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2011 News Digest PDF Print E-mail
News digest covering a variety of news items on or about Tibet.


Two Tibetan protesters shot in Kardze
[18 October] Two Tibetans were shot by Chinese security personnel on 16 October during a non-violent protest in Kardze, eastern Tibet. According to a report by Radio Free Asia, a group of Tibetans were appealing outside a local police station for the release of colleagues who had been detained the previous day. Following an argument between the authorities and the activists, security personnel opened fire on the crowd, injuring Goda and Drugal. The earlier protest had involved Tibetans from local villages who had shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom, the return of the Dalai Lama and the release of the Panchen Lama. Reports indicate that locals managed to take the two wounded Tibetans away, but their current condition and whereabouts are not known.
        The weeks leading up to the shootings had seen a string of events in Serthar indicating discontent over Chinese rule. These included the unfurling of a large portrait of the Dalai Lama on a building in the town, the raising of the banned Tibetan flag, and the posting of flyers demanding the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet outside Chinese government offices in the region.
Further reading: Radio Free Asia


Nepal detains 20 Tibetans crossing border
UPDATE 22 Sept - ALL RELEASED... read report
[14 September] A group of 20 young Tibetans were detained by Nepalese police in the district of Bajura on 11 September. The group escaped from Tibet by walking for 17 days and crossing the Humla Lumi valley. The group includes two children under the age of 16. According to reports, the group are being transferred to Kathamandu to be processed by the Nepalese Immigration Department. It is unclear whether they will then be handed over to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or will be deported back to Tibet, where they will likely face ill-treatment and imprisonment. The UNHCR assists Tibetan refugees and often guarantees safe passage to Dharamsala in northen India. Tibet Society has informed the British Foreign Office and asked they encourage the Nepalese authorities to hand the refugees over to the UNHCR. In recent years China has increased pressure on Nepal to return Tibetans caught fleeing from Tibet.
Further reading: Deccan Herald (Nepal)


China appoints new TAR Party Secretary
Chen Quanguo[30 August]
The Chinese government appointed Chen Quanguo as the new Party Secretary of the Tibetan Automous Region on 25 August, replacing Zhang Qingli. The position of Party Secretary is the highest political position in the region, akin to governor.
        Chen Quanguo (pictured right) is the former head of Hebei province and is a longtime party official. Chen is 55 years old, Han Chinese and a native of Henan province. It is not yet known if he will perservere with the hardline approach implemented by his predecessor. However, as a trained economist, his appointment indicates China's prioritisation of its long-term strategy to industralise the Tibetan plateau, by replacing the predominant rural and nomadic economies with urban-based industries.
        Zhang Qingli, known as a Communist Party hardliner, had been Party Secretary since May 2006 and oversaw the enforcement of harsh policies and crackdowns in the TAR, particularly following the 2008 protests that began in Lhasa and swept across all Tibetan regions. Zhang caused great offence to Tibetans with his regular and hostile rhetoric about the Dalai Lama, referring to him as "a wolf in monk's robes, a devil with a human face". Zhang has replaced Chen as Party Secretary of Hebei.
Further reading: AP (via CTV)ICT


Nepal stops Dalai Lama birthday celebrations
Nepalese police stop celebrations [8 July] The Nepalese authorities have banned Tibetans in Kathmandu from celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday in public. On 6 July, several hundred police in riot gear were deployed to prevent public celebrations in the Nepalese capital. Tibetans were told they could only celebrate the occasion in their homes. Police confiscated photos of the Dalai Lama and a banner hanging in the courtyard of Samten Ling monastery in the Boudha area of Kathmandu. Three Tibetans were detained for burning incense and and throwing tsampa (barley flour), both of which are traditional Tibetan celebrations. All three were later released. This incident continues a trend of the Nepalese government tightening restrictions on Tibetans and violating their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Further reading: ICT


