Monday 27 December 2010

Richard Gere: Urges Support for Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Settling down Tibet’s nomads a denial of their food right

(, Dec25, 2010)  To put nomadic people in a situation “where they have no other options than to sell their herd and resettle,” as being done in Chinese ruled Tibet and Inner Mongolia, is a violation of their right to food, Reuters Dec 23 cited UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter as saying. De Schutter had made the observation in a report released Dec 23 at the end of a nine-day trip to China. 

The report was cited as saying such policies were in violation of China's commitment to uphold the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which prohibits depriving people of their means of subsistence. 

Herders in Inner Mongolia and Tibet regions were especially vulnerable to grazing bans, forced fencing and animal slaughter policies designed to prevent the degradation of pasture lands and environmental disasters, the report was cited as noting. 

The Special Rapporteur’s report was also said to highlight China's shrinking amounts of arable land and land-grabbing by authorities and developers. It was cited as saying as China's development had spread to rural areas, some farmers had been forced to give up the land they tend, often to the benefit of officials and developers who use a hazy legal framework to justify the grabs in the public interest.

The report was said to note that while China had made impressive achievements in feeding its population over the past few decades, the country's agricultural output and the right to food were distinct issues facing "important challenges." The loss of 8.2 million hectares (20.26 million acres) of arable land since 1997 to urbanisation and forest and grassland replanting efforts, the report was said to note, presented a "major threat" to China's ability to maintain grain self-sufficiency.

The following is taken from the report which can be found here
Threats to nomadic herders

Nomadic herders in Western Provinces and Autonomous Regions, especially in the Tibet (Xizang) and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Regions, are another vulnerable group. The Grassland Law adopted in 1985 both in order to protect grassland and in order to modernize the animal husbandry industry towards commodification has now been complemented by a range of policies and programmes, including tuimu huancao (“removing animals to grow grass”) and tuigeng huanlin (“Returning Farmland to Forest”). These programmes, part of the 1999 Western Development Strategy (xibu da kaifa), seek to address the degradation of pasture lands and control disasters in the low lands of China. They include measures such as grazing bans, grazing land non-use periods, rotational grazing and accommodation of carrying capacity, limitations on pastures distribution, compulsory fencing, slaughter of animal livestock, and the planting of eucalyptus trees on marginal farmland to reduce the threat of soil erosion. While there is little doubt about the extent of the land degradation problem, the Special Rapporteur would note that herders should not, as a result of the measures adopted under the tuimu huancao policy, be put in a situation where they have no other options than to sell their herd and resettle.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights prohibits depriving any people from its means of subsistence, and the 1992 Convention on Biodiversity acknowledges the importance of indigenous communities as guarantors and protectors of biodiversity (Art. 8 j). China has ratified both of these instruments. The Special Rapporteur encourages the Chinese authorities to engage in meaningful consultations with herding communities, including in order to assess the results of past and current policies, and examine all available options, including recent strategies of sustainable management of marginal pastures such as the New Rangeland Management (NRM) in order to combine the knowledge of the nomadic herders of their territories with the information that can be drawn from modern science. The Special Rapporteur also encourages the Chinese authorities to invest in rehabilitating pasture, and to support remaining nomads with rural extension. The potential of livestock insurance programmes should also be explored, as tested successfully in Mongolia. Such programs, which pay nomads to restock and recover after a major disaster, encourage nomads to keep herds at much smaller scale as they would not fear losing their herding activity after such disasters if covered by such insurances.

Resettled Tibetan nomads struggling in new life

(, Sep24, 2010) Tibetan nomads who had been forced by the Chinese government into fixed urban settlements since about seven years ago under a controversial environment protection plan are finding their new life even more difficult to adjust to, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Sep 22. "The money for selling 40 yaks and 25 sheep has been used," it quoted 33-year-old former nomad Zhaduo as saying. "It is so expensive to now live near the town center. Everything costs big money."

