Category Archives: Dalai Lama

“Kalon Tripa Accepts Resignations of Envoys”

A sad day for the hopes of a peaceful reconciliation between China and Tibetans:

Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Head of the Central Tibetan Administration, regretfully accepted the resignations of Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen. The resignations became effective June 1, 2012.

Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, assisted by Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, led the Tibetan team in nine rounds of talks with representatives of the Chinese government starting in 2002.

At the Task Force meeting on May 30-31, 2012 in Dharamsala, the envoys expressed their utter frustration over the lack of positive response from the Chinese side and submitted their resignations to the Kalon Tripa. “Given the deteriorating situation inside Tibet since 2008 leading to the increasing cases of self-immolations by Tibetans, we are compelled to submit our resignations. Furthermore, the United Front did not respond positively to the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People presented in 2008 and its Note in 2010. One of the key Chinese interlocutors in the dialogue process even advocated abrogation of minority status as stipulated in the Chinese constitution thereby seeming to remove the basis of autonomy. At this particular time, it is difficult to have substantive dialogue,” stated the two envoys in their resignation letter.

The Tibetan Task Force on Negotiations will be expanded and will meet again in December 2012 to discuss the Chinese leadership transition with the hope of continuing to dialogue with the new Chinese leaders to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully.

It seems like this is also a good point for everyone involved to stop and rethink what they’ve been doing. If Gyari couldn’t work with the Chinese despite having the backing of the Dalai Lama, will future envoys have any better luck? As much as Beijing hates the Dalai Lama, they at least acknowledge him as a legitimate Tibetan figure. They’ve never accorded as much to the Central Tibetan Administration, which is what the new envoys will be representing. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the Middle-Way Approach, or at least how they’re pursuing it.

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“Dalai Lama: national service”

The Dalai Lama was in London last week accepting the Templeton Prize, prompting this editorial in The Guardian:

The Chinese occupation of Tibet has been the most successful colonisation in the last 60 years. At a time when the old empires were everywhere in retreat, the Chinese army seized Tibet and held it. The occupiers are confident of their manifest destiny there. They are filling the country with Han immigrants. Tragically and horribly, some Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest over the past year since all other forms of rebellion have been crushed. Even the government in exile now calls only for “autonomy”, not independence, and they are most unlikely to be granted even that much. Yet for all that, it would be wrong to think that the Dalai Lama has failed.

Tibetan exile politics from a theocracy towards something very much like a proper democracy. He was reborn into a system where his legitimacy was based entirely on his “discovery” as a child and the status that this conferred in the religious system. Over the last 50 years he has patiently transformed it into a legitimacy based on the democratic aspirations of his people. This is almost unique among world religious leaders, and we might well wish that more of them would follow his example.

Dealt a poor hand, he has played it with extraordinary skill to keep alive the hopes of his exiled nation and keep it in front of the world’s troubled consciences.

In the process, he has established that Tibet is no longer merely a country, still less a region of China. It now seems more like a nation. The difference is that a country can be annihilated in a single battle or written out of existence in an afternoon at a conference table. Nations are very much harder to extinguish.

Tibetan nationalism has certainly become a real force over the last few decades, and even if the credit should properly be spread to a great many people and events, the Dalai Lama has played a definitive role.

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TibetWatch: March 7th

News broke yesterday of a third self-immolation in as many days (RFA):

The young man, identified as Dorje, 18, set himself ablaze at around 6:30 p.m. local time in a nomadic area of Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in China’s western Sichuan province, said Kanyag Tsering, an India-based Tibetan monk, citing contacts in the region.

“Prior to his self-immolation, he walked from a bridge near the Charuwa nomadic area in Ngaba to the local Chinese office center shouting slogans against Chinese policies in Tibet, and then set himself on fire,” Tsering said.

He died on the spot, Tsering said.

Meanwhile, a monk named Rigdzin Dorje, who set fire to himself in February, is now reported to have died.

Another monk, Lobsang Konchog, who self-immolated in September 2011, “is in serious condition following [the] amputation of his legs and arms. He is being fed through a tube in his throat, ” the India-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said in a statement.

The staff at the hospital physically abuse him and have labeled him an “enemy of the state,” said the CTA, expressing condolences to the families of the self-immolators.

