TCHRD Statements

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Today marks the 13th anniversary of Tulku Tenzin Delek’s arbitrary and unjust arrest on 7 April 2002. His arrest eventually led to life imprisonment. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is a revered Tibetan Buddhist lama from Lithang, Kardze, Kham, in present-day Sichuan Province. He is known for his campaigns to restore Tibetan culture and religion, social welfare activities and his criticism of repressive Chinese policies in Tibet. On 5 December 2002, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his nephew were respectively sentenced to death with two years’ reprieve and death sentence. They were accused of being involved in a series of bomb attacks in Chengdu on 3 April 2003. Lobsang Dhondup was executed but Rinpoche’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment due to pressure from the world community.

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Cover of TCHRD's Special Report on Right to Edication in Tibet
Cover of TCHRD’s Special Report on Right to Education in Tibet

Sixty-six years ago, on 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a fundamental part of the international human rights system and, along with the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is part of the international bill of human rights. Since 1950, every people and countries across the world have commemorated 10 December as Human Rights Day.

‘Human Rights-365’ is the theme of Human Rights Day this year. ‘Human Rights-365’ recognizes that human rights must be protected and defended every day.

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geneva_photo
Tsering Tsomo addresses a protest rally in front the UN to focus attention on the recent self-immolation of Lhamo Tashi.

The director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Ms. Tsering Tsomo, attended the 27th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) at the United Nations in Geneva from 14 to 24 September 2014, to draw the Council’s attention to the pressing human rights issues inside Tibet. On the sidelines of the session, Ms. Tsomo met and briefed various UN Special Procedures mandate holders, diplomats and NGO representatives on the current situation in Tibet and strongly appealed for their support.

In addition to delivering an oral statement (a video of the statement is available here starting at 49:27) on behalf of the Society for Threatened Peoples at the HRC session, Ms. Tsomo held an hour-long briefing for assistants to seven UN Special Procedure mandate holders. On 23 September 2014, Ms. Tsomo met with assistants to Special Rapporteur on religious freedom or belief; Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion; Special Rapporteur on Torture; Special Rapporteur on right to education; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

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Jigme Gyatso's arrest warrant issued by the Public Security Bureau in Gannan Prefecture in Gansu Province. Obtained by TCHRD in February 2012.
Jigme Gyatso’s arrest warrant issued by the Public Security Bureau in Gannan Prefecture in Gansu Province. Obtained by TCHRD in February 2012.

In his first speech as the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein declared “courage is the first human virtue… The courageous individual is he or she who has nothing to wield but common sense, reason and the law, and is prepared to forfeit future, family, friends and even life in defence of others, or to end injustice.”

On the same day that High Commissioner Al Hussein opened the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva with these strong words, Radio Free Asia reported that Jigme Gyatso of Labrang Monastery in Gannan (Tib: Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province had been sentenced to five years in prison for “splittist activities.” This is the first news of Jigme Gyatso since the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) obtained a copy of Jigme Gyatso’s arrest warrant in February 2012. The arrest warrant was issued almost five months after Jigme Gyatso was arrested from his hotel room by 40 police officers.

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UNHCHR
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein replaced Navi Pillay as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) would like to welcome Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to the position of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which he assumed on Monday, 1 September.

High Commissioner Al Hussein comes to office when expectations for what the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) can do are high and the threat to human rights is growing. As High Commissioner Al Hussein’s predecessor, Ms. Navi Pillay, is the most powerful single voice advocating for human rights in the world and she was willing to confront politically powerful States, including China, over their human rights policies.

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International Day of Democracy falls on 15 September, less than two weeks after Tibetan Democracy Day
International Day of Democracy falls on 15 September, less than two weeks after Tibetan Democracy Day (Photo: UN)

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy Day. On this important occasion, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) would like to extend greetings to the Tibetan people living in and out of Tibet. Fifty-four years ago, on 2 September 1960, under the leadership of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the first Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies (CTPD) took their oaths of office in Dharamsala, India. This ushered in, for the first time in our history, a system of political governance based on the principles of liberal democracy. The CTPD is now known as the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

In the decades since the first CTPD was sworn in, Tibetan democracy in exile has evolved. The exile Tibetan leadership and public became progressively more active and took many important decisions. In 1963, a constitution for future Tibet was adopted. This constitution established the rules for how the Tibetan government-in-exile would function. It was followed by the adoption of the ‘Charter for Tibetans in exile’ in 1991, which paved the way for more direct representation in the exile Tibetan government. This led to the direct election of Kalon Tripa (head of the exile Tibetan administration) in 2001, a profusion of non-governmental organizations, including TCHRD, and most significantly, the devolution of the Dalai Lama’s political authority to an elected leadership in March 2011.

