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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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) submitted a UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report ahead of the fourth periodic review of the People’s Republic of China in January 2024. 

The submission outlined a number of concerns and recommendations on specific human rights issues, including repression of Tibetan Buddhism, systematic attacks on the Tibetan language, freedom of expression and association, denial of legal rights of detainees and prisoners, and torture.

TCHRD will conduct a series of advocacy and lobbying activities in the months leading up to the review, targeting embassies in New Delhi and permanent missions in Geneva, respectively, so that States will raise the issues during the interactive dialogue with the PRC government.

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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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On 3 May, Gonpo Kyi shared a video condemning the unjust verdict against her brother, Dorje Tashi, stating that leaders do not follow the law while the masses are subject to punitive measures. Despite peaceful protests, such as wearing a shirt with slogan and holding a copy of the verdict, authorities detained and physically abused her. In response, Gonpo Kyi stated that she would continue to protest until justice was served. Her brother’s case has been marred with allegations of false conviction and judicial irregularities, and despite numerous appeals, he remains behind bars for false loan fraud charges. The Chinese authorities’ repeated detention and intimidation of peaceful protesters like Gonpo Kyi violate fundamental human rights.

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Information received by TCHRD confirmed that Gephel, a Tibetan student from Muge Township in Zungchu (Ch: Songpan) County, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo, was detained on the evening of 24 January from his home for displaying Buddhist flags instead of Chinese flag as the backdrop on the stage during ‘Losar’ New Year celebration show.

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Information obtained by at least two sources in Lhasa confirmed that on the morning of 19 December, around 10:30 am local time, Gonpo Kyi stood outside the Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court holding a placard with a slogan in Chinese: “Dorji Tashi is innocent.” In less than 5 minutes, security personnel swooped down on her even as she continued shouting slogans for her brother’s innocence. She was eventually taken behind the court building following which her condition and whereabouts remain unknown.

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TCHRD calls on the Chinese authorities to put an immediate end to the zero-Covid policy in all its forms and hold government officials responsible for the avoidable death of Nangchen Tashi’s grandson. A thorough and impartial investigation must be launched into this tragedy so that similar violations and unnecessary loss of life can be prevented in the future.

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The news about Goyon’s release comes close on the heels of another major development: sentencing of six former Tibetan political prisoners, writers and public intellectuals on the trumped-up charges of “inciting separatism” and “endangering state security” in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

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As reports emerged of massive protests staged by Chinese public against the government’s zero-Covid policy, sources in Tibet informed TCHRD about the discriminatory treatment and arbitrary detention of local Tibetans in the last three months in both Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas.

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