Holly Williams, a correspondent for Sky News, is the latest foreign journalist to have penetrated the security cordons and report from Ngaba. Her video footage is incredible:

http://video.sky.com/embed/external/16183071

Finally for today we have a WSJ op-ed from Thubten Jinpa, best known for being the main English translator of the Dalai Lama but in reality a genuine Tibet scholar in his own right:

So far, Beijing’s response has been simple: censor the news, label the protesters terrorists, blame it on outside forces and use excessive security force. This is almost exactly the same script we saw used by the ill-fated Gadhafi regime and currently in use in Syria by Bashar al-Assad.

The Communist Party leadership is failing to explore the causes of this new radicalization in a deeply religious society. Tibetans have lived, or barely lived, through a harsh crackdown in the wake of protests that swept across the plateau in 2008, racial animosity against ethnic Tibetans in the aftermath and the systematic demonization of their beloved Dalai Lama.

Beijing’s failures have possibly opened the way for a much more vocal and aggressive tone in Tibetans’ campaign for their legitimate aspirations. There may be a link between the current more radical protests and this change in political leadership. When the Tibetan freedom struggle was led by the Dalai Lama, there were certain norms which even the most vocal Tibetan critics of China implicitly respected, including trying to avoid publicly embarrassing Beijing. This can no longer be taken for granted.

Unwittingly then, the Party has been more successful than the exile Tibetan political establishment ever was in creating a strong united sense of national Tibetan identity across the entire plateau. If the current impasse continues, Tibetans may become bolder and demand full independence. We can also expect to see the current wave of self-immolation spreading to other parts of Tibet. No regime can have an effective weapon against individuals who are not afraid to die.

There is no doubt in my mind that 2011 was a watershed year in the Tibetan people’s struggle, and that with the ongoing campaign of self-immolation this struggle has crossed an important threshold. If China’s leadership fails to seize the narrow window of opportunity it still has left, it will lose Tibet forever.

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9th Bogd Khan Passes Away

In a way, the death of a lama who barely spent any time in Mongolia and is almost unknown globally is a small story even in Mongolia, and has relatively little relevance to China. In another way, this story is a continuation of the centuries-old power struggles between Tibet, Mongolia, and China- a struggle which is coming to have more and more relevance as Mongolia seeks to find a balance with China, and as China continues to try to eliminate the power of the Dalai Lama and other senior Tibetan leadership.

First, via Phayul, the obituary:

His Eminence the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Dorjee Chang Jampel Namdrol Choekyi Gyaltsen, the spiritual head of the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the spiritual head of Mongolia, passed away earlier today at 5.58am (IST) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He was 80.

The Central Tibetan Administration expressed deep sadness at the demise of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa and convened a special prayer service to pray for his speedy reincarnation. As a mark of respect, offices of the CTA remained closed following the prayer service.

At seven, the Late Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa entered Gomang college of Drepung Monastery in Tibet and received Rabjung vows from Reting Rinpoche, following which he studied philosophy for the next fourteen years.

At the age of 21, the Late Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa left Gomang to engage in a series of Chod meditations, living the life of a yogi, while on pilgrimage to the holy sites of Tibet.

After the Chinese armed occupation of Tibet in 1959, the Late Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa left Tibet and escaped into exile in India.

After the collapse of Soviet Union and the new-found religious freedom in Mongolia, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave an official recognition and acknowledgement to the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa as the spiritual head of Buddhism in Mongolia through the Department of Religious Affairs (now the Department of Religion and Culture), CTA in 1991.

Only last fall did he return to Mongolia, which is certainly an interesting timing. Did he go specifically so that there’s a recent precedent for the Bogd Khan to live in Ulaan Baatar, so that his successor will go straight there and serve to strengthen ties between Mongolia and Tibet, much to China’s displeasure?

Alicia Campi has a story in The Jamestown Foundation about the bigger picture:

The mid-November 2011 surprise four-day visit to Mongolia of the 14th Dalai Lama reignited simmering Chinese worries about how the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader is using and is being used by its northern neighbor and important mineral trade partner. From China’s perspective, the Dalai Lama’s Mongolian visit, appearing in the guise of a purely private matter to promote his teachings, actually is intertwined with Northeast Asian mineral resources politics as well as interference in Tibetan affairs—thus a deliberate ratcheting up of anti-Chinese sentiment along its borders. From the Dalai Lama’s perspective, who has made eight trips to Mongolia (the last in 2006), that nation increasingly is seen as an answer to how to handle the sticky question of his own succession and how to wrest it from the control of the Chinese government.