The report said Zhaduo, who had been moved away from his ancestral home at Rima village in Yushu County in Qinghai Province grassland, still misses his yaks and the life of a herdsman. The village lies near the source of China's three major rivers – the Yangtze, the Yellow River, and the Lancang River – which form the world's highest plateau wetland, known as Asia's water tower.

China started moving people out of the 150,000-sq-kilometre Sanjiangyuan region more than five years ago in a bid to repair the ecological system claimed to be damaged by excessive herding and to transform the area into an unpopulated nature reserve. The report said so far some 50,000 herdsmen, mostly Tibetans, had been moved closer to the town centres near their old homes.

Zhaduo’s family, now living in Jiajiniang village, twelve minutes' drive from Gyegu township of Yushu, survives by picking mountain-grown caterpillar fungus. The season for it is from May to June, with the harvest being dependent on the vagaries of nature.

The report admitted that the government will now have to find ways to provide more forms of aid, other than handing out quotas of free grain and cash subsidies to the resettled herdsmen.

The report cited Ping Zhiqiang, an official with the provincial Development and Reform Commission of Qinghai, as saying the government should help resettled herdsman master a marketable trade and assist the region in developing a profitable sector. Only then can the improvement of the ecosystem be secured.

This has not happened so far.

WikiLeaks: China pays Nepal to arrest Tibetans

Kathmandu: Amid stepped up pressure on the government to curb anti-Beijing protests by Tibetans in Nepal, China has used its financial muscle to pay off Nepal Police to arrest members of the exiled community, according to secret US cables published by WikiLeaks.

Cables released by the whistle-blower website show an unnamed source of the US Embassy in New Delhi repeatedly claiming that "Chinese government rewards Nepali forces by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China".

"XXX reiterated this belief to PolOff (Political Officer) during a XXX meeting in Delhi, stating ''the Chinese government rewards (Nepali forces)'' by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China," according to the cable dated February 22, 2010 from New Delhi.

The US Embassy memo sent to US Department of State under the title ''Delhi Diary'' and classified as ''confidential'' has an update on Tibetan refugee flow that described a meeting of the source with Political Officer on February 4.

The Wikileaks, which is releasing 250,000 American diplomatic cables, has cut out the names of people mentioned as the source.

The number of Tibetans entering India had decreased over the last few years, amid mounting pressure on the government as ?Beijing has asked Kathmandu to step up patrols of Nepali border forces and make it more difficult for Tibetans to enter Nepal," according to the cables also reported by myrepublica online, the website of Nepali daily Republica.

It said the number of Tibetans entering India "markedly decreased after March 2008 uprising".

Nepal is home to around 20,000 exiled Tibetans and the capital has been the scene of several anti-China protests since the 2008 unrest in Lhasa.

Nepal has been under pressure from Western nations to allow the protests--and from China to stop them. Beijing has repeatedly asked Nepal to better control the Tibetan refugees within its borders and stop the protests.

These protests have been a source of embarrassment to Nepal''s government, which wants strong ties with China. Nepal supports ''one-China policy'' that views Tibet as an integral part of China. It has repeatedly assured its giant northern neighbour that it will not allow its territory to be used against it.

Nepal has stepped up security and warned Tibetans exiles against organising anti-China protests.

Despite tight security enforced by the Nepalese and Chinese government in the border areas, every year 2,500-3000 Tibetans cross the border on their way to meet the Dalai Lama in the Indian town of Dharamshala, where he is based since fleeing from his motherland in 1959.

4,000 Tibetan villagers ordered out to make way for dam

Tibetan Review
China has ordered about 500 Tibetan village households in Lhundup (Chinese: Lingzhi) County of Lhasa City to move out by Sep’11 as their villages would be submerged under water from a hydroelectric project being built there, reported Radio Free Asia online (RFA, Washington) Dec 9. The project affects up to 4,000 Tibetans in six villages and towns in the county’s Phodo area.

