Wednesday 23 February 2011

Organizers urge sustained democracy protests in China

AP[Wednesday, February 23, 2011 14:45]

BEIJING, China — A renewed call for Middle East-style democracy protests in China urged citizens to take an afternoon stroll at arranged locations each weekend and demanded that authorities release activists who apparently remained in custody Wednesday.

Letters posted online by the unidentified organizers said sustained action will show the Chinese government that its people expect accountability and transparency that doesn't exist under the current one-party system.

"We invite every participant to stroll, watch or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear," said the letter, posted Tuesday on U.S.-based Chinese-language news website Boxun, which is blocked on the Chinese internet.

Because of China's extensive Internet filtering and monitoring system, few Chinese were likely to know about the protest campaign. Twitter and Facebook, which were instrumental in Egypt's protest movement, are blocked in China. Tech-savvy Chinese can circumvent controls using proxy servers or other alternatives, but few of the country's Internet users seek out politically subversive content.
Only a handful of people were known to have actively participated in the initial attempt to stage rallies in 13 cities this past Sunday. China's authoritarian government is ever alert for domestic discontent and staged a show of force to squelch any protests, stepping up police presence in the streets, disconnecting some text messaging services and censoring Internet postings about the call to protest.

The source of the online campaign, which first circulated on Boxun, was not known and activists have said they weren't sure what to make of it. The postings call for a "Jasmine Revolution" — the name given to the Tunisian protest movement — and urged people to shout, "We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness" — a slogan that highlights common complaints among Chinese.

Ahead of the planned protests this past weekend, human rights groups estimated that anywhere from several dozen to more than 100 activists in cities across China were detained by police, confined to their homes or were missing.

Several were apparently still in custody on Wednesday, including prominent activist lawyers Jiang Tianyong, Teng Biao and Tang Jitian, and writer Gu Chuan. All of their mobile phones had been switched off, which is common when activists are taken away by authorities.

"We urge the authorities to release the illegally kidnapped activists as soon as possible, otherwise this weekend we will organize another Jasmine Revolution protest on a larger scale to protest the illegal persecution of these people," a letter posted on the Boxun blog said.

Jiang's wife, Jian Bianling, said her husband was taken away Saturday and agents who came to their Beijing home later in the day identified themselves as city police officers and confiscated Jiang's computer.

"I don't know what's going on or where he's being locked up. I'm going to hire a lawyer to help me find him," she told The Associated Press.

Beijing police did not immediate respond to a fax asking whether they had any of the activists in custody.

US Ambassador to India to visit Dharamsala

Phayul[Wednesday, February 23, 2011 14:22]
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, Feb 23: US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer will arrive in Dharamsala later today on a two-day visit during which, among other things, will meet the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The US Ambassador is scheduled to meet the Tibetan leader at his official residence tomorrow.

"Everything is positive. The outcome (of the meeting) will also be positive. Of course, they met before too...once in Delhi," IANS quoted Chimme Choekyappa, private secretary to the Dalai Lama, as saying today about the purpose of the visit.

The Himachal Pradesh state government, according to the report, has declared Roemer a state guest.

"The US ambassador is coming on a two-day visit. The envoy will be accompanied by his wife," the Deputy Commissioner (Kangra) R.S. Gupta told the news agency.

As per the programme schedule, made available by the state government, the US ambassador will visit a school for Tibetan children and then have an audience with the Dalai Lama.

The envoy's programme also includes inauguration of a reception centre for newly-arrived Tibetan refugees in lower Dharamsala later today.

Top officials of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile functionaries, including Tibetan Prime Minister Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, are expected to accord a ceremonial welcome to the US ambassador on his arrival at Gaggal airport near here.

During his meeting with the Dalai Lama, Roemer is also expected to discuss issues relating to Tibetan exiles.

This would be the third highest official-level group to visit this town since March 2008, when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to meet the Tibetan leader amidst ongoing widespread unrest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

In September 2009, a high-level group led by White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, accompanied by US State Department Under Secretary Maria Otero, visited Dharamsala, the seat of Tibet's government in exile, to apprise the Nobel laureate and his functionaries on the best way the US could assist in the resolution of the Tibetan issue.