Last year saw a quiet series of chess moves involving the Dalai Lama and Mongolia leading up to his November visit. First, there were many months of speculation in the Mongolian popular press—which were never officially denied by the Mongolian Government—that the Dalai Lama would be visiting the country to discuss his permanent move there upon his retirement from public office in March of last year. Next, His Holiness appeared surrounded by some 30 Mongolian lamas, who had specially flown in from Ulaanbaatar, at his July 6, 2011 birthday celebration at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC and at his July 9th public talk about world peace on the West Capitol Lawn.

The gamesmanship surrounding the Mongolian visit is obvious. The Office of the Mongolian President secretly drafted the invitation to the Dalai Lama and authorized the issuance of his visa by its Delhi Embassy. The Mongolian trip, however, was not announced publicly by the Dalai Lama Office’s spokesman until November 6th, on the eve of his arrival. It is clear that the Japanese Government was involved in maintaining the secrecy by facilitating the air travel of the Tibetan religious leader on a special Mongolian Airlines (MIAT) plane from Tokyo to Ulaanbaatar. The Chinese learned about the visit only after His Holiness’ November 7th arrival in Mongolia was carried by the Mongolian TV channels and welcoming billboards in Mongolian and English had sprung up in the capital.

At a concluding press conference, it was stressed that the visit was purely religious and without any political agenda. The head abbot of Gandan monastery Demberel Choijamtsa said, “Mongols revered and worshiped His Holiness for a long time. Buddhist believers and monks and nuns were waiting for his arrival… Faith and religion in democratic society is free, this is why His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, has been invited to visit our country two-three months earlier.”

With the end of Mongolia’s communist era in 1990, the 9th Bogd returned several times to the country, but only obtained Mongolian citizenship and the right to live in Mongolia in 2010, because of the support of Mongolian President Elbegdorj, a committed Buddhist. His enthronement prompted wide public attention and controversy in Mongolia, resulting in a lawsuit against Gandan monastery in the Supreme Court. The Dalai Lama’s presence in Ulaanbaatar so soon after the enthronement was a clear indication of his religious approval for the 9th Bogd, whose primary duties are to act as the spiritual head of Mongolian Buddhism and to continue with the preservation and revival of Mongolian customs and traditions. The 9th Bogd’s position also was openly supported by the Mongolian Government.

With China now the main foreign investor for Mongolia’s booming, mining-dependent economy and some 90 percent of its exports going to China in 2011, some expected that Ulaanbaatar would be an even riper target for Chinese retaliation this time.

The Mongolian political and national security establishment calculated that the economics of the issue was not so simple, since the majority of bilateral trade now involves Mongolian rich mineral deposits in copper, coal and gold that flow to northern Chinese factories for refining and use in the booming Chinese economy. When deliberating the risks involved in allowing the Dalai Lama’s visit, Mongolia guessed correctly that any disruption to the flow of these raw materials would be considered more destructive to China than to Mongolia and so, in all likelihood, would not happen. Mongolian mining companies based near the Chinese border in fact did not report any disruptions to border transport connected with the visit.

If the Dalai Lama decides to “retire” to Mongolia for long religious retreats as he has suggested he might, or if his next reincarnation is discovered on Mongolian soil, the Mongols may now believe their booming mineral-based economy will continue to protect them from serious Chinese retaliation. Concurrently, the Dalai Lama himself has been able to use his relationship with the Mongols to promote confusion and concern in Beijing over how to manage the situation without causing major self-inflicting wounds.

The entire thing is intriguing, and I’m sure this isn’t going to be the last we hear of Sino-Tibetan-Mongolian relations. We’ll probably start to hear about the beginning of efforts to identify the next Bogd Khan in a few months, and a child will likely be chosen within two or so years.

It’s also nice to see that the government of Mongolia, a country dwarfed in nearly every way by neighboring China, is less afraid to embrace the Dalai Lama than nearly every Western country, despite their greater clout and distance.

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“Rare visit to remote Chinese region shows depth of Tibetan despair”

Days after The Guardian managed to sneak a reporter into Ngaba, Tom Lasseter from McClatchy has done the same thing. His report is incredible and horrifying and absolutely must be read:

The monk reached into the folds of his red robe, pulled out a small notebook, and gently slipped from its pages a tiny photograph.