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DVD cover of 'Through Flesh and Bones: Stories of Torture and Survival in Tibet'
DVD cover of ‘Through Flesh and Bones: Stories of Torture and Survival in Tibet’

Today, 26 June 2014, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) joins the international community in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day, we honor and support those who have suffered unjust, cruel and degrading forms of physical and mental torture.  We also express our deep concern over the use of torture against persons exercising their basic rights and freedoms.

We at TCHRD reaffirm our commitment to fulfilling the goal of the UN General Assembly Resolution 52/149 passed 12 December 1997, which proclaimed 26 June as ‘the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.’ That goal is the total eradication of torture and the effective implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.

As declared by the United Nations, torture is a crime under international law. It is a crime against humanity, ‘one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings,’ because torture aims to annihilate the victim’s personality, denying him or her the inherent dignity of human being. Torture strikes at the core of the physical and psychological integrity of a human being. Furthermore, the practice of torture often triggers heightened levels of human rights violations such as disappearances, extra judicial killings and genocide.

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Dhondup Wangchen
Dhondup Wangchen

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is pleased to learn that Dhondup Wangchen, the courageous filmmaker of Jigdral (“Leaving Fear Behind”) has been released after serving 6 years in prison.

Dhondup Wangchen was released 5 June 2014 from a prison in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province.

TCHRD hopes for Dhondup Wangchen’s safe return and swift reunion with his wife, Lhamo Tso, and his four children.

Dhondup Wangchen was detained by the Chinese authorities in March 2008 for shooting the 25-minute documentary film called Jigdral. The documentary is based on 35 hours of footage and 108 interviews that Dhondup Wangchen and his assistant, Golog Jigme, conducted over five months in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The film features candid conversations with ordinary Tibetans – monks, nuns, herders, students – in Tibetan areas in Qinghai Province who expressed their views on a wide range of issues such as the Dalai Lama, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and human rights conditions in Tibet.

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“For the values of democracy and equality, many great men and women gave up their lives. On this earth beneath the vast sky, although freedom and democracy belong to the entire humanity, they will never belong to those who oppress by practicing dictatorship.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                       ~ Tashi Rabten aka Theurang

Tiananmen protest on 4 June 1989  [Photo: theviewspaper.net]
Tiananmen protest on 4 June 1989
[Photo: theviewspaper.net]
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protest in Beijing, which saw the participation of over a million Chinese students, workers and professionals. Deng Xiaoping, then the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, ordered 200,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers in armored tanks to suppress the non-violent protest. In the wake of the bloody crackdown, hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens died, and thousands of them injured brutally. Many also disappeared. The Tiananmen massacre revealed the true nature of the CCP and the PLA to the world: that they do not protect or work for the liberation of the Chinese people – that authoritarian regime survival is more important than human lives.

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Lodoe Rabsel, former abbot of Karma Monastery
Lodoe Rabsel, former abbot of Karma Monastery

Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is deeply distressed to learn that Lodoe Rabsel, the former abbot of the historic Karma Monastery, was subjected to secret detention for more than a week soon after he was released on completion of his two years and 6 months prison term.

According to information received by TCHRD, Lodoe Rabsel was released on 5 May 2014 from the high-security Powo Tramo Prison (also known as Bomi Prison) located in Pome (Ch: Bomi) County in Nyingtri (Ch: Nyingchi/Linzhi) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Upon release, authorities banned the senior monk from wearing his monastic robes, joining his monastery or resuming his religious practice. Before his imprisonment, he served as the abbot of Karma Monastery in Karma (Ch: Gama) Township in Chamdo County, Chamdo( Ch: Changdu) Prefecture, TAR. Karma Monastery, founded by the 1st Karmapa Duesum Khenpa in the 12th century, is the original monastery of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet

Today marks the 25th birthday of the XIth Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, one of the most important spiritual leaders of Tibet, who disappeared when he was 6 years old.[i] This is the 19th year in succession when Tibetans have to commemorate the birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in his absence.

On 14 May 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognised Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a son of nomadic parents, as the reincarnate Panchen Lama. A day later, the boy and his parents were disappeared from their home in Lhari County in Nagchu Prefecture in Central Tibet.[ii]  The Chinese government initially denied allegations that he had been disappeared by Chinese government agents. A few months after the disappearance, Chinese government appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as its own Panchen Lama.

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