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Dharamsala, Feb. 13: The US Wednesday expressed its concern on situation in Tibet, but did not specify if the issue would definitely be taken up by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to China later this month, according to a media report.

“You know, the situation in Tibet is something the US government has been concerned about for some time. We’ve raised that issue with the Chinese in the past,” PTI reported the State Department spokesperson, Robert Wood, as saying.

“The Secretary (of State) will be having a wide-ranging discussion with the Chinese when she is in China. I am not going to get beyond what we have said publicly about our engagement with China,” he said.

“But human rights issues are something that will be at the top of the Secretary’s agenda, no matter where she goes,” Wood said.

Wood was reportedly responding to a question about the latest statement from the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama that the situation in Tibet is very tense and there could be a popular uprising any moment.

“The issue could very well come up. I just don’t want to get into specific subject areas at this point. But you can expect that the Secretary is going to be bringing up human rights issues throughout the trip, where she deems it necessary to do so”, he said when asked about whether the issue would come up or not.

Mrs. Clinton, only a month into the job, as announced by the State Department last week, would be travelling on her first overseas trip in this position to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China during her week-long trip beginning February 15.

Meanwhile, seven prominent organizations, mostly based in US, Tuesday issued a joint press statement asking Mrs Clinton to put Human Rights on top of the agenda in her visit to Beijing next week.

In the statement, Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Human Rights First, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Tibet, and Reporters Without Borders urged Secretary Clinton to speak publicly about Tibet and Xinjiang, torture in police custody, domestic press censorship, extrajudicial detention, and abuses of human rights defenders.

The statement recalls the secretary’s own past comments on human rights in China, in which she stressed: “not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions.”

“If Secretary Clinton remains silent on these issues – as the US did earlier this week during China’s review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva – the Chinese government is likely to get the wrong message,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

“We ask the secretary to stress human rights, the rule of law, and protections for civil society as a centerpiece of US policy going forward,” she said.

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Students for a Free Tibet: Our Nation Episode 4

It appeared to be a typical New Year in Rebkong county, a remote part of Qinghai province in western China where the countryside is dotted by Tibetan monasteries and white stupas.

At Gomar monastery, colourful prayer flags flapped in the wind and the faithful spun rows of large brass prayer wheels and tossed pieces of coloured paper squares from a tall stupa, sending countless prayers swirling into the sky. Meanwhile, a steady line of pilgrims carried out an exhausting circumambulation of the temple, prostrating their bodies fully across the ground after every three steps.

But not everyone was joyful. Losar, the Tibetan lunar new year, comes 11 months after unrest broke out in Tibetan areas of China last year, and despite government attempts to erase the memories, few families seem in the mood to celebrate.

Calls for a boycott of the Tibetan New Year began spreading months ago via blogs, mobile phone messages and word of mouth, travelling from Tibetan communities in Dharamshala, India, London and New York to rural villages and towns in western China. Some Tibetans celebrate the New Year according to the Chinese lunar calender, which began on Jan 26 this year, while others follow the Tibetan lunar calendar, which marks the first day of 2136, the year of the Earth Ox, on Feb 25.

The sense of fear is palpable in this area, which saw disputes break out between Muslims and Tibetans last February and then again in March. But those who are willing to talk essentially tell the same story.

“It wasn’t a joyous New Year,” said a Tibetan farmer standing in the courtyard of the Nyentog Temple, dressed in a black Tibetan robe with a red sash tied around his waist. “Last year was not a good one,” he said. He then slowly brought his two fists together to express his meaning before disappearing into the crowd.

“Few people celebrated the New Year this year,” said one outspoken monk, standing in the corner of another monastery. “A lot of young people were killed last year and people are sad. There is no feeling of happiness.”

A former monk who produces tankas, Tibetan religious scroll paintings, said most people chose to remember those who lost their lives in last year’s melee rather than mark the new year.

“We didn’t set off any fireworks, bathe, or put on our best clothing,” he said. “We didn’t sing, play music or dance. We didn’t put couplets on the doors. We normally give gifts at New Years, but we didn’t do that either.”

Woeser, a popular Tibetan writer, said the Chinese government is pressuring Tibetans to celebrate the holiday. “This is to give an impression to the outside world that Tibetan areas are calm and harmonious, and that people are happily celebrating.” She described how local cadres demanded farmers sign or put their fingerprint on a statement saying they will hold festivities.