The man in the creased picture was a relative. He used to be a fellow monk at the monastery perched in snow-wrapped mountains outside the town of Aba. Then a Chinese security officer killed him, the monk said.

A McClatchy reporter last week apparently became the first from an American news organization to make it to Aba since the chain of self-immolations began in March. To do so, he hid on the rear floor of a vehicle under two backpacks and a sleeping bag as it passed through multiple checkpoints.

Beijing has long blamed unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas on conspiracies hatched by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

But conversations with ethnic Tibetans here and elsewhere in Sichuan province, where almost all of the self-immolations have occurred, suggest that China’s authoritarian policies designed to tamp down disorder are fueling the troubles.

Sections of the town famous for its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries have come to resemble an armed camp. A few blocks from the entrance, paramilitary police stood behind riot gates with shotguns and assault rifles. Three large troop-carrier trucks sat on the side of the road, flanked by more men with guns. Up ahead, traffic wound through further riot gates and troop positions not unlike those used in counterinsurgency efforts.

Chinese officials point out that they’ve spent billions of dollars constructing hospitals, roads and schools in Tibet, which is referred to by Beijing as an autonomous region, and nearby areas like those in Sichuan.

Or as a billboard depicting green fields and blue waters outside Maierma Township, approximately 20 miles from Aba, puts it: “Building a civilized, new Aba together.”

Many ethnic Tibetans recognize the benefits of the government’s projects. But they chafe at the government’s restrictions on free expression of their culture and religious practices, and they speak of anguish over being separated from the Dalai Lama.

The lingering threat of police showing up at their doorstep has by all accounts made the situation even more complicated for ethnic Tibetans.

The younger brother, in his early 20s and with plans to move to a bigger city, finished the sentence with an assertion that no one contradicted.

“The people lighting themselves on fire do it because they are suffering … or because one of their family members has been killed by the government and they are now filled with hatred,” he said. “They are doing these things because they want to express their pain and their hardship.”

The majority of Tibetans approached in the area said they couldn’t discuss such issues.

One herder near the town of Chali, about 30 miles east of Aba, gestured for a reporter to follow him to his house. Once inside, the 67-year-old man with tough, thick hands shook his head, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t dare talk about this.”

Official documents describing his arrest said that he and others had taken part in an action that “disrupted public order” and caused a traffic jam. The monk keeps the papers tucked in a plastic bag even though they’re written in Mandarin, a language he doesn’t understand well.

The monk said he was held in jail and fed such small amounts of thin porridge that it became difficult to stand up. He was then transferred to a reform-through-labor camp. “They told me that the Dalai Lama group is an obstacle to our road to peace,” said the monk, who was reluctant to describe the nearly two-year experience.

His relative never made it back — he died in custody, the result of being beaten in the head and then not receiving medical treatment, according to the monk and others at the monastery.

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February 8th: Another self-immolation, more protests in Qinghai

ICT reports that there has been another self-immolation in Ngaba:

In a climate of deepening tension and military buildup, a Tibetan man set fire to himself today at around 6 pm local time in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), according to Tibetan monks in exile who are in contact with people in the region.

According to two Tibetan monks from Kirti monastery in Dharamsala, India (associated with Kirti monastery in Ngaba), the Tibetan set himself on fire at a primary school early in the evening in Ngaba county town in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province (the Tibetan area of Amdo). Sources said that the Tibetan seemed to be a monk, but his name and place of origin are not known. He was taken away by police, and it is not known whether he is still alive. Two monks were also detained from the vicinity.

The Tibetan writer Woeser attributed the increased security and sensitivity in Tibet, already high in Ngaba, because today is Wednesday, known as Lhakar Day, a day in which Tibetans in exile and also in Tibet make a special effort to wear traditional clothes, speak Tibetan, eat in Tibetan restaurants and buy from Tibetan-owned businesses.

Phayul confirms, reporting the same time and place. From VOA we hear that there was a major gathering in Nangchen, a few hundred miles away, and RFA reports that both that and another gathering at Tridu seemed to have turned into protests:

Chinese security forces attempted but failed to stop the demonstrations in two counties in Qinghai province as protesters shouted slogans and carried banners calling for a “free Tibet,” the release of all Tibetan political prisoners, and the return of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the sources said.

