Wednesday 30 May 2012


By Mark Govier,  May 2012

According to a document entitled ‘Memorandum’, issued by the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office (Kathmandu, 2011) ‘the population of Tibetan refugees in Nepal stands at 13,500 … (but) 50% of the Tibetan refugees do not have a Refugee Card…’  (1) This means they do not really exist, and stems from a policy enacted by the Nepalese government in 1989 which saw the issuing of such Refugee Cards ended.  This meant, in effect, that ‘children born and brought up after 1989 and those who could not get their RC before the said date are today undocumented people…’ (2) As the document attests, even those with Refugee Cards, though they can remain in Nepal legally, are often denied the right to participate in local activities, and can face severe problems traveling to India, and other countries.   This goes as far as declining to re-issue new driving licenses for RC holders. Further, the document states that ‘some developed countries have expressed their desire for third country resettlement project’ and there is an appeal to the Nepalese government to grant exit permits. (3) But what does all this mean, if anything? Is it just more cant, to obtain more support from various governments?

This document fails to state the reasons for the introduction of such repressive rules, making it appear as if they just somehow appeared, and can somehow be made to disappear. This, of course, is pure nonsense. It also fails to deal with what led the Tibetans to leave their own occupied country that, care of the Communist Party of China, has been decimated. This calls into question not simply the purpose of the document, but also the mindset of those who created it. To know more, I visited the document’s source, the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office, in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. This is housed in a large and somewhat opulent series of buildings, by Nepalese standards, down a guarded and gated lane.  On my first visit, I was taken to the large office of a senior official. He was reading a daily newspaper. He spoke to me briefly, then forcibly escorted me from the building. I was unable to have even take a casual look.  I later saw him sitting in the back seat of a large expensive late model four wheel drive, with a driver.  On the second occasion, I was again taken the senior official’s office.  He was again reading a daily newspaper. In came an Indian man who is known as a ‘consultant’, though his actual position may be other than this. While the official continued to read his newspaper, I was verbally attacked by the ‘consultant’.  I was told to mind my own business; told that the Tibetan refugees were all happy in Nepal; that no one wanted to leave Nepal, and so on.  So why produce such a document? I was unable to ask, and left this dubious ‘meeting’ somewhat intrigued about what was actually going on. Is the Indian government actually behind the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office? Are various governments playing politics with Tibetan refugees, and the matter of Tibet? Are ‘welfare’ and other organizations receiving remuneration from various government sources, as a result? Is Tibet a useful tool to attack the Chinese government with, to keep up appearances, while doing as much business as possible with China? And who really cares about Tibetan refugees, who seem to be mere pawns in such games?

Such matters are historically nothing new, of course. But it needs to be said that the UK government, under successive regimes and leaders, has engaged in a hollow public denunciation of China over Tibet, while at the same time pushing as hard of possible for UK business and products in China. The grim reality is that the UK has, for all the big anti-Chinese, pro-Tibetan words of its governments, only 800 Tibetan refugees resident in its borders. Some of these refugees have expressed serious concerns about what has been going on.  But they are frightened to publicly say, in case the UK government makes things even tighter. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office declines to answer any reasonable questions put to it about the actual number of refugees the UK receives. It goes so far as to classify Tibetan refugees only as ‘Chinese refugees’. And the reason is: the UK government wants as much business as it can have with China. The rest is mere cant.  Interestingly, the Canadian government is planning to take 1,000 Tibetan refugees.

