Sunday 30 January 2011

Karmapa Office refutes “speculative allegations”

Phayul[Saturday, January 29, 2011 22:00]
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, January 29: Even as the search by Indian police continued for the third consecutive day at the residential premises of the 17th Karmapa Lama, his office on Saturday formally issued a statement “categorically” refuting allegations that have surfaced in a section of Indian media, calling them as being “grossly speculative”.

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee begins prayers at the inaugural day of the 28th Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya, India, 15 December 2010. (Phayul Photo)
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee begins prayers at the inaugural day of the 28th Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya, India, 15 December 2010. (Phayul Photo)
“We would like to categorically state that the allegations being leveled against the Karmapa and his administration are grossly speculative and without foundation in the truth,” the statement said.

“We categorically deny having any link whatsoever with any arm of the Chinese government” it added.

Meanwhile, reports by Indian press, especially television channels are throwing up questions linking Karmapa to China which had added a whole new dimension to the recent haul of over 5 Crore rupees from the Tibetan religious leader’s monastery here.

In the statement released here today, the Office of the Karmapa stated that the cash in question under the police investigation was “offerings received for charitable purposes” from local and international disciples the world over.

“Monasteries across the world receive offering from devotees in various forms - there is nothing surprising, new or irregular in this,” the statement said.

“Any suggestion that these offerings were to be used for illegal purposes is libelous,” it added.

Speculations by Indian media reports about Karmapa’s possible link with China mainly stemmed from reported seizure of Chinese currency amounting to about 70,00000 in Indian rupees (70 Lacs).

Media reports have also raised speculation about a huge amount of “black money” being used by the office of the Karmapa Lama to "illegally” acquire a land in and around Dharamsala to build a monastery.

While the office of Karmapa today acknowledged about its plans to purchase “suitable land” to build a monastery as a permanent residence for the Karmapa, it however, refuted allegations of wrongdoings in the process.

"All our dealings across the world are honest and completely transparent - anything else would be contrary to the Buddhist principles that we live by," the statement said.

"The Gyalwang Karmapa’s office has kept relevant Indian government agencies fully informed of its recent plans to purchase suitable land. The potential site was evaluated and cleared by the appropriate government offices.”

“This project is clearly subject to Indian government approval,” it added.

"We will supply as much information as available, as regularly as possible but would also like to state that our first priority is to fully cooperate with the investigations underway,” the statement from the Karmapa’s office said.

Karmapa Lama has been temporarily living on the top floor of the Gyuto Tantric Monastic University in Dharamsala, the exile seat of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in northern India, since he made his daring escape to India from Tsurphu in Tibet in January 2000 when he was just 14.

Although the Karmapa was subsequently provided political asylum in the country, the deeply revered Buddhist leader has been kept under the watchful eyes of the intelligence agencies and with round-the-clock police presence at his temporary abode.

Tibetans in exile and Buddhist followers have been visibly disturbed by the latest news, and say that the media speculations against their religious leader being a Chinese spy is "ridiculous" and unnecessary “sensationalism".

“We Tibetans are not traitors as some television channels are trying to portray; we have immense faith in our religious leaders from whom we learn virtues, not sins. And portraying our leader as a Chinese spy and traitor while the investigation is still going on is not a responsible journalism,” said Thupten Tsering, a monk at a local monastery.

Addressing a press conference here this morning, the speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in exile Mr Penpa Tsering said there was "no base" in media speculations linking the Karmapa Lama with Chinese government.

He said the both Tibetan Parliament and the Kashag had been extending all necessary support to come out with the truths about the matter.

Director General of Police, Himachal Pradesh, D S Manhas has reportedly said,“Central agencies, including Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department, are involved in the probe as it has become necessary to know about the source of the currency and also violations committed in keeping such a huge amount in the monastery.”

Meanwhile the residence of Gompo Tsering, secretary of the Karmapa, who was recalled from Dehradun, was also raided Saturday. Foreign currency worth Rs.400,000 was reportedly recovered from his (Tsering's) house during the search.

The agencies also reportedly raided a local businessman K.P. Bhardwaj, who had claimed that the Rs.10 million (Rs.1 crore) recovered from two of his men earlier on Thursday was a payment made by the Karmapa's trust to buy land near here.

Dalai Lama's 1959 Flight from Tibet

Asia Sentinel[Friday, January 28, 2011 17:13]
Written by Mark O'Neill

Trance and artillery shells pushed the religious leader to leave Lhasa 

Photo Credit: Heinrich Harrer
Photo Credit: Heinrich Harrer
At 1 pm Beijing time on the afternoon of March 17, 1959, two meetings took place in Lhasa and Beijing that would change the history of China.

In the Norbulingka palace, the summer residence of the Dalai Lama, the 23-year-old leader and his advisors were debating whether to leave Lhasa, minutes after two artillery shells had landed 200 meters away, causing a huge explosion. A monk entered into a trance, his body swelled and he screamed in a loud voice: "leave quickly, leave quickly, leave tonight."

At the same moment, in Zhongnanhai, Premier Liu Xiaoqi was chairing a meeting of the Politburo to discuss the same issue.

"The best outcome would be for the Dalai Lama to stay," they concluded. "But, if he goes, it would be no big deal. The focus of our work does not depend on the feelings of Tibet government leaders but is our determination to put down the rebellion and reform everything."

So reads a dramatic new account of the most important event in Tibet of the last century -- the decision by the Dalai Lama to leave his homeland. It appears in '1959 Lhasa', published in Hong Kong and Taiwan and written by Li Jianglin, a Chinese historian. The daughter of a Communist Party official, she is a graduate of Fudan and Shandong Universities who went on to study at Brandies University and lives in New York. The book has the great merit of using material from both sides. Li interviewed more than 200 Tibetans in 14 places of exile and also quotes widely from material from the Chinese side.

The book's conclusion challenges Beijing's version of history – that the Tibetan nobility and clergy led their people in an armed rebellion against the Chinese state and that the Dalai Lama had planned the rebellion from early 1957, with support from the CIA, which trained 170 guerillas and supplied them with weapons from the air, including anti-aircraft machine guns and 10,000 rifles. According to this version, the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet against his will.

On the contrary, the book says, it was Mao Zedong who provoked the uprising as the only way to remove the Tibetan ruling class and enable him to carry out the same revolutionary reforms of land and society as in the rest of China. Since resistance in Tibet was fiercer than other parts of China, so he needed to use a higher level of violence – the PLA -- to overcome it.

