News Roundup: June-October 2018

RELIGION

Ruling Prohibits Families from Engaging in Religious Activity during Important Buddhist Festival (May-October)

Local authorities in Chamdo, a major city on the eastern Tibetan region of Kham, have circulated an order prohibiting families from engaging in any of the religious and devotional practices associated with the holy Buddhist festival of Saga Dawa, which began yesterday (ICT, May 16).

A notice to parents of children at the Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) City #2 Municipal Kindergarten stated that “in order to advance their ideological education” children should not be taken to monasteries or religious events, and that parents should also not attend those events themselves. In a reminder of the stringent powers of the security state, the notice warned that: “The higher authorities will be covertly watching, and those who break regulations will be dealt with”.

“China’s ban on religious activities for schoolchildren in Tibet grossly violates international human rights law—as well as China’s own legal requirements—and must immediately be put to an end”, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said today. The report does not state how students and families who breach the agreement would be punished.[1]

China’s news agency Global Times quoted experts ‘saying that the education law separates education from religious influences.’ “We have sent notices to both students and their parents, and have had students sign an agreement that they will not take part in any form of religious activity during the summer vacation,” Choephel, the head of the political education department at Lhasa Middle School, told the Global Times on Monday.[2]

China Forces Young Tibetan Monks From Their Monasteries (July)

Chinese authorities in a Tibetan-populated region of Sichuan are forcing Buddhist monks aged 15 and under to leave their monasteries, placing them instead in government-run schools, Tibetan sources say. One justification given by the Chinese authorities was that children are not old enough to make the decision to commit themselves to life in a monastery.

Dalai Lama Meets in the Netherlands With Sex Abuse Victims (September)

Ongoing allegations of sexual abuse against Tibetan Buddhist figures including Sogyal Rinpoche and others based in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria have been brought to the fore recently. Four Western Buddhists, representing a group of 12 who had petitioned the Dalai Lama earlier in the week for the meeting, presented the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader with accounts of the abuse members of the group said they had suffered and asked him to take action to address their concerns.

 

DIPLOMACY

chisur-sonam-tsering-frasiSonam Tsering Frasi appointed as new Office of Tibet Representative (August)

Dharamsala: A former member of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and current member of Tibetan Task Force, Sonam Tsering Frasi has been appointed as the new Representative for Office of Tibet, London. He will take charge from 1 October 2018, a release from the Kashag secretariat said. He will take over from Representative Chonpel Tsering.

US House passes Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act (September)

Washington, DC: In a major development on the status of Tibet and US-China relations, the US House of Representatives passed the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, a bipartisan bill that promotes [US] access to Tibetan areas by denying Chinese government officials access to the United States if they are responsible for creating or administering restrictions on United States officials, journalists and other citizens seeking to travel to Tibet. “Today is a great day for human rights,” said Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass), who introduced the legislation alongside Representative Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.). “The United States must continue to stand squarely for human rights and speak openly against China’s human rights violations in Tibet.”

Tibet’s Cause At the Heart of UK Parliamentarians (September)

Dharamshala: Three members of UK Parliament delegation consisting Rt Hon Timothy Loughton, MP, Conservative Party, Hon Chris Law, MP, Scottish National Party and Hon Kerry McCarthy, MP, Labour Party visited Dharamshala on 26 September.

Tibetan National Team to Compete in CONIFA Paddy Power World Football Cup 2018 Tournament (May)

During global hype for the FIFA World Cup, the Tibetan Men’s National Football Team participated in the less-recognised CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) Paddy Power World Football Cup 2018 tournament in Somalia.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Urgent Appeal to Support Flood Relief Efforts in Kullu-Manali (October)

Tibetan Refugee settlements in Kullu Manali, Himachal Pradesh [were] hit by severe flash flood on 23rd September 2018. The three affected places are Dobhi, 15 Mile and Kullu settlements. The local police and fire forces had rendered immediate help to the Tibetan families to evict their homes and move towards make-shift shelters in the nearby paddy field. […] Primary damages included sewerage problems such as blocked bathroom, drainages and septic tanks. The flood water has reached the wall of the houses in 15 Mile and Kullu settlements and damaged the wall and check dams there.

Over 24,600 evacuated after landslide (October)

More than 24,600 people have been evacuated after a landslide blocked the Jinsha River – the upper reaches of the Yangtze – in the border area of Sichuan province and the Tibet autonomous region, authorities said. More than 13,600 people in affected areas in Tibet [were] evacuated. The rising water also caused the collapse of some houses in the region. About 11,000 people from neighboring Sichuan were also evacuated, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

China to build three more airports in TAR’s border region (June)

DHARAMSHALA, June 11: China will begin building three more airports in occupied Tibet’s Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) near the border region neighboring India, Nepal and Bhutan by 2019, Chinese state media, Global Times said on Sunday.

The three new airports will be built in southern Tibet’s Lhoka, Xigaze and Ngari region in TAR adding to the already five operational airports there. The project is among the five civil aviation development plans in Tibet under the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-20) with budgets estimated at 16.7 billion yuan ($ 2.6 billion).

China Set To Build “World’s Most Challenging” Railway Line In Occupied-Tibet (October)[13]

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 12: China is set to begin work on a new railway line in occupied-Tibet, dubbed the “world’s most challenging” railway line. President Xi Jinping on Wednesday announced the “full launch” of the planning and construction work of the ambitious Sichuan-Tibet railway line in Beijing.

Tibetan Nomads Appeal For Return of Land Seized For Tourist Project (May)

Around sixty nomad families living in Tibet’s Nyemo county are appealing the loss of grazing land seized by Chinese authorities for future use as a tourist zone, Tibetan sources say. The land, which has supported residents of Marthang township’s Lhadul village in Nyemo, an area west of Lhasa city, had already been fenced off in a scheme to promote farming that had yielded no crops, a local Tibetan told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

30 Tibetans Detained For Mining Protest, One Missing (May)

DHARAMSHALA, MAY 15: The Chinese authorities of Driru County in Nagchu Prefecture have arrested 30 Tibetans with one reported missing following opposition to a mining project by local Tibetans from Markor, Wathang and Gochu in Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture, in eastern Tibet, on April 2, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Mining project at Sebtra Zagyen, a sacred mountain overlooking several villages located in Shakchu (Ch: Shaqu) Town faced vehement opposition from local Tibetans from Markor, Wathang and Gochu.

 

Collated By: Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research, October 2018

 

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