It may seem reasonable to petition the government of Nepal, in some way or other, to try to lift such embargoes, and to permit Tibetan refugees to leave Nepal for other countries, or to remain as refugees in Tibet, with real rights.  It may also seem reasonable to publicly condemn the government of Nepal for not so acting.  However the reality is not so simple.  Nepal is a tiny landlocked mountainous nation wedged between two vast superpowers, India and China. In the past, Nepal permitted the American CIA to back Tibetan rebels operating from Mustang, a small state that was part of Tibet, until the end of the 18th century.  It later permitted Tibetan refugees to pass through its territory onto India, or to remain.  However, such an action led to threats from China against Nepal.  China, in recent years, has been offering and providing invaluable aid and technical assistance to Nepal which this poor nation is most eager to have. The unfortunate reality is that China has successfully placed further pressure on the government of Nepal to stamp down harder on Tibetan refugees, and their children.  A part of this process has been the recent (and unpopular) banning of public celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday by Tibetans, and the putting down of public demonstrations against Chinese rule by Tibetans. The influence of China has increased significantly since the end of the Nepalese civil war in 2006. With the co-governance of Nepal by the Nepalese Maoist Party, this influence can and will only grow.  So what can be done?  Shall the refugees, especially those stuck in Nepal due to the 1989 legislation, be left to their own devices, existing totally outside of the law?  Shall their children who have no legal status whatsoever, live half lives? This matter is important, and needs to be dealt with. The UK government needs to be petitioned, properly.  
1. ‘Memorandum’, Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office, Kathmandu, 201, P 16

2. Ibid, P 16

3. Ibid, P 20. 

Two Tibetans self-immolate in Lhasa, One feared dead

Phayul[Monday, May 28, 2012 17:58]
Dorjee Tseten in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy/Sonam Gyatso)
Dorjee Tseten in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy/Sonam Gyatso)
DHARAMSHALA, May 28: Various sources in exile as well the Chinese official news agencies are now confirming earlier reports of a twin self-immolation protest in Tibet’s capital Lhasa yesterday.

According to reports received by Phayul, a 19-year-old Tibetan identified as Dorjee Tseten, along with his friend, an unidentified 25-year old male set themselves on fire in front of the historic Jokhang Temple in an apparent protest against the Chinese government.

Dorjee Tseten is feared dead while there is no information on the well being and whereabouts of the other Tibetan.

Speaking to Phayul, Sonam Gyatso, a monk at the Drepung Gomang Monastery in south India said that the two Tibetans had booked a room near the Jokhang Temple, one of the most holy shrines in Tibet, preparing for their protest.

“Dorjee Tseten and his friend stepped out of their rented room at around 2.15 pm (local time) and set themselves on fire,” Gyatso said. “Enveloped in towering flames, one of them ran to the flagpole in front of the Jokhang Temple and fell down while the other took around ten steps and fell on the ground.”

According to the same source, Dorjee Tseten is a native of Bora, Labrang Tashi Khyil in Amdo, eastern Tibet while the other youth is from Ngaba, the region which has been at the centre of the ongoing self-immolation protests in Tibet.

Gyatso, citing sources in Bora, said that Dorjee Tseten is the son of Bendey Khar and Dolkar Kyi and has two elder brothers.

“Dorjee Tseten did his primary schooling in Bora and had gone to Lhasa to work there as a chef in a restaurant,” Gyatso said. “People in his native village identify him as gentle natured.”

The same source added that the other self-immolator worked with him at the restaurant as a cashier.

“The owner and other staff at the restaurant have all been arrested,” the exiled monk said.

Chinese official news agency Xinhua in its report has identified the two as Dargye, from Ngaba and Tobgye Tseten, adding that the latter has died.

Lhasa has been at the centre of major Tibetan protests but this is the first time that a self-immolation protest occurred in Tibet’s ancient capital city. Prior to yesterday’s twin self-immolations, 35 Tibetans since 2009, have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom in Tibet.