The dam project will be completed in Phodo area of the county and some households have already been displaced, the report said, citing local Tibetan sources. The others had been ordered to move out by Sep’11, before the dam’s water reservoir gets filled up. They were already said to be under orders not to plough their land or harvest any crop.

The report quoted an unnamed local Tibetan source as saying “the Chinese are building bridges and blocking the flow of the river,” while houses had already been built “exclusively for the Chinese soldiers who have arrived to work on the dam.”

While none of the Tibetan households wanted to move out of their ancestral land, the authorities were reported to have also turned down their request to be relocated in the same area. The report said some villagers had already been moved to relatively further off places such as Yulnga, Taglung, Radreng, and Lhasa.

Each household has been offered a compensation of 10,000 yuan (about US$ 1,500) which they can use only to build their new homes. Those moved to Lhasa have no choice but to sell their cattle due to lack of spaces for pasture and stable.

Phodo already had some 1,000 Chinese soldiers stationed there as a security measure. Two thousand more were reported to have arrived there to build the dam.

With three rivers near Phodo—namely, Radreng, Lhachig, and Pachoe—being set to be dammed, other neighbouring areas are also set to be affected.

Also set to be submerged were said to be a famous iron-link suspension bridge and a small nunnery.

Social discontent in China lowest since 2006

(, Dec17, 2010) More Chinese are worried about inflation and their personal future than before, BBC News online Dec 15 cited China’s top think tanks as saying. People in small towns and rural areas are becoming especially dissatisfied with their lives, it cited the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences as saying in their annual Book of China's Society.

The report said some key indicators show that in China overall satisfaction with jobs, social security, and leisure provisions had reached the lowest point since 2006.

The researchers paint in their annual survey a picture that is a far cry from the harmonious society the country's leadership trumpets, the report added. It said that despite China's phenomenal growth, there has been a drop in people's confidence in the economy and in the government's ability to manage economic, social and international affairs.

However, apparently to ensure the political correctness of their survey, the researchers are said to put this down to the impact of the international financial crisis, rather than any widespread abuse of power or increasing restriction on moving up the social ladder.

Many Chinese apologetic about Beijing’s Tibet policy

(, Dec23, 2010) The Dalai Lama has said Dec 18 he had been receiving an unending stream of visitors from Mainland China recently, in groups of two and three, and sometime even 10, reported the exile Tibetan government-run Dec 21. He has said many of them had told him that as Chinese people they felt ashamed and expressed apology over the suffering inflicted on Tibetans by the Chinese government. “With tears in their eyes, they beseech me not to forget the Chinese people,” he was quoted as saying.

Speaking to the Tibetans and local people in remote Ravangla town of Sikkim, the Dalai Lama had said, “It would be difficult to many Chinese to support our call for complete independence, but our present middle-way policy which is not ‘we win, you lose’ kind of stand, would be beneficial to both China and Tibet.”

He has said that since Mar’08 protests across Tibet, Chinese scholars had written over 1,000 articles, with about 200 of tem being by people living in Mainland China. “All these are 100 per cent in support of our Middle-Way policy and critical of the Chinese government’s wrong policies on Tibet,” he was quoted as saying.

The Dalai Lama has said that although Buddhism had reached China some 400 years before it did in Tibet, knowledge about the religion was much richer in the latter. “Therefore, it is very important that we should always keep our identity as Tibetans and feel proud of it,” he was quoted as saying.

The visit on Dec 18-19 was the Dalai Lama’s fifth to the Ravangla Tibetan settlement.

WikiLeaks on Tibet: Environment tops Dalai Lama’s Tibet concerns

(, Dec19, 2010) One set of leaked confidential US diplomatic dispatches revealed on the WikiLeaks website are reported to show that the Dalai Lama may be shifting strategy to reframe the Tibet issue as an environmental concern, that there may be a widening generational gap between ageing Tibetan leaders and the new generation, and that India’s policy toward Tibetans was likely to be determined by public sentiments.

