For more, please click here.
Tibetans and their supporters chanted loud slogans – “Release Release Panchen Lama”, “Religious Freedom in Tibet”, “Where is Panchen Lama”, “Shame on CCP”, “Human Rights in Tibet”, “Language Rights in Tibet”, “Religious Freedom in Tibet”, “Stop the Genocide in Tibet”, “Stop the Torture in Tibet” and “Stop the Killing in Tibet”.
After singing the Tibetan National Anthem Mr Tenzin Kunga spoke briefly on behalf of the organisers. He said that the gathering of Tibetans and their supporters in front the Chinese Embassy on this occasion was to send a strong message to the Chinese communist government to ask tough questions on the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. He further added that the forced “disappearance” case of the Panchen Lama would be followed-up.
Buddhists worldwide celebrate the holiest day in their annual calendar – Vaishakha Buddha Purnima Divas on Monday, 16th May.
The day is recognised as the Birth, Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, who was born in Lumbini, Nepal. After attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya in Bihar, northern India, Lord Buddha preached his first sermon at Sarnath and attained Nirvana in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh. According to Buddhist tradition, Queen Mahamayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama at around 623 B.C. in Lumbini, which was recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.
Organised by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in Delhi with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Buddhist leaders from over a dozen countries including Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama will release their messages as a part of the celebration.
The Chief Guest for the event will be Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, while the Guest of Honour will be Union Culture and Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy with Minister of State for Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal as special guest.
The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) is a global umbrella Buddhist body headquartered in New Delhi, India. Established under the patronage of the supreme Buddhist religious hierarchy, it currently has a membership drawn from 39 countries, of over 320 organisations, both monastic and lay, that include world bodies, national and regional federations, orders, temple bodies and monasteries, international organisations, institutions etc.
Meanwhile, on the same day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself is a Hindu Brahmin, will be in Lumbini to visit the sacred Mayadevi temple to offer prayers. He will also deliver an address at a Buddha Jayanti event organised by the Lumbini Development Trust under the aegis of the Government of Nepal.
According to reports, Prime Minister Modi will also participate in the Shilanyas ceremony for the construction of a unique centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage.
The construction of the unique India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage with a universal appeal will be undertaken by New Delhi-based International Buddhist Confederation under the auspices of the Lumbini Development Trust with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. International Buddhist Confederation is a grantee body under the Ministry of Culture. The Buddhist Centre will be the first Net Zero Emission building in Nepal.
India’s continued support to the Buddhist communities is a welcome development at a time when the Communist China engages in the total destruction of anything to do with Buddhism. This includes the destruction of Buddha statues in Tibet. According to reports, Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns were kicked out from their monasteries and nunneries whilst the Chinese authorities also demolished Buddhist learning centres in Tibet in recent years.
May the 5th is celebrated as Doppa Day. But what is it and how did it all get started? Tsering Passang, Founder and Chairman of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities, explains it all.
A young Uyghur activist, journalist and former political prisoner, named Tahir Imin, started the Doppa Festival in 2009. This festival was first held in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (aka East Turkistan), hometown of the young Uyghur activist. The festival was broadcast by the Central China TV (CCTV) in Beijing. By 2011 the festival gained popularity and spread in other parts of the country. A seminar on Doppa festival was even organised by the Yakan (Shache) county and Kashgar Prefecture local government.
Let’s not forget the history: After Mao Tsetung came to power and with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1st October 1949, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops invaded East Turkistan. The ongoing subjugation including crimes against humanity, the Uyghur genocide committed by the Chinese State is very well documented.
On the eve of Uyghur Doppa Day, the Executive Councilof the East Turkistan Government in Exile released aStatement, which said: “Given that the doppa is a symbolic but straightforward way of expressing East Turkistani / Uyghur national identity, the East Turkistan Government in Exile has encouraged Uyghurs and other East Turkistanis to wear their doppas daily. The doppa has essentially transformed into a symbol of resistance to China’s attempts to eradicate the unique culture, national identity, and very existence of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples.”
The Statement further said, “The East Turkistan Government in Exile also encourages friends, supporters, and all who sympathize with the Uyghurs to wear a doppa in solidarity with East Turkistan and its people, especially on May 5th – Uyghur Doppa Day.”
Doppa is a four-cornered hat that is an essential part of the traditional Uyghur dress. It is also traditionally worn by the Turkic peoples in Central Asia. Often brightly studded or embroidered with a distinctly Islamic and Turkic aesthetic, they are a point of pride for the Uyghurs of East Turkistan. It is said that there are over 250 different types of Doppas. The Doppa can signify gender, one’s hometown, which reflects a particular artistic tradition of where it’s produced.
The celebration of Doppa Day has clearly facilitated intercultural dialogue among the communities concerned. China’s deliberate policy of banning the Doppa in schools and other public places has alarmed the Uyghur people who fear that the Chinese government is on a mission to annihilate their traditional Uyghur culture.
Uyghur culture is a unique blend of East Asian, Central Asian and Islamic cultures as Uyghur cities such as Kashgar and Urumqi were historically major cities on the Silk Road which connected Asia in thought, commerce and society far before the invention of digital mass communication. Uyghur people are predominantly Muslims and speak the Uyghur language which is a Turkic language more closely related to Turkish and Kazakh than it is to its neighboring languages of Mandarin and Tibetan, it is traditionally written in Arabic script.