Thursday 17 May 2012

David Cameron's Dalai Lama meeting sparks Chinese protest

From the BBC
David Cameron's decision to meet the Dalai Lama has provoked an angry response from the Chinese government.
The prime minister met the Tibetan spiritual leader in London on Monday.
China's foreign ministry said the meeting "seriously interfered with China's internal affairs" and "hurt" Chinese feelings.
Downing Street said the Dalai Lama was "an important religious figure" but the UK did not want to see its relationship with China "disrupted".
Mr Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met the Dalai Lama privately on Monday at St Paul's Cathedral.
'Moral crisis' The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was receiving the £1.1m Templeton Prize for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life. He donated the bulk of the prize to Save the Children to support its work in India.
He told reporters China was beset by a "moral crisis" with widespread corruption and lawlessness.
Britain's ambassador in Beijing, Sebastian Wood, was summoned to China's foreign ministry by Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao following the meeting.
China's Foreign Ministry said Mr Song told Mr Wood British leaders should consider the "serious consequences" of meeting the Dalai Lama.
The meeting "seriously interfered with China's internal affairs, undermined China's core interests, and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people", said the foreign ministry in a statement.
'Concrete action' At a news conference in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "We ask the British side to take the Chinese side's solemn stance seriously, stop indulging and supporting 'Tibet independence' anti-China forces, immediately take effective measures to undo the adverse effect, and take concrete action to safeguard the overall development of China-UK relations."
Mr Cameron's official spokesman defended his decision to meet the Dalai Lama, saying: "The Dalai Lama travels all over the world and has visited the UK several times in the past, and I believe that former prime ministers also met with him when they were in office."
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
He now lives in Dharamsala in India, travelling the world to seek support for more rights for Tibetan people.
He is regularly vilified by the Chinese government, which accuses him of trying to split Tibet, with its separate culture and language, from the rest of China.

David Cameron meets the Dalai Lama, Expresses concern over Tibet

Phayul[Tuesday, May 15, 2012 15:14]
His Holiness the Dalai Lama holding a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London on May 14, 2012. (Photo/Clifford Shirley)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama holding a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in London on May 14, 2012. (Photo/Clifford Shirley)
DHARAMSHALA, May 15: Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Monday in London.

According to reports, both leaders expressed concern for the situation in Tibet and interest in other developments in China.

Although there are not many details available on the meeting, described by 10 Downing Street as “private,” sources say that the Dalai lama advised the British leader to stick to their principles without being deflected by short-term economic considerations.

His Holiness yesterday received the 2012 Templeton Prize and announced that he will give away the entire prize money of $1.7 million to charity.

“I always say I am nothing special,” the Dalai Lama said upon receiving the prize, the largest annual monetary award given to an individual. “Simply one of the seven billion human beings.”

Speaking to reporters before the award ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral, the Dalai Lama said China is beset by a moral crisis, widespread corruption and lawlessness, leading millions of Chinese to seek solace in Buddhism.

"Look at China now, the moral crisis, corruption - immense," he said, adding that millions of young Chinese were showing an interest in spirituality.

"Tibetan Buddhist culture I think (is of) immense benefit to millions of Chinese who are really passing through a difficult period like that," the exile Tibetan leader said.

The Dalai Lama also warned British people against feeling "hopeless" and "helpless" in the face of economic troubles and revealed that he wrote to David Cameron following last August riots to express his "condolences".

Later, while receiving the prize, the Dalai Lama said that he was shocked over the riots in London and other towns across Britain last summer.

"I have the idea of Englishmen as mature, sensible, law-abiding people, If (riots) happen in England, it is a shock," he said.

"I sent a letter to the prime minister in which I expressed sadness and urged to him to think about the causes of the riots," he added.

The root cause for the riots, according to him was that the young were being "brought up to believe that life was just easy. Life is not easy. If you take for granted that life will be easy, then anger develops, frustration, and riots."

The Dalai Lama gives $1.5 million prize money to save malnourished children

Phayul[Monday, May 14, 2012 23:34]
The Dalai Lama greets John M Templeton, President of the John Templeton Foundation at a ceremony in London's Saint Paul's Cathedral to honour the exiled Tibetan leader with the 2012 Templeton Prize on May 14, 2012. (Photo/AFP)
The Dalai Lama greets John M Templeton, President of the John Templeton Foundation at a ceremony in London's Saint Paul's Cathedral to honour the exiled Tibetan leader with the 2012 Templeton Prize on May 14, 2012. (Photo/AFP)
DHARAMSHALA, May 14: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama today received the 2012 Templeton Prize and announced that he will give away to charity £1.1m (about $ 1.7 million) in prize money awarded to him.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 2,000 inside London’s Saint Paul's Cathedral, the Dalai Lama said the largest share of the prize money will go towards helping malnourished children in India realise their full potential.

The 76-year old Tibetan leader will donate $1.5 million of the prize to Save the Children, India, an organisation, which is at the forefront of the fight against malnutrition - one of the biggest causes of deaths of young children across the globe.