The Dalai Lama told US diplomats in 2009 that the international community should pay more attention to climate change rather than politics in Tibet because environmental problems were more urgent, Guardian online (UK) Dec 17 cited secret American cables leaked by the WikiLeaks website as revealing.

In particular, he was reported to have told Timothy Roemer, the US ambassador to India, during a meeting in New Delhi in August that “political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau.”

“Melting glaciers, deforestation and increasingly polluted water from mining projects were problems that ‘cannot wait’, but the Tibetans could wait five to 10 years for a political solution,” he was reported as saying.

The Dalai Lama was also reported to show that he criticized China’s energy policy, saying dam construction in Tibet had displaced thousands of people and left temples and monasteries underwater.

Mr Roemer was reported to have speculated, in his cable to Washington reporting the meeting, that “the Dalai Lama’s message may signal a broader shift in strategy to reframe the Tibet issue as an environmental concern”.

The cables were also reported to reveal the desperate appeals made by the Dalai Lama for intervention by the US during the unrest in Tibet in the spring of 2008. Following heavy crackdown on demonstrations and rioting, he was reported to have pleaded with US officials to take action that would “make an impact” in Beijing. He was reported to have embraced the embassy’s officials and “made a final plea” at the end of a 30-minute meeting.

“Tibet is a dying nation. We need America’s help,” he was quoted as saying.

US officials were also quoted as saying in the dispatch, “A widening generational divide finds Tibetan leaders unable to resolve growing dissatisfaction among younger Tibetans.” The report said that in Jun’08, US officials reported that their visit to six Tibetan refugee settlements across north and north-eastern India “underscores concerns that frustrated and dissatisfied Tibetan youth ... could pose serious problems”.

The cable was reported to have a section titled “A militant Shangri-La?” under which the officials explained: “Their frustration’s effect on the Tibetan movement could be exacerbated by the passage of time, as the Dalai Lama’s increasing age inevitably slows down his gruelling travel schedule and his potential ability to continue to capture the world’s attention on his people’s plight.”

As regards the Indian government’s policy towards the Tibetans, US officials were reported to have said repeatedly in a Mar’08 confidential cable that it was likely to be decided by public sentiment. “A rise in violence — either by Tibetans here or by the Chinese security forces in Tibet — could quickly tip the balance in favour of the side with greater public support,” Shiv Shankar Menon, the current Indian national security adviser and then India’s top diplomat, was quoted as having explained to the US ambassador.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Take action for Human Rights Day, 10 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010 is Human Rights Day, the 62nd anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also the day of the ceremony of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was this year given to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights defender and advocate of genuine autonomy for Tibet who the Chinese government have imprisoned.

Tibet Society members and supporters are encouraged to take the following actions in the run-up to 10 December:
1. Ask your MP to sign EDM 1114: Human Rights Day 2010
2. Write a letter of support to Liu Xiaobo
3. Write to the Chinese Ambassador to the UK
4. Attend the candle-lit vigil outside the Chinese Embassy on 10 December

1. Ask your MP to sign EDM 1114: Human Rights Day 2010
An Early Day Motion has been submitted in Parliament for MPs to sign calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo and encouraging the British government to support processes which will bring about freedom, human rights and democracy for all the people of China, Tibet and East Turkestan.
The full text of the EDM can be found at
To find out your MP’s contact details go to (where you can also send your MP a direct email).

