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Sunday, July 19, 2015

China refuses to hand over Tibetan lama's body

BEIJING -- Chinese authorities have refused to release the body of a Tibetan lama who died in a Chinese prison, prompting a sit-in outside the prison by more than 100 Tibetans, a pro-Tibet rights group said Wednesday.
The family was informed Sunday that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, died 13 years into a life sentence on charges of financing and supporting a series of terrorist bombings and secession activities. His supporters say the charges were trumped up to persecute the man.
The prison has not produced the lama's body after two days of negotiations between the police and the monk's immediate family, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said Wednesday in a statement. The family wants to perform Tibetan Buddhist funeral rites on the body.
"Our only request is to have his body," said Dolkar, the monk's sister, who was in Dazhu county in southwestern Sichuan province, which borders the Tibetan region. Like many Tibetans, she goes by one name.
She said the family also was denied access to see the lama's remains, his death certificate and medical records.
Calls to the prison were unanswered Wednesday.
Tenzin Delek was arrested in 2002 in connection with a blast in Chengdu city that wounded three people.
Human rights groups have long said the lama was persecuted by the Chinese and arrested on false charges because he advocated for Tibetan rights. His suspended death sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He continued to maintain his innocence.
Students for a Free Tibet expressed concern that the group outside the prison could themselves face danger.
Last year, the monk's family had applied for medical parole for him on the grounds that he suffered from a heart condition, high blood pressure, dizzy spells and problems with his legs that had caused him to fall down frequently.
Authorities never responded to the request.
In Washington, members of the House of Representatives also demanded Chinese authorities return the lama's body to his family members for a funeral.
At a hearing on Tibet by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Tuesday, movie actor Richard Gere, a longstanding advocate for Tibetan freedom, called the monk "one of the good men of the community" who found commonality between Tibetans and Chinese.
source credit: the CBS News

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tibet’s tough road ahead


The 80th birthday Monday of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, is an occasion to celebrate the life of an extraordinary individual. Since his flight from Tibet to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has built religious, educational and political institutions to serve and unite the Tibetan community in exile. He has travelled the world to promote the Tibetan cause and expound the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. And he has formulated a conciliatory “Middle Way Approach” to resolving the Sino-Tibetan conflict that respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity even as it seeks to preserve Tibet’s culture, religion and identity. These accomplishments, and the Dalai Lama’s infectious laugh and warmth, explain why he is such a beloved and respected figure throughout the world.
As joyful as the occasion of his 80th birthday is, however, it comes at a grim time for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan freedom movement. The Chinese government has broken off negotiations on Tibet’s status, accusing the Dalai Lama of deceitfully trying to split China and of inciting the 2008 Lhasa uprising, charges that are offensive in addition to being entirely untrue. In April, it issued a white paper saying that talks would not be reopened until the Dalai Lama acknowledged that “Tibet has been an integral part of China since antiquity,” something he cannot agree to since it is contradicted by the historical record and overlooks the fact that Communist China invaded Tibet and illegally annexed it in 1959.
Having rejected compromise and dialogue as the way to end Tibetan resistance to its rule, the Chinese government has opted for harsh repression, forced assimilation and the systematic effort to destroy the Tibetan religion, language and distinct national identity. Tibet has been flooded with Han Chinese settlers; monasteries have been placed under direct government controlwriters have been arrested and tortured; and more than 2 million nomads have been forcibly resettled in urban areas, destroying their traditional way of life and disrupting the fragile ecosystem of the Tibet Plateau.
In response to these and other harsh measures, which the Dalai Lama has called “cultural genocide,” more than 140 Tibetans have immolated themselves in desperate protest against Chinese oppression. This further enraged the regime, which called upon local security forces to “smash disorder, in order to maintain general harmony and stability.” But as 29 dissident Chinese intellectuals said in a call for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “A country that wishes to avoid the partition of its territory must first avoid divisions among its nationalities.”With the Dalai Lama turning 80, a contest is already developing over his succession. In Tibetan Buddhism, reincarnation is a fundamental tenet, and only the Dalai Lama has the authority to choose whether and through whom he will reincarnate. Yet Beijing has already approved guidelines giving the communist government control of the process. This contest takes place against the background of Chinese authorities having kidnapped in 1995 the 6-year-old boy identified by the Dalai Lama as the incarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and replaced him with another boy.
The fact that the Chinese-imposed Panchen Lama continues to be categorically rejected by Tibetans should indicate how inflammatory it would be if Beijing tried to impose its choice for the next Dalai Lama. But that’s exactly what it intends to do, except that the Dalai Lama has hinted that he might not reincarnate at all. Zhu Weiqun, a top Communist Party official dealing with Tibet, angrily called the Dalai Lama’s statement “a betrayal” of Tibetan Buddhism and accused him of taking “a frivolous attitude toward his own succession.” Such shameless impudence by a spokesman for an atheistic party would be laughable were his words not the official policy of the Chinese government.
The Dalai Lama has said that he will consult with the high Lamas of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as with the Tibetan public and other concerned people, before taking a decision on “whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not.” These words reflect a spirit of democratic inclusiveness that has characterized his leadership, including his decision to devolve political authority to a democratically elected exile government.
It is ironic that at a time of democratic malaise in the West, this “simple Buddhist monk,” as he calls himself, from a remote non-Western civilization has emerged as a fervent defender of democratic values and arguably the world’s leading exponent of nonviolence and religious freedom.
As we celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, let us remember the suffering of the Tibetan people and pray that it will come to an end.

