Xi Jinping: Five years of failure in Tibet

In the five years following China’s once-a-decade leadership change in 2012[1], Xi Jinping has become more powerful than any of China’s leaders of the last 25 years, and looks set to further consolidate this power at the 19th Party Congress of October 2017.


Xi’s leadership has been characterised by a wholesale effort to silence dissent across a range of issues, not least relating to China’s continued occupation of restive Tibet. Human rights experts widely agree that the situation in Tibet and across China has sharply deteriorated since 2012, perhaps illustrated most starkly by the deaths in custody of highly prominent human rights defenders; the Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and Tibetan buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.


In his inauguration speech[2] on 15 November 2012, Xi Jinping made clear that his leadership represented a new, clean start, and he began his tenure with a war on corruption. This was a well-calculated move that gained him the favour and approval of the Chinese people, since corruption is extremely widespread and pervades almost every aspect of the social, political and economic life of the country.


It is now widely believed that Xi Jinping has used this anti-corruption campaign to consolidate his overwhelming influence and silence any opposition; attacking, replacing and imprisoning under the accusation of corruption anyone who might represent a threat to his growing power.


While his anti-corruption campaign has been carried out throughout China, since 2012 Xi Jinping has paid even greater attention to silencing opposition in the restive areas of Tibet, East Turkestan (CH: Xinjiang) and Hong Kong, where Beijing has always struggled to maintain “social stability”.


For the past five years, Chinese authorities have implemented harsh directives from Beijing that aim to silence opposition and increase China’s stranglehold of Tibet. Following a decades-long trail of violent crackdowns, de-facto martial law, widespread arbitrary imprisonments and neglect of the most basic human rights, Xi Jinping has sought to tighten his grip over Tibet responding to any dissent or peaceful, non-violent protests with violence and imprisonment[3].

Check out the website: www.XiFailsTibet.org

Similarly, Beijing regularly increases military presence in Tibet at sensitive times: the most recent example for this trend is the “huge military exercise in Lhasa ahead of the 19th Party Congress” carried out on 26 September 2017 and reported by Tibetan activist and blogger Woeser[4]. Chinese officials at the military display used the event to publicly pledge “loyalty to the Party, keeping the mission firmly in mind, countering terrorism and violence, governing borderland and stabilising Tibet”[5].


Official statistics show that China’s military and security presence has dramatically expanded across Tibet since 2012[6], arbitrary imprisonments have increased in number and torture has been found to be in widespread practice in prisons and detention centers[7], so much so that between 2013 and 2015 as many as fourteen Tibetan political prisoners died while in detention[8]. Everyday activities, including education and religion, are heavily monitored, and a “grid surveillance system”[9] has been put in place in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and is currently under expansion in parts of Qinghai Province[10].


Under Xi, the violent crackdown on human rights in Tibet has been paralleled by a top-down economic development approach, which has alienated even further the largely rural Tibetan population.


Millions of Tibetan nomads, the traditional stewards of the Tibetan grasslands, have been forced to relocate to sedentary lives in “New Socialist Villages” giving up their livelihood and livestock. China’s main justification for resettlement policies are economic but it has also been made clear that the policies are an integral part of larger political objectives to combat “separatist” sentiment among Tibetans, and are designed to strengthen political control over the Tibetan rural population[11].


Tibetan rivers, fundamental to local herders and communities’ livelihoods, have been diverted and dammed to fuel Chinese megacities and factories through hydroelectric, “clean” power[12], and unregulated mining activities are widespread across the Tibetan plateau, severely damaging the fragile Tibetan ecosystem[13].


Infrastructure development on the plateau is aimed at bringing millions of tourists to Tibet: Lhasa, with a total population of one million, is estimated to receive as many as 13 million domestic Chinese tourists each year, overcrowding a city where financial gains and profits are largely kept in the hands of Chinese private investors, leaving local Tibetans with little if any sustainable profit[14].


While the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the other parts of Tibet have seen a substantial increase in their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), economic development has mainly benefited Chinese investors and a limited proportion of the Tibetan population. The bulk of the Tibetan population is bearing the brunt of development, whilst the authorities have systematically and violently silenced any form of opposition.


It is important to notice that GDP growth in Tibet is strongly subsidised by the central government. Subsidies account for a substantial part of the TAR GDP and they have steadily increased since 2008[15]: for example, in 2010 central subsidies accounted for more than 100% of the province’s GDP[16], while the 2017 budget for the TAR reports an increase of 22.3% in state subsidies[17]. These figures show that the TAR economy heavily relies on government aid, and its growth is far from sustainable.


This report highlights China’s policy failures in Tibet; policies that over nearly seven decades of unfettered control have left Tibetans resolutely opposed to China’s rule. The number of solo protests against China’s rule and self-immolations carried out across Tibet has increased in the five years since Xi Jinping’s appointment. Xi is presiding over a Tibet in crisis, devastated by five generations of colonial exploitation but possessing a population whose sense of the Tibetan nation, and whose spirit and diverse resistance to China’s rule is undiminished since the day the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet nearly 70 years ago.


Xi Jinping must now recognize that the impact of continuing the same path will only result in greater resistance in Tibet and that his failure to uphold essential human rights should be met by growing international condemnation of his leadership.


How Xi is Failing Tibet


“[We] should thoroughly fight against separatist activities by the Dalai clique by firmly relying on all ethnic groups… and completely smash any plot to destroy stability in Tibet and jeopardise national unity”


Xi Jinping, July 2011


Suffocation of Dissent


Under Xi’s propaganda campaigns, aimed at building and disseminating a positive, benevolent and rosy image of him both nationally and internationally, his persona has been strengthened and an image created that is at odds with the reality of Xi’s Presidency. Xi, rather than a saviour of the global order, has rigidly silenced dissent, most widely through institutional mechanisms that “legalise” crackdowns on any kind of opposition.


Following the Tibetan Uprisings of 2008, when hundreds of non-violent demonstrations against China’s rule took place across Tibet, Beijing implemented a ‘stability maintenance’[18] policy to give authorities legal means to arrest thousands of individuals under charges of “terrorism” or as a “threat to national stability”. As a result thousands of Tibetans from all walks of life –  lay and religious alike – have and continue to be routinely arrested for minor acts of resistance.


Arrest and imprisonment of Tibetans in Tibet can be for the simplest of actions such as storing a picture of the Dalai Lama on a mobile phone or celebrating his birthday[19] [20], discussing the Tibetan exile government on social media[21] protesting against mining activities[22], advocating for the teaching of Tibetan language in schools[23] or calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet[24].


Even protests that, under China’s own constitution, should be deemed lawful, and do not seek to challenge the occupation of Tibet, receive politically motivated reactions and are widely labeled as “endangering state security’”, “splittism” or even “terrorism” by the authorities, resulting in serious charges and severe sentences for those who carry out simple non-violent protests or actions.


An example is the case of Tashi Wangchuk, a young Tibetan shop keeper currently awaiting trial who was charged with “inciting separatism” after he openly urged for greater Tibetan language education in schools. If found guilty he faces up to 15 years in prison. Tashi Wangchuk was detained on 27 January 2016 after criticising China’s failure to adhere to its own Constitution in which the right to an education in the Tibetan language is guaranteed. However Chinese has increasingly become the predominant language of instruction in Tibet, often being the exclusive language taught. In 2015 the New York Times[25] featured Tashi Wangchuk and the work he was doing to push for Tibetan language rights, in which – although critical of China’s language policies – he had never written about Tibetan independence. His case is a striking example of the severity of the persecution Tibetans face for simply calling for their rights under Chinese law; rights that are perceived as a threat by the Chinese government despite the fact they are protected by international human rights laws and under the Chinese Constitution.


China’s focus on the threat of Tibetan “separatism” was underlined in the Sixth Tibet Work Forum in August 2015, in which the Dalai Lama was specifically blamed for “anti-separatist” activities and the importance of “stability” was emphasized, described by the International Campaign for Tibet as “political language for the elimination of dissent and enforcement of compliance to Chinese Communist Party policies”[26].


A Human Rights Watch report published in 2016 argues that the provocative measures adopted by China to ensure ’stability’ are contributing to, rather than crushing, unrest in Tibet. In “Relentless: Detention and Prosecution of Tibetans under China’s ‘Stability Maintenance’ campaign”, Human Rights Watch illustrated China’s significant increase in state control over daily life through the deployment of more than 21,000 party officials across the TAR and 10,000 in Qinghai Province, in a capillary surveillance scheme known as the grid system[27]. Party officials are now installed in virtually every village and monastery of Tibet, and are ready to report on every act of opposition to Xi Jinping taking place on the plateau.


With at least 479 Tibetans detained for political reasons in the period 2013 – 2015, Human Rights Watch concluded “the implementation of these measures appears to explain many of the new patterns of detention, prosecution, and sentencing documented. It was only after the rural phase of the stability maintenance policy in the TAR was implemented from late 2011 that the number of protests and resulting detentions and convictions increased dramatically in that region.”


While the majority of Tibetans who are arrested every year have carried out minor acts of dissent, those who receive the harshest sentences are the individuals who engage in or are accused of supporting self-immolation protests. The first self immolation protest in Tibet took place in 2009, but there was a dramatic increase in such protests during 2011, peaking in 2012 as Xi Jinping became China’s top leader.


To date, there have been at least 150 confirmed self-immolation protests in Tibet, in which many of those individuals protesting call for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. It is possible that this number may be higher due to the difficulties of information reaching exiled communities: sharing information regarding protests and self-immolations often leads to a prison sentence under the accusation of revealing “state secrets” with “overseas terrorist groups”.


“Collective Punishment”, or the deliberate targeting of families and communities of self-immolation protesters, escalated in 2013, with harsh directives issued in the Tibetan areas of Driru[28] [29] and Dzoege[30] detailing threats ranging from losing the right to cultivate land or access jobs, investment in the community, to prohibitions on individual freedoms that would result in punishment.


State control also extends to journalists and foreigners who are barred access to Tibet at sensitive times including during the 19th Party Congress[31]. China’s government also habitually bans entry to Tibet to foreigners in the month of March, being the anniversary of several major Uprisings against China’s rule, notably in 1959 and 2008[32].