2. Write a letter of support to Liu Xiaobo
Send a letter or card to Liu Xiaobo in Jinzhou Prison congratulating him on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Address: Jinzhou Prison
Nanshan Road 86
Taihe District
21013 Jinzhou City
People's Republic of China
Note: Though Liu Xiaobo may not get to see the letters, it is quite possible that he will receive word that the prison is receiving letters on his behalf. Former political prisoners have said that such knowledge gives them a tremendous source of strength and encouragement. Letters to a prison also send a signal to the authorities that their behaviour towards an individual prisoner is under scrutiny, which can result in better treatment for the prisoner and occasionally reduced sentences.
Read more about Liu Xiaobo at:

3. Write to the Chinese Ambassador to the UK
Send a letter to Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the UK, urging the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release Liu Xiaobo. Also demand the Chinese government releases all political prisoners in Tibet and China and upholds the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Address: Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the UK
Chinese Embassy
49-51 Portland Place
London W1N 3AH
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

4. Attend the candle-lit vigil outside the Chinese Embassy on 10 December
On Friday 10 December, Chinese, Uighur & Tibetan Solidarity UK (CUTS UK, a coalition which includes Tibet Society) will be holding a solidarity candle-lit vigil outside the Chinese Embassy (from 6.00pm - 8.00pm). Supporters of all Chinese democracy, Uighur and Tibetan groups are encouraged to attend the vigil and call upon the Chinese government to release all political prisoners in the PRC. CUTS UK will also be sending a message to the Embassy to release Liu Xiaobo.
Date: Friday 10 December 2010
Time: 6.00pm-8.00pm
Venue: opposite Chinese Embassy, 49-51 Portland Place, London W1B 1JL.
To see a list of all Tibet-related events go to

These actions, can be found on our website, with further links and information at:

NEWS: Tibet Society urges Prime Minister to call for release of Liu Xiaobo 
On 2 December, Tibet Society (as part of the coalition group Chinese, Uighur & Tibetan Solidarity UK) delivered a message to Prime Minister Cameron, calling on him to make a public statement on Human Rights Day urging the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo and to release all political prisoners. It also urges the British government  to publicly support a process which will allow real freedom, human rights and democracy for all citizens in China, including Tibetans. To see the text of the letter go to:

Read about Liu Xiaobo support for Tibetan Autonomy at Tibet Political Review

Saturday 4 December 2010

A change of direction for the Tibetan cause says Dalai Lama's Rep.

The following detail was released to the press on 30 November 2010 and summarizes the Bath 27th November event

A message of peaceful engagement with the Chinese on a personal level was given to over 50 people who attended a talk by Thubten Samdup at Manvers St. Baptist Church, Bath on 27th November. Mr Samdup, who is the representative of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama in Europe, stated that there may be as many as 20,000 Chinese students in the UK which provides an opportunity for constructive dialogue.He related his experience to the audience of over 30 years as a non-violent protester in Canada where he shouted "Free Tibet, China out, until I was blue in the face!" which he said achieved great sympathy and support amongst ordinary people but little political change in China. He said that time is running out for the Tibetans as some of the 150,000 refugees are third generation and that meaningful change needs to be achieved in the next 15 years.

"Tibet has many friends in the West..." he said, ".. but since 2002 there have been 9 rounds of talks between the exiled Tibetans and the Chinese Government which have not produced results because the Chinese Government are not interested." In the past,Mr Samdup has faced audiences in the UK that are overwhelmingly Chinese but has been able to initiate debate that fosters sincere understanding. "When ordinary Chinese are engaged on a personal level,they are shocked at their government's response." He went on to say, "The Chinese Students in the UK today will be the politicians and business leaders of tomorrow in China, it's vital that they are made more aware of the issues". He explained that ordinary Chinese are being contacted by the Exiled Tibetan Governmentusing online chat rooms based in China as well as using other web technology. He further stated it's in the interests of the rest of the world that a non-violent peaceful resolution is found that allows exiled Tibetans to return to Tibet.

Mr Samdup was questioned for more than an hour by the audience who raised topics as diverse as using sport to promote the Tibetan cause, to possible legal actions in the courts. The meeting was jointly Sponsored by The Tibet Society in London and the Bath District Tibet Support Group. You can see the full filmed meeting on