In other areas, officials offered bribes and gifts and distributed fireworks, lanterns and couplets, more a part of the Chinese New Year than the Tibetan one.

Woeser said the government effort has been a failure, describing how some 2,000 Tibetans showed up at one temple wearing old and worn-out clothing, a clear sign of civil disobedience. Monlam Chenmo, the Great Prayer Festival, went ahead this year in Qinghai much as it has since it first started in 1409.

On Thursday at Gomar monastery, monks prepared for the traditional mask dance, donning their yellow hats and other elaborate accessories worn on special occasions. They played three-metre long horns, clanged large brass cymbals and beat drums. Crowds of Tibetans arrived continuously from the surrounding countryside, wearing elaborate costumes and silver jewellery embedded with turquoise and coral stones, watching as monks emerged from the temple, wearing demon-like masks as they performed their dance to exorcise ghosts.

The next day monks at the Nyentog Monastery held the Sunning of the Buddha ceremony, in which a massive tanka was shouldered to the mountainside by dozens of people, where it was unfurled down the mountain, exposing a huge image of the Buddha in the bright afternoon sun.

The call to cancel Losar celebrations kicked off an outpouring of comments on Tibetan blogs, with most expressing support.

A blogger named Lobsang, supported the boycott, arguing that Chinese injustices have not stopped.
“Why should we put on this fake smile on Losar? Why should we give the Chinese government the satisfaction of their decades of brutality on us by smiling and celebrating Losar as if nothing cruel has happened to us.”

Gelek Badheytsang opposed the idea in a commentary posted on the Tibet Talk blog, saying one way to resist Chinese oppression “is to be happy”.

“Happiness is a force that buckles the steely reins of dictators and seeps effortlessly through the shackles and cloaks of oppression,” he wrote, adding that by celebrating Losar every year, it “is a victory for a small nation of people numbering less than two per cent of China’s total population”.

BADEN BADEN, Germany – The Dalai Lama warned Wednesday of a fresh uprising in Tibet in the “very tense” run-up to the 50th anniversary of the failed rebellion against Chinese rule that prompted his flight into exile.

“Today there is too much anger… The situation is very tense,” said the 73-year-old Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader during a visit to the German spa town of Baden Baden.

“At any moment there can be an outburst of violence,” he told a group of journalists. “This is my worry because with more uprising, there will be more crackdown. Things are very sad.”

He added: “It is so tense that the Chinese military have their hands on the trigger when they carry weapons… So long as there is a Chinese military presence, there will be tension.”

“Since public execution is difficult, they use torture when Tibetans are detained, As soon as people are arrested, they use torture — and sometimes they kill them.”

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising by Tibetans against communist Chinese rule — a violent episode that prompted the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile in India.

China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist agitating for independence for Tibet. It lodges strong protests whenever he meets with political leaders overseas or is accorded an official welcome of any kind.

Now based in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama denies he is seeking independence, saying he only wants real automony for Tibet and an end to Chinese cultural oppression.

He was in Baden Baden for a ceremony on Tuesday in which he received the 2008 German Media Prize, which is awarded every year by a panel of German editors and journalists.

Previous recipients have included Bill Clinton, the former US president; Nelson Mandela, the Nobel laureate and former South African president; and Helmut Kohl, Germany’s former chancellor.

Unrest most recently erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 14 last year, and spread to Tibetan-populated regions around China.

Tibet’s government-in-exile, which is led by the Dalai Lama, said more than 200 Tibetans were killed and about 1,000 hurt in a subsequent Chinese crackdown. The figures disputed by Beijing.

Earlier on Wednesday, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency revealed the sentencing of 76 people in connection with the violence — an increase from a previously reported figure of 55.

The Dalai Lama said Wednesday his information about the situation in Tibet came from “Tibetan groups or individuals who come to see me when they leave Tibet”.

He said he understood that, after more than a half-century under Chinese rule, many Tibetans have “desperate opinions,” but he argued that non-violence was the only way forward.

“The Chinese systematically suppress Tibetan identity,” he said. “The Chinese are determined to crush it mercilessly.”

In many places in Tibet, he said, schools have been closed, including privately funded schools which are “more free to teach Tibetan identity”.

It is essential, he said, “to create a signal (to Beijing) that the Tibetan question won’t go, unless a mutually accepted solution is found. That is important.”

“The interest for Tibetan culture and Tibetan human rights is now worldwide.”

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters at a pro-Tibet demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in London.