Outside of such closures, journalists are rarely able to report first hand on the situation in Tibet due to restrictions on media access. State run media tours for foreign journalists are infrequent and often limited to handpicked media outlets, with those participating prevented from travelling freely or talking to locals not pre-selected by the authorities. Simon Denyer of the Washington Post wrote how he was able to livestream on Facebook during a visit in 2016, but also about the restrictions he experienced first hand: “At the turnoff to the monastery, police were waiting for us, briefly questioned us and then sent us back to the hotel. At least six security officials were stationed in the lobby and at the hotel gate to make sure we didn’t leave again. Clearly, officials in Nyingchi were determined to prevent us from speaking to any monks.” [33]


To silence dissent outside of Tibet, Xi Jinping is directing a strong and consistent crackdown on human rights activists across China, East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and Hong Kong. Since July 2015 more than 250 Chinese human rights lawyers have been arbitrarily arrested, often kept incommunicado, tortured and forced to provide fake confessions[34]. East Turkestan is currently under intense security[35] and information about the condition of prominent Uyghur political prisoner, the academic Ilham Tohti imprisoned for life in 2014, is non-existent[36]. Security around the home of Southern Mongolian dissident, Hada, who is under house arrest, was reportedly stepped up in recent weeks[37]. China has taken steps to silence democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, with 16 activists including three prominent student leaders jailed in August 2017[38]. In events that have further soured cross-Straits relations, Taiwanese NGO worker Lee Ming-cheh – who had disappeared in China in March 2017 – this month confessed to “subverting state power” by disseminating articles critical of China’s Communist Party and promoting democracy[39].  China’s escalation of legislation to tighten political control prompted four governments and the EU to write to Xi Jinping and express concern about proposed laws on  “counter-terrorism”, cyber-security and the control of foreign NGOs[40].


Political Detention and Deaths in Custody


The conditions in prisons and detentions centres in Tibet, and the treatment of Tibetan political prisoners, are extremely poor. Testimonies from former political prisoners collected by a variety of NGOs detail evidence of the widespread use of torture as a method to extract confessions[41]. Reports indicate political prisoners are regularly beaten and there are repeated instances of detainees being subjected to electric shocks, being hung from the ceiling for periods lasting several hours, and shackled to a “Tiger” or interrogation chair.


In 2015 the UN Committee against Torture reviewed China and[42] concluded that torture is “deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system” emphasising the ”numerous reports from credible sources that document in detail cases of torture, deaths in custody, arbitrary detention and disappearances of Tibetans”. The Committee expressed strong concern for the endemic lack of access to lawyers and to adequate medical treatments, for widespread arbitrary arrests of people who are kept incommunicado for long periods, as well as for the routine use of torture and the general ill-treatment of prisoners.


Severe prison conditions have led to the death of a number of Tibetan prisoners. The most prominent case is Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a reincarnated Lama who died on 12 July 2015 after 13 years in detention.


Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, born in 1950, was a revered Lama from Eastern Tibet who was very active in his community, initiating public projects such as orphanages, schools and old people’s homes. Despite his long track record of community service, in 2002 he was arrested and falsely accused by the authorities of being involved in two bomb explosions in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. While he was initially sentenced to death on charges of “terrorism and inciting separatism”, his sentence was later changed to life imprisonment. Throughout the years of his detention Tenzin Delek Rinpoche maintained his innocence through audio and written messages.


Prison conditions for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche were particularly harsh. He was denied the right to family visits, which is enshrined in Chinese Prison Law, and continuous maltreatment resulted in his critically ill health.


While the authorities’ official version is that he died of cardiac arrest, his niece Nyima Lhamo was one of the only people who were allowed to see his dead body to perform funeral rites, and she noticed signs of torture. She subsequently decided to flee Tibet and escape to India, leaving her child behind her, to make sure that the world outside of China knew what really happened to her uncle Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and how he had been tortured[43].


In order to decrease the number of deaths in custody, China frequently discharges terminally ill prisoners. This has been the case for several Tibetan political prisoners, such as Ngawang Jampel, Goshul Lobsang and Tenzin Choedak[44], who were sent home from prisons and hospitals when it was obvious that their health was inevitably compromised as a result of torture and mistreatment, and that they would die soon.


Whilst such victims are less well known, under Xi Jinping’s rule there have been flagrant cases of death in custody where the victims were outspoken and high profile human rights activists. In addition to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo and human rights lawyer and activist Cao Shunli have both died in custody since 2012.


Once a professor at Beijing Normal University, Liu Xiaobo was first incarcerated for 21 months after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre for his role in supporting students who had participated in the protests. He was imprisoned again and held in a labour re-education camp between 1996 and 1999 for his public criticism of Chinese policies towards Taiwan and the Dalai Lama. In 2009 he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his involvement with Charter ’08, a manifesto calling for political reforms in China[45].


While serving his term in a prison in Liaoning, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize “for his efforts to implement the fundamental human rights secured in international instruments as well as in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China.”[46]


In June 2017, after serving eight years of his sentence, Liu Xiaobo was transferred to hospital suffering from liver cancer, but kept under the authorities’ strict surveillance. Despite pressure from the international community, the Chinese government denied Liu Xiaobo permission to seek treatment overseas. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate died in July and his wife Liu Xia is currently missing. Leaders and politicians around the world expressed concern about the way Liu Xiaobo was treated[47] but greater pressure needs to be brought to bear on China to ensure the safety of Liu Xia.


Cao Shunli’s case is another tragic example of death in custody at the hands of Chinese authorities. Cao was arrested after staging a two-month long sit-in along other activists, asking the authorities to allow her to participate in China’s Universal Periodic Review. She was stopped by the police in September 2013 at a Beijing airport while trying to reach Geneva to attend a human rights training programme, and was formally arrested the following month. She was suffering from several conditions, including tuberculosis, uterine fibrosis and liver disease, but was denied medical treatments while in detention. She died in March 2014, and her family and lawyer were not allowed to see her body[48].




Religious persecution


Tibetan monks and nuns have played a crucial role in outwardly demonstrating against China’s rule in Tibet since 1959, and as a result represent the majority of Tibetan political prisoners: in the 1980s they comprised as much as 90% of these arrests, and in the first two years of Xi Jinping’s leadership (2013 – 2015) they were close to 40%[49].


With monks and nuns at the forefront of Tibetan resistance, monasteries and nunneries are targeted by authorities in an attempt to prevent anti-government activism. As reported in the previous chapter, surveillance of monasteries and nunneries across Tibet has increased under the grid system, with growing numbers of Communist Party officials installed on Tibetan institute management committees[50], vastly limiting religious freedom.


Compulsory “patriotic re-education” sessions have become increasingly common in Tibetan monasteries and villages: such sessions can last for months at a time, and they often require participants to sign declarations in which they are forced to reject Dalai Lama[51].


According to a recent Freedom House report on religious freedom in China and Tibet, “new measures imposed since November 2012 include punishing assistance to self-immolators, canceling previously permitted festivals, increasing restrictions on private religious practice, and more proactively manipulating Tibetan Buddhist doctrine and selection of religious leaders.”[52]


In September 2017, revised rules on religious activity were issued by China’s State Council and further harsh conditions incorporated. With religious practices in Tibet increasingly associated with ‘threats’ to Chinese national security,[53] nuns, monks and lay Buddhists are more likely to be accused of “splittism” and “terrorism”, or of being part of the so-called “Dalai clique”. These revised rules can be seen as a consolidation of the far-reaching powers of Beijing in Tibet and an additional threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.


The exiled Tibetan religious leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, has for decades been at the core of hatred and vilification campaigns. Despite the efforts of the government, Tibetans still have a profound respect for the Dalai Lama and long for his return to Tibet.


The Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959 as a direct consequence of China’s occupation, and he has not been able to return. In the many decades that the Dalai Lama has spent in exile, the Chinese government has always tried to discredit him in the eyes of Tibetans and Chinese people, describing the Nobel Peace Laureate as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, a “terrorist”, an “enemy of the Chinese state” and a threat to social stability and security.


Most recently, following Xi’s hardline stance on the Dalai Lama, local authorities in Tibet have established a zero-tolerance policy for those who secretly or openly worship the Dalai Lama. Owning or selling his photo has become illegal, and storing his teachings is considered a serious crime, punishable with lengthy prison sentences. Similarly, when two senior monks organised ceremonies to pray for the Dalai Lama’s good health, they were arrested and received harsh and lengthy sentences[54].


Local and national press are periodically swamped with articles vilifying the exiled religious leader, and in 2016 the Chinese national newspaper Global Times cited Lian Xiangmin, of the China Tibetology Research Centre in Beijing, as saying that for Chinese people, displaying the Dalai Lama’s picture was the same as Saddam Hussein’s image would be for Americans[55].


Likewise, in a further attempt to control religious matters, Chinese authorities are claiming the right to select the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Nevertheless, the Dalai Lama has consistently maintained that he might reincarnate in exile or he might decide not to reincarnate at all, making it clear that the choice over his reincarnation definitely does not lie in the Chinese government’s hands.

In January 2016 the Chinese authorities issued an online database of Communist Party approved Tibetan Buddhist reincarnations (Rinpoche) or ‘Living Buddhas’[56]. Notably, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, does not appear on the government-approved list, with the official TAR government website claiming he is not included because he has lived outside Tibet for so long, and “the fact that the database doesn’t list him in the “realm of [Rinpoches] is just inevitable and right”[57].

Popular Kalachakra teachings were held by the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, Northern India, in January 2017 and many Tibetans from Tibet tried to obtain travel documents in order to participate. Authorities reacted by revoking the passports of Tibetans across the plateau, and threatening retaliation “for generations” against the families of those who managed to cross the border to India to attend the Kalachakra[58]. As a result the few Tibetans who did manage to attend  the teachings in Bodh Gaya left almost immediately in fear that something might happen to their family members back home.


Religious leaders who remain in Tibet have also often been directly targeted by the Chinese authorities in an attempt to limit their influence. The most egregious example is Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, whose case is outlined in the previous chapter, but in December 2013, the popular and respected senior monk and social activist Khenpo Kartse (layname Karma Tsewang) was detained. His arrest sparked mass demonstrations and a rare silent vigil outside his prison in December 2014. After being held for almost a year without trial, he was sentenced in a secret trial to two and a half years’ imprisonment, and released in July 2016[59].