Ai Wewei released on bail
Ai Weiwei[22 June] Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has been released on bail by the Chinese authorities. A statement by China's state-run news agengy, Xinhua, said Ai Weiwei had been released "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from".  However, it is likely Ai Weiwei, like many other activists who have been released, will be under strict supervision, possibly placed under house arrest or have restricted freedom of movement.
        Ai Weiwei, an outspoken citic of the Chinese government, was arrested on 3 April on charges of evading taxes, however the real reason for his detention is believed to be politically motivated. During his detention he was denied access to his lawyer and was only allowed one visit from his wife. Since February, the Chinese government has intensified its campaign of arbitrary arrests for those who speak out against the regime. Dozens of activists, writers, lawyers and artists across China have been detained or have disappeared. In Tibet, over 60 known such abitrary arrests have taken place since the protests in Spring 2008.
Further reading: BBC I statement from Human Rights Watch


China closes Tibet to foreigners until end of July
[14 June] The Chinese government has banned foreigners from travelling to Tibet. Media reports indicate that travel agents have already been instructed to stop issuing travel permits to foreigners and that the ban will last until the end of July. The travel restrictions do not apply to Chinese citizens. One source told Radio Free Asia that Tibetans without official permits have been told to leave Lhasa and return to their home towns. Though no official reason has been given, the ban comes just before the 90th anniversary of China's Communist Party on 1 July and before further expected official celebrations for the 60th anniversary of what the Chinese government refers to as the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. The Chinese authorities often close the borders to Tibet in advance of politically sensitive anniversaries, in an attempt to stop news of any protests and/or increased presence of security forces in Tibetan areas from reaching the outside world.
Further reading: RFA I BBC I Independent


Tibetan political prisoner dies within days of release
[30 May]
Jampa Pelsang died on 23 May just days after he was released from prison. Jampa, a monk from Gaden Monastery, had served 15 years in prison and had been subjected to brutal torture. He was in critical condition when he was released on 6 May and according to his family he failed to respond to medical treatment. Jampa was arrested in 1996 for leading a protest against a patriotic re-education campaign by local officials which also involved the removal of the Dalai Lama's picture from the monastery. The Chinese government sent in troops to quell the situation. The troops opened fire on the protestors injuring two monks. Many monks were arrested and received varying prison terms. Jampa is the third of the imprisoned monks known to have died. Tenzin Yeshi also died shortly after being released from prison and Lobsang Wangchuk was shot dead during the Drapchi prison protests in May 1998.
Further reading: CTA I TCHRD


Protests in Yushu over post-earthquake redevelopment
Protest in Yushu, April 2011 [11 April] Hundreds of Tibetans have protested in Yushu against the seizure of land and policies for redevelopment by the Chinese authorities. The protests took place
over a period of 3 days, from 1-3 April, in Jyekundo, the town devastated by the Yushu earthquake last year. The protests were violently broken up by security personnel, resulting in over 40 protestors being detained and an unknown number injured. The estimated 300 protesters held banners and signs with slogans, including "Fairly and legitimately resolve this issue, "Our land belongs to us," and "Help for the Yushu disaster area should put ordinary people's benefits first. This concerns people's lives. Reasonably plan the land of our lives." The earthquake struck the Jyekundo (aka Kyegundo) region (Chinese: Yushu county, Qinghai province) on 14 April 2010, killing over 2,600 people and destroying many of the regions monasteries.
Further reading: ICT I RFA


China confiscates Yushu earthquake documentary
[11 April] In March, Chinese Public Security Bureau officials seized thousands of DVD copies of a documentary about the Yushu earthquake relief efforts which praises "Tibetan unity", according to a report by Radio Free Asia. The film, entitled Hope in a Disaster, was produced by monks from the region. Government officials claim permission had not been obtained to distribute the film, but local Tibetans believe the confiscation from shops and residences was due to the film commending the unity of Tibetans from Tibets traditional three provinces in carrying out relief and rescue work in the aftermath of the earthquake. Though no arrests have been reported, the film-makers have been ordered not to leave the area. A restaurant that screened the film was fined.

Further reading: RFARFA video


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