Earlier this month, Otero, who is also the US government's special coordinator for Tibetan issues, visited India, Nepal and Bhutan, and met Tibetan officials as part of an effort to review the "specific challenges" faced by Tibetans in the region.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Lhasa-Shigatse railway to open in 2015, Lhasa-Nyingtri Line next

(, Feb18, 2011) The Lhasa-Xigaze railway, the first extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway which opened in Jul 2006, will be completed by 2015, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 16. The report said the project will be completed as one of the Tibetan Plateau region's key construction projects during the 2011-2015 period when work for building a railway line to Nyingtri will also begin.

The report said the 253-km new line will pass through five counties as well as the 90-km-long Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Menling County of Nyingtri Prefecture. Construction has been on since Sep 2010, with a budget of 13.3 billion yuan (US$ 1.95 billion).

The report said that apart from carrying passengers, the new railway line will have a freight capacity of 8.3 million tonnes per year. It added that with the new airport that opened in Shigatse in Nov’10, the new railway line will play a vital role in boosting tourism and accelerating the transport of natural resources.

Xigatse (Tibetan: Shigatse) is the second largest city in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) after Tibet’s capital Lhasa and is also populated predominantly by Chinese immigrants.

The report also said that within the period of 2011-15, work will begin for the building another extension of the railway, which will be from Lhasa to Nyingchi (Tibetan: Ningtri), and will be completed in the next five years.

Chinese officials detain activists after online call for protests

Guardian[Sunday, February 20, 2011 20:25]
Message posted on overseas website and titled 'The jasmine revolution in China' prompts security crackdown

Tania Branigan

Police on the streets of Shanghai after an online call for demonstration sparked a crackdown by the Chinese authorities (Photo: Reuters)
Police on the streets of Shanghai after an online call for demonstration sparked a crackdown by the Chinese authorities (Photo: Reuters)
Beijing: Chinese security officials have questioned or detained scores of activists and warned others against staging protests after an online call was made for demonstrations in 13 cities, campaigners said.

The message – posted on an overseas website on Saturday – was titled "The jasmine revolution in China".

The swift crackdown underlined the anxiety of authorities in the wake of the Egypt uprising and protests across the Middle East.

It came as the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, urged top officials to "improve social management capabilities", sustain order and handle online information better "to guide public opinion".

The Xinhua state news agency said the meeting in Beijing was to help leaders to understand "new changes and characteristics in the domestic and international situations".

Despite a huge police presence at the proposed demonstration locations, there were signs that at least a handful of people in Beijing and Shanghai had hoped to protest.

It is not clear who posted the call for demonstrations on the Boxun website, and the message may well have come from abroad. Many mainland activists appeared to have been unaware of it until police contacted them.

The message posted said: "You and I are Chinese people who will still have a dream for the future ... we must act responsibly for the future of our descendants."

It urged people to shout demands for food, work, housing and fairness.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy estimated that more than 100 activists across the country were taken away by police, prevented from leaving home or were missing.

Wang Songlian, of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network, said more than 40 campaigners or dissidents had been summoned or questioned by police or placed under "soft detention" at home or elsewhere.

In many more cases, police had visited people to ask them what they were doing or warn them not to take part, she said.

"[The message] linked it to the jasmine revolution and I guess that made the government nervous," she added. "It really shows us how much the government has identified with regimes in the middle east where people are so aggrieved about social injustice."

She added that the disappearance of some individuals, such as the lawyer Jiang Tianyong, might be linked to attempts to support the legal activist Chen Guangcheng rather than the call for protests.

In Beijing, security officers attempted to detain one man holding jasmine flowers at the planned protest site, but let him go after he was swarmed by journalists.

The Associated Press named him as 25-year-old Liu Xiaobai, who told them: "I just put down some white flowers, what's wrong with that? I'm just a normal citizen and I just want peace."

Other witnesses said he had picked the flowers out of a rubbish bin a few moments before.

Officers also took away two other people, one of whom was shouting, although it was not clear whether they were protestors.

One bystander said: "I was here for the demonstration, but there were so many police.

"There's no freedom, and the government don't care about us ordinary people. But what can you do?"

Another said: "It didn't work. But it will happen. Maybe you have to look 10 years out in the future, but it will."