Source Credit: The Washington Post

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another deadly earthquake spreads fear and misery in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) - A new earthquake killed dozens of people Tuesday and spread more fear and misery in Nepal, which is still struggling to recover from a devastating quake nearly three weeks ago that left more than 8,000 dead.
The magnitude-7.3 quake, centered midway between Kathmandu and Mount Everest, struck hardest in the foothills of the Himalayas, triggering some landslides, but it also shook the capital badly, sending thousands of terrified people into the streets.
Nepal's Parliament was in session when the quake hit, and frightened lawmakers ran for the exits as the building shook and the lights flickered out.
At least 37 people were killed in the quake and more than 1,100 were injured, according to the Home Ministry. But that toll was expected to rise as reports began reaching Kathmandu of people in isolated Himalayan towns and villages being buried under rubble, according to the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Tremors radiated across parts of Asia. In neighboring India, at least 16 people were confirmed dead after rooftops or walls collapsed onto them, according to India's Home Ministry. Chinese media reported one death in Tibet.
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit April 25 killed more than 8,150 and flattened entire villages, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in the country's worst-recorded quake since 1934. The U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday's earthquake was the largest aftershock to date of that destructive quake.
Tuesday's temblor was deeper, however, coming from a depth of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles) versus the earlier one at 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.
At least three people were rescued Tuesday in Kathmandu, while another nine pulled to safety in the district of Dolkha, the government said.
Rescue helicopters were sent to mountain districts where landslides and collapsed buildings may have buried people, the government said. Home Ministry official Laxmi Dhakal said the Sindhupalchowk and Dolkha districts were the worst hit.
Search parties fanned out to look for survivors in the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Sindhupalchowk's town of Chautara, which had become a hub for humanitarian aid after last month's quake.
Impoverished Nepal appealed for billions of dollars in aid from foreign nations, as well as medical experts to treat the wounded and helicopters to ferry food and temporary shelters to hundreds of thousands left homeless amid unseasonal rains.
Tuesday's quake was followed closely by at least 10 strong aftershocks, according to the USGS.
Early reports indicated at least two buildings had collapsed in Kathmandu, though at least one had been unoccupied due to damage it sustained on April 25. Experts say the earlier quake caused extensive structural damage even in buildings that did not topple, and that many could be in danger of collapse.
Frightened residents in the capital, who had returned to their homes only a few days ago, once again set up tents Tuesday night with plans to sleep in empty fields, parking lots and on sidewalks.
"Everyone was saying the earthquakes are over. ... Now I don't want to believe anyone," said 40-year-old produce vendor Ram Hari Sah as he searched for a spot to pitch the orange tarpaulin to shelter his family. "We are all scared, we are terrified. I would rather deal with mosquitoes and the rain than sleep in the house."
Extra police were sent to patrol ad-hoc camping areas, while drinking water and extra tents were being provided, according to Kathmandu administrator Ek Narayan Aryal.
"I thought I was going to die this time," said Sulav Singh, who rushed with his daughter into a street in the suburban neighborhood of Thapathali. "Things were just getting back to normal, and we get this one."
Paul Dillon, a spokesman with the International Organization for Migration, said he saw a man in Kathmandu who had apparently run from the shower with shampoo covering his head. "He was sitting on the ground, crying," Dillon said.
Meanwhile, new landslides blocked mountain roads in the district of Gorkha, one of the regions hit hardest on April 25, while previously damaged buildings collapsed with the latest quake.
Residents of the small town of Namche Bazaar, about 50 kilometers (35 miles) from the epicenter of Tuesday's quake and a well-known spot for high-altitude trekkers, said a couple of buildings damaged earlier had collapsed there as well. However, there were no reports of deaths or injuries in the town.
The earth also shook strongly across the border in Tibet, unleashing a landslide that killed one person and injured three, according to China Central Television. Two houses also collapsed, the state broadcaster said, quoting disaster relief headquarters of the regional Tibetan government.
Source Credit: Associated Press