The crowds swelled to about 1,000 each at the peak of the protests in Nangchen (Nangqian, in Chinese) county and Tridu (Chenduo, in Chinese) county in Yulshul (Yushu, in Chinese) prefecture, the sources said, citing contacts in the two areas.

“They chanted prayers and [shouted slogans such as] “Freedom for Tibet” and “Long live the Dalai Lama,” one source from inside Tibet told RFA.

“When armed soldiers and policemen closed in, the Tibetans shouted “Kyi Hi Hi,” a Tibetan battle cry in defiance,” the source said.

“The soldiers and policemen then retreated but watched from a distance. There was no clash between them but the protesters remained in the stadium.”

In the other protest in Tridu county, about 400 monks from the Sekha monastery launched a 12 kilometer (about seven mile) “solidarity” march to Dzatoe town but were stopped by security forces halfway at a bridge, angering about 1,000 local residents who then joined the demonstration.

“Chinese [forces] pressured the monks to stop the march, and at that point around 1,000 local residents joined the protests and raised slogans for up to three hours,” one local source said.

Another source said the monks had defied appeals by laypersons against proceeding with the march amid fears they would be detained.

“The Tibetan protesters shouted that they were ready to sacrifice their lives and would continue their struggle,” one caller from Tibet told RFA.

The monks carried big white banners calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet from exile in India and urging the Chinese authorities to release “innocent” Tibetan prisoners.

The banners, with words written in red and blue, also called on the authorities to “Respect the Tibetans—We are one in happiness and sorrow,” and “Respect the Tibetan language.”

This is the same Tibet China claims to have complete control over?

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Friday, February 3rd: Tibet Media Eruption

The growing magnitude of the crackdown is finally drawing increased media scrutiny, although reporters are being barred from entering Ngaba and Kardze. I’ll try to get through all the major points in one post, but if more articles keep coming out at this rate there might be cause for a second one later.

First, RFA reports on the situation in Lhasa:

“Any migrants in Lhasa have been placed under surveillance as of [Tuesday],” Jampel Monlam said. “Any Tibetans from outside Lhasa who haven’t got a temporary residence permit are being thrown out of the city.”

“Some of them are being transported back to [Tibetan] areas of Qinghai and Sichuan.”

He said some Lhasa-based Tibetans had also been detained, apparently as a precaution. “They are probably afraid that there will be some kind of political problem.”

Lhasa officials have been told to tighten management of the city’s migrant population by changing housing rental, household registration, and transitory residential permit issuance policies, the paper said.

Regional border checkpoints will now require anyone entering Tibet to carry identification starting from March 1.

An employee surnamed Zhao who answered the phone at a Lhasa-based travel agency on Thursday said there were virtually no tourists left in the city.

“There’s no one here,” he said.

He said police had recently stopped issuing two-month and three-month tourism permits to Tibet to foreign nationals.

Next, ICT has more images from inside Tibet, this time of the aftermath of the shooting in Serthar.

The Guardian is reporting that China has cut off internet and mobile phone service to much of Tibetan Sichuan:

“After the riots, internet connections and mobile phone signals were cut off for over 50km [30 miles] around the riot areas. Police believe external forces played a part in the riots,” the newspaper said.

In 2009, China cut off internet and text messaging services across the north-western region of Xinjiang after ethnic riots in the capital, Urumqi, left almost 200 dead.

Officials blamed “trained separatists” for instigating the events in Ganzi. They have also sought to blame outsiders for a string of self-immolations by Tibetan clergy and laypeople over the last year, mostly in Sichuan.

China appears to have stepped up security across other Tibetan areas, with the top party official in Lhasa urging security forces to increase surveillance of monasteries and main roads in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

This is another one of the those cases where China gets hemmed in by its own ludicrous propaganda. Because every problem needs to be blamed on “external forces,” they have to cut all ties to the outside world, which makes everything seem even more suspicious to foreign journalists. Does cutting off the internet and cellphone network actually break lines of communication with the nefarious plotters of the unrest, or does it just mean that a) people who would otherwise be sitting around in internet cafes are instead on the streets and b) anger everyone in the area who can’t live normally without telephones? I’m pretty sure the Egyptian government didn’t do itself any favors when it tried the same tactic.

Next, Reuters speculates that these intense showdowns could be a taste of what China is in for if the Dalai Lama passes in exile:

China’s hardline rulers may have reason to miss him when he’s gone. The aging spiritual leader’s presence and message of non-violence have kept a damper on unrest but, once he dies, things could worsen rapidly.