But the majority of the large crowd appeared to be curious shoppers attracted by the large police and media presence.

Unusually, Xinhua reported that police had detained three people after crowds gathered at the People's Square in Shanghai.

China's most popular microblog blocked searches for "jasmine" and attempts to include the word in status updates on a social networking site were greeted with a warning to refrain from inappropriate postings.

The rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who said he was being followed, said: "I personally think it's difficult to change a government in China.

"But today's gathering shows some changes in our society and also builds and strengthens people's minds. It doesn't help if the government controls some dissidents, because this gathering is self-organiaed.

"But I hope both protesters and police are peaceful. It's very important to be legal."

Nicholas Bequelin, the Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: "I think it is significant, not in terms of whether it is going to topple the political system, but in indicating China is not immune from larger global trends about the impact of new communications on people's aspirations."

He pointed out that while there were a lot of protests in China, most related to specific grievances.

But Li Jinsong, a rights lawyer, told AFP he did not believe the call had been serious.

"By taking this so seriously, police are showing how concerned they are that the jasmine revolution could influence China's social stability," he said.

China Steps-up Religious Restrictions Inside Tibet

15february2011201265London: China is set to announce a new constraint on Buddhist practising in Tibet, with a barring of Buddhist monks outside of China to be recognized as a reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The ban, set to be made law next month would effectively permit the Chinese government to select the future Dalai Lama.
The new law stipulates that Buddhist monks in Tibet must seek permission from Chinese communist regime for reincarnation has been described by Chinese state administration for religious affairs as an important move to "institutionalize management of reincarnation".
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made it clear in recent months that the next Dalai Lama will be born and receive religious training in a safe and free environment outside of China. As the new law stands, however, it would seem that two Dalai Lama's would emerge, one Communist state backed and the other religiously supported.
This is not the first time the Chinese government has created limitations to reincarnations, in September 2007, the State Administration for Religious Affairs passed a directive stating, "The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid." The same law also stated that the 14th Dalai Lama could play no part in the process of seeking and recognizing a living Buddha.
Reacting to the development, de facto Prime Minister of Tibet, Samdhong Rinpoche, has accuses China of, "formulating various methods to finish the two major Tibetan religious institutions-Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama as these two were very important for Tibetans."
"The new Chinese law is nothing but a ploy to take control of Tibetan religious institutions. He said that China was perhaps waiting for the departure of the Dalai Lama as it believed that his departure would resolve the problem of Tibet itself," he added.

Sunday 13 February 2011

2nd March Event: Film - The Sun Behind the Clouds

To commemorate Tibetan national uprising day there will be a screening of 'The Sun behind the Clouds'  at Church House, Church Street in Corsham at 7.30pm on Wednesday 2nd March.  Entry is free with teas, coffee and cakes will be available.   There will also be a fairtrade stall.
THE SUN BEHIND THE CLOUDS updates the struggle for Tibetan independence, focusing upon the March 2008 demonstration against Chinese rule, the largest ever since the 1959 take-over of that nation. The Dalai Lama, living in exile in Northern India, is interviewed extensively and given the opportunity to explicate his "middle way," a compromise position he has to date been unsuccessful in getting the Chinese to accept. Supporters of Tibetan independence who are devoted to the Dalai Lama, but who nonetheless feel "the middle way" is an ineffective solution, appear in the film, detailing their more militant position.
See a preview at

WINNER, VACLAV HAVEL AWARD, One World Film Festival, Prague

This film shows what is happening in the hearts of the Tibetan people…it presents a very unusual insight into the situation in Tibet.
Vaclav Havel, on presenting the award
…beautiful, stirring and inescapably elegiac…
Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
The documentary does a superlative job of examining the half-century dispute over Chinese rule of mountainous Tibet.
VA Musetto, New York Post
A potent update on Tibetans‘ 50-year struggle for justice and recognition…essential viewing for anyone who cares about the fate of the mountain region and the legacy of the Dalai Lama.
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
…a welcome departure from many previous films about the decades-long friction between Tibet and China…an exception in what is not an angry film but a notably calm, well-considered and balanced one.
Robert Koehler, Variety  