"I have sufficient evidence to say that the 'Lhasa incident' (of March 1959) was planned by the Communist Party," said Li. "From 1955, it was waiting for an opportunity. At the end of 1958, Deng Xiaoping said that Mao would order the Tibet party work committee to prepare for war. Without war, it would be impossible to solve the problem."

She said that part of this strategy may have been to remove the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, by firing shells close enough to his palace to frighten him into running away; but she added that the evidence for this was not conclusive.

The revolt had begun in Lhasa on March 10, 1959, when tens of thousands of Tibetans surrounded the Norbulingka, believing that the People's Liberation Army was about to abduct the Dalai Lama. On the 12th, armed Tibetans and PLA units fortified positions in and around the city in preparation for conflict.

On the morning of the 17th, the Dalai Lama and his advisors met to discuss how to avoid a bloodbath. The firing of the shells changed the topic of the meeting. They decided to leave; the Dalai Lama and a small group of advisors left the palace shortly before midnight and arrived in India two weeks later, after a trek across the Himalayas.

In an interview, the Dalai Lama told Li that the words spoken after the trance were one factor persuading them to leave, together with the artillery shells which had stunned them, making them fear for their lives.

Li said that, while some evidence points to the fact that Mao allowed the Dalai Lama to escape, it was not conclusive. She believes that, once he had left Lhasa, the army did not pursue him because it did not have enough men and because a mass escape was taking place at that time: between March and June 1959, 20,000 Tibetans fled to India. Whether the Dalai Lama was in Tibet or not did not affect Beijing's overall policy.

On March 19, the Communist Party committee in Tibet informed Beijing that the Dalai Lama had left Lhasa two days earlier. Shortly before four o'clock in the morning of March 20, armed conflict between the two sides broke out in the city.

According to the official Chinese version, "7,000 rebels launched a full-scale attack on the Party, government and military institutions on March 20. Driven beyond forbearance, the PLA launched under orders a counter-attack at 10 am the same day. With the support of all ethnic groups in Tibet, the 1,000 PLA troops completely put down the armed rebellion in Lhasa within two days. The PLA rapidly quelled the armed rebellion in other places in Tibet."

Official figures released in 1993 and 1995 said that, during the two-day battle, 63 PLA soldiers were killed and 210 injured, against 545 Tibetans killed and 4,815 wounded and taken prisoner.

Li said that the uprising in Lhasa was part of widespread Tibetan resistance to the revolutionary reforms of land, class and religion which the Communist Party implemented after taking power. As early as 1955, Mao ordered Zhang Guohua , then party chief and head of the PLA in Tibet, to implement land reform.

"My research led me to the stunning discovery that, in the three years that followed the widespread implementation of land reform from 1956, over 200,000 Tibetans died in Sichuan," she said. "The official number of 'rebels' killed, wounded and captured in Sichuan was over 145,000."

While these reforms led to thousands of deaths in other parts of China, the conflict was more intense in Tibet because they meant destroying one social system and replacing it with another. Loyalty to the monks and the Buddhist order they represented was more intense in Tibet than anywhere else in China; so resistance to destruction of temples and defrocking of monks and nuns was stronger.

This is Beijing's version of what happened: "the government led the Tibetan people to start the surging tide of democratic reform, wrecked the feudal serfdom of theocracy and helped a million serfs and slaves realize their lifelong wish of being their own masters. They no longer suffer from the serf-owners' political oppression, forced labor, inhuman treatment, heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation … On March 28, 1959, Premier Zhou Enlai promulgated a State Council decree dissolving the local Tibetan government."

Li said that the official version of a rebellion by the ruling class to preserve the serf system was not in accord with the historical facts.

"In 1952, the Dalai Lama set up a reform bureau, including a plan to reform the system of corvee labor, for the government to take back land and distribute it to the peasants. He accepted reform but not violent and destructive reform, the reform of one class eliminating another. The violence of land reform has left a scar on Chinese society that cannot be cured. Nowadays there is little debate about that.

"Like the Han, the Tibetans endured the suffering of violent land reform, cultural destruction, the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution. They suffered an additional cruel oppression the Han did not. The crushing of the 'rebellion' was a direct order from Mao to solve 'the Tibetan problem'. Most tragic of all that Han and Tibetan farmers attacked each other in the name of 'class struggle'. The responsibility for this should not be borne by all the Han people."

Her book documents the human and social cost of the operation. On October 1, 1960, the Political Propaganda Department of the PLA's Tibet Military Region produced a secret document which said that, between March 1959 and October 1960, they had killed more than 87,000 'rebels'.

Before 1959, Tibet had 2,676 temples, large and small: by 1961, there were only 553 and, after the Cultural Revolution, only the Potala in Lhasa had been left completely unscathed. Between March 1965 and the end of 1966, 150 people's communes were set up.

"The Tibetan language was close to extinction, the Dalai Lama's picture, the practice of religion and even the wearing of Tibetan clothes were outlawed. Through this remodeling, the Communist Party controlled Tibet like a prison and the Sinicisation of its people was a matter of time," it says.

In 1979, the central government started contact with the Tibetan government in exile and allowed the Dalai Lama to send a delegation to his homeland. "Thousands of people lined the streets, weeping and acclaiming them as their leaders. Only then did the party realize Tibetans were still Tibetans, that the Dalai Lama was still their leader and that they could not change a religion that had been handed down from one generation to another. Even until today, more than 2,000 Tibetans each year cross the Himalayas to India. Even in exile for 51 years, the spirit of the snow has not left Tibet."

Beijing presents history in a different way. It acknowledges excesses committed in Tibet, as elsewhere in China, before 1978; but it says the three decades since have seen unprecedented development in Tibet and improvements in health, education, incomes, housing and other sectors, thanks in part to billions of yuan in subsidies from the central government and aid in money and personnel from individual cities and provinces. This has given the region a level of modernization and prosperity it never enjoyed before, Beijing says.

Victims of revolution

Some of the military leaders who implemented Mao's revolution in Tibet became victims of that revolution themselves.

Most tragic was General Zhang Jingwu, who joined the Communist Party in 1930 and had a distinguished career in the PLA in wars against Japan and the Nationalists. He was sent to Tibet in November 1949 and held key posts there for more than 10 years. In July 1951, he was the first PLA general to meet the Dalai Lama, who was then 16 and he 45. According to the official history, Zhang persuaded him to return to Lhasa, but the Dalai Lama told Li that he had made this decision on his own.

