China interferes with Tibetan Buddhist cremation?

Standard

Tibetan monk cremated in Nepal despite China controversy

Nepal accused of bowing to Chinese pressure in refusal to allow passage of deceased monk’s body

Senior Tibetan Buddhist guru Gyalwang Karmapa (R) consoles a monk during the cremation ceremony of senior Tibetan Buddhist monk Shamar Rinpoche at Shar Minub monastery in Kathmandu on July 31, 2014 ( Prakash Mathema (AFP) )

Thousands of mourners, many in tears, gathered in Kathmandu to pay tribute to a senior Tibetan Buddhist monk whose cremation was initially blocked by Nepal, sparking claims it had caved to pressure from China.

Monks chanted prayers and played traditional music as they lit the funeral pyre under the shade of a multicoloured canopy surrounded by Buddhist flags.

Nepal, which had initially granted approval for Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche’s body to be transported to Kathmandu from neighbouring India for cremation, retracted permission two weeks later, fuelling accusations that it was bowing to pressure from Beijing.

Buddhist monks attend the funeral of senior Tibetan Buddhist monk Shamar Rinpoche at Shar Minub monastery in Kathmandu on July 31, 2014 ( Prakash Mathema (AFP) )

Kathmandu denied the claims and said it did not know that Rinpoche, who died of a heart attack in Germany last month, held a Bhutanese passport when the original permit was issued.

The Himalayan nation, home to around 20,000 Tibetans, is under intense pressure from China to contain the activities of exiles who have fled their homeland.

After intense lobbying from Tibetan Buddhist scholars and followers, Nepal overturned its earlier ban but warned against hosting “any other function other than last rites” at the funeral site.

Organisers said an estimated 20,000 people attended the ceremony, including thousands who had flown in from overseas.

Buddhist monks and followers attend the funeral of senior Tibetan Buddhist monk Shamar Rinpoche at Shar Minub monastery in Kathmandu on July 31, 2014 ( Prakash Mathema (AFP) )

“He is not just a spiritual leader, but like a father to us. I had to be here,” said Joseph Chan, a 38-year-old American.

Rinpoche, 62, was the 14th Shamarpa of the Karma Kagyupa lineage, also known as the Red Hat Lama of Tibet, and one of the most senior figures in Tibetan Buddhism with followers in Asia and Europe.

“I have known him for 25 years. He has guided my studies and my life,” Jan Lazicki, a 57-year-old printing engineer from Poland, told AFP.

Rinpoche’s body was cremated in a special ceremony at the Shar Minub Institute in Kathmandu, a monastery built by him.

Buddhist monks weep during the cremation of senior Tibetan Buddhist monk Shamar Rinpoche at Shar Minub monastery in Kathmandu on July 31, 2014 ( Prakash Mathema (AFP) )

Organisers had put up screens live-streaming the ceremony for Rinpoche’s followers. As smoke rose above the monastery, many burst into tears while others chanted, holding prayer beads in their hands.

“He had chosen Nepal for his cremation and we are happy that the government understood and allowed this ceremony,” said Tsering Dhundup from the Shamarpa Foundation, which had organised the proceedings.

Special report on China’s move to punish Tibetans

Standard

prisoner-report-banner3

Today the International Campaign for Tibet is releasing a Special Report on China’s move to punish Tibetans allegedly “associated” with self-immolators, including friends, families and even entire communities. The report documents the impact of measures announced in response to self-immolations across Tibet (now totalling 131), which have resulted in a spike in political imprisonments, including one instance of the death penalty, and numerous cases of Tibetans being ‘disappeared’, with family and friends unaware of whether or not they are still alive, often for weeks or months. To see the full report: http://www.savetibet.org/acts-of-significant-evil/

 

ICT Statement UN CESCR Review of China – 5 May 2014

Standard

Mr. Chairman,

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is deeply concerned about the deterioration of economic, social and cultural rights in Tibet since China’s last review under the International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 2005. Conditions for the Tibetan people have worsened in all spheres of life due to the intensification of repressive policies and laws implemented by the Chinese government, de facto curtailing their right to self-determination, as outlined in Article 1 of the ICESCR, and violating many others.

Let me go through some of the main ones.

Article 11 – The right to an adequate standard of living, as defined in the ICESCR, includes adequate food, clothing and housing. Forced evictions, defined as permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals from the homes and land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection, are a violation of the right to housing.[1]

In Tibet, the implementation of Chinese policies to relocate Tibetan nomads in remote settlements and urban areas is a threat to the survival of an ancient way of life that is integral to Tibetan identity as well as the livelihoods of Tibetan nomads, resulting into the violation of further rights, such as the right to work. Resettlement policies in Tibet are usually carried out without consultation or consent, and local people have no right to challenge them or refuse to participate.