Annual Report 2010: Human Rights Situation in Tibet

10january2011-19Dharamshala: The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) on 12 January 2011 released its Annual Report 2010: Human Rights Situation in Tibet. This 90-page report documents violation of right in Tibet in the area of Civil and Political Rights, Religious Freedom, Right to Education and Right to Subsistence.
Civil and Political Liberties
During 2010, there is no let up by the government of PRC. As of 30 December 2010, there are 831 known political prisoners in Tibet out of which 360 are known to have been legally convicted by courts and 12 Tibetans are serving life imprisonment term. During the year, 188 known Tibetans have been arrested and detained, out of which 71 have already been sentenced by the courts. The crackdown on intellectuals and cultural figures continued to take place this year also. Since 2008, over 60 Tibetan writers, bloggers, intellectuals and cultural figures have been arrested. The authorities targeted prominent Tibetan figures during the year who were earlier looked upon as exemplary individuals. On 23 August 2010, the Chinese government made an announcement of reforms being carried out in the application of death penalty by removing the capital punishment for financial crimes. Although this reform is welcome, it does not have any significant effect in Tibet. Since spring 2008, nine Tibetans have been sentenced to death with two already having been executed. The remaining seven are serving death penalty with two years reprieve. This year three Tibetans, Sonam Tsering, Lama Lhaka and Sodor of Kolu Monastery in Chamdo were given death sentence with two years reprieve. In May this year, China issued new regulations saying evidence obtained illegally through torture cannot be used in death penalty cases and other criminal prosecutions. China theoretically banned torture in 1996 but evidence obtained through duress was routinely accepted as the definition of illegal acts was vague that police used various techniques to work around the ban. In restive regions like Tibet, torture is a regular feature in the detention centres and prisons. The police use inhumane techniques and torture to present evidence before the courts.
Right to Education
During the year students in Tibet staged protests on several occasions in order to put forward their grievances and concerns over social and policy issues. March and April 2010 saw a huge number of detentions and expulsions of Tibetan students and teachers from schools and academic institutions in eastern Tibet. On 19 October 2010, thousands of Tibetan students from six different schools in Rebkong (Ch: Tongren) County, Malho "Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture" ("TAP") in Qinghai, took to the streets to protest against the proposed changes in education system which intends to drastically sideline Tibetan language. The protests later spread to other areas in Tibet and as far away as in the Minzu (Nationalities) University in Beijing where around 600 Tibetan students on 22 October 2010 demonstrated for the protection of Tibetan language. The protests were sparked by an order by the Qinghai government that all lessons and textbooks should be in Chinese language in primary schools by 2015 except Tibetan and English language classes. The government argued that the proposal of enforcing Mandarin in schools will bring the Tibetan students on par with the other citizens, avail opportunities in the economic life and integrate into the broader Chinese society. However, the Tibetans have been calling for the preservation of Tibetan language as an identity of the Tibetan race and the foundation of religion and culture which connects to the wider issue of cultural and ethnic identity. Unfortunately the authorities see the assertion and promotion of cultural uniqueness and pride as anti-state. The enforcement of mandarin as the first language will soon be applied across Tibet which will negatively impact the lives of Tibetans dramatically. China's laws protect and promote ethnic minority languages, however, the reality suggest otherwise. In light of China's constitution, national and international laws, the state of PRC has the responsibility protect the Tibetan language. The proposed change in the education system by the regional government of Qinghai absolutely contradicts all the legal provisions.
Religious Freedom