Further State control of religious freedom can be seen in China’s efforts to curb the number of buddhist practitioners allowed to reside in Tibetan nunneries and monasteries. In the past year, Chinese authorities have demolished swathes of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, two world-renowned Buddhist institutes in Eastern Tibet[60].


Around 7,000 houses and buildings have been demolished and at least 6,500 Tibetan monks and nuns have been expelled from these two centres alone. Many of these practitioners have been forced to undergo humiliating patriotic re-education sessions, performing dances and singing in military uniforms[61] and have been sent back to their villages of origin with official notices that bar their return to the institutes that had been their homes for years[62]. Furthermore, recent evidence has shown that there are also plans to develop Larung Gar as a tourist destination with growing concern that we will see the renowned institute transformed into a low quality Disneyland-style tourist site.


Silencing the International Community


Following the example of Mao Zedong, Xi Jinping is paying a great deal of attention to building his image, both nationally and internationally. Since he came to power in 2012, Xi’s government has increased its efforts to change the negative view the world holds of China’s human rights record through soft power, direct threats, political influence, infiltration of universities, manipulation of international media, trade deals and blunt propaganda[63].


In the last five years there have been heavy-handed cases in which China dictated conditions over national policies in foreign countries. In 2014, Chinese pressure on Spain prompted the Spanish government to make legislative changes undermining the country’s adherence to the principles of “Universal Jurisdiction”, and thereby forcing the closure of high profile court cases under which former Chinese leaders had been indicted for their actions in Tibet[64]. Following a visit of the Dalai Lama to Mongolia in late 2016, Chinese authorities threatened to stop investing in the country if the exiled Tibetan religious leader was invited again in the future[65]. Likewise, in April 2017 China tried to pressure India to prevent the Dalai Lama from travelling to Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state with a large Tibetan population neighbouring Tibet[66].


Governments have also come under pressure to prevent human rights campaigners from protesting when Xi Jinping travels abroad. The Swiss authorities imposed a ban on protests during Xi’s visit in January 2017[67] and in the UK in October 2015, British authorities detained a number of protesters, including two Tibetans and also Tiananmen survivor and human rights activist Shao Jiang[68].


Most recently Human Rights Watch denounced the level of threats and influence that China is exercising at the United Nations (UN). These tactics take the form of systematic attempts to silence and threaten human rights activists and NGOs, cut the budget for UN human rights observers, as well as the harassment and intimidation of UN staff[69].


A propaganda strategy deployed in recent years is to buy space in international media outlets, thus expanding the outreach of the government media mouthpiece Xinhua – China Daily. Inserts or wrap-around covers of internationally-respected newspapers such as the US’s “Washington Post” and UK’s “Daily Telegraph” are not uncommon[70].


Similarly, Chinese presence and influence within international universities has grown dramatically in the past few years and increasingly since Xi’s appointment. Confucius Institutes and other Chinese academic bodies bringing funds to international universities impose censorship on the content of teaching and research. For example, most recently China tried to censor the academic journal China Quarterly, from Cambridge University Press (CUP). While CUP initially agreed to delete disputed articles in China, following strong pressure from the international academic community they reinstated the original content[71].


While CUP has managed to maintain its rigour and impartiality for now, other universities and publishers remain under strong pressure from the Chinese government and investors. The University of California in San Diego recently saw a cut in Chinese state investments after it hosted the Dalai Lama for a graduation speech in June 2017[72].


Chinese overseas influence is of course not limited to the media and academia. China is buying the favour of other countries through trade and investment plans including the massive infrastructure project known as One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR). This project – strongly linked personally to Xi Jinping – will connect more than 60 countries throughout Asia, Europe and Africa through renewed infrastructure[73]. Flooding developing and developed countries alike with investment, the Chinese government is buying the favour of local politicians, traders and investors.



We call on Xi Jinping to adopt a paradigm shift in the Chinese Communist Party’s approach to Tibet that gives full agency over formulating future policies to the Tibetan people, by first acknowledging its failures and the illegitimacy of its military rule over Tibet. Xi Jinping must commit to a just and lasting resolution that recognizes the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination under international law. Xi Jinping must implement the following recommendations immediately:


  • Stop the Chinese government’s use of military force to crackdown on the Tibetan people. Withdraw security forces from monasteries and places where protests have taken place.
  • Allow immediate and unfettered access to Tibet by foreign media, diplomats, international observers and foreign tourists.
  • Cease the harsh and systematic repression of religious and cultural life in Tibet, and suspend with immediate effect the Chinese government’s patriotic education programme.
  • Halt all economic and development policies detrimental to safeguarding the prospects and livelihood of the Tibetans. Reduce the dependency of the Tibetan economy on Chinese government subsidies by favouring bottom up, sustainable development models that offer opportunities to disadvantaged Tibetans and cease all financial incentives for Chinese settlement onto the plateau and allow the Tibetans to be full partners in all decisions over land use in Tibet.
  • Stop environmentally destructive mining and damming projects, and engage with downstream nations to implement bottom-up participatory management of Tibet’s water resources.
  • Release all political prisoners detained for engaging in peaceful protest, arbitrarily detained or sentenced without a just trial in accordance with international law immediately and unconditionally.


We call on world governments and international institutions to:

  • Express strong public condemnation of China’s intensifying religious and cultural repression in Tibet, with specific reference to widespread programmes of “patriotic education” and harsh measures to punish individuals for peaceful expression of their cultural and political freedom.
  • Seek to send diplomats to affected areas and demand from China assurances that foreign journalists be allowed unfettered access to the TAR and Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan.
  • Expand capacity to monitor the situation in Tibet, including continuing to push for greater access to Tibet. Initiate or elevate efforts to establish a diplomatic presence in Lhasa, and expand existing resources within Beijing embassies for monitoring.
  • Raise strong concerns over the failure of economic and development policies in Tibet, including the lack of Tibetan participation in shaping these policies.
  • Increase programmatic support for Tibetans in Tibet and for programmes that facilitate information exchange between Tibetans in exile and in Tibet.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/15/xi-jinping-communist-party-chinese

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-20338586

[3] http://tchrd.org/yushu-mine-protest-crackdown-exposes-chinas-nature-reserve-sham/

[4] https://twitter.com/degewa/status/916489179776786432

[5] http://xz.people.com.cn/n2/2017/0927/c138901-30782227.html

[6] For example see Qinghai government website article describing an increase in police presence especially around sensitive times: http://www.qh.gov.cn/zwgk/system/2017/01/01/010246569.shtml. See also the Five Year Plan for the TAR (2016-2021) there will be a increase of military-civilian integration in the TAR http://www.xzxw.com/zw/qwfb/201604/t20160423_1194984.html, and China’s stepped-up border presence. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2103135/was-chinas-military-drill-tibet-really-just-exercise

[7]  http://www.hrichina.org/sites/default/files/cat-chn-co-5-en.pdf

[8] https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/05/22/relentless/detention-and-prosecution-tibetans-under-chinas-stability-maintenance

[9] The grid system has seen the deployment of thousands of CPC officials across the TAR and Qinghai province, resulting in a strong surveillance and monitoring mechanism. https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/03/20/china-alarming-new-surveillance-security-tibet

[10] http://www.tibetwatch.org/china-bulletin.html

[11] https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/06/27/they-say-we-should-be-grateful/mass-rehousing-and-relocation-programs-tibetan

[12] https://www.thethirdpole.net/2016/03/21/china-plans-more-hydro-projects-and-mega-infrastructure-in-tibet/

[13] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/tibetans-in-anguish-as-chinese-mines-pollute-their-sacred-grasslands/2016/12/25/bb6aad06-63bc-11e6-b4d8-33e931b5a26d_story.html?utm_term=.f290549b1ceb

[14] http://rukor.org/inventing-mass-chinese-tourism-to-tibet/

[15] http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/07/09/tibets-economic-growth-an-accounting-illusion/

[16] http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/07/09/tibets-economic-growth-an-accounting-illusion/

[17] http://www.xizang.gov.cn/zwgk/xxgk/zdlyxxgk/sgjf/201701/t20170126_119310.html

[18] https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/05/22/relentless/detention-and-prosecution-tibetans-under-chinas-stability-maintenance

[19] http://tchrd.org/tibetan-monk-imprisoned-for-dalai-lama-pictures-released-after-two-years/

[20] http://tchrd.org/china-jails-tibetans-for-celebrating-dalai-lamas-birthday-ten-tibetans-get-varying-terms-of-6-to-14-years/

[21] http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/chinese-arrest-three-04012016171702.html

[22] https://www.savetibet.org/tibetan-protest-leaders-hospitalized-as-chinese-police-suppress-demonstrations-in-amchok/

[23] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/world/asia/china-tibetan-education-advocate.html

[24] https://www.savetibet.org/two-kirti-monks-sentenced-after-solo-protests-calling-for-dalai-lamas-return/

[25] https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000004031427/a-tibetans-journey-for-justice.html

[26] https://www.savetibet.org/tough-warnings-on-anti-separatism-from-party-leaders-at-political-anniversary-in-tib

[27] https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/05/22/relentless/detention-and-prosecution-tibetans-under-chinas-stability-maintenance

[28] http://www.savetibet.org/harsh-new-rectification-drive-in-driru-nuns-expelled-and-warning-of-destruction-of-monasteries-and-mani-walls/

[29] http://www.tchrd.org/2014/07/china-holds-tibetan-livelihood-to-ransom-to-secure-political-stability-2/

[30] http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/dzoege_county_thematic_report.pdf

[31] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/09/25/world/asia/ap-as-china-tibet-tourism.html

[32] In the past, foreign tourists had reported on Tibetans’ anti-government demonstrations and on the authorities’ crackdown on protesters, as in the case of the widespread demonstrations that took place in Tibet in 1987-1989 and 2008. http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/30_years_of_resistance.pdf

[33] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/16/in-tibet-the-door-cracks-opens-for-foreign-media-and-then-slams-shut-again/?utm_term=.14cc746e64a8

[34] https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2017/07/china-end-ruthless-crackdown-human-rights-lawyers-activists/

[35] http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2113874/staff-called-back-work-xinjiang-scraps-week-long

[36] https://chinachange.org/2017/09/22/news-about-uighur-scholar-ilham-tohti-on-the-third-anniversary-of-his-sentencing-no-news/