Last year, during the formal launch of the Stop Uyghur Genocide, a London-based non-governmental organisation, which campaigns for the rights of the Uyghur people, the Uyghur Community presented Doppas to some leading British supporters. Benedict Roger, CEO of the Hong Kong Watch, who was seen wearing the Doppa at a London rally, proudly explained that he was wearing the traditional Uyghur attire to show support and solidarity with the Uyghur people.
Who is Tahir Imin?
Tahir Imin, who was born in 1981, studied Islamic religion and Arabic in an underground religious school after graduating from high school. He taught at a religious centre which was later banned by the Chinese government. Tahir was imprisoned twice by the Chinese government due to his involvement in Uyghur cultural and religious activities. He was put in Xi Hu Lao Jiao Suo prison from 2005 to 2007.
After Chen Quanguo took up the highest Party Secretary position in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region from 2016 to 2021, it was almost impossible for Tahir to remain in his own homelands. Chen Quanguo, who previously served as the Party Secretary in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), is notoriously known for his hardliner position in Tibet. So, in 2017, Tahir fled the country and eventually moved to the United States. After he began speaking up about his experiences and human rights abuses of the Uyghur people at the hands of the Chinese authorities, the regime retaliated against him by imprisoning his family members, forcing his wife to divorce him, and not allowing him to contact his daughter.
Despite the difficult challenges, Tahir continued speaking out against the Chinese regime and its continued violations of civil, religious, political and human rights in East Turkistan. He subsequently founded Uyghur Times, a news agency which focuses on news from his homelands. An interview with Tahair Imin is available here.
This comprehensive report (see below) was filed by the International Campaign for Tibet and it is also available here. Sikyong Penpa Tsering has acknowledged that the International Campaign (ICT) for Tibet has played a very important part for the success of his first official visit to Washington DC, which was co-ordinated with the CTA’s Office of Tibet based in the US Capital. The ICT is the largest Tibet support group in the world founded in 1988, with offices in Germany, Holland and Belgium.
The Sikyong (President) of the Central Tibetan Administration visited Washington, DC last week, meeting with top US officials and influencers and building support for new initiatives on Tibet.
The Sikyong (President) of the Central Tibetan Administration visited Washington, DC last week, meeting with top US officials and influencers and building support for new initiatives on Tibet.
Penpa Tsering, who serves as the democratic leader of the Tibetan diaspora, had a full schedule in the US capital that included strategizing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; calling on Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch, R-Idaho, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; sitting down with Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Uzra Zeya; attending a luncheon with House Democracy Partnership members; visiting major DC think tanks; and engaging local Tibetan Americans and Chinese Americans.
The visit raised expectations for new US measures to support the Tibetan people over the coming months.
“The bi-partisan US commitment and global leadership in supporting the Tibet cause is a source of great hope for Tibetans in Tibet and outside and will always be remembered,” Penpa tweeted during his visit.
As the Special Coordinator, Zeya acts as the Biden administration’s point person on efforts to help resolve the Tibetan issue, promote Tibetan identity, protect Tibetan culture and heritage, and support the human rights of the Tibetan people.
Penpa also met with White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell and tweeted, “Was honoured to meet with US National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell, who for many years has worked on and well understands the case of Tibet. I look forward to expanding our cooperation to address the challenges Tibetans and the world face today.”
The first full day of Penpa’s visit was also the 33rd birthday of the Panchen Lama, the high-ranking Tibetan Buddhist leader who has not been seen in public since the Chinese government abducted him and his parents in 1995 when he was only 6 years old.
On his birthday, the State Department called on Chinese authorities to “account for [the Panchen Lama] Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s whereabouts and well-being immediately and to allow him to fully exercise his human rights and fundamental freedoms.” This was met with a Chinese spokesperson’s reaction the next day claiming, “The so-called reincarnated spiritual child is just an ordinary Chinese citizen living a normal life. He and his family do not want their normal life to be disturbed by others.”
Penpa also met with Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain. The meeting included Zeekgyab Rinpoche, abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama. Zeekgyab Rinpoche took part in several of the Sikyong’s events throughout the week.
That evening, the Office of Tibet, along with the Capital Area Tibetan Association and International Campaign for Tibet, hosted a reception for the Panchen Lama’s birthday that included remarks from Penpa, Zeekgyab Rinpoche, Hussain, US Commission on International Religious Freedom Vice Chair Nury Turkel, former Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former Ambassador Kelley Currie, State Department official Scott Busby and others.
Sikyong went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for meetings with Congressional leaders.
He and Zeekgyab Rinpoche met with Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., a longtime friend of Tibet and Co-Chair of both the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
For lunch, Zeekgyab Rinpoche visited the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group that promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for the Tibetan people.
Rinpoche helped ICT celebrate several employees who have been with the organization for 10 years or longer.
Meanwhile, Sikyong continued meeting with State Department officials, as well as US Senate staff.
Thursday, April 28
Thursday was a full day of meetings for Sikyong with Congressional leaders. Richard Gere, the Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, joined Penpa on Capitol Hill.
Their meetings included Risch, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
The House Democracy Partnership hosted a luncheon for Penpa that was attended by Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa.; Andy Kim, D-N.J., David Cicilline, D-R.I., and French Hill, R-Ark.