During the year, practice of centuries old traditional Tibetan Buddhism and the monastic community faced yet another strike by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the government. In September 2010 the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) issued Order no 8 - ‘Management measure for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and temples'. The 44 articles regulation which entered into force on 1 November 2010 obstructs the centuries old traditional Tibetan Buddhist practices, restricts relationship between students and masters, and provides a strong legal instrument for the authorities to control the monastic institutions as well as monks and nuns. This regulation is a reinforcement legal instrument to curb primarily the influence of the Dalai Lama and other heads of Tibetan Buddhism most of whom live in exile pursuing their religious propagation and teachings. In what can be construed as an escalation of control in the monastic institutions in Tibet, the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the CCP conducted a meeting on the democratic management of the monastic institutions from 14 - 15 August 2010. The meeting held at Shigatse drew heads of monastic institutions and local UFWD heads in the "TAR" as well as Tibetan areas in four provinces to tighten religious institutions in Tibetan areas. During the meeting, the head of the UFWD, Du Qingli, remarked that patriotic and legal education should be strengthened in order to make the monks and and nuns abide by the laws of the country and voluntarily protect unity of nation, nationalities and social stability.
Right to Subsistence
Beijing's discourse on Tibet always had two strands, one that of "development" and "stability" on the other hand. With over 80 percent of Tibetans living in rural areas, the benefits of Western Development Strategy (WDS) have not been accessible to the large majority of ethnic rural Tibetans. Little of the development money has trickled down to the poorest sections of the society. While China claims to prioritize economic rights of its people, it has failed to employ rights based and need based approach to development in Tibet thus rendering extreme difficulties in the lives of nomads and farmers. In drawing his conclusion on the government's resettlement of Tibetan nomads in huge numbers under the Tuimu Huancao (removing animals to grow grass) policy, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, after his mission to the PRC from 15-23 December told the government that nomads should not be forced to sell off their livestock and resettle.
After a decade since the last work forum, the Fifth Tibet Work Forum was held in Beijing from 18-20 January 2010. President Hu Jintao and more than 300 of China's most senior Party, government and military leaders attended the meeting. In an unprecedented development, unlike previous four work forums on Tibet the Fifth included all Tibetan areas incorporated into Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces. Although not much is known, the forum indicated the regional integration of policies across all Tibetan areas of the PRC. After a decade of the ambitious Western Development Strategy, the authorities seem to have acknowledged that the inequality between the rich and the poor has widened, social services are not uniform and the education level of the people uneven. The Fifth Tibet Work Forum indicated to be focusing on accomplishing improvements in rural Tibetans livelihood. Unlike past forums, the work forum did not reveal megaprojects lists although it may well be because the high expenditure projects will be announced in the 12th Five Year Plan for the years 2011 to 2016.
During the year thousands of lives were lost to the earthquake in Kyegudo (Ch: Jyekundo) and the mudslide disaster in Drugchu. While it is commendable that the government provided good support in the relief efforts for quake struck Kyegudo, it is unfortunate that the state did not allow the Dalai Lama to the area despite his direct request for a visit to the area to say prayers and console the grieving families. The government would have won much admiration by the Tibetan people as well as internationally had it set aside politics and let the human emotions and spirituality connect. The key to win over hearts and minds of the Tibetan people lies in connecting with the Dalai Lama. The state should have a bold vision in resolving the issue of Tibet through dialogue with Dalai Lama in order to ensure a stable environment where in the people of Tibet and China live harmoniously.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Outspoken Tibetan writer rearrested