[37] http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/security-tightens-around-home-of-ethnic-mongolian-dissident-hada-09222017111641.html

[38] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-40957422

[39] https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/09/11/taiwanese-activist-lee-ming-cheh-confesses-subversion-charges-china/


[41] http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/torture_in_tibet_-_oct_2015.pdf

[42] http://www.hrichina.org/sites/default/files/cat-chn-co-5-en.pdf

[43] http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/an_interview_with_nyima_lhamo.pdf

[44] https://www.savetibet.org/newsroom/torture-and-impunity-29-cases-of-tibetan-political-prisoners/

[45] https://www.hrw.org/tag/liu-xiaobo

[46] https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2010/statement.html

[47] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/liu-xiaobo-nobel-laureate-chinese-political-prisoner-dies-61

[48] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/14/china-activist-cao-shunli-dies-human-rights

[49] https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/05/22/relentless/detention-and-prosecution-tibetans-under-chinas-stability-maintenance

[50] https://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/china-appoints-communist-party-members-take-control-larung-gar

[51] http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/tibets_intolerable_monasteries.pdf

[52] https://freedomhouse.org/article/new-report-battle-china-s-spirit-religious-revival-repression-and-resistance-under-xi

[53] https://www.savetibet.org/chinas-revised-religious-regulations-threaten-survival-of-tibetan-buddhism/

[54] http://tibet.net/2016/02/two-senior-monks-arrested-for-holding-prayers-for-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama/

[55] https://www.savetibet.org/dalai-lama-compared-to-iraqi-dictator-by-chinese-state-media-as-order-issued-for-seizure-of-pictures/

[56] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-35342497, https://www.savetibet.org/the-poisonous-fruit-of-tibets-religious-policy-as-china-publishes-living-buddha-database/

[57] http://www.tibet.cn/news/focus/1453176923579.shtml

[58] https://www.savetibet.org/tibetan-pilgrims-compelled-to-return-from-dalai-lama-teaching-in-bodh-gaya-india-china-calls-the-teaching-illegal/

[59] http://freetibetanheroes.org/portfolio-items/khenpo-kartse/

[60] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/29/china-major-tibetan-buddhist-institution-faces-further-demolitions

[61] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/29/china-major-tibetan-buddhist-institution-faces-further-demolitions

[62] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/29/china-major-tibetan-buddhist-institution-faces-further-demolitions

[63] https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/for_website_magicweaponsanne-mariesbradyseptember2017.pdf

[64] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-28000937

[65] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/world/asia/china-mongolia-dalai-lama.html

[66] http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/dalai-lama-visits-arunachal-pradesh-china-sees-red-who-said-what/story-YoCMn4gjcpaOZrBaFLVPeK.html

[67] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-china/swiss-limit-tibetan-protest-against-visit-by-chinese-president-idUSKBN14X1MD

[68] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/23/activists-condemn-arrest-tibetan-pair-waving-flag-xi-jinping-met-police-chinese-president

[69] https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/chinaun0917_web.pdf

[70] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world/china-watch/

[71] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/aug/21/cambridge-university-press-to-back-down-over-china-censorship

[72] https://qz.com/1080962/china-is-retaliating-against-the-university-of-california-san-diego-for-inviting-the-dalai-lama-to-speak-at-commencement/

[73] http://china-trade-research.hktdc.com/business-news/article/The-Belt-and-Road-Initiative/The-Belt-and-Road-Initiative-Country-Profiles/obor/en/1/1X000000/1X0A36I0.htm


Tibet groups around the world have launched a campaign to press Liverpool FC to terminate a controversial deal with Chinese water bottling company Tibet Water Resources Limited (1).

The campaign calls on Liverpool FC’s owner, John W. Henry, to terminate the deal with Tibet Water due to the ethical concerns over dealing with a company operating in occupied Tibet, the scene of some the worst and longest-running human rights abuses in the world (2).

What can you do? Please sign and share these petitions:



Tibet organisations, including Free Tibet and Tibet Society have written to Liverpool FC’s owner and directors to alert them to the serious situation in Tibet and how their deal with Tibet Water is harmful to both Tibetans and Liverpool FC’s reputation. Corporate campaigners Sum Of Us have now joined with Tibet groups to encourage as many people as possible to press Liverpool FC’s ownership for an end to the deal (3).

The deal, signed on 24 July, makes Tibet Water Liverpool FC’s official regional water partner in China and offers the company a range of promotional and marketing rights. Reports about the deal state that Liverpool FC, one of the world’s biggest football clubs with a growing  Asian fan base, will also offer Tibet Water social media support and access to current players and legendary players from the club’s history.

Noticeably absent from the deal are the Tibetan people, who have been living under a harsh military occupation since the Chinese military invaded in 1950. Under China’s occupation, Tibet has become one of the most closed and repressive places on earth (3), with human rights watchdogs recording a range of abuses. Tibetans are arrested and held in detention for “crimes” as small as flying the Tibetan national flag, sharing information about the situation in Tibet to the outside world or simply displaying a picture of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (4).

Under the occupation, a new invasion of Chinese companies has taken place, with Tibet, once a remote country with a pristine environment, now crisscrossed with mines to dig up its natural resources. There has been a boom in water bottling companies arriving in Tibet (5), drawn by the fact that Tibet is the source of some of Asia’s largest rivers, which flow as far as Bangladesh and Vietnam and provide water to roughly a fifth of the world’s population(6). The glaciers on Tibet’s mountain peaks feed into these rivers and are prized by water bottling companies for their purity.

Global Tibet Groups have expressed concerns that these water bottling, mining and extraction activities in Tibet are only able to take place due to China’s military occupation. Tibetans have been given no say over how their resources are used and have expressed widespread opposition to their natural resources being taken, regularly defying police to carry out environmental protests across Tibet (7).

Since the deal was signed Tibetans and Tibet campaigners in the UK have attended Liverpool matches to hand out information to inform supporters about the implications of Liverpool FC’s links to Tibet’s occupation. Liverpool FC fans have also been in contact with Free Tibet and Tibet Society directly to express their serious concerns about the agreement signed by their club.


John Jones, Campaigns and Communications Manager at Free Tibet said:

“While a deal with a company based in Tibet might sound like an attractive and exotic opportunity, the reality for the Tibetan people is very different. Companies like Tibet Water  that extract Tibet’s resources cannot be separated from the Chinese government’s brutal occupation and human rights abuses. Liverpool FC’s directors owe it to Tibetans and their fans to learn about the repression that Tibet’s people live under and then reverse course. Terminating this deal will send a clear signal that Liverpool FC rejects any association with human rights abuses.”

Gloria Montgomery, Head of Advocacy at Tibet Society, said:

“For decades, the world has stood by as China has committed human rights violations in occupied Tibet and plundered the country’s land and natural resources for profit. While Tibetans suffer from China’s abusive policies, Chinese companies like Tibet Water  are able to take advantage of the systematic oppression of the Tibetan people. It is utterly shocking that almost 70 years into the occupation, the notion of ‘profits over people’ continues to be legitimised to such an extent that a Premier League thinks it can sign a deal with Tibet Water  and the world will sit idly by.”


Hanna Thomas, Campaign and Culture Director at Sum Of Us, said:

“Tibet Water owes its profits to the repression, torture and denial of basic political freedoms meted out by the Chinese military occupation of Tibet. Liverpool FC is normalising this brutal regime — lending it an air of legitimacy through its deal with Tibet Water. The club should be using its enormous power and wealth to promote basic freedoms and rights across the world, not help deny them.”

The full list of organisations taking part in this campaign are:


Free Tibet

Tibet Society UK

Sum Of Us

Associazione Italia Tibet

Auckland Tibetan Association

Australia Tibet Committee

Boston Tibet Network

Finnish Tibet Committee

France Tibet

Friends of Tibet New Zealand

India Tibet Friendship Society

International Tibet Network Secretariat

Lungta: Tibet Support Group Belgium

Students for a Free Tibet International, UK, India and Japan

Tibetan Community in Britain

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibet Justice Center

Tibet Patria Libre, Uruguay

Tibet Support Committee Denmark

Tibet Support Group Ireland

Tibetan Women’s Association

Tibetan Youth Association Europe

US Tibet Committee

Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Eastern Turkestan and Inner Mongolia



John Jones, Free Tibet

E: John@freetibet.org

Tel: +44 (0)207 324 4605


Gloria Montgomery, Tibet Society

E: advocacy@tibetsociety.com

Tel: +44 (0)20 7923 0021


Notes for editors


  1. Liverpool FC’s press release about the deal can be found here: http://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/announcements/269478-lfc-announces-tibet-water-resources-ltd-partnership
  2. The US-based human rights and democracy organisation Freedom House ranks occupied Tibet as the second worst place in the world for political rights and civil liberties, behind only Syria. Their 2017 report is available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2017/tibet See also Amnesty International, Annual report 2016/2017 – The State of the World’s Human Rights: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2017/02/amnesty-international-annual-report-201617 and Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017 – China and Tibet:, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/china-and-tibet
  3. The campaign can be accessed through the websites of the participating organisations, and via the International Tibet Network’s website here: https://actions.tibetnetwork.org/tell-liverpool-fc-drop-its-sponsorship-deal-tibet-water
  4. For example, in 20014, Tibetan monk Thardhod Gyaltsen was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being caught in possession of portraits and recordings of the Dalai lama during a raid on his monastery by security forces: http://www.thetibetpost.com/en/news/tibet/3963-china-jails-senior-monk-from-tibets-driru-county-for-18-years
  5. TWRL is one of a number of Chinese water bottling companies operating in Tibet with the backing of the Chinese government. In 2014, under an initiative called “Sharing Tibet’s Water with the world”, the regional government of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) signed contracts with sixteen major companies to expand the water bottling industry in Tibet and, in November 2015, announced a new ten-year plan to expand the industry, with a target of 10 million tonnes of bottled water production by 2025. The expansion – a seventy-fold increase over the capacity in 2014 – is being incentivised with significant tax breaks to companies and a lower extraction fee for water than elsewhere in China.
  6. See, for example: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-rivers-asia/melting-mountains-put-millions-at-risk-in-asia-study-idUSTRE6594TG20100610
  7. For more information on Tibet’s environmental protests, see this report by Tibet Watch: http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/environmental_protests_on_the_tibetan_plateau.pdf  

