On the 29th anniversary of Tibetan spiritual leader Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s enforced disappearance, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy strongly condemns the Chinese government’s continued failure to provide information on his whereabouts and reiterates our calls for the authorities to reveal the truth. Despite extensive efforts and calls from the global Tibetan community, international governments and the United Nations for more than two decades, the Chinese government has continued to ignore their calls leaving a deep void in the hearts of the Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. 

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy released its annual report underscoring continued human rights violations in Tibet. Tibetans continue to face restrictions on their freedom of expression, assembly, and education, both in digital and physical spheres. Chinese authorities exert stringent control over religious activities, impeding the rights and pilgrimage practices of Tibetan Buddhists. Arbitrary detention, unjust sentencing, and instances of torture persist, resulting in custodial fatalities and enduring health complications among political detainees.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) recently concluded a comprehensive series of workshops on “Bystander Intervention against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.” These workshops were conducted for over 460 Tibetan youths across various educational institutions, schools and colleges based in India, including the Sambhota Tibetan School in Kalimpong and Darjeeling, the College for Higher Tibetan Studies-Sarah, the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Bangalore, and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India.

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Tibetan human rights defender Tsering Tso was arbitrarily detained for the second time in three years due to her outspoken social media posts condemning Chinese authorities for engaging in racially discriminatory practices and human rights violations against Tibetans in Kyegudo (Ch: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham.

The Yushu Public Security Bureau (PSB) sentenced Tso to 15 days of “administrative detention,” imprisoning her in the Yushu city detention centre from 26 October to 10 November 2023.

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A Tibetan singer named Palden has been sentenced on an unknown date a few months after his detention earlier this year in Golog (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,  Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo. 

While details on Palden’s imprisonment still remain vague, it has emerged that the singer was apprehended after he shared a patriotic Tibetan song on the Chinese social media platform KuaiShou. He was held in an undisclosed location for an extended period of time before getting sentenced on unknown charges. 

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On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy organised a panel discussion featuring three former political prisoners and a human rights researcher moderated by the Centre’s Tibetan researcher, Nyiwoe. The session started with an explanatory video delving into the experiences of Tibetans subjected to enforced disappearance. Subsequently, TCHRD’s executive director, Ms. Tenzin Dawa, underscored instances of enforced disappearance, citing significant cases like that of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, abducted after being recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama by the 14th Dalai Lama, and referencing UN experts’ concerns. The discussion commenced with former political prisoners succinctly sharing their grim experiences of torture and enforced disappearances. Mr. Gendun Rinchen recounted his arrest for disseminating human rights information as a tour guide, while Mr. Ngawang Woebar was arrested for protesting in Lhasa. Former prisoner Geshe Tsering Dorje described torture methods and the dire treatment of Tibetan prisoners, while Mr Wangden Kyab emphasised China’s ongoing violations of its constitution and international obligations.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns the continued persecution of the well-known Tibetan language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk, who had been released from prison in 2021 after serving five years’ prison term on the trumped-up charges of “inciting separatism”.

Since his release from unjust imprisonment, Tashi Wangchuk has faced persistent restrictions  and limitations on his movement and activities even as he continued to advocate for the promotion and protection of the Tibetan language. 

The latest persecution faced by the Tibetan language rights advocate demonstrates that Chinese authorities will go to any lengths including engaging in mobster-style tactics to silence human rights defenders and activists.

On the evening of 19 August, while travelling from Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, to Darlag (Ch: Dari) County in Golog (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, he was followed by a vehicle. Subsequently, local police issued an order preventing local hotels from accommodating him.

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The release of writer Dhi Lhaden after four years of imprisonment raises concerns regarding his physical and mental well-being, exacerbated by the limited accessibility of information about his current situation. Having endured two years of incommunicado detention since 2019, he was charged with “disrupting social order,” a common accusation against human rights activists, and secretly sentenced to four years in 2021. Despite his expected release this year, it was delayed by two months, perceived as a result of cautious measures by Chinese authorities to control information flow. Lhaden’s unjust trial, preceded by isolation, potential coercion, and torture, further adds complexity. As a former monk and writer, his works illuminated the Tibetan perspective, encompassing hopes, wishes, and the overall plight.

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Prominent Tibetan activist A-nya Sengdra, the victim of unjust imprisonment for nearly five years on politically motivated charges, continues to endure further injustices.

Renowned for his campaigns against corruption and environmental degradation in his hometown, Sengdra and his eight companions received a seven-year sentence on 6 December 2021, more than three years after his detention and torture at the hands of local Public Security Bureau officers in Gade County.

Despite relentless efforts by his lawyer, Li Qilei, to appeal the verdict, the Chinese courts have consistently dismissed these appeals. Even the recent effort to inquire about his appeal case faced hostility and uncooperative personnel at the Sixth Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court.

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On the 28th anniversary of the Chinese government’s arbitrary detention and subsequent enforced disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama Jetsun Tenzin Gedhun Yeshi Trinley Phuntsok Pal Sangpo, widely recognised by his lay name Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reiterates its call to the Chinese government to immediately and unconditionally release the Panchen Lama, his family members, and all the Tibetan political prisoners. TCHRD emphasises that without ensuring the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights, including freedom of belief and religion, Chinese authorities can never hope to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans, let alone earn any legitimacy for its repressive policies and campaigns in Tibet.

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