In July 1954, Zhang accompanied him to Beijing to meet Mao Tse-tung. He planned an important role in implementing 'democratic reforms'. On March 1, 1960, the People's Daily published an article by him which said that the rebellion in Tibet was not a 'democratic war' but 'a class war' in which there was no room for compromise.

After the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, Zhang was purged and sent to a cadre school, where he was put under house arrest. Then he was imprisoned in Qincheng prison outside Beijing, where he was tortured. A man who had fought Japan and the Nationalists and served the party for 40 years, he protested by going on hunger strike. He died in prison on October 27, 1971. The body was cremated secretly, the ashes disposed of and his
family were not told for two years.

In 1979, the Central Committee and Central Military Commission held a solemn memorial service, to honor and rehabilitate Zhang, with mourners leaving wreaths in front of his photo, in the absence of his remains.

The Dalai Lama told the author that he remembered Zhang as bad-tempered and outspoken: "in his heart, he was very probably a good person," he added.

Another victim was General Fan Ming, leader of the PLA Northwest army that entered Tibet and later deputy party chief of the region's Work Committee. In 1958, he was purged as a rightist and sent to Changbaishan, on the border with Korea.When he fell ill, he was sent to a farm labor camp in Shaanxi. In 1962, he was charged with being a member of 'Peng Dehuai's Anti-party Group' and sent to Qincheng prison. He was finally rehabilitated in 1980, after 22 years in prison and wrote a book of memoirs "The Internal Struggle of Tibet" that was published in Hong Kong. He died in February this year, several months after the publication.

General Zhang Guohua, former head of the Tibet Military Region, survived both the anti-rightist campaign and the Cultural Revolution unscathed. He was sent to work in Sichuan, where he became first political commissar of the Chengdu military region. On February 20, 1972, while he was chairing a meeting, he had a heart attack and passed away, at the age of 58.

After earthquake comes, Chinese machinery to obliterate Tibetan roots

AHN[Friday, January 28, 2011 17:22]
China reports that shattered Tibetan town will be rebuilt in more urban style and given a "temporary" Chinese name.

China is using the devastating earthquake of April 2010 to rebuild badly affected Tibetan areas, but with a Chinese name and a culture-imposing agenda, according to reports from the region.

An undated photo sent by a local resident shows that most of the buildings in Gyegu town were reduced to rubble following the earthquake. (Photo: RFA/file/Local resident)
An undated photo sent by a local resident shows that most of the buildings in Gyegu town were reduced to rubble following the earthquake. (Photo: RFA/file/Local resident)
The reports are in direct contrast to an earlier message of hope U.S. President Barack Obama presented during his joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Jan. 19 at the White House.

Obama told journalists in his opening remarks that the United States supports "further dialogue between the government of China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve concerns and differences, including the preservation of the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people."

Commenting on his discussion with Hu on the human rights situation in China, President Obama stated, "I reaffirmed America's fundamental commitment to the universal rights of all people. That includes basic human rights like freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association and demonstration, and of religion -- rights that are recognized in the Chinese constitution.”

“As I've said before, the United States speaks up for these freedoms and the dignity of every human being, not only because it is part of who we are as Americans, but we do so because we believe that by upholding these universal rights, all nations, including China, will ultimately be more prosperous and successful." Obama continued.

One of the latest cases mentioned in recent reports from the region is the Tibetan town of Kyegu in the rural county of Yushu.

The International Campaign for Tibet, a global organization founded in 1988 to promote human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet, cited a Xinhua repot quoting Qinghai provincial governor Luo Huining as saying, “In light of the post-quake rebuilding work and Qinghai’s urbanization drive, we will build Yushu County into a city with a new temporary name of Sanjiangyuan [The Three River Sources].”

Commenting on the controversial move, Mary Beth Markey, president of ICT, said: “Although the authorities recognize Yushu as a ‘Tibetan autonomous’ area, they are excluding Tibetan involvement in this reconstruction of a new city that is now being given a Chinese name.”

“This contravenes their own ‘ethnic autonomy’ laws and creates further distress among those already devastated by loss and dispossession,” Markey noted, cautioning, “There is also a danger that historic Tibetan buildings that survived the quake may now be razed in the reconstruction.”

The ICT recalled a resolution passed by the U.S. Congress on May 20, 2010, expressing condolences to those affected by the earthquake and highlighting the integral role Tibetans should have in the reconstruction.

The report cited Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY), the sponsor of the resolution, describing Yushu as “a cradle of Tibetan culture and religion for centuries,” and encouraged the Chinese government to “include the local Tibetan population in reconstruction plans.” 

Related Story:
Tibetans in quake-hit Kyegudo protest Chinese government over land
Tibetan exiles form Yushu earthquake relief committee

Qinghai to train thousands of bilingual school teachers

(, Jan30, 2011) The Chinese government of Qinghai Province, part of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, is to train at least 5,500 bilingual teachers by 2015 to teach in both Mandarin and ethnic minority languages – mostly Tibetan – in primary and secondary schools across the province, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 28. It cited provincial education officials as saying the goal was to increase the number of bilingual teachers from the current level of 15 percent. It did not say, however, what percentage of the teachers will be bilingual after the programme is carried out.

The report did not make clear what bilingual education actually meant, other than that Tibetan will also be taught as a language subject. 

The report said Primary and middle school students in Qinghai's five Tibetan autonomous prefectures were currently being instructed in both the Tibetan language and Putonghua – China's standard language, known as Mandarin in English. It also said that more than 196,500 students in 544 primary and secondary schools in six ethnic minority prefectures in Qinghai were being taught in ethnic languages.

On the progress in the introduction of bilingual education thus far, the report cited Terangtai, a deputy head of the province’s education department, as saying about 4,000 bilingual students had graduated from the province's teachers' colleges and had gone on to teach in schools in mostly rural areas over the last 10 years.

The report noted that in Oct’10, middle school students in a number of Tibetan prefectures took to the streets in a peaceful protest, concerned that the Tibetan language may be sidelined in the education reforms. It cited the authorities as saying there were no plans to sideline either language and that no teachers will be dismissed for their language abilities.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Tibetan sports body invited to 2012 VIVA world Cup, attends meeting

Phayul[Wednesday, January 26, 2011 10:54]
BY Kalsang Rinchen

His Holiness the Dalai Lama being presented the jersey of the Tibetan national football team, file photo
His Holiness the Dalai Lama being presented the jersey of the Tibetan national football team, file photo
Dharamsala, January 26 – The Tibetan National Sports Association participated in a meeting of football playing nations not registered with the world football governing body FiFA in Barcelona on January 22. The meeting was called by NFB (Nouvelle Fédération-Board), unofficially Non-FIFA-Board, which invited the TNSA to participate in the meeting.