The protest was organised to coincide with a state visit by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7863707.st

The use of torture in the restless Chinese region of Tibet is widespread and routine and officials regularly ignore legal safeguards supposed to be in place to prevent it, a new report said on Wednesday.

Courier Mail)
This photo, taken in the second week of November, shows Chinese soldiers patrolling the area around the Jokhang Temple in central Lhasa. Recent reports indicate China has intensified its military presence in Tibet amid fears of recurring protests in the restive Himalayan region. (Phayul/Photo: Courier Mail)

Even when detainees are released, they may die of their injuries, be scarred for life mentally or physically and not be able to afford medical treatment or be denied it completely, the Free Tibet group said.

“Despite claims by the Chinese government that there are ‘extremely few cases of torture’, the evidence tells a different story,” Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said. “There is no doubt that the Chinese government is permitting the use of torture as a weapon to suppress the Tibetan people.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment and calls to the spokesman’s office of the Chinese-run Tibetan government in Lhasa went unanswered.

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950 and the region’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing’s rule.

Mountainous and remote Tibet was rocked by anti-Chinese protests earlier this year, which China blamed on the Dalai Lama, whom it brands a separatist. He has repeatedly denied the claims.

Free Tibet said it had profiled numerous cases of torture carried out against people detained following the demonstrations, which spilled over into other ethnically Tibetan parts of China such as Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces.

It said that one monk at the Labrang monastery in Gansu, Jigme Gyatso, had to be hospitalised for almost a month after his injuries received in detention.

“They would hang me up for several hours with my hands tied to a rope … hanging from the ceiling and my feet above the ground. Then they would beat me on my face, chest, and back, with the full force of their fists,” he said in the report.

“Finally, on one occasion, I lost consciousness and was taken to hospital. After I regained consciousness at the hospital, I was once again taken back to prison where they continued the practice of hanging me from the ceiling and beating me.”

China has vowed to stamp out torture in its judicial system, described as widespread by some critics, in the face of international and domestic pressure.

Last month, the U.N. Committee Against Torture, in a rare public review of China’s record, expressed dissatisfaction with a “very serious information gap” about abuses in the country where criminal justice information is often considered a state secret. Free Tibet, in the report issued to coincide with International Human Rights Day, said Chinese laws aimed at protecting detainees were regularly ignored in Tibet.

“The international community can no longer hide behind sound bites condemning China’s human rights track record in Tibet and must now take specific actions to reverse the worsening crisis in Tibet,” Brigden added.

China and envoys of the Dalai Lama have been meeting on and off for the past few years, but with little to show for their talks.

Beijing has rejected the Dalai Lama’s calls for greater autonomy as being part of a plot for covert independence.

On Wednesday, the semi-official China News Service quoted Si Ta, a deputy head of the United Front Work Department which handles relations with non-Communists and ethnic and religious minorities, as repeating that the door to talks was always open.

“The Party still has expectations of the Dalai Lama and plenty of patience, but ‘Tibet independence’, ‘half independence’ or ‘covert independence’ are unacceptable,” it paraphrased him as saying in Washington.

The exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Monday said conditions in Tibet had “not improved at all” since the Olympics Games in Beijing, according to a media report.

The exiled Tibetan leader, currently in Poland on the last leg of his Europe tour, said “the Chinese government carried (out) immense sort of suppression” since demonstrations earlier this year against Beijing’s rule in Tibet, AP reported.

The Dalai Lama said in Tibet “some arrests still continue.”

The demonstrations against Chinese rule in March spread across the whole Tibetan region. China launched a massive crackdown in which Tibetan exile groups say more than 200 Tibetans died and more than 1,000 people have been detained.

China last month refused to answer questions from a United Nations human rights panel about the alleged torture and disappearance of dissidents, or provide official figures on the mistreatment of detainees in its prisons.

The UN Committee Against Torture, in its concluding observations of China’s report on its adherence to the UN Convention against Torture, expressed in its section on Tibet deep concern about allegations of “longstanding reports of torture, beatings, shackling and other abusive treatment, in particular of Tibetan monks and nuns, at the hands of public officials, public security and state security, as well as paramilitary and even unofficial personnel at the instigation or with the acquiescence or consent of public officials.”

The Committee also asked China to provide, within one year, a response to reports of widespread excessive use of force and other abuses related to the spring demonstrations in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring Tibetan prefectures and counties.

China, however, rebuffed the allegations and called the UN torture report an “untrue and unprofessional outcome,” saying it had prejudiced and politicized its members.

