Agam's Gecko
Friday, April 04, 2008
Labrang water festival
Monks spray sacred water over Buddhist believers at the large Labrang Monastery, (Ch: Gansu province) during a festival on April 4, 2008. (The Thai water festival begins here next weekend for those interested.)
Photo: AP / Ng Han Guan

he people of Tibet are continuing to express their aspirations and solidarity -- despite the punishments, indoctrination sessions, and other forms of mistreatment they risk in doing so.

The latest current update from the exile Tibetan Government has much current information on the huge military deployments and mandatory forced "patriotic" re-education sessions in many areas. In some areas, people are reportedly being prohibited from leaving their counties (on punishment of losing household, land and agricultural benefits from the government).

Yet peaceful protests are reported from as recently as April 2, including the participation of monks, laypeople and school students. Postering campaigns are reported in several counties, as well as continuing resistance to the re-education sessions, which has resulted in further arrests.

TCHRD has been sent first-hand accounts and photos from a peaceful solidarity march in Holkha Township, Tsolho "TAP" (Ch: Qinghai province) on March 25. A prayer session for those who lost their lives in the recent demonstrations of Tibetan unity, was also included in the program last week. Tibetans marched through the main market square of the town, calling for an immediate end to the brutal crackdown.
In an unique display of their support for those who have lost their lives and were injured in recent protests, many marchers were seen carrying traditional prayer wheels in their hands while reciting prayers (Mani Mantra) and others holding a huge banner bearing text written in Tibetan and Chinese, that reads: Peace, Democracy. We mourn and pray (mani mantra) for our people who lost their lives. The marchers finally ended their procession at the Holkha Township government headquarters where they held a sit-in protest and recited prayer throughout the day. Although PAP and PSB officials were seen in their combat gear during the entire peaceful solidarity march, there was no report of arrest or detention of Tibetan marchers that day.
But three Tibetans were arbitrarily arrested in early morning raids on their homes after the event. Official public notices went out, demanding the "illegal" protesters to surrender by a deadline, or face severe punishment.
According to sources, following their arrest in the early morning raid on 26 March, more than 600 Tibetans from nine villages under Holkha Township staged a peaceful sit-in protest in front of Township government headquarters demanding immediate release of those arrested. The protesters sat for the entire day demanding the authorities to heed their demand. After a daylong protest, the protesting crowd finally dispersed after township authorities agreed to secure their releases. The sources confirmed that protesters pledge to undertake a similar protest at the government headquarters if authorities fail to deliver their promise.
No protest was reported in Holkha township on March 27, yet the market was beseiged by hundreds of additional PAP and PSB personnel in military trucks.
Later that day, four people, Malle and Tsekyab Gyal both male in their late 20's from Holkha Township and two Tibetan businesswomen from other parts of Tibet were arrested by the security forces for unknown reason. There is no information on the location of their detention. The present atmosphere in Holkha Township is known to be very tense with heavy presence of military forces.
See the photos of this event at the link above, including some banners written in Tibetan and Chinese, with their English translations.

ICT carries the comments of the courageous Jokhang monks, given during their unauthorized press briefing last week, translated into English.

Lodi Gyari, Dalai Lama's senior envoy during the six years of intermittent discussions with PRC authorities since 2002, has testified before a US congressional hearing, calling on China to cancel the "provocative and very insulting" move to carry the Olympic torch through Tibet.
He said the International Olympic Committee, if they wanted the games to be successful, "should tell China, 'Look that stretch of relay through Tibet needs to be cancelled.'

"Under the present circumstances, it would be really very insulting to the sentiment of the Tibetan people," said Gyari, who had led the Dalai Lama's delegation in six rounds of talks so far with the Chinese authorities to press for "meaningful autonomy" in Tibet.
He told the committee members that the responsibility for the current crisis is China's alone.
"What is happening in Tibet, the Chinese government must bear full responsibility. At every meeting in the last six years I told the Chinese, 'Please, you are pushing our people to the limits. If you continue pushing this policy, an unfortunate situation can happen."

"But they did not listen," Gyari said, accusing Beijing of "marginalization of the people Tibet" even though it was supposed to [be] an autonomous region.

"Tibet has become, particularly in the last few weeks, in every sense, an occupied province, brutally occupied" by the Chinese military, he said. "The Chinese communist party is running our monasteries."
Mr. Gyari called for the United States to press Beijing to allow a permanent US diplomatic mission in Lhasa, as required by US law. He called upon senior lawmakers to make an "urgent visit" to Tibet, saying, "The situation today is grim."
Gyari also expressed disappointment in the United Nations, saying China's powerful influence, as a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, was causing the U.N. to "shut its eye on Tibet."
Congress is beginning to kick into gear on this bi-partisan issue.
Republican Rep. Chris Smith, a frequent critic of China's human rights, compared the Beijing Olympics to Adolph Hitler's 1936 games in Berlin. He called on international aid groups to be allowed to visit Tibetan prisoners, who he said he feared would be tortured by Chinese officials.