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dalai Lama calls China's leadership ‘realistic,’ says open to renewed talks

GIFU--Even though he is forced to live in exile, the Dalai Lama had words of praise for China’s current leadership and its aggressive attempts at reform, and said he is willing to continue dialogue with Beijing on autonomy.
“Today’s China, compared with (that of) a few years ago, (has) changed much under the leadership of Xi Jinping,” the 14th Dalai Lama told The Asahi Shimbun in an interview here on April 8. “They are seriously struggling (to tackle) corruption.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader, who began his visit to Japan on April 2, described the Xi administration as being “more realistic” than past Chinese governments, and said he would keep a close watch on Beijing’s reaction to his offer to resume talks.
The Dalai Lama is scheduled to lecture on Buddhist teachings in Tokyo on April 12 and 13, which will be aired live at movie theaters across Japan.
While official dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s envoys ground to a halt in 2010, the Tibetan leader said Tibet will not seek independence. He said he is prepared to reopen talks at any time with the Chinese government.
“Contact (with Beijing) is still there,” the Dalai Lama said. “We will see, for our part, no change. (We are) still fully committed to the ‘middle way’ approach.”
“Hard-liners still accuse (us) of being separatists, (though we are) actually not. The whole world knows we are not seeking independence,” he said. “Some moderate leaders are quite keen to find some mutually good solution.”
With regard to the selection of his successor, the Dalai Lama stressed the decision should be left “up to the Tibetan people.”
He added that he discussed the issue with Tibet’s Buddhist leaders several years ago.
“My physical condition is quite good. Some even say--I (will be) 80 (in July)--I may live another 20 years,” he said. “We (will) discuss the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama (further), then finalize it when my age reaches around 90.”
His remarks were in response to concerns among some Tibetans that a failure to select his successor may deal a blow to the campaign for autonomy.
Source Credit: The Asahi Shimbun

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

China raises hopes of deal to end Dalai Lama’s exile from Tibet

THE ice may be thawing on the “roof of the world”, as signs show China is inching closer towards an agreement with the Dalai Lama that could allow him to ­return to Tibet after more than half a century in exile.
A Chinese official has said talks are in progress, while Beijing censors have permitted the publication of an article describing the outlines of a deal between the ­Tibetan spiritual leader and President Xi Jinping.
A deal on Tibet would be a huge prize for Mr Xi and ease tensions between China and India, whose troops have just ended a dangerous stand-off in the Tibetan border region. The talks envisage a pilgrimage by the Dalai Lama to a Buddhist shrine in China, meetings with Chinese leaders and an eventual return.
The first clue of a thaw came last month when Wu Yingjie, deputy secretary of the Communist Party in Tibet, disclosed that talks were under way with an envoy of the Dalai Lama and were “going smoothly”. Mr Wu also said, however, that the Dalai Lama must accept Tibet was part of China and stop “separatist activ­ities”.
The message seemed to get through. On August 27, the Dalai Lama, at a conference in Germany on “finding common ground”, said he no longer used the term “government in exile”.
Asked about visiting China, he said: “I’ve always wanted to visit Wu Tai Shan” — a sacred Budd­hist mountain in northern China.
He said contacts “were increasing” and quoted Mr Xi as saying Buddhism had an important role to play in reviving Chin­ese culture. Days later, he said he was “very optimistic” about returning, and last Thursday he called Mr Xi “more realistic, more open-minded” than others.
The Dalai Lama, now 79, stayed in Lhasa after the Chinese invasion in 1950 and negotiated with many Communist leaders, including Mr Xi’s father, Xi Zhongcun, who the Dalai Lama said was “very friendly”.
However, he fled to India in 1959 after a Tibetan uprising was crushed. Since then he has been a symbol of peaceful reconciliation and a hate figure in Chinese propaganda — he is called “a devil, a liar and a splittist”.
So it was a surprise when, on September 17, Chinese censors let an article on the talks appear for a day on Sina.com, a popular website. Quoting “informed sources”, it said the Dalai Lama “may return as a pilgrim visiting Wu Tai Shan” and would be met by senior figures from Beijing.
Such a deal, it said, would “instantly destroy” the radical Tibetan administration in exile and rob the West of “a pretext to attack China”, adding: “This would be a chance for Secretary Xi to rack up many victories with one move.”