With unrest in once-quiet areas of the Tibetan plateau and little prospect for direct talks between China and the Tibetan government-in-exile, concern is growing that violence will boil over upon the death of the Dalai Lama.

If nothing changes, Beijing will likely respond with the same tough measures it has used for decades.

“Given the centrality of the demand among Tibetans that the Dalai Lama be allowed to return to Tibet, were he to pass away in exile abroad, it could spark an unpredictable wave of protests far greater than 2008 and an even harsher crackdown,” Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said.

While Lhasa erupted in violence in the 1980s and 1990s, Tibetans in Sichuan, Qinghai and other regions were calm. Sichuan has also seen violence and even traditions are changing.

Barnett said some in those eastern areas who typically celebrate their new year at the same time as most Chinese are delaying the holiday about a month to coincide with the new year of central Tibetans, who for centuries have been more closely aligned with the Dalai Lamas.

“China has turned vast areas of the Tibetan plateau into areas of Tibetan national sentiment,” he said.

“Why they imposed this policy in eastern Tibet where there were no real problems — historians are going to be asking why did we do this? Why did we lose Tibet?”

Adrienne Mong from MSNBC was turned back at a checkpoint in Sichuan, and filed this report from Chengdu:

However, the crackdown taking place across China’s Tibetan communities is not so much just another stage of a cycle that’s repeating itself as it is perhaps growing evidence that March 2008 was a turning point.

“The region has never recovered from the 2008 repression,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who monitors the region.

“That really was a turning point. We’re still in the aftermath of this very, very severe repression that took place in 2008…. Over the years, [Chinese officials] have shifted from trying to gain the consent of the Tibetan people to basically riding roughshod.”

Reports of the crackdown have been cast against the backdrop of several upcoming events: the Tibetan New Year, the anniversary of the March 10, 2008, protests, and the Chinese Communist Party Congress. The party congress, which takes place every five years, is an especially sensitive event this time as it will usher in a massive leadership changeover.

But Beijing has also painted itself into a corner.

“The government has no room for compromise, because they insist on this depiction of the reality that is absurd,” said Bequelin. A reality, he continued, that claims that Tibet is a harmonious place populated by happy Tibetan people grateful for the economic growth Beijing has brought them.

Finally (for now), RFA has more about how Tibetan pilgrims returning from India are being treated:

In a surprising move, China had earlier allowed about 9,000 Tibetans to travel to India to take part in the ten-day Kalachakra religious festival conducted in Bodh Gaya in January by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama—a figure reviled by Chinese leaders as a separatist.

Upon their return over the last two weeks, however, Tibetans from the eastern regions of Amdo and Kham were “rounded up, transported, and interrogated by the Chinese authorities,” a source in Tibet’s exile community said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in Tibet.

“They were asked about the places they visited in India, what the Dalai Lama told them, what they know of the plans of the Tibetan exile government, whom they met, and so on.”

Younger Tibetans in the group were questioned especially closely, the source said.

Tibetans returning to their China-controlled homeland via the Dram border post on the border with Nepal were taken directly to the central Tibetan city of Shigatse, the source said.

There, any Tibetans who had come from Amdo and Kham were forced onto trains and told to return to their native place.

“Normally, those pilgrims spend time in the Lhasa area and visit temples and other holy sites,” the source said. “But now, they were put onto trains and told to return to their hometowns [in the east].”

One group of Tibetan pilgrims from Amdo was sent on Feb. 2 by train from Lhasa to the Gansu provincial capital of Lanzhou, a source inside Tibet said.

“None of them knows what their fate will be when they reach Lanzhou,” he said.

Meanwhile, a microblog message from a Tibetan living in Lhasa described intensified surveillance by Chinese authorities in the city.

“Last night, Chinese police searched all the Tibetan families in our area three times,” the message read.

“They are especially hard on the Tibetan pilgrims returning from India. They are being harassed and interrogated again and again.”

Authorities in the Tibetan capital are also blocking news of recent protests in Tibetan-populated areas of China in which as many as six may have been killed and an unknown number injured, a Tibetan living in Lhasa said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The local media do not talk or write about those protests. The communication lines with those Tibetan areas in Amdo and Kham are cut off.”

“We are seriously concerned that the Chinese could be severely cracking down on the Tibetans in those areas,” he said.

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