Date: Saturday, 14th May 2022 | Interfaith programme starts at 1pm
Venue: Tibetan Peace Garden (near Imperial War Museum), Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, St. George’s Road, London SE1 6ER
The Lelung Dharma Trust is hosting ‘Celebrating Peace and Cultural Diversity’ on the occasion of the Tibetan Peace Garden’s 23rd Anniversary on Saturday, 14th May 2022 from 12pm at the Tibetan Peace Garden, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, St. George’s Road, London SE1 6ER.
The main Interfaith programme starts at 1pm. It is expected to last about an hour. Leaders from different Faith communities will pray and give addresses, followed by songs and music from Tibet, Mongolia and India.
A key objective of this special event is to bring people together at a challenging time to celebrate and promote Peace and Cultural Diversity. The Tibetan Peace Garden was officially opened by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 13th May 1999. His Message of Peace is inscribed on the Stone Pillar in four languages: Tibetan, English, Hindi and Chinese. Located next to the Imperial War Museum, the Tibetan Peace Garden was commissioned by the Tibet Foundation, which is now closed.
The Lelung Dharma Trust is pleased to be involved with the Tibetan Peace Garden because the Peace Garden has the blessing and support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Lelung Dharma Trust is committed towards preserving and supporting this important Tibet landmark.
Through this special event the Lelung Dharma Trust also aim to highlight His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first two Principal Commitments:
Firstly, as a human being, His Holiness is concerned with encouraging people to be happy – helping them understand that if their minds are upset mere physical comfort will not bring them peace, but if their minds are at peace even physical pain will not disturb their calm. He advocates the cultivation of warm-heartedness and human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. He says that as human beings we are all the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who have no religious belief can benefit if they incorporate these human values into their lives. His Holiness refers to such human values as secular ethics or universal values. He is committed to talking about the importance of such values and sharing them with everyone he meets.
Secondly, as a Buddhist monk, His Holiness is committed to encouraging harmony among the world’s religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences between them, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognise the value of their respective traditions. The idea that there is one truth and one religion is relevant to the individual practitioner. However, with regard to the wider community, he says, there is a need to recognise that human beings observe several religions and several aspects of the truth.
Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and as the ‘Dalai Lama’ is the focus of the Tibetan people’s hope and trust. Therefore, he is committed to preserving Tibetan language and culture, the heritage Tibetans received from the masters of India’s Nalanda University, while also speaking up for the protection of Tibet’s natural environment.
In addition, His Holiness has lately spoken of his commitment to reviving awareness of the value of ancient Indian knowledge among young Indians today. His Holiness is convinced that the rich ancient Indian understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions, as well as the techniques of mental training, such as meditation, developed by Indian traditions, are of great relevance today. Since India has a long history of logic and reasoning, he is confident that its ancient knowledge, viewed from a secular, academic perspective, can be combined with modern education. He considers that India is, in fact, specially placed to achieve this combination of ancient and modern modes of knowing in a fruitful way so that a more integrated and ethically grounded way of being in the world can be promoted within contemporary society.
For information and inquiries, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | 07927376532
In its latest 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which was released on 12th April 2022, the US State Department once again highlighted that “Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.” After Mao Tsetung came to power in 1949, East Turkestan (Ch: Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) was invaded by the People’s Republic of China.
After the US State Department released the latest report, Dharamsala-based Central Tibetan Administration filed a news report on its website, stating, “The report specifically highlighted the cases of Tibetan political prisoners Tenzin Nyima and Kunchok Jinpa who died after suffering severe beatings in prison; the forced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama, the arbitrary arrest of Derung Tsering Dhundrup in 2019, Go Sherab Gyatso in 2020, Konmay in 2021, the denial of fair trial to four Tibetan monks from the Tengro Monastery in 2020, and the extrajudicial sentencing of Tibetan writers including Dhi Lhaden, among others. The report also noted the harsh prison conditions in Tibet including inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care as well as denial of visitation rights including attorney to the prisoners.”
The Global Alliance for Tibet and Persecuted Communities (GATPM) welcomes this latest Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by the US State Department. China’s ongoing gross violations of human rights as well as its crimes against humanity must be exposed and held accountable. As the leader of the free world the United States has done a remarkable job by releasing this latest Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
For full links to the relevant sections, please see the bottom of the Executive Summary:
The People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party is the paramount authority. Communist Party members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the Communist Party Central Committee’s 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) and its seven-member Standing Committee. Xi Jinping continued to hold the three most powerful positions as party general secretary, state president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The main domestic security agencies include the Ministry of State Security, the Ministry of Public Security, and the People’s Armed Police. The People’s Armed Police continue to be under the dual authority of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Central Military Commission. The People’s Liberation Army is primarily responsible for external security but also has some domestic security responsibilities. Local jurisdictions also frequently use civilian municipal security forces, known as “urban management” officials, to enforce administrative measures. Civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed serious and pervasive abuses.
Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and included: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of the country’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearances by the government; torture by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; arbitrary detention by the government, including the mass detention of more than one million Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim minority groups in extrajudicial internment camps and an additional two million subjected to daytime-only “re-education” training; political prisoners; politically motivated reprisal against individuals outside the country; the lack of an independent judiciary and Communist Party control over the judicial and legal system; arbitrary interference with privacy including pervasive and intrusive technical surveillance and monitoring; punishment of family members for offenses allegedly committed by an individual; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members; serious restrictions on internet freedom, including site blocking; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws that apply to foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations; severe restrictions and suppression of religious freedom; substantial restrictions on freedom of movement; refoulement of asylum seekers to North Korea, where they have a well founded fear of persecution, including torture and sexual violence; the inability of citizens to choose their government peacefully through free and fair elections; serious restrictions on political participation; serious acts of government corruption; forced sterilization and coerced abortions; trafficking in persons, including forced labor; violence targeting members of national, racial, and ethnic minority groups; severe restrictions on labor rights, including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own choosing; and child labor.
Government officials and the security services often committed human rights abuses with impunity. Authorities often announced investigations following cases of reported killings by police but did not announce results or findings of police malfeasance or disciplinary action. Enforcement of laws on corruption was inconsistent and not transparent, and corruption was rampant.
In its latest annual report titled, “The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule”, Freedom Houseputs Tibet joint-worst country/territory in the world. This leading US Think Tank rates people’s access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 countries and territories through its annual Freedom in the World report. Individual freedoms—ranging from the right to vote to freedom of expression and equality before the law—can be affected by state or nonstate actors.
Below is the excerpt on Tibet from the Freedom House Report:
Tibet is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government based in Beijing, with local decision-making power concentrated in the hands of Chinese party officials. Residents of both Han Chinese and Tibetan ethnicity are denied fundamental rights, but the authorities are especially rigorous in suppressing any signs of dissent among Tibetans, including manifestations of Tibetan religious beliefs and cultural identity. State policies, such as incentives for non-Tibetan people to migrate from other parts of China and the compulsory relocation of ethnic Tibetans, have reduced the ethnic Tibetan share of the population over time.
Key Developments in 2021
In March, the authorities announced that nearly 2,000 “inspectors” were being deployed to police Tibetan rural communities and enforce tighter travel restrictions, particularly near international borders in the south.
Chinese government officials continued to leverage the COVID-19 pandemic, among other justifications, to restrict religious practice, including by closing or limiting access to Buddhist temples and monasteries. Officials also imposed increasingly oppressive ideological controls and political indoctrination within temples and monasteries, and supplemented internal video surveillance at such sites with human supervisors and informants.
As part of a broader program of military training and indoctrination for ethnic Tibetan students, new rules introduced during the year required students who receive government aid for their schooling to enroll in two years of military training.
A Electoral Process
A1 0-4 pts
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?
The Chinese government rules Tibet through administration of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and 12 Tibetan autonomous prefectures or counties in the nearby provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan. Under the Chinese constitution, autonomous areas have the right to formulate their own regulations and implement national legislation in accordance with local conditions. In practice, however, decision-making authority is concentrated in the hands of unelected ethnic (Han) Chinese officials of the CCP, which has a monopoly on political power. Wang Junzheng, former deputy party secretary and chief security officer in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), was appointed to replace Wu Yingjie as TAR party secretary in October 2021, raising grave concerns that the leadership was planning to expand the draconian policies it had adopted in the XUAR to the TAR.
The few ethnic Tibetans who occupy senior executive positions serve mostly as figureheads or echo official doctrine. In October 2021, Yan Jinhai, an ethnic Tibetan official who had most recently served as the Lhasa party secretary, was chosen as chairman (governor) of the TAR. He replaced Che Dalha, another ethnic Tibetan who had held the post since 2017. The TAR chairman is formally elected by the regional people’s congress, but in practice such decisions are predetermined by the CCP leadership.
A2 0-4 pts
Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?
The regional people’s congress of the TAR, which is formally elected by lower-level people’s congresses, chooses delegates to China’s 3,000-member National People’s Congress (NPC) every five years. In practice, all candidates are vetted by the CCP. The current TAR people’s congress held its first session in January 2018, and the current NPC was seated that March.
A3 0-4 pts
Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?
As in the rest of China, direct elections are only permitted at the lowest administrative levels. Tight political controls and aggressive state interference ensure that competitive races with independent candidates are even rarer in Tibet than in other parts of the country. Regulations published in 2014 placed significant restrictions on candidates for village elections, excluding those who have attended religious teachings abroad, have communicated with overseas Tibetans, or have relatives studying at monasteries outside China.
B Political Pluralism and Participation
B1 0-4 pts
Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?
All organized political activity outside the CCP is illegal and harshly punished, as is any evidence of loyalty to or communication with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)—a representative body based in Dharamsala, India, that is often referred to as a government-in-exile.
The CTA includes an elected parliament serving five-year terms, a Supreme Justice Commission that adjudicates civil disputes, and a directly elected prime minister, also serving five-year terms. Votes are collected from the Tibetan diaspora around the world. The unelected Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who also traditionally served as head of state, renounced his political role in 2011. In May 2021, Penpa Tsering was elected as prime minister of the CTA, replacing Lobsang Sangay, who stepped down after serving two terms.
B2 0-4 pts
Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?
As in China as a whole, the one-party system structurally precludes and rigorously suppresses the development of any organized political opposition. Tibet has never experienced a peaceful and democratic transfer of power between rival groups.
B3 0-4 pts
Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means?
The authoritarian CCP is not accountable to voters and denies the public any meaningful influence or independent participation in political affairs.