The Dalai Lama was speaking Monday in the Polish city of Krakow, where he received the Honoris Causa doctorate from Jagiellonian University.

According to a Polish online news site, Professor Beata Szymanska-Aleksandrowicz of the university’s Institute of Philosophy, nominated the Dalai Lama for the honour.

The University’s Senate agreed to the honourary doctorate in October 2007, thenews.pl reported, adding that the awarding of the honourary degree is based on “the Dalai Lama’s high ethical standards in social and public life as observed in his inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and non-violent fight for freedom and rights for Tibetans”.

Szymanska-Aleksandrowicz, in her speech upon bestowing the degree, reportedly stated that the “honourary doctorate is not only an expression of recognition for one man, whose whole life has been about living truth and ideals, but for all those who remain anonymous but have acted in the name of higher ethical standards and work for the moral propagation of good and truth.”

The Dalai Lama has, according to the professor, joined a long tradition of the University of bestowing honours upon known figures such as John Paul II and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

Upon acceptance of the honour, the Dalai Lama reportedly told his audience that Poles have a special place in his heart – from the moment he heard about Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement, he has been interested in Poland.

“Poles survived many difficult states in their history, but the Polish nation has kept its heart adamant,” His Holiness was quoted as saying by the online news site.

The Dalai Lama’s ongoing Europe tour and his Saturday meeting with the President Sarkozy of France have left China fuming. In protest Beijing canceled a long-planned China-EU summit and has told France to face serious consequences in diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama urged the world to remain firm when dealing with China. He said, in order to protect the long-term interests of the Chinese people, world must not hesitate to raise human right issues with Beijing Government.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy defied China on Saturday by meeting the Dalai Lama and said Europe shared the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s concerns over the situation in his homeland.

China called the meeting an “opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue,” despite Sarkozy saying he regarded Tibet as part of China and that there was no need to “dramatize” his encounter.

“The meeting went very well … The Chinese authorities knew perfectly well this meeting would take place before the end of the year,” Sarkozy told reporters after his talks, which lasted about 30 minutes.

China called off a summit with the European Union last Monday in protest against Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama, branded by Beijing as a “splittist” for advocating self-determination for his mountain homeland.

On Saturday, China condemned the meeting. “This development is indeed an unwise move which not only hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, but also undermines Sino-French ties,” its official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

“The French side … took an opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue.”


Sarkozy said the Dalai Lama, who welcomed him by draping a ‘kata’ or traditional Tibetan white scarf on his shoulder, had said at the meeting that he does not seek independence for Tibet. “I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities.”

Asked about the situation in Tibet, Sarkozy said: “The Dalai Lama shared with me his worries, worries which are shared in Europe. We have had a wide discussion of this question.” The Dalai Lama and other supporters of Tibetan self-rule say China is strangling the mountain region’s cultural and religious traditions and subordinating Tibetans to an influx of Han Chinese migrants and investment, charges Beijing rejects.

STAYING CALM

The two met in the Polish port of Gdansk where they joined 25th anniversary celebrations of Polish pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Playing down any possible negative impact on Sino-French ties, Sarkozy said: “There is no need to dramatize things.”

Beijing’s unusually vocal criticism of Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama is linked to the fact that Paris holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, diplomats say.

In Paris, an official said there had been no sign yet of any Chinese boycott of French products. The EU is China’s biggest trade partner and supermarket chain Carrefour employs tens of thousands of people in China and is the biggest purchaser of Chinese goods in France.

French companies were subjected to Chinese boycotts and demonstrations earlier this year after the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay was disrupted by anti-China protesters.

Earlier on Saturday, the Dalai Lama called for dialogue and compassion to solve the world’s problems.

“Warfare failed to solve our problems in the last century, so this century should be a century of dialogue,” he told delegates, including Walesa, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The Dalai Lama, who met Tusk privately on Saturday, praised Polish courage in resisting past oppression.

The 73-year-old monk is a popular figure in Poland, where some see in his struggle with China’s communist authorities echoes of their own battles under Walesa against Soviet-backed communist rule that ended in 1989.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after a failed insurrection against Chinese rule in Tibet, occupied by People’s Liberation Army troops from 1950.