The TNSA secretary Kalsang Dhondup could not attend the meeting personally owing to lack of funds, and requested Ven. Thupten Wangchen of the Casa Del Tibet, Barcelona, to represent TNSA at the meeting that was participated by representatives from Italy, France, Norway, Kurdistan, Spain and other small nations. This was NFB’s 7th annual general meeting.

Ven. Wangchen gives presentation on TNSA at NFA meeting, Barcelona Jan 22, 2011,
Ven. Wangchen gives presentation on TNSA at NFA meeting, Barcelona Jan 22, 2011,
Ven Wangchen did an audiovisual presentation about the TNSA, giving an in-depth information about the Tibetan sports body’s functioning and its history. He talked about the tournaments and matches that the Tibetan national football team had participated in the past and the selection processes for the team. The representatives at the meeting were impressed by the strides the Tibetan football team has made in the past considering the strict financial constraints, said Ven. Wangchen.

NFB is made up of 32 members that represent nations, dependencies, unrecognized states, minorities, stateless peoples, regions and micronations not affiliated to FIFA. The NFB seeks to work with FIFA to be a temporary organisation for football teams before they acquire membership in FIFA.

The NFB believes in the "right to play competitive football” for its members and organises VIVA World Cup, which took place for the first time in November 2006, in Occitania. The Tibetan national football team has been invited to play in the next VIVA World Cup to be held in Kurdistan in 2012. Kalsang Dhondup of TNSA said he was delighted by the invitation. However, he added that the Tibetan squad's participation will depend on lot of factors, including funds.

The Tibet national team participated in its first ever international tournament in June 2006 when it played in the FIFI (Football International Federation of Independents) Wild Cup tournament in Hamburg, Germany. The team played it's first international match against Greenland in 

Tibet to be focus of China’s all-out hydropower priority

(, Jan26, 2011) Calling the last five years as "lost time", China is to go all out in building hydropower projects over the next five years with Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as the primary focus, according to Economic Observer online from China Jan 24. The report cited China Electricity Council vice chairman Wei Zhaofeng as saying that the development of hydroelectric power had become a priority, and that large and medium-sized hydropower projects will be granted approval during China’s 12th Five-year Plan.

Describing hydropower as an ideal project for western China and a fitting goal for regional development, the report said the Zangmu Dam, built in the TAR’s Lhokha (Chinese: Shannan) Prefecture, for hydroelectric power production, was completed on Nov 12, 2010.

The report noted that combined with preferential policies for the western areas included in the 12th Five-year Plan, the west is expected to experience an economic boom, a synonym for influx of Chinese immigrants and workers. 

The report noted that over the past five years, hydropower development in China has been a controversial topic but indicated that it will now be less so, given the official determination to push ahead with many such projects, including the controversial ones which had been held up due to environmental concerns. It cited Chinese Society of Hydroelectric Engineering deputy secretary-general Zhang Boting as saying that over the last five years, only one third of the hydropower programmes set out in the 11th Five-year Plan had been completed, but that the rest will be resumed during the 12th Five-year Plan.

The report noted that the lifting of the ban on hydroelectric development had caught the attention of many companies. Among the example it cited was that of China Power Investment Corporation General Party Manager Lu Qizhou who it said met in Kunming on Dec 20 with Yunnan Provincial Party Committee Member and Vice Governor Luo Zhengfu and Kunming Municipal Committee Secretary Qiu He about further cooperation in hydroelectric development.

The report said disputes among environmental protection bureaus and organizations over hydroelectric power were likely to continue although not so as to disrupt projects. It noted, for example, that when the 100th anniversary of the conference of China hydropower development was held in Yunnan in the name of energy conservation and emission reduction, the environmental protection bureaus never received an invitation.

Zhang has blamed extreme reactions of environmental protection agencies as the main reason for the pace of the development of hydropower in the country. “They have misled the media and overstated the problems which arise from the displacement of residents and the harmful impact on the environment. This has brought additional difficulties to seeking project approval,” he was quoted as saying.

However, Zhang has said the Chinese hydroelectric power generation was now at a turning point, with its development having become a priority in the yet-to-be finalized 12th Five-year Plan. He has noted that in the 12th Five-year Plan, the conventional hydropower target has been raised to 83 million kilowatts from 63 million kilowatts, and the pumped-storage hydropower generation target has been raised to 80 million kilowatts from 50 million kilowatts.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Monk driven to suicide by Chinese harassment

(, Jan21, 2011) Unbearable harassment over his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007 has recently driven a monk in northern Tibet’s Sog County to commit suicide by hanging himself by his neck in his living quarter, reported Oslo-based Voice of Tibet radio service Jan 18. It said Lobsang Palden, 48, was found dead on Nov 15’10 at Dradhel monastery in Trido township, Nagchu prefecture.

Chinese officials from the local Religious Affairs Bureau were reported to have constantly harassed and threatened him for his alleged links with the Dalai Lama simply because of the 2007 meeting. They were reported to have interrogated him for several hours before his death and to have threatened to expel him from the monastery.

The monk was said to have initiated several development works in his hometown as well as at his monastery, which is located within it; they earned him great love and respect from the local Tibetans.

Shocked local Tibetans were reported to have deeply mourned his death and performed the death rituals for him.

The report also said that a man named Kalsang Norden from the same locality had been sentenced to two year in jail his alleged “connections with outside separatist forces”. He was said to have been arrested in 2009 in connection with his use of the popular Chinese chat site The date of the sentence is not clear.

Zoege monk arrested from Chengdu hospital

Phayul[Tuesday, January 25, 2011 16:05] By Kalsang Rinchen

Dharamsala, January 25 – The Public Security Bureau of Zoege County in Tibet’s Sichuan province have arrested a Tibetan monk on January 15, the Voice of Tibet reported. Soepa Gyatso, a monk of Tenzar Drenpa monastery in Zoege, and another monk had gone to a hospital in Chengdu, the provincial capital, for medical treatment. However, officials from the PSB arrested Soepa from the hospital without stating any reason or charge against him.

A Tibetan who had arrived from Zoege has told the radio service that Soepa had been to India some years back. “He was known for his dedication for public welfare, and his works to create environmental awareness in our locality,” the source said.

