‘I was criminalized for expressing my views’: Writer Tashi Rabten in a recent interview a year after release from prison

Tashi Rabten aka Theurang

Tashi Rabten aka Theurang

Tashi Rabten is a Tibetan writer, poet and editor in the Tibetan province of Amdo, present-day Sichuan Province. He was released last year in March after serving a four-year sentence at Mianyang Prison in Sichuan. He was a student at the North-West University for Nationalities and edited the now-banned Tibetan language journal Shar Dungri (‘Eastern Conch Mountain’) and also published Trag-yig (‘Written in Blood’), a compilation of his poems, notes and writings on the situation in Tibet following the 2008 protests.

In a recent conversation that is being circulated on various social media sites, Tashi Rabten talks about his experiences as a university student and political prisoner expressing his newfound faith in the power of poetry. [Read more…]

Monk detained and disappeared for keeping banned contents on mobile app

Lobsang Dawa

Lobsang Dawa

Chinese authorities are holding Lobsang Dawa, 38, a monk from Tsenden Monastery, at an undisclosed location because he is believed to have kept banned contents on his mobile messaging service in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

According to exile Tibetan media sources, Lobsang Dawa was detained on the night of 20 March from his monastic quarter and taken into police custody without any explanation. The monk’s whereabouts remains unknown. [Read more…]

Disappeared monk and thangka artist found secretly detained

Ngawang Gyaltsen was found detained after he was disappeared for a month.

Ngawang Gyaltsen was found detained after he was disappeared for a month.

Ngawang Gyaltsen, 41, a monk and accomplished thangka artist has been found secretly detained at a detention centre in Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Local Chinese police detained Ngawang Gyaltsen on 24 February this year without the knowledge of his family members who thought he had disappeared. Sustained efforts by local Tibetans in the area led to the revelation that the monk has been in police custody since his detention in Nagchu area.

No one knows the exact reason behind the monk’s detention. [Read more…]

Monk released from prison after 15 years as crackdown continues on his monastery

Ngawang Gyurmey in a photo taken soon after his release from prison

Ngawang Gyurmey in a photo taken soon after his release from prison

As Tsenden Monastery reels under a severe crackdown with the number of cases of arbitrary detention peaking since 2013, a former monk of the monastery has been released after completing a 15-year prison sentence in Sog (Ch: Suo) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

On 20 March this year, Ngawang Gyurmey, a well-known monk from the embattled Tsenden Monastery was released at about 1.30 pm (local time) after he had served a fixed prison term of 15 years in Chushur Prison in the outskirts of Lhasa city.

Family members of Ngawang Gyurmey are worried that he may not survive long due to poor health. They fear he will meet the same fate as Tenzin Choewang a fellow monk who was released but died after being bedridden for three years due to beatings and torture suffered in prison. Another monk Yeshi Tenzin had also died after three months of his release. Both were arrested with Ngawang Gyurmey in March 2000. [Read more…]

China detains seven Tibetan monks on uprising anniversary

Namgyal Tsultrim, a monk at Tsenden Monastery, has been detained for the third time since 2011.

Namgyal Tsultrim, a monk at Tsenden Monastery, has been detained for the third time since 2011.

Chinese police detained seven Tibetan monks from Tsenden Monastery in Sog (Ch: Suo) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The monks were detained on 14 March, which coincided with the 2008 uprising anniversary when Tibetans protested against the Chinese government in Lhasa igniting widespread demonstrations in many parts of Tibet, according to information received by TCHRD.

The detained monks are identified as Namgyal Tsultrim, Lodoe Tenzin, Tsultrim Gojhey, Tsultrim Namgyal, Thabkey Lhundup, Jigme Tsultrim, and Jigme Drakpa. The police gave no reason for their detention. However, local Tibetans suspect that the monks were detained for sharing information and images related to incidents in Tibet. As of now, information regarding their condition, location of their detention and actual reason for their detention remain unknown. [Read more…]

TCHRD puts the spotlight on Tibet at ongoing UNHRC session in Geneva

Photo: OHCHR

Photo: OHCHR

From 9-13 March, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) had a team of two researchers at regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). Mr. Tenzin Nyinjey and Mr. John Gaudette, two senior researchers of the TCHRD participated at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council in Geneva under the name of International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). This is the second consecutive HRC regular session that TCHRD has sent a team to. At the previous session in September 2014, TCHRD’s Executive Director, Ms. Tsering Tsomo, raised the situation in Tibet.