Article 13 – The right to education

The Chinese government claims that it promotes education in ethnic minority regions and that 94.7% of all ethnic counties achieved nine-year compulsory education.[2]

On paper, the number of educational institutions in Tibet has increased. However, the quality of education appears to offer little benefit to Tibetan children. Most schools in Tibet are Chinese-centric environments. The official language in most classrooms is Mandarin, which is not only difficult for Tibetan children to understand, as about 80% of Tibetans[3] do not speak Mandarin, but also leads to the assimilation of Tibetans in to Chinese culture, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

In November 2012 thousands of Tibetan tertiary students protested against issues including the government language policy. In April 2013, eight of these students were sentenced to up to four years in prison.[4]

Article 15 – The right to cultural life requires non-interference with the exercise of cultural practices as well as positive action from the State party.[5]

Tibetan culture is closely linked to Tibetan Buddhism.

China stated that it pursues a policy of freedom of religious belief and that its laws provide legal safeguards in this regard, giving equal treatment to every religion and denomination.[6]

However, over the past years in addition to the worsening of repression of religious freedom in Tibet, the Communist Chinese Government has also been controlling the deeply spiritual Tibetan religious practices. Chinese authorities have strengthened monastic management teams in Tibetan monasteries and tightened surveillance mechanisms. Monks and nuns are regularly subjected to patriotic education programs where they are forced to read propaganda literature denouncing the Dalai Lama.

In addition, since the protests of Spring 2008 across the Tibetan plateau, Tibetan writers, singers and artists have been the target of a drive against Tibetan culture in which almost any expression of Tibetan identity not validated by the state can be branded as ‘splittist’. Many of them have been imprisoned for engaging in ‘separatist activities’.[7]

We would like to reiterate the importance of the indivisibility of all human rights and call upon the Committee on ESCR to urge the People’s Republic of China to swiftly take all appropriate steps to ensure all economic, social and cultural rights of the Tibetan people.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

- See more at: http://www.savetibet.org/ict-urges-un-committee-to-focus-on-tibetans-deteriorating-economic-social-and-cultural-rights/#sthash.0TrXnstU.dpuf

China’s policies documents intentional discrimination against Tibetans

Standard

Leaked Police Guideline Reveals Racial Discrimination Against Tibetans in Tibet

Voice of American/Tibetan

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Discrimination against Tibetans in China’s policies has long been reported. Today there are signs of starker segregating policy implemented against Tibetans in certain social contexts.

An undated “leaked police” guideline distributed to the hotels in Lhasa shows the Tibetans from Chamdo Prefecture, Sog, Driru and Dragchen counties of Nagchu Prefecture, Qinghai, Gansu, Yunan and Sichuan provinces require police approval to stay in the hotels.The guideline specifically exempts Chinese (Han in Chinese).

Free Tibet said the source of the one-paged-document in Chinese that reveals the situation is from a “highly reliable” person in Tibet. The same document was twitted by Beijing based Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser in December 2013. In October a similar announcement, reportedly to be from Lhasa Old Town Commend Center, shows police stations in Lhasa that were instructed to target Tibetans from “Three Eastern Counties” of Nagchu Prefecture, namely; Sog, Driru, and Drachen, and monitor them by using special secret codes.

London based rights group, Free Tibet, said that this is an “explicitly racist” policy. “The fact is that this is racial profiling if it specifically excludes Chinese and target only Tibetan,” Alistair Currie of Free Tibet told VOA Tibetan Service.

Many of the places mentioned in the letter are areas where there have been more protests in recent years. But Bapa Kalsang Gyaltsen, a former staff member of United Work Front in Ganze Prefecture and a current member of the Tibetan parliament in exile in India, argues that the restriction against the Tibetans is not related to the unrests in those areas. “There are many protests take place in China… there have been instances of policy stations being destroyed in China–each year around three hundred thousand protests take place in China,” Gyaltsen says. “But no restriction applies to the Chinese [from those areas]. They are allowed to go anywhere they want to.”

St. Regis hotel in Lhasa confirmed to VOA Tibetan Service that hotels in the Tibetan capital are required to deliver all information of the Tibetans from these areas to police station.

China says Tibetans are enjoying freedom of religion and movement and accuses the Tibetans in exile for trying to “spilit” Tibet from China, but the Dalai Lama and Tibetan government in exile has consistently said they are only seeking for a “genuine” autonomy for Tibet.

Oslo Snubs the Dalai Lama

Standard

Under pressure from China, Norway’s prime minister does not plan to meet the Tibetan religious leader this week.