The Chinese authority appears to have, according to the source, felt that Soepa was actively involved in environmental campaign and anti shugden (deity whose worship the Dalai Lama discourages) under the exiled Tibetan leader’s influence. China regularly reviles the Tibetan leader calling him a "separatist" and arrests Tibetans for affiliation to or devotion

The source added that Soepa had been summoned by local PSB officials earlier in the past for questioning and warned against engaging in such campaigning activities. “He was told by the authorities that if he did not stop engaging in such activities

Currently, there is no information about where Soepa is being held by the authorities.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Photo shows Hu's Welcomers were Paid

The Epoch Times[Sunday, January 23, 2011 12:04]
By Matthew Robertson

A photograph of a photograph that shows money being apportioned to several individuals in the welcoming group mobilized for Chairman Hu Jintao's visit. A woman in a brown coat on the left is holding a name list, while a man in a black jacket stands in front of her with a handful of cash. The photograph was taken surreptitiously by a Tibetan activist and shared with The Epoch Times. This image is a photograph of the original image the Tibetans took. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times )
A photograph of a photograph that shows money being apportioned to several individuals in the welcoming group mobilized for Chairman Hu Jintao's visit. A woman in a brown coat on the left is holding a name list, while a man in a black jacket stands in front of her with a handful of cash. The photograph was taken surreptitiously by a Tibetan activist and shared with The Epoch Times. This image is a photograph of the original image the Tibetans took. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times )
When Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Washington, his reception had been planned with great care—not only by the White House, but the Chinese Embassy too.

The embassy put the word out to its network of front groups to mobilize: thousands of students and others would descend on the capital, their transportation and food would be covered, and they would be paid between $20 and $80.

The Epoch Times reported the story on Jan. 18 based on a survey of e-mails and electronic notices, along with two clandestine telephone conversations with leaders of Chinese Student and Scholar Associations (CSSA).

They admitted to Epoch Times reporters posing as students that the Chinese Embassy was behind all the arrangements — a fact that is deliberately obscured in public communications, in an attempt to make the scene appear organic and natural. The Epoch Times was forced to use this approach to obtain truthful information.

Now The Epoch Times has obtained photographic evidence that the Chinese Embassy paid students to wave flags and chant slogans. The photographs were given by Tibetan activists who had seen the exchange of money and taken a few surreptitious snaps. They then printed the photos out and held them up, chanting to the Chinese students "Shame! You were paid!"

A man who works as a dishwasher in Philadelphia said he was recruited by a community group to come to welcome Hu, so he didn't have to work that day and was paid $55.

While such welcoming activities are often seen as a simple expression of nationalistic sentiment, there is frequently an element of coercion in the exchange. An IT student from Philadelphia told an Epoch Times reporter that he was paid $55 to come, and that he came because he didn't want any trouble from the embassy. He was concerned that if he didn't sign up, there might be consequences for his family in China.

Putting on successful welcoming activities is seen as an important political task by bureaucrats in Chinese embassies around the world. They serve the dual purpose of attempting to give a good impression of local Chinese support to the communist leadership, and overshadowing human rights protesters like Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners, and others.

When the crowd dispersed on Jan. 20, a few students in the welcoming group went to the Falun Gong group and said they were paid $50 to come but that they support Falun Gong, as told to an Epoch Times reporter. 

Tibet News Sites

The following list of Tibet News and views sites is not exhaustive.  If you know of an interesting site that has Tibetan news then please let us know.

Tibet Web Sites

Here are some of the larger sites run by Tibet support organizations, as well as good sources of information on Tibet in general.

Dalai Lama says he trusted Ngabo, ‘a patriot’

(, Jan22, 2011) The Dalai Lama has described Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, seen by many as a traitor to his country, a patriot. His comment came during an online live discussion from his residence in Dharamsala with China-based human rights lawyers Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong, which was arranged by noted Chinese writer Wang Lixong on Jan 4. He also answered questions on few other issues.

On Ngabo’s generally well known pro-China, anti-Tibetan national positions, the Dalai Lama has explained, “We all know it is a fact that people under fear are forced to speak diplomatically according to the given circumstances.”

The Dalai Lama has given three examples to explain Ngabo’s patriotism. The first was in 1951, when Ngabo signed away Tibet’s independence in a 17-Point Agreement with China as the leader of the Tibetan delegation. The exile Tibetan leader has said that even though he was carrying his official seal as the governor of Chamdo, he did not use it, claiming he did not have it. Instead he used a forged seal provided by the Chinese government.

Asked later on why he had signed the “agreement”, he had told the Dalai Lama that the only choice he had was between ‘peaceful liberation’, which he opted for, and an ‘armed liberation’ which he felt would be worse.

The second was in 1979, when he told a fact-finding delegation sent by the Dalai Lama to be aware that “whether in times of the Qing dynasty, or for that matter, the rule of Guomingtang, places within the territory of Ganden Phodrang [name of the area under the Tibetan Government headed by the Dalai Lamas] never paid taxes to them”. The Dalai Lama has cited that as a clear indication of Ngabo’s patriotism.

The third example the Dalai Lama has given was that in 1989, during a session of Tibet Autonomous Region People's Congress, Ngabo had refuted as factually incorrect an official Chinese document claiming that the Nanjing government (of Guomingtang) made all the decisions regarding the enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama, as well as on matters relating to the identification and recognition of the Dalai Lama. Rather, Ngabo had clarified that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama was recognized by the regent of Tibet in accordance with religious tradition and no foreigner had presided over the ceremony.

The Dalai Lama has also said that though he was a minor at the time of his enthronement, he still vividly remembered that representatives of British India, China, Nepal and Bhutan were all uniformly seated in one row. He had complimented Ngabo for having done his best to clarify the actual facts.

The Dalai Lama has further said that Ngabo was, prior to 1951, one of the main people who had his trust and confidence, that he had viewed him as progressive and that people who knew him at that time viewed him as an honest person, someone of integrity.

The Dalai Lama has said he always had complete trust in Ngabo, that despite criticisms from friends, he had organized a memorial service for him when he died on Dec 23, 2009, and that he still always prayed for him.

The Question on Ngabo was the first. Asked whether he was losing control over the behaviour of a few Tibetans in exile, the Dalai Lama has explained that “perhaps 99 percent (of the over 150,000 Tibetans in exile) share common concern and sincerity on the issue of Tibet”. He also said he was respectful of differences of opinion within the community in exile because he believed in democracy.