B4 0-4 pts
Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities?
Political opportunities for ethnic Tibetans within Tibet remain limited. Ethnic Chinese officials dominate top-level and strategic positions in the CCP and government, while ethnic Tibetans are restricted to lower-level and rubber-stamp positions. The authorities vigorously suppress and harshly punish any independent political or civic engagement by ethnic Tibetans, even on local community issues that were considered less politically sensitive in previous decades.
Women are well represented in many public-sector jobs and CCP posts within the TAR, though most high-level officials are men, and women are unable to organize independently to advance their political interests.
C Functioning of Government
C1 0-4 pts
Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?
As elsewhere in China, unelected CCP officials determine and implement government policies in Tibet. Constitutionally, the TAR, like other ethnic minority regions, should enjoy greater autonomy than other provinces, but in practice it is controlled even more tightly by the central government.
In March 2018, the CCP Central Committee announced significant structural reforms that reduced the already limited separation between the party and state governance, placing CCP entities—like the United Front Work Department—more explicitly in charge of policy areas including religious affairs and ethnic minorities, which are especially relevant for Tibet.
C2 0-4 pts
Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective?
Corruption is believed to be extensive, as it is in China more generally, though little information is available on the scale of the problem.
There have been moves in recent years to curb graft among the region’s officials as part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s nationwide anticorruption campaign. However, many prosecutions are believed to be politically selective or amount to reprisals for perceived political and religious disloyalty. Efforts to control corruption are monopolized by the CCP leadership; as elsewhere in China, citizens who seek to expose official misdeeds in Tibet have faced detention and prosecution.
C3 0-4 pts
Does the government operate with openness and transparency?
Governance is opaque in all of China but even more so in Tibet. A study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, published in 2017, ranked cities and counties nationwide by their level of government transparency; Lhasa, the capital of the TAR, scored lowest among the cities, and the TAR’s Nang County was the lowest among the counties under examination.
Is the government or occupying power deliberately changing the ethnic composition of a country or territory so as to destroy a culture or tip the political balance in favor of another group?
In recent years, the Chinese government has accelerated policies that decrease the proportion of Tibetans in the TAR and undermine their cultural and religious identity—part of a renewed, nationwide campaign to “Sinicize” religious and ethnic minority populations. The implementation of the government’s 2019–20 Farmer and Pastoralist Training and Labor Transfer Action Plan forced tens of thousands of additional Tibetan farmers and nomads to surrender their land-use rights to state-run collectives, become wage laborers, and move to urban areas where they are crowded into large apartment blocks. While the plan’s stated goal is to alleviate rural poverty, in practice it has prevented tens of thousands of Tibetans from pursuing their traditional way of life, depriving them of their economic livelihood and connection to the land. Moreover, transferring Tibetans to urban areas facilitates their exposure to more intense state surveillance and CCP propaganda. Authorities have also invoked the goal of environmental conservation to justify the forcible relocation of Tibetans from their ancestral land. Parallel government policies continue to encourage ethnic Chinese migration to the TAR, for example by recruiting workers for infrastructure projects in the region; such migrants typically do not change their household registration, meaning their numbers are not reflected in official statistics. “Ethnic unity” regulations promote intermarriage between Han Chinese and Tibetans through financial incentives, further eroding Tibetans’ distinct cultural and religious identity.
More than 500,000 Tibetans have been sent to military-led “vocational training” facilities since the beginning of 2020. The programs separate individuals from their communities, subject them to political indoctrination, and pressure them to abandon their religious beliefs and “backward thinking.” Local officials are said to be given specific quotas for the number of Tibetans they are required to enroll in such programs. Trainees are forced into wage labor, making them dependent on the state and allied private employers for their jobs and income. All those who receive state benefits, as well as state employees, are required to denounce the Dalai Lama, abandon their religious beliefs, and profess political loyalty to the CCP.
The authorities have set up military-style summer “education camps” for Tibetan children between the ages of 8 and 16 in areas near the militarized border with India. The official purpose of the camps is to train young people in military discipline, increase their patriotism, and prepare them to take part in national defense. The compulsory program separates children from their families, further weakening their connection to Tibetan culture, and prevents them from attending Tibetan language classes during school breaks; Tibetan has been phased out as a language of instruction in schools over the past decade. New rules introduced during 2021 required Tibetan secondary-school and college students who receive government aid for their education to enroll in two years of military training.
D Freedom of Expression and Belief
D1 0-4 pts
Are there free and independent media?
CCP authorities control traditional and social media in Tibet even more strictly than in Han Chinese areas of the country. Individuals who use the internet, social media, or other means to share politically sensitive news content or commentary face arrest and heavy criminal penalties. Tibetan cultural expression, which the authorities associate with separatism, is subject to especially harsh restrictions; scores of Tibetan writers, intellectuals, and musicians have been incarcerated in recent years.
Deliberate internet blackouts occur periodically in Tibet, including in areas where public demonstrations have occurred. International broadcasts are jammed, and personal communication devices are confiscated and searched. The online censorship and monitoring systems in place across China are applied more stringently in the TAR, while censorship of Tibet-related keywords on the popular messaging application WeChat has become more sophisticated.