China completes demolitions at Larung Gar despite worlds outrage

Saturday 30 September 2017 marked the projected end of the Chinese government’s evictions and demolitions plan at Larung Gar. Large scale demolitions and forced evictions are currently taking place at Yachen Gar as well.
Since July 2016, these two key Tibetan Buddhist centers in eastern Tibet have been maliciously targeted by the Chinese authorities. Monks and nuns from Larung Gar Buddhist Academy (1), the largest and most respected Buddhist institute in the world, and Yachen Gar have been forcibly evicted and their homes razed to the ground. There have been at least 6,500 monks and nuns expelled since July 2016 and around 7,000 houses and buildings demolished. Our common belief is that China’s main goal in cutting down the population of the institutes has been to enable easier monitoring and control of the residents at the institute. Furthermore, recent evidence has shown that there are also plans to develop Larung Gar as a tourist destination with growing concern that we will see the renowned institute transformed into a low quality Disneyland-style tourist site.
Compounding this intense crackdown by China on Tibetans’ religious freedom, it was announced in August 2017 that Chinese Communist Party members are now positioned in the management committee at Larung Gar and exercise direct control over the management and day to day workings of Institute; a further tightening of China’s central control.
In November 2016 six United Nations human rights experts expressed their “deep concern” to China about the serious cultural and religious repression in Tibet raising the mass eviction of Tibetan monks and nuns and the demolition of their homes at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute as a violation of international human rights laws and “attacks on tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which constitute serious violations of cultural rights of current and future generations.” A number of governments, including the EU, have also raised strong concerns about the demolitions and expulsions.
Urgent solutions need to be found to solve the crisis and to stop any further attempts by China to erode the cultural and religious identity of the Tibetan people, including the development of Larung Gar into a tourist destination. With China’s 19th Party Congress opening in October, China is further tightening restrictions on everyday life in Tibet, including the practise of religion. This is emblematic of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aim to enforce and promote an authoritarian system of governance with complete disregard for human rights.
Tibetans and Tibet activists continue to work to stop China’s abhorrent abuse of Tibetans’ rights and freedoms and resolve to help bring freedom back to the Tibetan people.
International Tibet Network, Students for a Free Tibet, Free Tibet and Lungta.
  1. Larung Gar and Yachen Gar are in Serthar County, Kardze, Kham, Eastern Tibet (Ch: Ganzi/Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province).
  2. Source: https://www.facebook.com/notes/stand-with-larung-gar/china-completes-demolitions-at-larung-gar-despite-worlds-outrage/1965894283686512/

Conference held in European Parliament – Reincarnation of Dalai Lama: Why it Matters to China

BRUSSELS: Office of Tibet Brussels organised a two-hour long conference in the European Parliament (EP) on Reincarnation of Dalai Lama: Why it Matters to China, yesterday. And it was co-hosted by the major political groups in the EP, European Peoples Party (EPP), Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the Greens/European Free Alliance.


Two experts on the subject presented their views. At first Ven. Dagpo Rinpoche drew the attention of the conference dispassionately on how the reincarnation system came into being in the Tibetan society, how the system has benefitted the society, what are occasional pitfalls of the system, who has the authority to decide the reincarnation of a particular reincarnate and what has been the process of seeking the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. His presentation brought out the singular aspect of this tradition in the Tibetan society as a societal custom and tradition.

Ven. Dagpo Rinpoche is a highly respected Tibetan Buddhist master who studied under eminent masters in several monasteries, notably at Dagpo Shedrupling. He arrived in France in 1960 with a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation and taught Tibetan language and philosophy at INALCO (Paris-Dauphine University) for nearly thirty years.

Ms Marie Holzman on the other hand highlighted the contradictory outlook of a Communist Chinese regime vis-à-vis religion. While China is an atheist country currently there are over 10 million Christians, 20-30 million Muslims and over 300 million Buddhists. In her view, the practice of spirituality is a way of dissent in the highly material and controlled society. The Chinese interest to have the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is a way to control Tibet.


Ms Marie Holzman is a Sinologist specialising on Contemporary China. She also taught at Paris 7 University for twenty years, gives conferences in a number of circles and is an active contributor to various monthly and quarterlies such as Politique Internationale.

The conference was opened by MEP Thomas Mann. MEP Preda moderated the panel. MEP Molly Scott-Cato and MEP Laszlo Tokes made opening remarks strongly expressing their views in support of Tibet and the incredulous way China is misrepresenting world-wide the concept and the tradition of reincarnation. MEP Csaba Sogor also recalled his country’s experience under the Communist regime of Ceausescu. He said that spirituality will not be cowed down by military and forcible Communist theology.

Representative Tashi Phuntsok made the closing remarks. He reiterated that the reincarnation is a Tibetan tradition and not Chinese system. He recalled that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had made clear as early as in 1969 that the institution of the Dalai Lama will be decided by the Tibetan people. He quoted the recent remaDSC_0597.JPGrks of His Holiness the Dalai Lama made in Delhi repeating the stand. Finally he quoted from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 2011 September 24 public statement on the issue, “When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditi
ons, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not… responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust… I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China”.


The conference was attended by 7 MEPs, 15 Parliamentary Assistants, the Press, Politicians, NGOs, Tibet Support Groups and the staff of Office of Tibet with total of 60 participants. It may also be recalled that this is one of the series of advocacy events being carried out by the Office of Tibet, Brussels.


  1. http://tibet.net/2017/02/conference-held-in-european-parliament-reincarnation-of-dalai-lama-why-it-matters-to-china/ 
  2. Photo’s © Han Vandenabeele 2017

Golog Jigme, Former Tibetan Political Prisoner Testifies Before the European Parliament


BRUSSELS – Golog Jigme, former political prisoner and human rights defender testified before the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights in Brussels yesterday.

“I was born in a nomad’s family in Eastern Tibet. I am a non-violent freedom fighter. I am a human rights defender. I am a filmmaker. I made a documentary called Leaving Fear Behind. Because of this, the Chinese authorities arrested and tortured me,” he said as he began his testimony. He was imprisoned three times and tortured by the Chinese authorities for making the documentary Leaving Fear Behind and for involvement in March 2008 peaceful protest in Labrang. After his first arrest in 2008, he was tortured by the Chinese authorities for 51 days.

“Once, they hung me forward with my back against the chair,” he said. “Both my ankles were shackled below the chair’s seat and wrists shackled on the chair’s small metal table. My feet were not touching the floor. It was like hanging on the chair. The weight of my whole body was borne by my shackled ankles and wrists. This made me feel that my chest was going to split into two and all my intestines were going to fall onto the floor. I became very dizzy and could not see properly.”

The Chinese security officials beat him on his back with tiny metal sticks, kicked him and gave him electric shocks in his mouth. “The pain the chair caused when they hung me was too extreme to feel any of the pain caused by the metal sticks or the kicking. When they gave me electric shocks, I could feel nothing. I could only smell the burning of my own flesh,” he said.


The pain of thirst was the second worst torture for him. Due to heavy loss of blood during torture, “I felt like I was dying from thirst. I was only given a very small amount of water. Over time, I got used to hunger and sleep deprivation, but never to being thirsty,” he said.

He was arrested for the second time in 2009 and again in 2012. Fearing for his life during the detention in 2012, he managed to escape in the middle of the night. While he was hiding in the mountains, he learned that the Chinese police had put out a warrant for his arrest for murder, which he never committed.

He thanked the European Parliament and requested the Parliament to call on China to impose a moratorium on the settlement of Tibetan pastoral nomads and to allow diplomats, parliamentarians and journalists, free access to Tibet. Finally, he called on China to improve the living conditions of the over 2,000 Tibetan political prisoners currently in Chinese prisons who have been detained and sentenced for peaceful expression of views or non-violent dissent and for their immediate release.

He also appealed for the release of his friend Shokjang, a young Tibetan writer and blogger sentenced to three years in prison on 17 February 2016 after he wrote a blog post about an intense build up of Chinese security forces in the Rebkong area.

Speaking on China’s new counter-terrorism law, he said it gives an even larger scope for the penalization of almost any peaceful expression of Tibetan identity, acts of non-violent dissent, or criticism of ethnic or religious policies.


Mr Tőkés László, a senior member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights chaired the hearing. Dr Joëlle Hivonnet of the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in her statement, “We were humbled by his (Golog Jigme) testimony. It is important for us to hear first hand information.”

Golog Jigme had met the Council of the EU’s Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM) and the Asia-Oceana Working Party (COASI) Chairs, as well as officials from the European External Action Service (EEAS) on Monday. “I know what it is to live under Communist rule because I grew up in Romania,” said Mr László in his concluding remark.

Golog Jigme had a detailed meeting with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Federation for Human Rights yesterday morning.  In the evening he spoke to the members of the Tibet Interest Group in the European Parliament and “Leaving Fear Behind” documentary was screened.

He arrived in India in May 2014. The Swiss authorities granted him political asylum in 2015. He is visiting Brussels to share first-hand account of his experience in a Chinese prison and his way to freedom. His visit was jointly organised by the International Campaign for Tibet and Bureau du Tibet, Brussels.


Golog Jigme:

“First of all, I would like to greet every one of you. My name is Golog Jigme. I was born in a nomad’s family in Eastern Tibet. I am a non-violent freedom fighter. I am a human rights defender. I am a filmmaker. I made a documentary called “Leaving Fear Behind”. Because of this, the Chinese authorities arrested and tortured me. Why did I make this documentary? The Chinese were propagating lies about the situation in Tibet. I wanted to show the real situation inside Tibet.

In this documentary, the Tibetan people are speaking out the reality in Tibet under Communist China’s occupation. In Tibet, there is no human freedom, no freedom of expression, no freedom of movement, no freedom of language, no freedom of religion, not even freedom of thought. Because of this situation, I made this documentary.

In 2008, there was a huge uprising all over Tibet. I participated in these protests. For making the documentary and taking part in these protests, the Chinese arrested me three times. You wouldn’t believe how the Chinese security forces arrested me, a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Over 60 policemen and over 300 military officials came and arrested me. When they arrested me, they pointed two rifles at my head. They beat me with their rifle butts. I was knocked to the ground and was bleeding. My whole body was soaked in my blood. That is how they arrested me. There were military vehicles all over the village. This is just shocking and unspeakable. That is how I was arrested in 2008.