Asked whether his non-violent struggle was effective against China and in what ways the Tibetan people were benefited by it, he has admitted that there has been no tangible result as against China. However, he has said, “it has helped us in getting strong support from the Chinese intellectuals, students and those who are interested in and aware of the reality”. He has said he had explained his position to some Chinese friends at Harvard University and they told him the entire Chinese people would support him if they know about it.

Asked whether reforming the system of reincarnating lamas was permissible, the Dalai Lama began by saying the practice had no concrete basis in the teachings of the Buddha, that it did not exist in most of the Buddhist countries, that in Tibet the system of recognizing someone as Tulku or Lama not only developed but gradually “nearly became a (part of the) class structure in society”. He has said there were many “tulkus” who lack the qualification of a “Lama” – which is achieved by study and practice – and even bring disgrace.

Friday 21 January 2011

Exiled Tibetans Hold Protest

Tibetans hold placards, banners and the Tibetan national flag to protest Chinese President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Washington DC, Jan 18, 2011. A coalition of 39 Tibetan associations and Tibet support groups across the country appealed Obama to raise the issue of Tibet during his meeting with Hu on January 19, 2011. Photo:SFT/RTYC NY NJ
Tibetans hold placards, banners and the Tibetan national flag to protest Chinese President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Washington DC, Jan 18, 2011. A coalition of 39 Tibetan associations and Tibet support groups across the country appealed Obama to raise the issue of Tibet during his meeting with Hu on January 19, 2011. Photo:SFT/RTYC NY NJ 

US President urges Tibet talk

(, Jan21, 2011) US President Barack Obama on Jan 19 made a rare and direct public call on Chinese President Hu Jintao in regard to the Tibet issue, urging him to talk with the Dalai Lama to resolve the outstanding differences between the two sides. “Even as we, the United States, recognize that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China, the United States continues to support further dialogue between the government of China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve concerns and differences, including the preservation of the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people,” various news services, including Radio free Asia online (RFA, Washington), Jan 19 quoted President Obama as saying during a rare joint press conference with Mr Hu.

The RFA report said some saw Mr Obama’s move to publicly raise the Tibet issue as an attempt to make amends for what was widely considered to be his snub of the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader’s visit to the White House in Feb’10. At that time the Dalai Lama was given a backdoor exit with trash bags seen lying around. That briefest of meeting took place after Mr Obama had failed to meet the Tibetan leader in Washington Oct’09.

Mary Beth Markey, president of the International Campaign for Tibet (Washington) has admitted it was atypical of Obama to make such a strong statement about Tibet on the public stage and that this was enormously gratifying. However, she has noted, his message was “nothing new”.

She felt that given President Hu’s exclusive authority over Tibet, “it would have been much more gratifying to then have President Hu say something” positive on his country’s future policy on Tibet. She has added, however, that “the Chinese do not like to appear to be acting at the behest of US concerns for Tibet.”

Hu did not respond to Obama’s comment about Tibet. He did respond to the US president’s remarks on the human rights situation in China, but only in a general and the well known evasive way, saying that as a developing country with a large population and in the midst of reform, China could do better to protect the rights of its people. “China still faces many challenges in economic and social development.  And a lot still needs to be done in China, in terms of human rights,” he was quoted as saying.

Hu’s remark came after President Obama had said, "History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being."

There was no mention of Tibet in the joint US-China statement issued later in the day, noted PTI news service Jan 20.

It has also been suggested that Obama’s comments on Tibet and human rights will not necessarily be seen by Hu and China as a snub. The Jan 19 quoted Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia studies at the US-based Council on Foreign Relations, as saying, "As both a winner of the Nobel peace prize and the president of the United States, it was incumbent upon Obama to make such a statement, and I think he did it in a way that was clear and compelling without being insulting.”

As Obama and Hu fielded questions at the joint press conference, hundreds of Tibetan and other demonstrators converged on Lafayette Park outside the White House, protesting against China’s repressive rule in their homeland.

The protests, involving hundreds of Chinese, Tibetans and others, actually began the day before, on Jan 18, when Mr Hu arrived in the USA and was hosted a private dinner by President Obama. A state dinner followed on Jan 19. House Speaker John Boehner, declined to attend the dinner.

The pomp and pageant, as well as the state dinner, was something President Hu particularly looked forward to. In Apr’06, former President George Bush had denied him a state visit status and dinner but only offered him lunch.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) said it was organizing a march from the Chinese Embassy to the White House, and vowed to follow Hu around Washington, denouncing his country's policies at eight separate rallies coinciding with his meetings. Tibetan activists vowed to stage protests over three days during Hu’s visit in the capital area.

President Hu remains the most unpopular and controversial global leader to visit the USA, with protesters following him wherever he went during his Jan 18-21 visit. The protesters included human rights and political activists, including international human rights groups, Taiwanese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, the Falun Gong and a host of other interest groups and their American supporters. Human rights in general and the status of Taiwan and China's treatment of its Tibetan and Uighur minority in particular have long been sore points in relations between the US and China.

In the US Congress, Hu faced sharp, bipartisan criticisms. Senate Majority Leader Harry M Reid (D-Nev.) called Hu a "dictator" in an interview with a Las Vegas news station, reported Washington Post online Jan 19. It added that on Capitol Hill, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, compared Hu to ancient Chinese emperors. A blog posting on the web site cited Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) as having said China should be treated as a "gangster regime that murders their own people."

As part of its propaganda war, China organized its own welcome groups to cheer Mr Hu, although they did not appear to have made much impact. Chinese Student and Scholar Associations (CSSAs) and other front groups of the Chinese Communist Party in Washington, DC area were mobilized by the Chinese Embassy to give Hu a big welcome. The participating students worked in shifts, were shuttled to and from the site, and provided with meals and beverages as well as plenty of red banners. Some student participants received cash payments of up to $80 for the trouble.

In emails and bulletin boards at universities in the greater DC area and beyond, the CSSA was undertaking to foot the bill, although the money was apparently coming from elsewhere, according to the Epoch Times online Jan 18. It cited a George Mason University (GMU) as saying the Chinese Embassy in Washington was in “tight control” of the entire process. These were reported to include the carrying out of head count by the embassy staff, verification of identities, and apportion money to CSSA leaders based on the headcount.