The TAR is the only provincial-level region of China that requires foreigners to obtain a special permit to enter, and foreign journalists are regularly prevented from visiting. Journalists also face barriers in access to Tibetan areas of Sichuan and other provinces, though no permission is officially required to travel to those places. Tibetans who communicate with foreign media or other foreign contacts without permission face criminal prosecution and long prison sentences. Four Tibetan monks were tried in September 2020 and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 20 years for sending messages to colleagues outside Tibet regarding charitable aid to a monastery in Nepal that was damaged by an earthquake. Sharing local information online can also lead to punishment. In August 2021, a group of 110 Tibetans were detained for posting photos of the police presence ahead of a traditional annual horse-racing festival.
D2 0-4 pts
Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?
Religious practice is carefully managed and increasingly restricted in Tibet. The government’s efforts to “Sinicize” Tibetan Buddhism have accelerated in recent years, with officials requiring Tibetan Buddhist clergy and lay believers to pledge their loyalty to the CCP and socialism above their religious beliefs, to denounce the Dalai Lama, and to attend increasingly long political education sessions. The Chinese authorities view Tibetan reverence for the Dalai Lama and adherence to the region’s unique form of Buddhism as a threat to CCP rule. Possession of Dalai Lama–related materials—especially in the TAR—continues to result in detention and possible criminal prosecution.
Political and ideological indoctrination within monasteries and nunneries intensified during 2021, with monks and nuns subjected to invasive and onerous supervision. “Management committees” made up of CCP cadres and police were given increased authority to directly control the daily operations of religious communities. “Intelligent temple management” systems operate in nearly all religious institutions, including pervasive video surveillance in all temples and monasteries. In 2021, authorities continued to use the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to shut down monasteries and nunneries and to restrict hours for worship in many temples. The authorities employ a range of strategies to reduce the number of individuals pursuing religious education or engaged in religious activities. Those who wish to become monks or nuns must be at least 18 years old, and religious education for children is prohibited.
The Chinese government has asserted its intention to select the successor of the current Dalai Lama, who turned 86 in July 2021, and has promoted its own appointee to serve as the Panchen Lama, a religious figure who plays an important role in identifying the reincarnation of a Dalai Lama, according to Tibetan Buddhist rituals. The location of the Panchen Lama who was originally recognized by the current Dalai Lama remains unknown; he was abducted by Chinese officials in 1995, when he was six years old.
D3 0-4 pts
Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?
University professors cannot lecture on certain topics, and many must attend political indoctrination sessions. The government restricts course materials to prevent circulation of unofficial versions of Tibetan history and has phased out the use of Tibetan as the language of instruction in schools over the past decade. Private and monastery schools have been largely shut down in recent years in an effort to force students into government-run schools—many of them boarding schools—where Mandarin is the only language of instruction.
D4 0-4 pts
Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution?
Freedom of expression, including in private, is severely limited by factors including authorities’ monitoring of electronic communications, a heavy security presence, recruitment of informants, and regular ideological campaigns in Tibetan areas. The authorities in Tibet make use of an invasive security and censorship system that features nearly ubiquitous video cameras, use of facial-recognition technology, “smart” identity cards, and integrated surveillance systems that allow tracking of residents and tourists in real time. Hundreds of “security centers” operate across the region, with more than 130 in Lhasa alone.
Ordinary Tibetans are regularly detained or sentenced to prison for verbally expressing support for the Dalai Lama and independence for Tibet, sharing images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag on social media, or sending information abroad about self-immolation protests. Scores of Tibetans have been detained for expressing support for Tibetan language rights on social media.
E Associational and Organizational Rights
E1 0-4 pts
Is there freedom of assembly?
Chinese authorities severely restrict freedom of assembly as part of the government’s intensified “stability maintenance” policies in Tibet. Control and surveillance of public gatherings extend beyond major towns to villages and rural areas. Even nonviolent protesters are rapidly and often violently dispersed and harshly punished.
The number of self-immolations, typically intended to protest CCP rule, has declined sharply in the last few years due to information blackouts, heightened security and surveillance, and harsh punishments of those associated with self-immolators. Engaging in self-immolation and organizing, assisting, or gathering crowds related to such acts are considered criminal offenses, drawing charges of intentional homicide in some cases.
Despite the restrictions, Tibetans continue to seek ways to express their views on government policies through sporadic solitary or small-scale protests in public places, with participants briefly calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, the release of the Panchen Lama, or independence for Tibet, before being seized by police.
E2 0-4 pts
Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?
It is virtually impossible for Tibetans to establish and operate nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) without facing punishment by the authorities. Even seemingly apolitical social and community engagement is no longer tolerated. At least 121 Tibetans, many of them members of the Association for the Preservation of the Tibetan Language, were detained in an August 2021 sweep in Kardze Prefecture, Sichuan Province, for supporting Tibetan language rights and possessing pictures of the Dalai Lama. Foreign NGOs are generally not allowed to operate in Tibet.
E3 0-4 pts
Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations?
Independent trade unions are illegal in Tibet, as they are in China as a whole. The only legal union organization is the government-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which has long been criticized for failing to properly defend workers’ rights. Labor activism in Tibet is riskier and therefore much rarer than in other parts of China. According to the NGO China Labour Bulletin, no strikes were documented in the TAR during 2021, and only one protest over wage arrears was recorded in Lhasa for the whole year, compared with more than a thousand labor actions in the rest of the country.
