As we commemorate the 55th Human Rights Day on 10 December, it is a day to reflect upon the situation of the world in the year gone by and resolve further to work towards a more peaceful and free world. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses grave concern and fear over China’s continued gross violation of human rights in Tibet.
On this day last year, TCHRD strongly condemned and expressed concern on China’s sentencing of a well-known Tibetan Buddhist teacher Trulku Tenzin Delek to death with two years suspension and his co-accused Lobsang Dhondup to immediate death on the ground of alleged involvement in “bomb explosions”. However, in complete disregard to international appeals, the Sichuan Higher People’s Court in Chengdu upheld the earlier verdict and executed Lobsang Dhondup on 26 January 2003. The event has left little doubt over the concern we shared last year of China’s attempts to use the global campaign against ‘terrorism’ to suppress the Tibetans’ peaceful political and religious expressions. It has also exposed China’s true intention despite the show of bonhomie with western governments when dealing with the issues of human rights.
Once again commemorating the International Human Rights Day, TCHRD urges the Beijing leadership to be sincere in its commitment on human rights to the international community and free Trulku Tenzin Delek unconditionally. TCHRD further calls upon Beijing to release all the other political prisoners detained in Tibet.
The situation of Tibetans in Tibet during 2003 continued to remain tense and uncertain. The number of arrest and detention without fair trial was reported extensively in the past twelve months. TCHRD documented arrest of around 25 Tibetans who were arbitrarily detained and given long prison sentences. Most of the arrests occurred in connection with Trulku Tenzin Delek and on peaceful and willful expression of allegiance to the Dalai Lama.
China’s intolerance towards religious leaders and any establishment that has won respect by the local populace is now a known fact. The crackdown on Tibetans is not confined to few aspects of life rather, it is an all encompassing practice affecting every sphere of public life. Close on the heels of the much publicised destruction of Serthar Buddhist institute in 2001, this year the government forced the closure of another well known school. Following official pressure, Ngaba Kirti monastic school in Sichuan Province was shut down on 29 July 2003.
Tibetans are also subjected to China’s oppression even beyond its borders. China’s proxy means of controlling Tibetans’ basic freedom was shown most blatantly this year with the forced deportation of eighteen Tibetan refugees to China by the Nepalese authorities. Despite repeated appeals from international community, the Nepalese government with direct pressure from the Chinese embassy handed over the eighteen Tibetans on 31 May 2003. The looming presence of China’s authoritarian regime beyond the border has brought about a sense of helplessness and desperation for Tibetans who continue to flee into exile and also for those who believe in the value of human freedom.
As China races ahead towards fulfilling its goals of the much touted ‘western development program’, it leaves many questions unanswered for Tibetans in their right to self determination and also on the issue of preserving Tibet’s fragile ecology. The construction of railroad from Gormo in Qinghai Province to Lhasa is a cause for concern as we think Tibetans in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will gradually become marginalised. And several other ongoing projects like building power stations on the plateau has led to resettlement of large communities of Tibetan nomads from their traditional landholdings. Nothing is more illustrative of the harshness of such measures on the lives of nomads than when the nomads from Golog and Yushul counties compared their lives to a ‘fish being flung out of water’ after they were forced to relinquish their ancestral life.
Today on the Human Rights Day, TCHRD expresses gratitude to all those who have shown solidarity with the plight of the Tibetan people. We also call upon everyone to join hands with us in our endeavor towards ensuring human rights and dignity for the Tibetans in Tibet.