  • May 6, 2014 3:13 p.m. ET
    Under pressure from China, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and other key officials have declined to meet the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan spiritual leader visits Norway this week.

    Oslo’s decision signals the success of Beijing’s escalating campaign to deny the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s democratic government-in-exile the standing they need to find a just solution to the Tibetan issue. The setback in Norway marks a worrying trend that should spur consultations among European countries and the United States on steps to resist Beijing’s pressure.

    “We haven’t been able to work with China on international issues for four years,” Ms. Solberg told a press conference Monday, referring to the “difficult situation” that Norway has faced since 2010, when Beijing broke off high-level ties with Oslo after the Norwegian-based Nobel Committee awarded its Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissidentLiu Xiaobo.

    Norway has heretofore been a staunch supporter of Tibet and has constantly promoted efforts to bring about a negotiated solution. But when the Nobel Committee awarded Mr. Liu the prize in 2010—for his prominent work on Charter 08, a manifesto for democracy, constitutionalism and human-rights reforms in communist China—Beijing reacted ferociously. The Chinese government called on foreign countries to boycott the award ceremony, where Mr. Liu’s own absence (due to his imprisonment on “subversion” charges) was poignantly represented by an empty chair. Although the Nobel Committee acts independently of the Norwegian government, Norway was immediately made the target of diplomatic and commercial retaliation.

    Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. European Pressphoto Agency

    Norway’s experience is not unique. Lithuania and Estonia, whose leaders have defied Beijing by receiving the Dalai Lama, have also experienced political retaliation. Britain appears to have come under marked pressure as well; citing unnamed sources, the British press reported that Prime Minister David Cameron‘s trip to China late last year had been preceded by a commitment that he would not raise the issue of Tibet.

    To reverse this decline in international support for Tibet, Europe, the U.S., India, Japan and other democracies would have to develop a united stand that protects against China’s divide-and-conquer strategy, and band together to show respect for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile government. But why should they? After all, one might argue, Tibet’s fate is sealed and 60 years of occupation will not be undone by giving a respectful welcome to the Tibetan religious leader.

    Beijing’s policies in Tibet are closely linked to its behavior in the rest of the region and the world. Beijing takes an expansive view of the “core interests” it claims in Tibet, for example by meddling in Nepal to thwart Tibetan refugees’ escape to safety. Further afield, Beijing sees its position in Tibet—which China invaded in the 1950s—as a reason to obstruct international action on other matters, lest intervention elsewhere create a precedent to intervene to stop China’s repression inside Tibet.

    Coordination among the world’s democracies is also vitally important in light of Beijing’s plans to exert control over the selection of the next Dalai Lama. It is equally and similarly crucial with regard to the current Dalai Lama’s own plans for the future of his spiritual office, and to the work of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in northern India. Without a unified position on these matters, the void left behind by the Dalai Lama will be swiftly exploited by Beijing.

    Aside from acting to stop Beijing’s repression in Tibet, the survival of Tibetan Buddhism and democracy-in-exile has profound implications for the future political development of China. Prominent Chinese dissidents, such as human-rights lawyer Teng Biao, argue that high-level meetings between world leaders and the Dalai Lama have a direct effect on China’s human-rights performance. Declining to meet with the Dalai Lama and failing to pursue Tibetan human rights thus undermines these dissidents, who speak out at great personal risk.

    While defying Beijing is not easy, world leaders would likely find their citizens in strong support of a new, principled position that recognizes the moral and strategic importance of Tibet. Despite China’s sustained pressure on governments, support for Tibet remains surprisingly strong among European publics. In a recent Ifop poll conducted in France and Germany, more than 80% of respondents said they want their leaders to meet with the Dalai Lama, and equal or higher numbers said they want their leaders to raise the issue of Tibet when they meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Meanwhile, a whopping 90% of French respondents and 92% of German respondents said they favor a meeting between Mr. Xi and the Dalai Lama to pursue a negotiated solution.

    Prime Minister Solberg’s decision has drawn protest within Norway. But she still has time to find a way to welcome the Dalai Lama. Better still, she could take steps to pave the way out of the predicament that so many democracies find themselves in, by entering into consultations with European countries and the United States over new, coordinated policies on Tibet. Only that will arrest the current dynamic of constant concessions, which not only mean terrible consequences for Tibetans, but also lost honor and legitimacy for our democracies.

    Mr. Mecacci is president of the International Campaign for Tibet and a former member of the Italian parliament. Ms. Bork is director of democracy and human rights at the Foreign Policy Initiative and board member of the International Campaign for Tibet.