Source Credit: The Sunday Times via The Australian

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

China's new rail line lures tourists, workers to Tibet

BEIJING — Travelers in the Himalayas can now bypass some of Tibet's hazardous roads by using a new railway line that has renewed fears about Tibet's cultural identity and deepened concerns about China's ambitions in the strategic, high-altitude region.
Passenger services started Saturday on the railroad's just opened $2 billion extension line from Lhasa, Tibet's capital, to Shigatse, Tibet's second -largest city, and a major pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists.
The new rail line, which follows the completion of the Beijing-Lhasa line in 2006, connects the two cities in just two hours, compared with a five-to-seven-hour road trip on National Highway 318, "which is said to have many safety hazards," the state-runChina Daily newspaper said.


Indeed, on Monday, at least three passengers on a tour bus were killed and another 15 were missing after their bus plunged into a river southeast of Tibet, Chinese state media reported. The accident followed a similar tragedy nine days earlier, when 44 Chinese tourists died after their bus crashed off a cliff in southern Tibet. Monday's accident occurred on Highway 318, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Source Credit: USA Today

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay Launches Middle Way Approach Campaign

DHARAMSALA, INDIA, JUNE 5, 2014: THE Central Tibetan Administration’s leader, or Sikyong, today unveiled the administration’s most concerted effort to date to bring about basic freedom for Tibetan people.
 
Four years after talks reached a stalemate in 2010 and following the self-immolation of 130 Tibetans since 2009, Dr. Lobsang Sangay said the Middle Way Approach Campaign would help people across the globe understand exactly what the Tibetan people were calling for – genuine autonomy.
 
“The Middle Way Approach information materials – including an interactive website, short documentary video, Social Media campaign, timeline of the Tibetan struggle and FAQs – many of them available in 7 languages including Chinese – will make it very easy for people around the world to understand exactly what the Tibetan administration is proposing in terms of genuine autonomy within China,” Dr. Sangay said.
 
“With the Middle Way Approach Campaign, we are trying to engage the international community – young people, diplomats, media, people from all walks of life across different nations — to counter the Chinese Government’s misinformation campaign about the policy.
 
“By visiting our website (www.middlewayapproach.org OR www.tibet.net/mwa) they will learn the exact nature and intent of the policy, and then by clicking on through to such forums as our UMAYLAM page on Facebook and making a ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ they can show their support for the Middle Way.”
 
The Middle Way Approach is already supported by international leaders including US President Barack Obama and many Chinese intellectuals, such as imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo. The name, the Middle Way, refers to ‘the middle way’ between repression and separation. 
 
Dr. Sangay said the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) had spent the past year creating a set of documents and multimedia materials that would make it clear how long His Holiness and the Tibetan administration had stuck firm to this policy, about its impact to date and its intentions for the future.
 
During an auspicious inauguration ceremony today, the Sikyong presented His Holiness the Dalai Lama – who has devolved his political responsibilities to the elected leader – with the information package.
 
He said that His Holiness and the then-Tibetan administration formulated the “Middle Away Approach” policy in 1974 as a realistic option to solve the issue of Tibet.  This foresight of His Holiness was affirmed in 1979 when Chinese paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, stated that, “apart from independence, all issues can be discussed” and offered talks with His Holiness.
 
His Holiness presented the Middle Way Approach to the Chinese leader, and a long period of contact and discussions between Dharamsala and Beijing resulted.
 
“Since this time, there have been 9 Rounds of Talks, four fact-finding delegations to Tibet and regular visits by Tibetans to the Tibetan regions,” Dr. Sangay said
 
“We are calling on the people of the world – young and old – to join the UMAYLAM: Middle Way Approach Campaign and help secure the future of the Tibetan people.”
There are 6 million Tibetans in Tibet, and another 150,000 around the world.
Credit Source: Tibet.net