(, Feb06, 2011) The Chinese authorities in Sangchu County of Gansu Province had arrested on Dec 16’10 a young Tibetan writer whom it had earlier released on a six-month probation in Oct’10, according to Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Feb 4. The centre said the reason for the arrest of Kalsang Tsultrim, also known as Gyitsang Takmig, was not known. It said he was summoned to the Tsoe city police headquarters and never released from there.

Kalsang Tsultrim had earlier been arrested on Jul 27’10 from Dzoege (Chinese: Ruo’ergai) County of Sichuan Province after he had circulated a VCD recording of himself that was highly critical of the Chinese government rule and policies in occupied Tibet. The hour-long VCD, recorded on Aug 18’09 and numbering 2,500, was said to have been widely distributed in the Tibetan areas of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces.

Its purpose was stated to be to “educate primarily the illiterates and general Tibetan public” about the "true history of Tibetan struggle for freedom, the Dalai Lama’s call for the genuine autonomy through middle-way approach and human rights situation in Tibet” to counter the “daily dose of government-sponsored propaganda”. It is also said to urge the international community to "act swiftly on behalf of the Tibetan people" to end the repression in Tibet while also calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet.

Kalsang Tsultrim is said to be well known for his writings, especially for a 2008 book which highlights the concerns and aspirations of the Tibetan people. He was earlier a monk at the Gyitsang Gaden Choekorling Monastery in Sangchu (Chinese: Xiahe) county in Gansu Province. In 2005 he joined the Gansu Provincial Buddhist Institute and graduated from there in 2009.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Quake-struck Eastern Tibet Reconstructed Under Chinese Name

Cities from the Tibetan area of Yushu, eastern Tibet (Tib: Kham) destroyed after the earthquake of April 2010 will soon be rebuilt under new Chinese names, said a report released by a Chinese official media.
According to Xinhua, Qinghai provincial governor Luo Huining announced last week that "in light of the post-quake rebuilding work and Qinghai's urbanization drive", Yushu County will be transformed "into a city with a new temporary name of Sanjiangyuan [The Three River Sources]."
Among the cities of that area, Chinese authorities are said to be focusing on Gyegu, where 3000 people died and more than 100 000 resident were left homeless after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. "We will strive to build Gyegu Town into a commerce and logistics center and a tourist city", said Mr Wang.
This initiative causes more than a little concern to the Tibetan inhabitants who constitute 90% of the population. Despite their strong presence, Tibetans have been excluded from the reconstruction process, controlled by Chinese authorities.
Mary Beth Markey, President of U.S. based NGO the International Campaign for Tibet, explained that "this contravenes [the Chinese] own ‘ethnic autonomy' laws and creates further distress among those already devastated by loss and dispossession. There is also a danger that historic Tibetan buildings that survived the quake may now be razed in the reconstruction."

China Planning to Develop 3 Major Mineral Bases in Tibet

06february20110033Despite international criticism, the communist regime of China is planning to develop three major mineral bases in Tibet in the coming five years amid claims that 102 types of deposits with an estimated value of USD 100 billion have been discovered in the Himalayan region.
So called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will step up the exploration of copper, lead, zinc, chromium and gold in its central areas, including the regional capital city of Lhasa and Shannan Prefecture, to form a major mineral base for non-ferrous metals and chromes, the state-controlled news agency 'Xinhua' reported.
A non-ferrous metal base will be established in Chamdho region (Ch: Qamdo Prefecture) in the east of Tibet, an area with 15 million tonnes of proven copper, lead and zinc reserves in the new five year plan starting from this year.
In addition, a salt lake area in the northwest of Tibet is expected to become a major base for saline minerals and lithium, the report claimed. Last December, Chinese official media reported that geologists discovered 102 types of mineral deposits in over 3000 mine beds with an estimated value of about 600 billion Yuan, (USD 100 billion).
Among the variety of mineral reserves, Tibet is reported to have large chromium and cuprum far higher than other regions of mainland China. Twelve other mineral reserves rank among the top five across the whole country.
Chinese aluminium and copper giant Aluminum Corp of China, or Chinalco has already set up its unit there, besides Chinese miners Western Mining Co and Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd which already started production at the Yulong copper deposit, in southeastern Tibet.
Access to the remote Tibetan areas is no longer a problem as China has already built enormous amount of rail, road and air infrastructure connecting so called TAR with the mainland.
The rapid exploration of natural resources and development of infrastructure evoked criticism from the Tibetan say this would benefit the main land more as it fuels influx from the outside the region besides harming the plateau's fragile environment.
Not only are Tibetans subject to economic discrimination and the invasion was followed by wide-spread environmental destruction in Tibet, resulting in deforestation, overgrazing, uncontrolled mining, nuclear waste dumping, soil erosion, landslides and other perils. The government of China continues to extract various minerals without any environmental safeguards, and as a result, Tibet is facing an environmental crisis, which will be felt far beyond its borders and its current generation.

China’s Controversial Plans for Dam on Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet

25may20103The Brahmaputra River, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet, is the latest target of China's hydroelectric plans. The planned dam is set to be the largest in the world, greater than the Three Gorges Dam in China, and will be part of a 540 megawatts (MW) power generation project due for completion by December 2015. According to several media reports there are 28 other dams either planned or currently construction along the Yarlung Tsangpo, though China are yet to confirm these.
The Gezhouba Corporation, responsible for the project, is among China's largest construction and engineering companies. The General Manager of China's Hydropower Engineering Consulting Group has stated that Tibet's resources "will be converted into economic advantage", however some reports (denied by China) have claimed that water may in the future be diverted from the river to areas of drought in southwest China. This would create knock-on effects in India and Bangladesh, reducing the flow of water in the parts of the Brahmaputra that run through them.
The Yarlung Tsangpo source lies at a height of 4,000 metres in southwestern Tibet, at the Jima Yangzong glacier and flows in an easterly direction for 1,600km through Tibet. Before entering India as the Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh, the river takes a massive u-turn named the ‘Great Bend'. It is in this most easterly Indian state where there is a confluence of the Siang, Dibang and Lohit rivers, forming the Brahmaputra. The Brahmaputra passes through India in its middle sector through Assam, leading on to Bangladesh, its lower riparian, where it converges with the river Ganga to create the largest delta in the world, before reaching its mouth at the Bay of Bengal. A huge proportion of river runoff from Tibetan rivers, approximately 90 per cent, flows further downstream to many countries such as India, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Interfering with the natural flow of river water in Tibet will thus have repercussions for other nations.
Backed by Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, India has recently stated that it would not stand for any future Chinese plans to intervene with the Brahmaputra River for both political and ecological reasons. Ramesh had expressed particular concern over the lack of a "water-sharing treaty", something that latest reports suggest is in the process of being created. It will constitute an agreement between the two nations to share all information concerning hydro-electric projects on the Brahmaputra. Furthermore the Minister insists that India must quicken its own hydroelectric plans in the Brahmaputra basin, so that India's bargaining position with China is strengthened. The diplomatic process of negotiation is predicted to be a slow one, as recently experienced with the issue of sharing glaciological data which was delayed last year because of Chinese reservations.
25may20104Reports on the 5th of May from the Indian External Affairs Minister, Somanahalli Malliah Krishna, show that China has expressed that the planned project in Zhangmu would "not in any way impact the river's downstream flow" in India. Krishna revealed that Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, had assured him during his latest visit to Beijing that China was always responsible in its actions regarding trans-border water politics. Yang had also insisted that the plans for the river were to generate hydroelectric power and not to store the water or regulate its volume, thus not affecting the river flow in Indian territory.
Although at the moment China insists that the Zhangmu project only concerns hydroelectricity, there are fears over possible future hydro-engineering projects further on the Tsangpo at the Great Bend. There are concerns that China may divert water in this area as part of the South-to-North Diversion Scheme. The scheme would be used to irrigate arid areas in the north where over a third of the population lives, yet less than a tenth of the country's water resources is found. A dam would be built at the Great Bend and water from China's southern rivers as well as from Tibet's Tsangpo would be diverted in a northerly direction along three routes; the western route could have detrimental ecological and hydrological effects in India and Bangladesh. This would also lead to further complications with India's own hydroelectric plans in Arunachal Pradesh and a potential north-to-south irrigation scheme to bring water to drier areas in southern India. Indian authorities have said that slow progress on their own hydro plans have been due to inadequate funding, protests and bureaucratic impediments, whereas China does not partake in public negotiations and has both the financial and technological resources available to them to pursue their projects.
It was only recently that China admitted its plans for the Zhangmu dam, denying the project for many years previously. This has led to Indian suspicion regarding future Chinese water plans, despite China's strong denial of any water diversion projects. Other concerns raised regarding the suitability of such a large project in the area have highlighted the seismic instability of the region, which could prove devastating if dams were built.

Tibet Monks support the Karmapa

Tibetan Buddhist monks carrying portraits of 17th Gyalwang Karmapa march to Gyuto monastery to express support and solidarity with the head of Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Thousands of Tibetan and foreign devotees marched from Tsuklakhang to Gyuto monastery, temporary residence of the Karmapa, Feb. 2, 2011. (Photo: Phayul/Norbu Wangyal)
Tibetan Buddhist monks carrying portraits of 17th Gyalwang Karmapa march to Gyuto monastery to express support and solidarity with the head of Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Thousands of Tibetan and foreign devotees marched from Tsuklakhang to Gyuto monastery, temporary residence of the Karmapa, Feb. 2, 2011. (Photo: Phayul/Norbu Wangyal) 