So after arresting me, they tortured me in prison. I was subjected to a new torture method called the Iron Chair (the Chinese call it Lohuten). I was tortured naked on this chair day and night for 51 days.  ON this chair, they tortured me in three different ways;

  1. My wrists were cuffed on a small metal table attached to the chair, my chest and legs shackled to the Iron Chair.
  2. My chest and both legs shackled to the Iron Chair and my shoulders locked back. Then they hung me. This made me feel that my chest was going to split into two and all my intestines were going to fall onto the floor. I became very dizzy and could not see properly. I can never express how this torture felt.
  3. My wrists were cuffed on a small metal table, legs bent beneath the seat and cuffed below. Then they hung me. The weight of my whole body was born by my shackled legs and wrists.

They beat me on my back with tiny metal sticks, kicking me and giving electric shocks to my mouth. The pain the chair caused when they hung me was too extreme to feel any of the pain caused by the metal sticks or the kicking. When they gave me electric shocks, I could feel nothing. I only smelt the burning of my own flesh.

After a few weeks, the skin from my bottom began to rub off through the four holes cut into the iron chair seat.  I was removed from that iron chair occasionally, but then faced beatings on the floor. They shackled my arms around a stove’s chimney. The heat was so strong there was sweating coming from his face. My hands and chest were burned.

DSC_0357 - kopie
Lungta – TSG Belgium came to welcome and support Golog Jigme at the EU-Parliament.

The prison authorities wanted me to give them the names of the Tibetans who spoke in my documentary. Also they wanted to know who told me to participate in the peaceful protests. That is why they tortured me.

The pain of thirst was the second worst torture. Due to heavy loss of blood, I felt like I was dying from thirst. I was only given a very small amount of water. Over time, I got used to hunger and sleep deprivation, but never to being thirsty.

I am a non-violent freedom fighter and with great pride I can tell you that I did not betray one single person. I did not respond and they said, if you don’t speak, your mouth is of no use. And then with a lighter they burnt my lips three times. The pain was unbearable. I cannot express how this felt. That’s how I was tortured for 51 days. I am a living testimony of Tibetan people’s suffering in Tibet. It’s not only me. There are currently over 2,000 Tibetan political prisoners in Tibet.

I am at the European Parliament today to share with you, the torture and sufferings of my fellow Tibetans. But, the mental torture is worse than physical torture. Something you could not imagine. I still wonder why they tortured me mentally. It was terrifying. They forced me to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Youth Congress. They said no one could protect me. They said, “the West wouldn’t protect you. America won’t protect you. If there is someone who can protect you, you can call him now”. “There is no one who will save you. If we kill you now and put your body into the dustbin, no one will care about that”, they said. I went through a lot of hardship, but I always continued my activities for the Tibetan people. No matter how hard they tortured me, not even one day did I give up my fight for the Tibetan people.

In 2009, I was arrested for the second time. When I was arrested for the third in 2012, the Chinese guards told me that they would take me a medical examination. They said I might get pills or an injection if the doctors found anything. They were very firm and emphasized that I must follow the doctor’s orders exactly.

I was certain that my life was in danger. Fortunately, I was able to escape one night. While I was hiding in the mountains, I learned that the Chinese police had put out a warrant for my arrest for murder, which I never committed.

I did not want to leave my country. I wanted to continue my human rights work. But when my life was at risk, I had no choice but to escape. Many people risked their lives for my escape.

Today, I appeal to you. Please don’t’ pretend as if you don’t see and hear the Tibetan people’s suffering. Tibet has become like a prison under Chinese occupation. I escaped from this prison. I came to a free country. My body is in a free country but my heart will always remain with the suffering of my Tibetan brothers and sisters. When I think about what they go through, there is not a single day I feel happy being in a free country.

Our freedom struggle needs support from you. As I said, there are over 2,000 documented Tibetan political prisoners who are going through a lot of suffering and torture. Tibetans are protesting against Chinese rule through self-immolations. Over 140 heroes have self-immolated. So, it is important that we talk about these people and their plight and not act as if we don’t see them.

Tibetans are being killed in Tibet. I am always talking about the Chinese government as a terrorist state. Why? With weapons in their hands, they are killing people who are talking about freedom, democracy, about truth. What other name can we call them other than a terrorist state? This is a terrorist state. I want to request the following to the European Parliament;

  1. Call on China to impose a moratorium on the settlement of Tibetan pastoral nomads, which runs counter to scientific evidence pointing to the need for livestock mobility in ensuring the health of the grasslands and mitigating negative warming impacts on the environment of the Tibetan plateau.
  2. Urge the Chinese authorities to put an end to the annual closure of the Tibet Autonomous Region around 10th March and to allow foreigners, including independent experts, diplomats, parliamentarians and journalists, free access to Tibet at any time so that they can see the situation in Tibet for themselves.
  3. Call on China to improve the living conditions of the over 2,000 Tibetan political prisoners currently in Chinese prisons, and to immediately release all those Tibetans who have been detained and sentenced for peaceful expression of views or non-violent dissent (e.g: Shokjang, a young Tibetan writer and blogger sentenced to three years in prison on 17 February 2016 after he wrote a blog post about an intense build up of Chinese security forces in the Rebkong area); Express concerns about the new counterterrorism law, which in conflating ‘terrorism’ with an undefined ‘extremism’ linked to religion, gives an even larger scope for the penalisation of almost any peaceful expression of Tibetan identity, acts of non-violent dissent, or criticism of ethnic or religious policies.

I thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak in the European Parliament.”


100th Tibet Intergroup meeting at the European Parliament

His Holiness the Dalai Lama sends message to European Parliament’s meeting on Tibet


On 19 February, the European Parliament held its 100th Tibet Intergroup meeting, hosted by MEP Thomas Mann, President of the Tibet Intergroup. For this occasion, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and the Office of Tibet Brussels co-organised a special event with Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, Special Representative of the Dalai Lama to Europe, and Mr. Matteo Mecacci, ICT President. Keynote speakers were Mr. Alan Cantos and Mr. José Elias Esteve Molto, lawyers in the recent groundbreaking Tibet lawsuits in Spain, and Mr. Thupten Wangchen, main plaintiff in the case.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent a message to the 100th session of Tibet Intergroup meeting at the European Parliament on 19 February. The meeting was attended by over 200 people including Members of European Parliament (MEP) and their staff.

intergroup-flyerIn his message, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said “Although I no longer hold any political responsibility, as a Tibetan I cannot help but be concerned about my compatriots’ well-being. The Tibetan issue is not only about the political rights of the Tibetan people, but also about matters that impact humanity at large. Firstly, because the Tibetan plateau has been shown to affect climate change and because the major rivers that rise in Tibet supply more than one billion people across Asia with water, the Tibetan environment is of crucial importance to the region. Secondly, because Tibetan Buddhist culture focuses on peace, non-violence and compassion, it is of value to the world and worth preserving.”

The situation in Tibet at present is grim.
Tibetan culture remains under threat. Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities are relentless in their suppression of any sign of protest or dissent. And yet, it seems the greater the suppression, the stronger is the Tibetan spirit of resistance. The only lasting solution will be when the Chinese Government addresses the Tibetan people’s aspirations so they can be resolved through equitable negotiations. On our part, the elected 


Tibetan leadership has reiterated its commitment to the Middle Way Approach of not seeking separation, but genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people,” His Holiness said in his message which was read out by Mr. Thomas Mann,  President of the Tibet Intergroup in the European Parliament.”

In recent times, the Chinese Communist Party has begun to focus on the needs of the rural population and the poor. Part of this involves the need to raise the functioning of the judicial system to international standards. People who know President Xi Jinping tell me that he works in a more open and realistic way. In  fact, he seems to be taking some courageous steps to reduce corruption. I hope he will be able to bring about political reform in much the same way that Deng Xiaoping brought about the market reforms that have made China so economically powerful.

DSC_0017If China changes in a positive direction, we can hope for more transparency from the leadership. This in turn will lead to trust and respect. Such a development will enable China to earn the respect of the international community, while also resolving issues like the Tibetan question for the benefit of everyone involved. I hope bodies like the European Parliament can find ways to encourage China in this direction,” His Holiness said in his message.”

The panel of speakers in the meeting include Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Special Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Europe, Mr. Matteo Meccaci,

President of International Campaign for Tibet, Ven. Thupten Wangchen, member of Tibetan parliament, Mr. Alan Cantos, Director of Comite de Apoyo al Tibet and Dr. Jose Elias Esteve, lawyer for the ground breaking Tibet Lawsuit in Spain.

The speakers of the intergroup meeting spoke on a wide range of issues related to Tibet and the current situation inside Tibet.

Mr. Cantos and Dr. Esteve in particular spoke on the Tibet lawsuit in Spain and its background, and their endeavours in pursuing the case in the Spanish court of law.  They also spoke on the political pressures to abandon the lawsuit, and how such pressures threaten to undermine democratic values of Spain as a country and the EU in general. They urged the Spanish political parties to launch a campaign to reverse the constitutional reform undertaken by the Spanish parliament to stifle the lawsuit against the former Chinese leaders.


Speech of Kelsang Gyaltsen, Special Representative of H. H. the Dalai Lama at the 100th Meeting of the Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament

It is a great pleasure and an honour for my Tibetan colleagues and me to participate in this special meeting of the Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament. This opportunity means a lot to us Tibetans. For it offers us the chance to express to you personally our sincere appreciation and gratitude for your sustained and committed support and solidarity with the non-violent freedom struggle of the Tibetan people.

Your support and friendship sends a clear message of hope, encouragement and solidarity to the people of Tibet at a time when Tibetans in Tibet are undergoing the harshest wave of repression and persecution since the Cultural Revolution. Last Thursday, Lobsang Dorjee, a 25 years old native of Ngaba county in Sichuan Province, became 126th Tibetan to resort to self-immolation to protest against the Chinese repression in Tibet. He is the second Tibetan to commit self-immolation in 2014.

DSC_0011As a Tibetan engaged in raising awareness and support for the cause of Tibet in Europe for many years, I am aware that there is a school of thought among politicians who consider public statements and resolutions condemning human rights abuses, calling for respect for human rights and peaceful conflict resolutions as empty gestures and window-dressing politic. They argue that such acts constitute a “loss of face” of the Chinese leadership and hence counter-productive. But on the other hand they are not willing to consider whether such restrain in avoiding the loss of face of Chinese leaders is also leading to the loss of more life of the repressed and persecuted people.