Also Thursday, a group of 27 senators said they have sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging direct talks with the Dalai Lama.
Having Boxer and Brownback on the same side of an issue is indicative of the broad support Tibetans have from across the spectrum.

China has announced that Tibet (the TAR region only) will re-open to foreign tourists on May 1, and that over a thousand detainees will be tried in courts before that date. They wish to close the book on all this well before their big party in August.
Trials for rioters will held before May 1, Lhasa's deputy Communist Party secretary was quoted as saying in the state-run Tibet Commerce newspaper. Wang Xiangming said about 1,280 alleged rioters have been captured or turned themselves in to police.
But what sort of treatment will Tibetans receive, either before trial or after conviction? Imagine the worst and you won't go too far wrong. It's good that John Kamm's Dui Hua Foundation is getting involved. He's had more (limited) success in coaxing political prisoner releases than anyone else I know of.
Rights groups have voiced concerns over the potential abuse of prisoners, and American activist John Kamm said he had submitted a list of 17 Tibetan monks who were detained on March 10 at the start of peaceful protests that turned violent four days later. The protests have been the largest and most sustained among Tibetans in almost two decades.

Kamm, executive director of the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, said China appears determined to defy international criticism over its Tibet policies, even though some officials seem to realize the country's reputation has suffered in the run-up to the Games.

"What gives me some hope is that there's some recognition that China's international image has taken a beating," Kamm told reporters in Beijing.
An optimistic note, I hope it's true. The following quote from the story is included here just for its sheer oxymoronishness. An official from the county where the Ngaba Kirti massacre took place:
At a news conference in Beijing, Aba's deputy chief Xiao Youcai, said life was "completely normal" in the area, but insisted also that it remained "too dangerous" for foreign journalists.
In another optimistic sign, a group of lawyers in China are offering their legal assistance to the Tibetan detainees, for which the Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) has offered genuine thanks.
"We are heartened and inspired to learn that a group of Chinese lawyers based in Mainland China have offered their legal assistance to Tibetan arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned by Chinese authorities following the peaceful protests starting March 10, 2008 in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas." the Cabinet stated.
The Chinese lawyers have called for their government to "obey the constitution" -- in other words, follow proper legal procedures as laid out in law.
"The Kashag would like to thank all those Chinese lawyers who have taken upon themselves to protect the legal rights of the Tibetans as well as Chinese people and have come forward to save the arrested Tibetans from the onslaught of a regime bent on curbing the fundamental rights of its own people to have a fair and just legal representation."
In Nepal, where the police force and governmental authorities have been so willing to do China's bidding, and in such a brutal fashion as to convince some inattentive news organisations that they actually are Chinese, the security forces once again are adding threats of deportation to the beating and arresting regimen meted out to Tibetan demonstrators.

This is not exactly new; Nepali authorities have periodically rounded up refugees from Tibet over the years, driven them right up to the border, and handed them over to Chinese officials waiting there. These people are known to have gone directly to prison or re-education work camps, and are probably tortured. This is called refoulement in international law, and is a big no-no. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement on Tuesday, expressing concern for this as well as assaults (including sexual, on minors) against Tibetan detainees.
The threat of deportation constituted "a serious violation of Nepal’s international human rights obligations," the statement said. "China has been cited by the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for its abuses of political dissidents in China, and those who have been protesting Chinese rule in Tibet will almost certainly be treated as dissidents."
Wai to Hunter-Seeker for the tip. China also complained yesterday that Nepal was not being tough enough on the Tibetans.

Yet even with this kind of treatment at the hands of Nepali security apparatus, the Tibetan exiles there have suspended their protests against China's aggression, out of respect for Nepal's democratic process. The country is holding elections next week.
"We have called off our anti-China protest in Kathmandu in view of the upcoming elections in Nepal," Thupden Tenzing Jamphel, chairman of the Nepal Tibetan Volunteer Youth for Free Tibet group told AFP.
Tibetan actions will resume after the elections.

The Italian news agency AsiaNews receives clarification on the issue of Chinese soldiers dressing up as monks. The Tibetan Government received reports of at least 4 different PLA units which have engaged in this. That now-infamous photograph had nothing to do with it, but the reports just keep coming. Tsering Choedup, south Asia coordinator of the International Tibet Support Network in Dharamsala:
Choedup says that "it is not only a matter of a photo, eyewitnesses living in Lhasa have confirmed this for us. Through cell phones given to them by relatives here in India, they have confirmed for us that they have seen Chinese soldiers and security agents changing into monks' robes, and inciting the crowd. After the accusations of Wu Heping, we are afraid that Chinese might dress as Tibetans and carry out attacks".
Wu Heping is the PRC official who most recently charged that Tibetans are planning bombing attacks and suicide missions. The exile organisations, Tibetan Government and Dalai Lama have all strenuously denied the accusation, while China has provided no evidence for it at all.

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