F Rule of Law
F1 0-4 pts
Is there an independent judiciary?
The CCP controls the judicial system, and courts consequently lack independence. Courts at all levels are supervised by party political-legal committees that influence the appointment of judges, court operations, and verdicts and sentences. Given the political sensitivity of Tibetan issues, the scope for autonomous judicial decision-making in Tibetan areas is even more limited than elsewhere in China.
F2 0-4 pts
Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?
Tibetans are systematically denied due process in criminal matters. Among other abuses, they are subjected to arbitrary arrest, denial of family visits, long periods of enforced disappearance, solitary confinement, and illegal pretrial detention. Authorities often fail to inform families of the detention, whereabouts, and well-being of loved ones. Following the detention of writer and Buddhism teacher Lobsang Lhundup in June 2019, nothing about his whereabouts or status was publicly known until it was reported in October 2021 that he had been sentenced to four years in prison, after a secret trial, for writing a book in which he criticized the Chinese government’s policies in the TAR. Tibetans have even less access to legal representation of their choice than Han Chinese; lawyers seeking to defend them are routinely harassed, denied access to their clients, blocked from attending relevant hearings, and in some cases disbarred in retaliation. Trials are closed if state security interests are invoked, which sometimes occurs even when no political crime is listed.
Estimates for the number of Tibetan political prisoners in detention range from 1,000 as of the end of 2020 to more than 1,800 as of 2021, according to the NGO Dui Hua and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, respectively.
F3 0-4 pts
Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?
Detained suspects and prisoners are subject to torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Many Tibetan prisoners of conscience die in custody under circumstances indicating torture, and others are released with severe injuries and in extremely poor health, apparently to avoid deaths in custody. Many of the latter subsequently succumb to their injuries. The 121 or more Tibetans who were detained in Kardze Prefecture in August 2021 were reported to have been denied food, clothing, and medical care.
F4 0-4 pts
Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?
Ethnic Tibetans face a range of socioeconomic disadvantages and discriminatory treatment by employers, law enforcement agencies, and other official bodies. The dominant role of the Chinese language in education and employment limits opportunities for many Tibetans. While Tibetans are supposed to receive preferential treatment in university admission examinations, this is often not enough to secure entrance. Changes in the scoring system in 2021 made it more difficult for Tibetan students to gain admission to top-tier national-level secondary schools that offer study of the Tibetan language. Tibetans who apply for public-sector jobs—including cleaners and other low-level staff—are required to denounce the Dalai Lama, renounce their religious beliefs, and demonstrate their political loyalty in other ways that fundamentally negate their ethnic and cultural identity.
As in the rest of China, gender bias against women remains widespread, despite laws barring workplace discrimination. LGBT+ people suffer from discrimination, though same-sex sexual activity is not criminalized. Social pressures discourage discussion of LGBT+ issues.
G Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
G1 0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?
The TAR features extreme restrictions on freedom of movement that disproportionately affect ethnic Tibetans. Obstacles including troop deployments, checkpoints, roadblocks, required bureaucratic approvals, and passport restrictions impede freedom of movement both within Tibetan areas—especially the TAR—and between those areas and the outside world. In March 2021, the authorities announced that nearly 2,000 “inspectors” were being deployed to police Tibetan rural communities and staff about 700 “discipline committees” across the region. The increased state scrutiny included tighter travel restrictions and the need for permits to enter certain areas, particularly near international borders in the south.
While Han Chinese tourists have been encouraged to visit the TAR, the movements of foreign tourists, journalists, diplomats, and others are tightly controlled, and they are often denied entry. Foreign tourists must travel in groups with state-approved tour guides and obtain official permission to visit the TAR. Even then, last-minute travel bans are periodically imposed. Tibetans face nearly insurmountable hurdles in obtaining a passport for foreign travel, and foreign nationals of Tibetan origin face enormous challenges when seeking a visa to visit Tibet, in some cases waiting for years only for their request to be denied.
Increased security efforts and Nepalese government cooperation have made it difficult for Tibetans to cross the border into Nepal. In recent years some Tibetan pilgrims who have traveled abroad have faced detention upon return to China.
G2 0-4 pts
Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors?
The economy is dominated by state-owned enterprises and private businesses with informal ties to officials. Tibetans reportedly find it more difficult than ethnic Chinese residents to obtain permits and loans to open businesses.
The multiyear policy of forcing Tibetans off their rural land and into the urban wage economy has given the state additional leverage over a growing proportion of the population, as those affected lose their self-reliance and increasingly depend on market wages and government subsidies for their income.
G3 0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?
The central government further loosened family planning regulations nationwide in 2021, allowing all families to have up to three children—after having ended the long-standing one-child policy in 2016 by allowing couples to have up to two children. While the change means a likely decrease in the number of people who experience punitive aspects of the system, such as high fines, job dismissal, reduced government benefits, and detention, the authorities continue to regulate reproduction, and related abuses and punishments are occasionally reported.
In the past, China’s family-planning policies were formally more lenient for Tibetans and members of other ethnic minority groups. Officials limited urban Tibetans to two children and encouraged rural Tibetans to stop at three, at a time when Han Chinese couples were limited to one child. As a result, the TAR is one of the few areas of China without a skewed sex ratio.