The so-called “silent diplomacy”, which this school of thought favours, often result – whether deliberately or unintentionally – in evasion, denial and silence about oppression, injustice and abuse of basic rights and freedoms. This is psychologically and morally more devastating for victims of oppression and injustice than the actual repressive measures

DSC_0041In the case of Tibet we realize that there is little that can be done from the outside that immediately brings some improvements in the difficult situation of Tibetans in Tibet. However, statements of concern and support and resolutions on human rights violations in Tibet by distinguished bodies such as the European Parliament send the message to the people in Tibet that they are not forgotten, that Europe cares and is aware of their suffering and that Europe is committed in promoting a peaceful and just resolution to the issue of Tibet. This is a message with tremendous power to give hope and uplift the spirit of the Tibetans in Tibet. This is also the way to persuade Tibetans in Tibet not to loose hope and patience and not to resort to self-immolation in acts of protest. The Tibetan leadership in exile will continue to appeal to our countrymen to refrain from such drastic forms of protest.

Despite the very grim current situation in Tibet I believe there are grounds to entertain a degree of hope and optimism for some movements on the issue of Tibet in the near future.

First of all the spirit of resistance of the Tibetan people in Tibet has never been stronger than today. Tibetans in Tibet have never been more united and determined in reasserting and defending their distinct culture, religion, language and identity. The majority of Tibetans in the frontline of the protest are under 30 years of age. This is a clear indication that this popular resistance is to stay on for a long time to come.

Furthermore, with little notice taken outside of China a vigorous internal debate has been going on in China on policies towards the minorities. Such a national debate on minorities has been non-existent in China a few years ago. This is a clear indication of the increasing awareness and importance of issues related with minorities in China.

Moreover, there is a new leadership in China. According to information from Chinese sources within the new Chinese leadership there are people who feel that there is a need to address the problems in Tibet. But it also says that there is strong opposition to such views. The policy announcements after the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party indicate that the top leadership will take more control of issues such as Tibet and Xinjiang. This is to be welcomed. So far the ossified and hard-line attitude of the entrenched party bureaucracy dealing exclusively with minorities policies has been the major obstacle to any changes on the Tibet issue. Moreover, the new Chinese leadership is yet to formulate and announce its thinking and policy on Tibet.

There is movement in China on issues that have a bearing on the Tibet issue. Because of these developments it is a crucial time for members of international community to engage the Chinese government on Tibet. There is a unique window of opportunity to act on Tibet. The European Union can play a leading role in the opening of a new page in Tibetan-Chinese relations under the new leadership in China which is marked by the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation.


For this to happen there is a need for robust, coherent and concerted efforts by members of the international community. In this context it is crucial that the Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament continues to take the lead in international efforts promoting a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet through dialogue and negotiations. I am, therefore, appealing to you personally and to the leaders of the European Parliament to ensure that the next legislative of the European Union continues with the long and honourable tradition of championing the peaceful and just cause of the Tibetan people by reconstituting a strong and vocal Tibet Intergroup.  The people of Tibet need your continued support and solidarity.

Photos © Han Vandenabeele

Tibetan MPs meet EU officials in Brussels

BRUSSELS – A visiting Tibetan parliamentary delegation led by Speaker Penpa Tsering have met EU officials and apprised them about China’s repressive policies on Tibet which has pushed over 121 Tibetans to set themselves on fire in protest.


On Monday (4 Nov), the delegation met with the Administrator of EU Committee of the Regions (COR) and exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including the deteriorating situation inside Tibet. Mr Vincent Metten, the EU Policy Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, accompanied the delegation.

The delegation attended the 98th Tibet Intergroup meeting hosted by the European Parliament and exchanged information on its working. The speaker apprised the group on current Chinese policies on Tibet, which is driving Tibetans to resort to desperate forms of protests, including self-immolation.

On Tuesday, the delegation met with several members of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and representatives of the European External Action Service (EEAS), including Mr Gerhard Sabathil, the director for East Asia. Theey also met with representatives of the Flemish Parliament and a group of Senators of the Belgian Parliament.

DSC_0090 - kopie

They also met with Belgium Tibet Support Groups, executive members of Tibetan community and addressed the Tibetan Association at Anwerpen.

Earlier on their arrival in Brussels, the delegation was accorded a warm welcome at the Brussels airport by Mr Ngodup Dorjee, the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and representatives from Tibetan community.

The Parliamentary delegation will leave for Paris on Nov 6 for an extended tour of France, Netherlands, the UK and Germany before heading back to India.


2. http://www.tibetoffice.eu 2013
3. photo’s © Han Vandenabeele



The Tibetan Social Service (TSS) is a non-profit organization aimed at providing free services to the Tibetan community, with its main office at TIPA Road in Mc Leod Ganj, Dharamsala, India. TSS was founded by Mr. Chime Youngdung on 1st October 2012. The first anniversary and the first annual meeting of Tibetan Social Service took place on 19th October, 2013, at Hotel Tibet in Mc Leod Ganj, with the TSS Staff Members, the International Board Members of TSS and the TSS Coordinators from different places in India, Austria, USA, Belgium, Germany, Ecuador and Vietnam.

In the morning there was an Opening Ceremony, in the afternoon the TSS Staff and TSS Coordinators discussed the new projects.  Afterwards, the financial report of the first year was read and there was an exchange of ideas for fundraising.


On 20th October 2013, the TSS Staff and TSS Coordinators from different countries did an excursion to the Norbulingka Institute of Tibetan Culture, the buddhist tantric Gyuto monastery and a Hindi ashram, as an introduction to the Tibetan and Indian culture.  

Upcoming Projects


During the meeting, the TSS Staff and TSS Coordinators from the different countries discussed six new TSS projects and voted on them to set priorities. The project that got the most votes was the “Winter Vacations for Tibetan Orphan Children”. During two months holiday (January-February), most children go home to visit their families and relatives, but some children, orphans and those whose parents are in Tibet, are left with nowhere to go. TSS is going to develop a program for those children so that they also can have a supervised educational and enjoyable holiday trip.



A new initiative by TSS is the visit of Venerable Mogru Tenpa, Member of the Tibetan Parliament, to Mainpat Tibetan Settlement. He’s going to stay there for two months, from the end of October till the end of December, to give buddhist teachings in the seven Camps in this Settlement.


TSS Director Chime Youngdung: “Mogru Tenpa is a high qualified Tibetan monk and he accepted the demand of TSS to provide buddhist teachings in Mainpat for which we are very grateful. This Settlement is very poor and remote, there is no internet, so the almost 1,000 inhabitants don’t have access to buddhist teachings. Venerable Mogru Tenpa is going to travel to one of the Camps each day, to meet the people and share his knowledge about buddhism.”  


Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony started at 11.00 o’clock at Hotel Tibet. All the participants received the first annual report with an overview of the activities in the first year. Among them were members of the Tibetan Parliament, Venerable Mogru Tenpa and Dawa Phunkyi, the Presidents of the Tibetan Freedom Movement, the Ngari Association, the National Democratic Party of Tibet and the Local Assemblee, and representatives of the Tibetan Women’s Association, Gu Chu Sum and the Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association.

Dennis Barbion and Chime Youngdung

At first, the Chief Guest Mr. Penpa Tsering lighted a butter lamp, followed by the singing of the Tibetan National Anthem. Afterwards, there was one minute of mourning for the martyrs who sacrificed their life for the Tibetan cause. After the tea and delsi, TSS Director Chime Youngdung gave a speech in Tibetan in which he emphasized that every Tibetan has the responsibility to strive for the Tibetan cause, to preserve the rich culture and traditions, and the Tibetan identity. TSS Associate Director and TSS Coordinator of the TSS Belgium Chapter Mr. Dennis Barbion read the speech by the Director in English.

TSS Director Mr. Chime Youngdung: “We have founded Tibetan Social Service to help finding sponsors for poor Tibetans, and to assist the uneducated and needy people by rendering all kind of services that we can possibly provide. We also aim to develop a sense of responsibility in the privileged Tibetans to help  the less privileged fellow Tibetans and to set an example for the younger generation. With these aims and objectives, we have accomplished the following projects in the first year:


–        We provided our service to fill IC forms for over 600 people;

        We provided our service to fill ADDAR CARD forms for over 300 people;

        We provided a letter writing service for those who are less educated in English;

        We provided a translation service for recently arrived Tibetans in Indian hospitals and offices.”

        We provided assistance and help with the water filter project in Mainpat Tibetan Settlement, organized by the Tibetan-Flemish Circle of Friends based in Belgium;

        We started a new TSS chapter in Belgium in November 2012;


The Chief Guest at the Opening Ceremony was the Honourable Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament Mr. Penpa Tsering. He expressed his interest and gratitude to the Tibetan Social Service. He als gave some suggestions and advice, like appointing a few nurses in Delhi for illiterate and poor people , to have a good understanding with the other NGO’s so that there is no duplication of the works, and to give trainings to Tibetans so that they are less dependent on others in the future. Mr. Penpa Tsering wished the TSS good luck and success.  


Announcement Meeting

The Special Guest was Mr. Wilfried Pfeffer from Germany, the Director of the Tibet Kailash Haus in Freiburg.He also gave a speech. He mentioned the importance of social projects for the Tibetan people.  


Mr. Tsering Thundup, President of Tibet Charity, gave an interesting talk about social work in general, the aims and projects set up by Tibet Charity and general advice for TSS.


TSS has almost 70 members in total now. A chapter in Belgium was established on November 21, 2012, and at this moment there are 27 members in Belgium. There are now plans to open a new chapter in Delhi and in Byllakuppe.


Memberships are open to any Tibetan and non-Tibetan. The membership fee for India, Nepal and Bhutan is 300 INR for three years, for Europe 15 euro for three years, and for the USA 20 USD for three years.