    Persecution of Christians by the Chinese Government

    Standard

    Tibet isn’t the only “religious” community that is being persecuted by the Chinese government

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS
    • $4.7 million landmark church has been demolished in China
    • Officials responsible for demolition say church was an illegal structure
    • Christian rights group says demolition signals an official anti-religious campaign

    (Zoe Li – CNN) — A massive church was razed to the ground this week in Wenzhou, a coastal Chinese city nicknamed the “Jerusalem of the East” for its large Christian population.

    Local officials responsible for the demolition say the church was an illegal structure that was four times the permitted structure size. But Christian groups are concerned that the demolition signals an official campaign against religious organizations.

    The Sanjiang Church took 12 years and 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) to build, reports Chinese media. Its soaring spires were a symbol of worship in a city that is fifteen percent Christian.

    The church’s demolition on Monday was preceded by a month-long standoff between supporters of the church and local authorities, with supporters occupying the church to protest its destruction.

    The church was originally a government-approved project under the official “Three-Self Patriotic Movement,” a state-sanctioned Protestant church. Last September it was lauded by the local government as a model engineering project.

    But the official rhetoric has since changed entirely.

    Jin Leibo, a spokesperson from the propaganda department of Yongjia County, where Sanjiang Church was located, told CNN that the church was destroyed as it was “illegal.”

    “The building area should be within 1,881 square meters, but they built 7,928 square meters illegally,” Jin said. The church was asked to “self-rectify” by April 22, but workers only managed to tear down 500 square meters by deadline, according to officials.

    By Monday evening the church had been flattened by bulldozers.

    Five local government officials are currently under investigation in relation to the illegal construction of the church, according to Jin. One official was arrested, and another is in custody.

    Representatives of the church could not be reached for comment by CNN.

    U.S.-based Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China.

    The organization claims that churches in different parts of Wenzhou and Hangzhou are currently “facing persecution” as a result of a provincial campaign against religious structures that was set into motion after Zhejiang Party Secretary Xia Baolong visited churches across the province and deemed them “too conspicuous.”

    Under Communist Party rule since 1949, China is officially an atheist country, but Christianity is growing. According to the Pew Research Center, China’s Christian population had reached 67 million by 2010, the second largest in Asia.

    U.S. State Department finds “severe” repression in Tibet, targeting of friends and relatives of self-immolators

    Standard

     ON FEBRUARY 27, 2014

    The U.S. State Department reported today that “[r]epression was severe throughout the year” in Tibetan areas, a week after President Obama “reiterated his strong support for … the protection of human rights for Tibetans” in a meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The findings were contained in the special Tibet section of the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013.

     A copy of the report is posted on ICT’s website.

    “The State Department’s extensive reporting on the situation in Tibet sheds needed light on a dark situation,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “Released two days after Chinese authorities closed the Tibet Autonomous Region to foreigners, the Department’s report shows the harsh reality in Tibet that Chinese authorities are so desperately trying, and failing, to cover up.”

    The Tibet section of the 2013 Human Rights Report provides a comprehensive account of human rights abuses suffered by Tibetans under a widespread crackdown imposed by Chinese policies and accelerated in the year since Xi Jinping became President. The report devotes special attention to the troubling new Chinese policies “that punish friends, relatives, and associates of self-immolators,” which has resulted in the sentencing of nearly 90 Tibetans (just in Qinghai and Gansu provinces), including a death sentence. In addition, it finds:

    • Authorities continue to arbitrarily detain Tibetans for indefinite periods of time;
    • Information and access to Tibetan areas is “strictly controlled;”
    • The range of abuses in Tibet included “extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial detentions, and house arrests;”
    • Despite the “autonomous” labeling of Tibetan areas, “Tibetans generally lacked the right to play a meaningful role in the protection of their cultural heritage and unique natural environment;” and
    • “Economic and social exclusion” were significant drivers of discontent among Tibetans

    The report confirms the Chinese pattern of hiding the effects of its policies in Tibet. It reveals that U.S. diplomatic personnel were denied access “multiple” times, including to Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region where permission was not officially required. Chinese officials “severely restricted travel by foreign journalists,” making independent reporting difficult. Travel agencies have reported that officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region stopped processing permits for foreign tourists to the Region on February 25 for a month-long period around “sensitive” anniversaries such as the March 10 Tibetan national day.

    His Holiness the Dalai Lama was welcomed by President Obama in the White House on February 21 for the third time during his presidency. According to statements by the White House and the Central Tibetan Administration, the two discussed the human rights situation in Tibet and the need to preserve Tibet’s cultural, religious and linguistic heritage.

    The separate Tibet section was mandated by Congress in 2002 to be included in the Country Reports on Human Rights, the Department’s annual assessment of human rights in each country.

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 288 other followers