China said the aim of Hu’s state visit was “to enhance mutual trust, promote friendship, deepen cooperation and move forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-US relationship for the 21st century”.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Action alert – Torture fears for Tibetan prisoner

JANUARY 13, 2011

Jigme Gyatso, a Tibetan prisoner of conscience and former monk, is suspected to be seriously ill as a result of torture and ill-treatment in custody in Qushui prison in the outskirts of Lhasa (in Chinese, Lasa) in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China. 
Jigme Gyatso was detained in 1996 for his activities in support of Tibetan independence, including setting up a group called the “Association of Tibetan Freedom Movement” and distributing pro-independence leaflets. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in November 1996 as a “counter-revolutionary ringleader”. He has been isolated from other prisoners and was denied visitors for a few months before being allowed one at the end of 2010.
He has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated on several occasions. For the first six months of his detention he was kept in an “interrogation cell” and tortured. In 1997, he was beaten so badly that he could barely walk afterwards. In May 1998, he was among a group of prisoners in Drapchi prison who began shouting pro-Dalai Lama slogans, prompting a violent response from prison staff, resulting in nine dead. Jigme Gyatso was beaten. The protest coincided with a European Union delegation visit to the prison. Jigme Gyatso was also hospitalized in 2009.
In November 2005 Jigme Gyatso met with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, during the Rapporteur’s mission to China. Following their meeting, he was reportedly held in isolation and then hospitalized for several weeks.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has appealed to the Chinese authorities for Jigme Gyatso’s release. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has stated that his detention was arbitrary and violated his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
In May 2004, Jigme Gyatso was beaten, including with electric batons, for having shouted pro-Dalai Lama slogans and given an additional three-year sentence for “inciting separatism”. He is due to be released in March 2014.
Please write immediately in English, French, Chinese or your own language.
* Urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jigme Gyatso,who has been detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
* Urge the authorities to order a full and impartial investigation into allegations that Jigme Gyatso has been tortured, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice, and respectfully demand a guarantee that he will not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated while he remains in custody.
* Urge the authorities to guarantee that he has access to any medical care he may require, legal representation of his choosing and family.
Direct your messages to:
 Qushui Prison Governor:
 Qushui prison
 Qushui county
 Lasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
 Salutation: Dear Prison Governor
 Chief Procurator of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Procuratorate:
 Zhang Peizhong Jianchazhang
 Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Jianchayuan
 Lasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
 People's Republic of China
 Salutation: Dear Procurator
 And copies to:
 His Excellency Zhang Junsai
 Ambassador for the People's Republic of China
 515 St. Patrick Street
 Ottawa, Ontario K1N 5H3
 Fax:   (613) 789-1911
 Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Government:
 Padma CHOLING Zhuren
 Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
 1 Kang'angdonglu
 Lasashi 850000, Xizang Zizhiqu
 People's Republic of China
 Fax:   011 86 891 633 5168
 Salutation: Dear Chairman
Additional information
Torture and other ill-treatment remain endemic in places of detention in China, even though China ratified the UN Convention against Torture in 1988. Amnesty International receives regular reports of deaths in custody, many of them caused by torture, in a variety of state institutions, including prisons, Re-education Through Labour facilities and police detention centres.
The broad discretion given to the police by the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) to detain suspects for long periods before trial increases opportunities for torture and other ill-treatment. During this time detainees' access to their families and legal representatives may be limited.
Under the CPL, the police should tell detainees' families that they have been detained or arrested, and where they are held, within 24 hours, except where it "would hinder the investigation" (Articles 64 and 71). However, in practice communication with the family is frequently denied until detainees are brought to trial or sentenced. Provisions on access to legal counsel also fall short of international standards.
The authorities have passed numerous regulations intended to strengthen the formal prohibition of torture stipulated in China’s Criminal Law. However, the categories of prohibited behaviour are limited, and do not comply fully with definitions of torture under international law, including, for instance, behaviour causing mental torture.
New regulations effective from 1 July 2010 and jointly issued by the SPC, Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and Ministry of Justice, aim to strengthen prohibitions against the use of illegal evidence in criminal cases, including coerced confessions and other evidence obtained through torture and other ill-treatment, particularly in death penalty cases. However, China’s Criminal Procedure Law has still not been amended to explicitly prohibit the use of confessions obtained through torture or other ill-treatment as evidence before the courts.

Petition questions legality of Chinese-language policy for Tibetans

(, Jan14, 2011)  A number of prominent Tibetans, including retired Chinese government officials and educationists, in Qinghai province have submitted a petition on Oct 24, 2010, calling for the scrapping of proposed education reforms which they have argued contravene Chinese laws and are detrimental to their stated beneficial aims. The reforms seek to make Chinese the only language of teaching in Tibetan schools in the province, with Tibetan being taught as just a language subject.

The petition, which was in Chinese language, has been circulating on the Internet. The petition was submitted to the Ministry of Education in Beijing, as well as key Chinese Communist Party offices at the national and provincial levels, the provincial education department in Xining, and offices in the six Tibetan prefectures in Qinghai province.

It was earlier reported, also in Oct’10, that hundreds of Tibetan teachers in the province had also submitted a petition, expressing serious concern over the new policy announced by the head of the Qinghai Education Department, Wang Yubo.

The petitioners in the current case were said to have argued, “Unless the National People’s Congress revises the Autonomy Law, an administrative office, such as a provincial-level government office, has absolutely no authority to exceed the principles and provisions of a basic law by issuing regulations without authority and in contravention of the law,” reported Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) which has translated the petition.

The petitioners were reported to have cited numerous articles from several key pieces of Chinese legislation which ostensibly protect the rights of Tibetans and other non-Chinese people in the PRC to study, use and develop their own language. Enacting the proposal, the petitioners were reported to have argued, would be “in serious contempt of the authority of the nation’s laws.”

ICT said the names of those who had signed the petition were not given in the copy it had seen. The petition is dated less than a week after thousands of Tibetan students staged protests in towns and on school campuses across the Tibetan areas of Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, with a similar protest by Tibetan students also reported at Minzu University in Beijing.

The current petition was reported to have been submitted under the provisions of the Regional Nationality Law on Autonomy (RNLA), which is China’s main legislation for administering Tibetan and other “minority nationality” regions and under the terms of which the central authorities are beholden to reply to the petition within 60 days of its receipt.

The group said the petition was remarkably detailed in its scope and analysis and included three items of recommendations on a way ahead that would ensure “stability” and the protection and development of the Tibetan language. These were: (1) Autonomous agencies of an ethnic autonomous area should persuade and encourage cadres of the various nationalities to learn each other’s spoken and written languages; (2)Do not treat the stance of the petitioners as one “that has to be overcome,” but deal with the issue as “an important political duty, an important people’s-hearts project, and with great efforts and great determination, focus closely on achieving good results,” and (3) relevant civil organizations – other than education and nationality work departments – should carry out in-depth surveys, research, discussions and experience exchanges on the issue of bilingual education, on upholding social stability and the unity of nationalities, and avoid allowing the Tibetan language and script to become a factor that impacts upon nationality relations and state security.