Tibetan Students Cycle for Language Rights in Tibet

New Delhi: Selho Gyal (20) and Tsering Dorjee (18), both students of Tibetan Children’s Village, Suja (Distt Kangra, Himachal Pradesh) started a month long ‘Cycling for Tibetan language’ from Rajghat, Delhi today. The journey was flagged off in the presence of many other Tibetan students studying in different colleges of Delhi and many other Tibetan supporters.
This initiative by the two students is aimed to educate Indians, especially targeting Indian students on the language reform in Tibet – Beijing’s mission to exterminate Tibetan language. The two cyclists will also inform Indian public about the importance of protection and promotion of Tibetan language and Culture, which is Tibetan people’s inherent right.
“Our effort is in solidarity with Tibetan students who protested in October last year for Language right in Tibet,” said Selho Gyal, one of the student cyclists. “Students across Tibet have expressed their resentment against this discriminatory policy and students worldwide took action to amplify their voices and support their demand for freedom of language.”
Tibetan Language is the foundation of Tibetan culture and the new language policy Beijing is trying to impose on Tibetan reveals the Chinese governments’ deliberate attempt to assimilate Tibetans in Chinese society.
“Tibetans have every right to use their language in private and public life,” said Tsering Dorjee. “We demand the Chinese Government to create a favorable condition to enable the development of Tibetan language for Tibetans living in Tibet.”
Selho Gyal and Tsering are using their winter break to educate Indians on language discrimination faced by Tibetan students in Tibet and promote friendship and trust between Indian and Tibetan students. The two will be cycling for a month from Delhi, Dehradun, Chandigarh and end their journey in Dharamshala, the heart of Exile Tibetan community where the Tibetan Government in Exile is based.

You can follow their progress on facebook at

Friday 4 February 2011

China’s Forbidden Zones

Shutting the Media out of Tibet and Other “Sensitive” Stories
This 71-page report draws on more than 60 interviews with correspondents in China between December 2007 and June 2008. It documents how foreign correspondents and their sources continue to face intimidation and obstruction by government officials or their proxies when they pursue stories that can embarrass the authorities, expose official wrongdoing, or document social unrest.

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Tuesday 1 February 2011

Forceful Resettlement of Nomads Still Ongoing in Tibet

18january201198Dharamshala: Impulsed by the so called Grassland Law adopted in 1985, and then completed by a series of programs and various guidelines such as the "Tuimu Huancao" ("removing animals to grow grass") and the "Tuigeng Huanlin" ("returning Farmland to Forest") policies, the resettlement of millions of nomads in Tibet is not yet to end. According to the so called regional government, another 185 000 families are expected to move into new homes by 2013. Around 300 000 families in Tibet, involving 1.43 million nomads and farmers were moved into new or fixed settlement homes since 2006. Quoted by the Annual Report 2010 published by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) this month, this vast initiative led by the Chinese government has been criticized by a bunch of associations as a threat to the Tibetan nomadic culture.
Also known as the Western Development Strategy, those programs are presented by Chinese as a way to respond to the degradation of pasture lands and to control disasters in the low lands of the country. If the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, notes that there is little doubt about the damages, he however pointed out the limits of this very process in a recent report. Highlighted as a "vulnerable group" in the document, Tibetan nomads have no other option than to sell their herds and resettle.
The association Free Tibet explains on its website that the "livestock are seized, and often slaughtered. Compensation is often small and nomads' attempts to complain against the arbitrary measures are ignored by the local authorities". Tibetan nomads are said to have complained that after one year of payment following their settlement, most of them have remained without any means, or government aid, to sustain themselves.
For the newly settled nomads, their "lack of education and skills to find employment in Tibet's increasingly urban economy" often leave them in a situation of poverty.

Beside the practical issues and the number of critical consequences of the resettlement process, associations also point out motivations that are not only environmental. Nicholas Bequelin, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch, and author of a report concerning the topic, said Chinese spent hundreds of millions of dollars on resettling Tibetan nomads, partly to better control them. "The baseline, of course, is that China has a problem with the Tibetan population, Bequelin said. "They fear that their political loyalties are not with the Chinese state, and that they stand in the way of exploiting the natural riches of these areas, natural riches that are needed to fuel China's economic development."
In his recent rapport, UN Special Rapporteur, De Schutter, underlined the contradictions of Chinese attitude, as they ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that prohibits depriving any people from its means of subsistence, and the 1992 Convention on Biodiversity which acknowledges the importance of indigenous communities as guarantors and protectors of biodiversity (Art. 8 j).

See also