"Our real hope (is the) younger generation. If we properly educate them then they will change the whole world," the Dalai Lama said.

His Holiness is also giving $200,000 to the Mind and Life Institute, an organisation promoting closer work between science and spirituality, while the rest of the prize will fund scientific education for Tibetan monks.

Save the Children, in a release today, said that they were “honoured” to accept the Dalai Lama’s “generous humanitarian gift,” which the group noted, will be used to save the lives of some of the world's “most vulnerable children.”

“In line with the Dalai Lama's wishes, the funds will be used on programs which tackle malnutrition in India,” the release said. “This donation will be used practically, to help many more children survive, grow and as the Dalai Lama said realise their full potential.”

The exiled Tibetan leader received the Templeton prize, the largest annual monetary award given to an individual, for his work in encouraging scientific research and harmony among religions; the latter being one of the Dalai Lama’s three main commitments.

"This is another sign of recognition about my little service to humanity, mainly non-violence and unity around different religious traditions," the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate had earlier said on being awarded the prize.

The Dalai Lama received the prize from John M. Templeton, the president and chairman of the Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation.

"The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being," John Templeton earlier said while announcing the award.

The Tibetan leader is the second Templeton Prize laureate who has also won the Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa won the first Templeton, in 1973.

Established in 1972, the Prize is a cornerstone of the John Templeton Foundation’s international efforts to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.

China closes Tibetan orphanage school in Amdo

Phayul[Monday, May 14, 2012 13:51]
By Tendar Tsering

Students of Gangjong Sherig Shedhe Woekar Ling in Lhu Chu region of Amdo, eastern Tibet .
Students of Gangjong Sherig Shedhe Woekar Ling in Lhu Chu region of Amdo, eastern Tibet.
DHARAMAHALA, May 14: Chinese authorities in Lhu Chu region of Amdo, eastern Tibet have forcibly closed down a Tibetan orphanage and arrested two of its teachers.

Exile sources have said that the school’s strict adherence to teaching Tibetan language and culture was the reason behind China’s unwarranted actions.

“China closed down the ‘Gangjong Sherig Shedhe Woekar Ling’ orphanage school earlier this month and arrested two of its teachers,” Lobsang Sangyal, a monk in exile with contacts in the region told Phayul.

“The school was sealed off on charges of giving priority to Tibetan language and culture instead of Chinese propaganda and Chinese language,” Sangyal added.

The orphanage has over 50 students, all orphans and semi-orphans from the nearby regions.

Last year, the principal of the school, Atsun Tsundue Gyatso was arrested by Chinese authorities. His arrest came after he authored a book on Tibet’s history and the current situation.

Tsundue’s whereabouts and wellbeing have since remained unknown.

Following the defiant expression of Tibetan identity with the wave of self-immolations and mass protests in Tibet, monasteries, schools, and educational institutions managed and run by Tibetans have been frequently targeted by Chinese authorities.

Last month, Chinese authorities in Karzde region of eastern Tibet shutdown a two-decade old Tibetan school ‘Khadrok Jamtse Rokten School’ and arrested two of its senior most teachers.

After the closure of the school, authorities issued strict warnings against attempts to reopen the school and instructed parents to send their children to the government schools in the township.

This year in March, around 700 Tibetan school students in Rebkong carried out a large protest calling for language rights after government authorities issued textbooks in Chinese language.

In October 2010, thousands of school students in the same region had marched on the streets, protesting a Chinese government decision to replace Tibetan with Chinese language as the medium of instruction in Tibetan schools.

Choekyi Nyima is in mainland China with family: Chinese Embassy official

Phayul[Wednesday, April 25, 2012 17:51]
By Tendar Tsering
Tibetans and supporters in Dharamshala gather to sign petitions demanding the release of the XIth Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who turned 23 today. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
Tibetans and supporters in Dharamshala gather to sign petitions demanding the release of the XIth Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who turned 23 today. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, April 25: Speaking to Phayul over phone, an official in the Press Section of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi today said that the XIth Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is in “mainland China along with his family.”