You can download the full report of the annual meeting here: https://db.tt/eQnMLjxF


Text and photos by TSS Director Chime Youngdung and Dennis Barbion, TSS Associate Director and Coordinator of TSS Belgium Chapter

Tibetan Community in Belgium Welcome Sister Shichak Proposal


BRUSSELS: Kalon Gyari Dolma of the department of home arrived at the Brussels International Airport on 6 August on a three day visit to Belgium as part of her official tour of Europe. She was received at the airport by Mr Ngodup Dorjee, the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the president of Belgium Tibetan community and the representatives of local Tibetan organisations.

On 7 August, Kalon Gyari Dolma met with the presidents and representatives of Tibet support groups including the executive director of International Campaign for Tibet in Brussels and other Belgian friends of Tibet. She apprised them about the purpose of her visit and also thanked them for their continued support for Tibet.

Later in the afternoon, Kalon Gyari Dolma held a meeting with the Tibetan community of Belgium in Antwerpen. She briefed the audience on the Kashag’s proposal of Sister Shichak project whereby community relationship is proposed to be established between the Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan and the Tibetan communities in western countries to benefit both the communities. The Tibetan community in Belgium welcomed the proposal with much enthusiasm and proposed to work on it in due course of time.


Before her departure to Amsterdam, Kalon Gyari Dolma made a courtesy call on Mr Dinkar Khullar, the Indian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union. Kalon Gyari Dolma accompanied by the Representative Ngodup Dorjee will visit Amsterdam and Paris before heading back to India on 14 August.


1. Office of Tibet Brussels
2. photo’s © Han Vandenabeele

Conference on Tibet’s Environment at the European Parliament in Brussels 19th June 2013


On Wednesday 19th June 2013, a conference on Tibet’s Environment was organized at the European Parliament in Brussels. It was hosted by the Members of the European Parliament Mrs. Satu Hassi (Greens), Mr. Thomas Mann (EPP) and Mrs. Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), and jointly organized by the Office of Tibet in Brussels, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). Keynote speaker was Mr. Tenzin Norbu, Head of the Environment and Development Desk of the Central Tibetan Administration at the DIIR in Dharamsala, India.

More than 60 people attended the seminar, including Members of the EP and their assistants, journalists, Belgian Tibet Support Groups such as Tibetan-Flemish Circle of Friends (Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring), Lungta Association Belgium and Lights on Tibet, and officials from the European Commission. Representatives of Tibetan-Flemish Circle of Friends were president Dennis Barbion and Phuntsok Dolma. Moderators were Members of the EP Mrs. Satu Hassi and the President of the Tibet Intergroup at the EP Mr. Thomas Mann.


MEP Mr. Thomas Mann welcomed everyone and expressed his gratutide for participDSC_0294ating in the conference about this very important subject, the damaged environment in Tibet. “The environment in Tibet has undergone many changes, due to the global climate change, deforestation and depopulation. We warmly welcome Mr. Tenzin Norbu from Dharamsala in India and we are looking forward to hear his speech. We at the European Parliament are united, there is a lot of solidarity and unity for Tibet among many Members of the European Parliament.”

The Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament consists or more than 110 MEPs and was founded by Mr. Michel Hervé (French member of the EP) in 1989 to fulfill three main objectives: creating opportunities for informal discussion amongst MEPs who were interested in the situation in Tibet, providing information on the subject for their colleagues and the public in general and encouraging various form of political actions.


MEP Mrs. Satu Hassi: “The Environment is a global problem, it’s not only regional or national but it’s global. The ice mass at the poles is melting. Because of general climate changes the glaciers melt. On the three poles the ice is melting, not only at the North of South Pole but also in Tibet, the Third Pole. Many major rivers originate in Tibet. A lot of people depend on those big rivers, 2 billion people or 47% of all the population depend on those rivers that are sometimes heavily polluted. Another great influence on the EnvironmDSC_0282ent are the destructive industries, for example mining by the Chinese in Tibet on a large scale. Sometimes there are tragic incidents in the mining like the one in March 2013 when 83 miners got killed.”


After these introductions by the MEPs, Mr. Tenzin Norbu of the DIIR Environmental Department in Dharamsala gave a speech enriched with a PowerPoint presentation showing statistics, pictures and videos.

Mr. Tenzin Norbu: “At the Environmental and Development Desk we are checking the destruction of the Environment in Tibet, the industries who have an impact on this, and the influence on the local people. In my talk I will focus on 3 issues: deforestation, the nomads movement and the global climate change.”


Mr. Tenzin Norbu explained that Tibet is considered by scientists as the Third Pole: “Tibet has the largest reservoir of fresh water, for example in lots of glaciers, but also in permafrost and rivers. Tibet has 46,000 glaciers covering an area of 105,000 sq. km. It is the highest, largest and coldest plateau on Earth. Tibet has more fresh water than the North and South Pole. Tibet is the central point of negotiations between China and India, two world powers. The Tibetan Plateau is 4,500 meters above sea level, but now it looks like an upland island high above sea level as the ice is melting. Tibet is the Water Tower of Asia. 30% of all the water flows from Tibet. The Mekong river is the most important, also for fishermen.”


He mentioned the resource exploitation. There are 200 active mining sites in Tibet, most copper mines but also gold etc. There are more than 30 different resources. Another fact is the deforestation in Tibet. In 1950 there were 25 million hectares forests in Tibet, in 1985 13,5 million.  Because of the deforestation there has been a huge flood of the Yangtse river in 1998, so there is a huge global ecological problem because of the new industries. In 2012 there is still lots of deforestation, for example in the East of Lhasa. “Something is not right in Tibet and today we don’t speak about human rights but about the environment only. About the mining, there are 3 zones of copper mining in Tibet. Already 26,700,000 tons of copper was mined and 755 tons of gold. We raise the big question for who is this beneficial? Is it beneficial for the locals? No, not at all…” A short video from 2009 was shown about the wastewater discharge in a local stream in Dineth in Amdo. On the video you could see the dumping in the local water very clearly. Of course this only happens at night.

Mr. Tenzin Norbu: “Another thing are the rare Earth elements. To the South of the Nam Tso Basin, heavy materials and rare elements were found in the soil. There is also a lot of lithium mining. In Gyama Valley, cupper sulphite, a heavy metal was detected in the surface water. The Chinese authorities always say that there is no problem with the water, that the water in Tibet is fresh. Because of the pollution, also lots of animals died.”

In Tibet, the Tibetan people protest against the destruction of the Environment and the mining of the natural rDSC_0290esources. In Shigatse there have been lots of protests against the mining in 2010, but also in Shifang, Sichuan, in July 2012. “In 2010 there have been 15 different mining protests in Tibet, and 4 protests in 2012. Thousands of people in total have protested. The locals raised their voice and sometimes the protest was successful and the mining was stopped. Such actions give us a huge hope, not just for the Tibetans but for the environment.”


Another issue is the exploitation of Water Resources, the damming of rivers. This is important for many South Asian countries. No river in Tibet is not being dammed, and because of damming, seismic events were very active from 1973-2012.


Pastoral nomadism


Mr. Tenzin Norbu: “The Tibetan word for nomad is ‘drokpa’ and in fact nomad is not a good translation, it’s a mobile lifestyle. For 8000-9000 years there is a pastoralist culture in Tibet. The Chinese authorities say the drokpa are are economic migrants but in fact it’s nomad removal, it’s not a resettlement as the Chinese say. Grassslands need to be grazed, grazing extend the growing season. The first removals of nomads were in the Machu-Drichu-Zachu region. China says it wants to educate nomads but testimonies of nomads who fled Tibet has stated that the policy of removal is not even explained to the nomads. With the removal of nomads and the new lifestyle, there is a big problem of unemployment and alcohol, but there is also a lot of begging, prostitution and poverty.”


The damage to the meadows is final, the grasslands cannot be restalled. The nomads who were expelled, are now living in ghettos. They are also used for tourism reasons. They have to dress up with their traditional clothing and decorations for pictures for tourists. Now people also need to pay an entrance fee to visit the Holy Lake. Nomadic women are also used for washing the cars of the Chinese police and the children are not taught at school. The nomads don’t have a choice, they cannot go back, this is not possible because they don’t have a life stock. Afterwards, the 15 minutes documentary “From Nomad to Nobody” by Michael Buckley was shown, about the life of nomads in Tibet, their removal by the Chinese authorities and the life in the ghettos.


Impact climate change


Mr. Tenzin Norbu: “20% of the glaciers is retreated in 40 years, so 20% of the glaciers is lost. The Himalaya is retreated on a fast rate compared with European and other glaciers. The permafrost is melting because of the global warming but also due to human interference. In connection with those human disturbances, the change is due to renovations, for example the construction of highways. This has a huge impact on the environment. There is thermal slumping, and the highways need to be repaired every few years because of subsidence. There is also vegetation destruction, and because of the highways, the ground temperature is affected. The big questions are: who has benefit of all this, and who is employed? Definitely not the locals. The Chinese always politicize protests by Tibetans, also protests to protect the environment.”


The Tibetan Plateau plays an important role in generating and regulating the Asian Monsoon. Nowadays the rainfall is disturbed, even in India. Because of this, there will definitely be much more migration in the future.

At the end of his talk, Mr. Tenzin Norbu asked for more support and protection of the environment: “China is pollutant no. 1. They don’t have the right to destruct the Environment of Tibetans who live there already 8000-9000 years. The most important import from Tibet to India is silence: Tibetans escaping Tibet are afraid to speak when they still have relatives in Tibet. We hope for more support by the European Parliament and Tibet Groups, because saving the Tibetan plateau saves peace and harmony.”


MEP Mr. Thomas Mann ended the very interesting but confrontational and disturbing conference with a message of hope: “We never stop supporting Tibet. You can be sure that we continue our support. The Tibet Intergroup and many MEPs are interested in the Tibet issue and we follow up everything. From the EP we also take action through resolutions. We continue to do so!”


1. text © Dennis Barbion
2. photo’s © Han Vandenabeele
3. Dennis Barbion is a Tibet supporter, buddhist and human rights activist based in Belgium. Currently he is the President of Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring (Tibetan-Flemish Circle of Friends) and Coordinator of Tibetan Social Service Belgium Chapter. For more information about the associations: www.tibetvlaanderen.be (website in Dutch) or www.facebook.com/tibetvlaanderen (Facebook page in English) and www.tibetalsocialservice.org or www.facebook.com/TibetanSocialServiceBelgiumChapter. To contact Dennis Barbion: dennis.barbion@telenet.be.