The petitioners have argued, “Currently, there is as much concern for linguistic and cultural diversity in the world as there is for biodiversity – it has become a global concern.”

China holds 831 Tibetan political prisoners

(, Jan14, 2011)  The number of Tibetan political prisoners under Chinese rule was 831 as of Dec 30, 2010, with 360 of them having been judicially sentenced and 12 of them serving life-terms, said Dharamsala-based Tibetan centre for Human Rights and Democracy Jan 12 in its latest annual report.

The report said that during the year, 188 Tibetans were known to have been arrested or detained, with 71 of them having been sentenced by courts. It added that since 2008, over 60 Tibetan writers, bloggers, intellectuals and cultural figures had been arrested.

The report also said that since the spring of 2008, nine Tibetans had been sentenced to death, of whom two were executed, with the others being under two-year stays of execution. The latter included Sonam Tsering, Lama Lhaka and Sodor of Kolu Monastery in Chamdo Prefecture sentenced in 2010.

The report also criticised China’s education policy in Tibet, especially an order by the government of Qinghai Province which required all primary school lessons and textbooks to be in Chinese language by 2015, except in the case of Tibetan and English language lessons. The policy announcement had led to protests by thousands of Tibetan school students across the province in Oct’10.

The report accused China of further undermining religious freedom in Tibet with the announcement in Sep’10 by the State Administration for Religious Affairs of its Order No. 8, titled as ‘Management measure for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and temples' which came into force on Nov 1. The order, among many other things, made it illegal for religious centres in Tibet to maintain connection with overseas religious figures.

With regard to the development and modernization policy in Tibet, the report accused China of ignoring a rights-based and need-based approach, with the result that Tibetan nomads and farmers still faced extreme difficulties in their living conditions.

China rights activists hope Obama won't disappoint

AFP[Thursday, January 20, 2011 17:13]
WASHINGTON – The wife of missing Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng fought back tears Wednesday as she spoke of her children's pain living without their father, who disappeared in April 2010.

Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, political prisoner and China's leading human rights lawyer, speaks as U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) holds up a portrait of Gao during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 18, 2011. U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) hosted the news conference to draw attention to human rights violation in China on the occasion of Chinese President Hu Jintao's State visit with President Barack Obama. (REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang)
Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, political prisoner and China's leading human rights lawyer, speaks as U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) holds up a portrait of Gao during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 18, 2011. U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) hosted the news conference to draw attention to human rights violation in China on the occasion of Chinese President Hu Jintao's State visit with President Barack Obama. (REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang)
Geng He said her daughter of 17 is depressed and her seven-year-old son asks where his father is and speaks of needing to keep up his Chinese so he can speak with him.

"Mr Obama, if you still remember the pain of the void you had growing up without your dad, maybe you can help my children reunite with their dad," she pleaded, speaking through an interpreter.

Her personal appeal at a news conference here illustrated the ambivalence of exiled dissidents, hopeful that President Barack Obama will help bring change to China but still feeling the bitter sting of experience.

In vivid counterpoint to Obama's summit with visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao, exiled human rights activists pointed to China's record of harassment, imprisonment, torture and even death for those who step out of line.

As they spoke, Obama and Hu held a press conference at the White House that gave little indication the Chinese leader had budged on such issues.

Obama said he had been "very candid" with Hu, but the Chinese leader defended what he called "enormous progress" on human rights.

A senior US official later told reporters that Obama had raised the plight of Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned winner of the Nobel peace prize, and had reaffirmed that freedom of expression was a universal right.

Outside the White House, several hundred protesters lined Pennsylvania Avenue, some chanting "Hu Jintao, go home!" and "Shame on Hu Jintao."

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., holds a poster of disappeared Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng as he stands with his wife Geng He, second left, and Rebiya Kadeer, president of World Uyghur Congress, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, where he called attention to human rights issues in China on the occasion of Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit hosted by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., holds a poster of disappeared Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng as he stands with his wife Geng He, second left, and Rebiya Kadeer, president of World Uyghur Congress, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, where he called attention to human rights issues in China on the occasion of Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit hosted by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Banners and brightly colored flags reflected a potpourri of simmering human rights conflicts -- over the Falungong spiritual movement, Tibet, the Muslim Uighur minority and the perennial tensions with Taiwan.

The Obama administration, which initially favored realpolitik, has gingerly moved human rights out of the backrooms of US diplomacy in recent months and promised to frankly raise US concerns with China.

Exiled human rights and pro-democracy advocates said they hoped Obama wouldn't disappoint them.

"At this time, all eyes in China are focused on this summit," said Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled champion of the rights of China's Uighurs.

"Millions of people in China believe President Obama can make great change by speaking out on human rights issues.

"We all believe that Obama will not disappoint the hopes and dreams of millions of people suffering under Chinese rule," she added.

Ngawang Sangdrol, a Tibetan nun who was jailed at age 15 and spent 10 years in prison before being released on the eve of a 2002 US-China summit, said in a statement that international pressure made a difference in her case.

She urged Obama to ask Hu to free all prisoners held for exercising their right to free speech, allow freedom of religion and self-rule and peacefully resolve the future of Tibet through negotiations.

Other activists described a deteriorating climate for political freedoms in China, with arrests of journalists, judicial harassment of non-governmental organizations and prolonged detention of activists who run afoul of the government.

Reporters Without Borders pressed the Obama administration to ask Hu to free 106 journalists and bloggers and to criticize growing censorship in China.

"China is the world's biggest prison for journalists," it said.

The exiled activists each had their own story of repression. But Gao's case was among the most chilling.

His wife said he was tortured in 2007 after being convicted of subversion in December 2006 and given a three-year suspended sentence.

At that time he was stripped naked, thrown onto a wet floor and subjected to electrical shocks all over his body with a baton, she said.

When Gao disappeared again in February 2009, Geng fled to the United States with their two children.

"This time the torture was more severe than last time," she said, describing how her husband was beaten with a handgun, forced to stand for prolonged periods with his head in an awkward position and had his face covered in wet towels to the point of suffocation.

Gao was missing for 14 months before being released. In April, he vanished again, and his family has been told nothing of his fate.

When her young son asks about his father's whereabouts, Geng tells him he's on a business trip.

She said the boy told her: "In my heart, I have a red string attached to my dad's heart, so no matter where he goes we are connected."