“He is currently in mainland China along with his family and he doesn’t want to be disturbed,” the press officer, who declined from giving his name told Phayul.

When asked why the XIth Panchen Lama doesn’t want to be disturbed, the Chinese official, instead of giving a straight answer, blamed the Dalai Lama for “fabricating the truth.”

The XIth Panchen Lama, who turns 23 today, was abducted at the age of six along with his family, shortly after he was recognised as the reincarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Despite repeated international pressure, the Chinese government has refrained from disclosing the well-being and whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family.

Coinciding with the XIth Panchen Lama’s 23rd birthday, Tibetans and supporters worldwide organised campaigns demanding his release.

In Dharamshala, the exile Tibetan headquarters, a group of four major Tibetan NGOs conducted a day-long petition drive demanding the Panchen Lama’s release. Signatories were also urged to call the Chinese Embassy to ask for the whereabouts of the XIth Panchen Lama.

“This year marks Panchen Lama’s 17th year of abduction by the Chinese Government after being recognised,” a joint release by the group said. “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s abduction is not only a violation of Tibet’s religious freedom but also a human rights violation.”

Following the XIth Panchen Lama’s abduction in 1995, Beijing handpicked another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu to occupy the seat of the Panchen Lamas.

In a release, the exile base of the Panchen Lama’s traditional monastery, Tashi Lhunpo in south India, said the abduction and disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima were in clear contradiction to China’s claims of “democratic and religious freedom” in Tibet.

“Chinese authorities continue to claim that the people under their rule enjoy democratic and religious freedoms. However, this has repeatedly been proved wrong by the very fact that the Chinese authorities have detained the 11th Panchen Lama for 17 long years since he was only six years old, refusing to provide any verifiable information of his health, well-being and whereabouts and depriving him of traditional Buddhist education,” the statement said.

“The abduction and disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the rightful Panchen Lama, and the instalment of Gyaltsen Norbu in his place is evidence enough of the fact that Tibetans in Tibet do not enjoy any special child rights, human rights or religious freedom, and that Chinese authorities have no regard whatsoever for these rights and freedoms,” the statement added.

200 women in Amdo march demanding release of fellow Tibetans

Phayul[Friday, May 11, 2012 02:33]
Exiled Tibetan women took to the streets of Dharamshala, India on March 12, commemorating the 53rd Tibetan Women’s Uprising day. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
Exiled Tibetan women took to the streets of Dharamshala, India on March 12, commemorating the 53rd Tibetan Women’s Uprising day. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, May 10: In a strong show of defiance against Chinese authorities, around 200 Tibetan women in the Ngaba region of eastern Tibet marched towards the Chinese district office last week demanding the release of fellow Tibetans arrested in recent times.

“On May 1, about 200 Tibetan women, from different villages of Ngaba County including Adhue village and Gyade Tsosum village, marched to the Ngaba County government office to appeal for the release of Tibetans arrested on April 14 at Adhue village,” the Dharamshala based rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a release Thursday.

The women marchers were stopped by armed Chinese security personnel at Tsamrig village after marching for nearly 7 kilometers,” the release said.

TCHRD, while citing sources, noted that “a big clash” was averted after heads of the local monastery intervened to ease the standoff.

“The standoff almost led to a big clash between the security officers and the Tibetans as security officers called in additional reinforcements from the County PAP,” TCHRD said. “It was only after the intervention by the heads and respected lamas of Adhue Monastery that the tense standoff was resolved.”

Although the marchers dispersed at the request of the lamas, they however continued to press for the release of detained Tibetans by announcing a farming boycott movement.

Tibetan residents of Adhue Thawa village refused to farm their fields as a sign of solidarity with the Tibetans who self-immolated, to express their pain and disapproval of the crackdown on Tibetan protesters in Adhue village, and their continued detention in official custody.

On April 14, many Tibetans were beaten and arrested for protesting official corruption by security officers in Adhue village. A large number of Tibetans had to be hospitalised although most of them have now been discharged, TCHRD said.

Following the protest march and farming boycott movement, seven Tibetans were released on May 5 after they were made to attend ‘patriotic re-education’ sessions for three days in the township.