State policies that actively encourage interethnic marriages with financial and other incentives, and that require couples to designate a single ethnicity for their children, are among the ongoing policies that have reduced the ethnic Tibetan share of the TAR’s population. Tibetan women are vulnerable to human trafficking schemes that result in forced marriage.
G4 0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?
Exploitative employment practices are pervasive in many industries, as is the case across China, though ethnic Tibetans report additional disadvantages in hiring and compensation. Human trafficking that targets Tibetan women can lead to forced prostitution or exploitative employment in domestic service and other economic sectors elsewhere in China. The herders, farmers, and other Tibetans who are forced off their rural land and resettled in towns and cities are extremely vulnerable to exploitation by public and private employers alike.
Today marks the 32nd Anniversary of the Baren Uprising, which took place in Akto County, Kizilsu Kirghiz Prefecture, near Kashgar in East Turkistan, from 5th to 10th April 1990. This Uprising saw the loss of up to 3000 lives which subsequently resulted in the deterioration of human rights of the Uyghurs in their own country.
According to Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, “The Baren Uprising is still fresh in our collective memory. The police brutality against peaceful protestors then was witnessed again decades later”. The exiled Uyghur leader further added, “The Baren Uprising should have alarmed the international community, but the silence then only contributed to the brutal repression that followed.”
On 5th April 1990, the first day of the Baren Uprising, local leader Zeydin Yusup led a group of around 200 Uyghur men and marched to the local government office in Akto County, demanding greater representation and speaking out against the significant influx of Chinese migrants into East Turkistan as well as the wider discriminatory policies and religious and cultural restrictions on the Uyghur people. By the end of 6th April, over 18,000 China’s PLA troops had been reportedly dispatched to the region to crackdown on the peaceful demonstrations. The population of Baren at the time was only about 19,000. Four days later, the demonstrations had been brutally dispersed, leading to the deaths of countless Uyghurs.
London-based Uyghur activist Rahima Mahmut, Executive Director of the Stop Uyghur Genocide, said, “The international community must recognise that the Chinese government will continue to terrorise the Uyghur population if they feel they can do so with impunity. We call on governments, institutions and corporations around the world to disentangle themselves from the atrocities being carried out in my homeland, and to hold the Chinese government accountable for the history of repression that has culminated in the genocide currently being perpetrated against my people.”
Tsering Passang, Chairman of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities, who monitors China’s policies in its occupied countries, said, “Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Tsetung sent PLA troops to invade East Turkistan and Tibet in 1949 and 1950 respectively. People in these occupied countries continue to endure severe crackdowns under the Chinese rule. On this poignant 32nd anniversary of the Baren Uprising, we at the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities stand in solidarity with our friends in East Turkistan. We condemn China’s ongoing persecutions. We also call on the international community to exert maximum pressure on the Chinese regime to respect the fundamental rights of the China’s persecuted communities.”
India welcomes young Dalai Lama of Tibet after his escape from Communist China
On 17th March 1959, a few minutes before ten o’clock in the evening, His Holiness the Dalai Lama disguised as a common soldier, slipped past the massive throng of people along with a small escort and proceeded towards the Kyichu river, Lhasa where he was joined by the rest of his entourage, including some members of his immediate family. A week earlier on 10th March 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans surrounded Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama where he was staying at the time. Each year, Tibetans worldwide commemorate the Tibetan National Uprising Day on 10th of March. (Click here Why Tibetans worldwide commemorate March 1oth?)
After several weeks of trek across the Himalayas, on 31 March 1959, His Holiness and his entourage reached the Indian border from where they were escorted by Indian guards to the town of Bomdila in the present day Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian government had already agreed to provide asylum to the Dalai Lama and his followers in India.
Soon after his arrival in Mussoorie on 20 April 1959, His Holiness met with the Indian Prime Minister and the two talked about rehabilitating the Tibetan refugees.
Realising the importance of modern education for the children of Tibetan refugees, His Holiness impressed upon Nehru the need to create a Special Section for Tibetan Education within the Indian Ministry of Education. The Indian Government agreed to bear all the expenses for setting up the schools for the Tibetan children.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first press conference in India, in Mussoorie in 1959, repudiating the 17 Point Agreement which was signed under duress in Beijing on May 23, 1951.
Thinking the time was ripe for him to break his elected silence, His Holiness called a press conference on 20 June 1959 during which he formally repudiated the Seventeen-Point Agreement. In the field of administration, too, His Holiness was able to make radical changes. He oversaw the creation of various new Tibetan administrative departments. These included the Departments of Information, Education, Home, Security, Religious Affairs and Economic Affairs. Most of the Tibetan refugees, whose number had grown to almost 30,000, were moved to road-building camps in the hills of northern India.
On 10 March 1960 just before leaving for Dharamsala with the eighty or so officials who comprised the Central Tibetan Administration, His Holiness made a statement on the first anniversary of the Tibetan People’s Uprising. “On this first occasion, I stressed the need for my people to take a long-term view of the situation in Tibet. For those of us in exile, I said that our priority must be resettlement and the continuity of our cultural traditions. As to the future, I stated my belief that, with truth, justice and courage as our weapons, we Tibetans would eventually prevail in regaining freedom for Tibet”.
Never Forget Tibet
The World Premiere of a very special new documentary about His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is being screened on 31st March 2022, for one night only, across the US. Please see the trailer here.