From Mechak.org (Mechak Center for Contemporary Tibetan Art)

What is this? Let that Moment Become Eternal!
New Works by the Tibetan Artist Losang Gyatso

by Woeser

Likely they had known that that moment would appear not only on televisions in many countries but also through the omnipresent internet connections. Let alone other venues, the first ten pages of a YouTube search for “Jokhang” can lead to at least nearly a score of videos that were from the footage recorded that moment. They must have known it. They must have been told in advance that reporters from foreign media (a couple dozen of them) would arrive in Jokhang that morning – for the first time in seventeen days since the temple was closed on March 10th. Everyone was ready. Authorities had assigned some of the most obedient Tibetans to cooperate. Yet, “Those worshippers, they are all cadres in disguise; it’s a cheat….,” they, those monks in Jokhang, told the truth at that moment. Apparently, they had been preparing to speak out. Nevertheless, it is impossible that they had not thought of the unpredictable price they would have to pay by doing so. As a result, their participation disclosed the episode which was orchestrated to give the impression that Tibetans are fortunate and free. While rushing out to surround reporters, they desperately yelled: “No, we don’t have freedom! The Dalai Lama is innocent….” The reporters who had been invited to tour the tightly controlled Lhasa finally saw the act which had the most shocking journalistic effect; in a matter of minutes, the authorities were left no place to hide the intention behind the show they had wanted to stage. That shocking moment was said to have lasted about fifteen minutes. I remember clearly the indescribable pain which I felt that evening when watching the short segment of that moment on the internet. I was reminded of this line by Anna Akhmatova – “The heart gives up its blood.”

Nevertheless, most likely they have not known that, months later, that moment had been recreated by an artist. Although art should be unbounded by boundaries of nation and artists are often not tied to their native place — as deities are not confined by their sex, I would still rather refer to this artist in a more restrictive and somehow assertive manner. He, Losang Gyatso (la – according to the formality of our tradition) is a Tibetan artist. The point here is “Tibet.” Although he now lives Washington, DC, although he has not returned to his native place in the Snow Lands for the past forth-nine (and soon fifty) years, he is the Tibetan artist who has through his work of art transformed that moment into six images. In the meantime, he has also created another six images to note another moment in the Labrang Monastery in Amdo, which was as crucial as the one in Jokhang. These twelve images are all modeled after monks who are recognizably Tibetan and native, and they are a great deal similar to each other. Yet, they are also apparently different. One image is more so than the other in overwhelming their beholders. I can nearly hear their voiceless cries piercing through the internet; my ears hurt.

Read the rest of this entry »

At a press conference held this afternoon, the Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament reiterated its support for the ‘Middle Way’ – the policy being pursued by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in its negotiations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Opening the press conference, the Tibet Intergroup President, Mr. Thomas Mann MEP, spoke of the need to maintain a spirit of dialogue. The participation of over thirty members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and five hundred officials in a fast to coincide with the visit of the Dalai Lama to the European Parliament represented a “great success”

Mr. Mann went on to express his hope that the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, would use his forthcoming meeting with the Dalai Lama in Gdansk, Poland, on 6 December 2008 to show that the European Union would not give in to Beijing.

Echoing Mr. Mann’s comments, Ms. Eva Lichtenberger told journalists that she was “delighted” by the support the fast has received and called on members of the European institutions “to be consistent and clear” in the messages they sent to the PRC.

Ms. Lichtenberger noted that following the Olympic Games in August 2008 the situation for Tibetans had got worse and that the “Tibetan people need our support more than ever before”.

Mr. Marco Cappato MEP pressed for a unified approach to the Tibet issue from the international community. Two stories were being told, Mr. Cappato stated, one of which was true and the other which was not. In such circumstances the international community could not be neutral and had to come out in support of human rights in Tibet, and China as a whole.

Before opening the conference to questions, Mr. MacMillan-Scott MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, recalled his own visit to the PRC in 1996 and the subsequent detention by the Chinese authorities of those individuals with whom he had met. He believed that the timing of the fast was therefore “very significant” and it was crucial that the European Union remained committed to maintaining pressure on the PRC.

Answering questions from the assembled press, members of the Intergroup expressed their belief that the fast was an important sign, and one of which the Chinese authorities would take note. Mr. Cappato stated that the fast “means something for the Chinese” – going on to say that Beijing’s cancellation of the EU-China summit was in itself a demonstration of the value Beijing placed upon such symbolic acts.

Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama (C), addresses the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, December 4, 2008. Dalai Lama is on two-day visit in Belgium.

Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama (C), addresses the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, December 4, 2008. Dalai Lama is on two-day visit in Belgium.