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Human Rights Update 1996

The words of Ngawang Choephel

Last month the People’s Republic of China (PRC) officially acknowledged the detention of Ngawang Choephel, a Tibetan musician and scholar arrested by Chinese authorities in August 1995 while travelling in Tibet. Ngawang was undertaking some preliminary research for the creation of a documentary on the traditional folk music and performing arts of Tibet. According to Mr. Shao Wenguang of the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC, Ngawang Choephel is suspected of gathering “sensitive intelligence” and engaging in “illegal separatist activities” with the funding of certain unnamed Americans and at the instigation of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. It appears that Ngawang is thereby …

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hunger strike in drapchi prison

According to new arrivals from Tibet, on 19 April 1996 female political prisoners in Drapchi Priaon went on a hunger strike as a protest against a prison order forbidding the families of the prisoners from bringing them food.  The prisoners also protested against the poor prison diet. 81 of the 145 female political prisoners in Drapchi participated in this hunger strike. The remaining 64 female political prisoners are reportedly segregated from the rest of the prisoners and therefore could not participate in the hunger strike.  

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discrimination in language

A recent update by the Tibet Information Network reports further actions taken by the authorities of the PRC to discriminate against the use of Tibetan language in educational Institutions within Tibet. In December 1996, authorities announced that the History of Tibet course at the University of Tibet is to be taught in Chinese rather than in Tibetan. The decision ignores the fact that many of the teachers and students are Tibetan and that the course is taught by the University’s Tibetan Language Department. It also ignores one of the reasons listed for the founding of the University –the maintenance and …

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