This year the TCHRD team built upon the work from September 2014. TCHRD’s team met with assistants for the Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the right to health, and the right to education. TCHRD also met with a representative from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). At all of these meetings TCHRD gave briefings on the situation in Tibet and provided digital and paper copies of TCHRD’s 2014 Annual Report and special reports on the right to health and the right to education. During the meetings the representatives of the Special Rapporteurs and the OHCHR said they would act on the situation in Tibet as permitted by the limits of their respective mandates. TCHRD also participated in a panel discussion with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief on Friday. [Read more…]

TCHRD highlights human rights violations in Tibet at ongoing UNHRC session

TCHRD’s senior researcher John Gaudette along with Professor Heiner Bielefeld, Derek Brett, and Dr Ojot Miru Ojulu at the side event organised by IFOR in Geneva.

Every year the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has three regular sessions. The session in March is usually the most important. The March session is attended by top government officials and more NGOs than the other sessions. To accommodate the large number of officials and participants, the March session is one week longer than the other regular sessions.

This year the March session began on 2 March and will last until 27 March. Given the ongoing and serious human rights violations in Tibet, TCHRD took the opportunity to send two senior researchers to the UNHRC to discuss the situation in Tibet. On Friday 13 March, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) organized a side event on religious repression in East Asia. John Gaudette, a senior researcher at TCHRD, participated in the event as a panelist. The other panelists included the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom and Belief Professor Heiner Bielefeld and Derek Brett, IFOR’s representative to the UN in Geneva. The event was moderated by Dr Ojot Miru Ojulu from the Lutheran World Federation. [Read more…]

Tibetan mother dies in self-immolation protest: Body quickly cremated for fear of seizure by police

Norchug died of self-immolation protest in Ngaba County

Norchug died of self-immolation protest in Ngaba County

A mother of three died of self-immolation protest and was cremated in rush for fear of the body’s seizure by local Chinese police in Tibet.

Norchug, 47, set herself alight in protest and died on the evening of 5 March which coincided with Chotrul Duechen (Butter Lamp Festival), one of the four Tibetan Buddhist festivals commemorating the events in the life of the Buddha, a source with contacts in Tibet informed TCHRD.

“Norchug staged the peaceful protest of self-immolation against repressive policies of the Chinese government and to call for religious and political freedoms for Tibetan people,” the source told TCHRD. [Read more…]

TCHRD report documents crisis of maternal and child health in Tibet

Health Cover- 1On 4 March 2015 the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) released a special report on the right to health, entitled In the Shadow of Development: Maternal and Child Health in Crisis in Tibet. The report documents how a failing system of public healthcare has permitted extremely poor maternal and child health to persist in Tibet, despite drastic improvements in conditions in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The report reveals that rural-living Tibetan women and children bear some of the highest risks in the PRC for birth-related illness and death, and finds that maternal and child health in Tibet is the worst in the PRC by a wide margin. In the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in 2009, maternal and infant mortality were the highest in the PRC, 8 and 2.7 times higher than the national average, respectively. Severe child malnutrition, at 3.6%, was over twice as high. Life expectancy in the TAR was 8.5 years shorter than average and the lowest in the PRC. [Read more…]

South Africa should stand with Dalai Lama and Tibetan political prisoners

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's meeting with Mandela in 1996 in South Africa.  (Photo: ANC Archives)

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Mandela in 1996 in South Africa. (Photo: ANC Archives)

On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Vester Prison. He spent 27 years in prison. Initially, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison for leaving South Africa without a passport and inciting people to go on strike. He left South Africa to attend the Conference of the Pan-African Movement for East and Central Africa, he did not apply for a passport because he knew he would not be granted one by Apartheid South Africa. He later received a life sentence for sabotage.  [Read more…]