Wednesday, 30 October 2013

China suspects Tiananmen crash a suicide attack - sources

Vehicles travel along Chang'an Avenue as smoke raises in front of a portrait of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Staff(Reuters) - Chinese authorities investigating what could be Beijing's first major suicide attack were searching for two men from Muslim-dominated Xinjiang on Tuesday after three people suspected to be from the restive region drove a SUV into a crowd at Tiananmen Square and set it on fire.

They killed themselves and two tourists on Monday in the square, the heart of China's power structure and the focal point of the mass 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations brutally crushed the military.

Police have spread a dragnet across the capital, checking hotels and vehicles, seeking two people suspected to be ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority from Xinjiang in China's far west, on the borders of ex-Soviet Central Asia.

Two senior sources said on Tuesday the crash, that also injured 38 bystanders at perhaps the most closely guarded location in China, was suspected of being a suicide attack carried out by people from Xinjiang. It was initially believed to be an accident.

The sources did not specifically say the occupants were Uighurs, many of whom chafe at Chinese controls on their culture and religion.

"It looks like a pre-meditated suicide attack," said a source with direct knowledge of the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions for talking to the foreign media.

There have been suicide bombings before in China, and in Beijing, mostly by people will personal grievances, but none have targetted the very heart of China's government like this appears to have.

China has blamed Uighur separatists and religious extremists for a series of attacks in Xinjiang, saying they want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan. Rights groups and exiles say China massively over-states the threat.

In 2009, nearly 200 people were killed in clashes between Uighurs and ethnic Chinese in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

But the unrest has never before spilled over into the nation's capital, despite speculation in 1997 that Uighurs were to blame for a Beijing bus bomb in which at least two people died.

Uighurs are also not known to have previously carried out any suicide attacks.

The government has given no official word whether it was an accident or an attack, and state media has mostly kept to reporting brief statements from the police and official Xinhua news agency giving a bare bones account of what happened, as is common for such sensitive events.

Police are still investigating and have yet to determine the identities of the three people in the sport utility vehicle but suspect they are from Xinjiang, according to the sources. The other dead were a Chinese man and a Filipina woman, both tourists.


However, Beijing police said late on Monday they were looking for two suspects from Xinjiang in connection with a "major incident", though it was unclear if these were the people who were in the vehicle or accomplices still at large.

The sources said that the occupants were suspected of lighting a flammable substance in the vehicle.

"It was no accident. The jeep knocked down barricades and rammed into pedestrians. The three men had no plans to flee from the scene," said a source who has ties to the leadership.

A Reuters reporter at the scene at the time said he did not hear any gunshots.

On Monday night, hours after the fire, Beijing police issued a notice asking local hotels about suspicious guests who had checked in since Oct 1 and named two suspects it said were from Xinjiang. Four hotels told Reuters they had received the notice.

Judging by their names, the suspects appeared to be ethnic Uighurs.

"To prevent the suspected persons and vehicles from committing further crimes ... please notify law enforcement of any discovery of clues regarding these suspects and the vehicles," said the notice, which was widely circulated on Chinese microblogs.

Beijing police, contacted by telephone, declined to comment. On Monday, the police said on their official microblog only that they were investigating the accident, and did not say if they thought it was an attack.

Calls to the Xinjiang government went unanswered.

Barry Sautman, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who has studied Xinjiang, said if it was confirmed that it was a suicide attack by Uighurs, it would be a first.

"Certainly there have been a lot of bombings carried out by Uighur groups, but none of them as far as I know have involved suicide," he said.

Ilham Tohti, a China-based ethnic Uighur economist and longtime critic of Chinese policy in Xinjiang, said Uighurs had been driven to take extreme measures by China's repression.

"The use of violent means happens because all other outlets for expression are gone. Uighurs do not have any representation, they have no means of self-expression," he told Reuters.


Police said on Monday the sport utility vehicle veered off the road at the north of the square, crossed the barriers and caught fire almost directly in front of the main entrance of the Forbidden City, in front of a huge portrait of the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong.

Pictures seen by Reuters showed that the vehicle appeared to have driven several hundred metres (feet) along the pedestrian pavement in front of the Forbidden City entrance before bursting into flames, knocking down people as it went.

One eyewitness, who asked not to be identified due to the incident's sensitive nature, said she saw the vehicle knock down three or four people, and that it had a white banner with black lettering on it streaming from the back.

"People started to panic, and all ran to hide in the toilet," she said. "Three or four minutes later I came out and could see black smoke, and the police had begun to clear people out."

While censors moved quickly to remove pictures of the incident from the popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, as often happens in stability-obsessed China, many images and accounts are still viewable a day after the event.

Beijing police stepped up checks on cars around the city in response to the incident, one police officer at a checkpoint on the border between Beijing and Hebei province told Reuters.

A state newspaper reported in July that the government suspected Syrian opposition forces were training extremists from Xinjiang to carry out attacks in China.

"They have been known to carry out attacks outside of Xinjiang," said Yang Shu, a terrorism expert at China's Lanzhou University.

"There have also been reports that East Turkestan elements have received training in Syria, so I would say the possibility does exist of a Xinjiang connection," he added.

China denies mistreating any of its minority groups, saying they are guaranteed wide-ranging religious and cultural freedoms.

Many rights groups say China has long overplayed the threat posed to justify its tough controls in energy-rich Xinjiang, which lies strategically on the borders of Central Asia, India and Pakistan.

Chinese Officials Remove Tibetan Village Leaders Who Protested Against Crackdown

tibet-Dzato-down-aug2013.gifAuthorities in a Tibetan-populated county in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have dismissed three village leaders from their posts following area protests and ahead of plans to force villagers to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, Tibetan sources say. 

The three had protested Chinese actions against Tibetans following clashes over mining operations in Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) county in August, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region. 

“On Oct. 16, the Chinese authorities convened a meeting in Dzatoe and announced certain decisions,” Konchog Dondrub, who lives in India, said. 

“One of those decisions was to relieve the village heads, who were previously appointed by the Chinese with the approval of the local Tibetan community, of their responsibilities,” Dondrub said. 

Citing information received from local sources, Dondrub identified the village leaders removed from their jobs as Khetsa Soetob of Atoe Yultso, Ashak Gyaltsen of Dzachen Yultso, and Tronbu Utsa of Serza Yultso. 

The men had “complained against the government” following a security crackdown in August that left dozens injured and saw several detained, he said. 

“Restrictions on local Tibetans, both in the villages and the monasteries, have continued for the past two months,” Dondrub said, adding, “Chinese security officials are interrogating area residents and subjecting them to all kinds of pain and harassment.” 

Authorities are paying particular attention to how Tibetans in the area communicate with each other, he said.

Mining blocked

On Aug. 15-16, hundreds of Tibetan villagers blocked work at three mining sites—Atoe, Dzachen, and Chidza—in Dzatoe county, sparking a crackdown by at least 500 armed police, according to area sources.

Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of polluting the environment and disrupting sites of spiritual significance.

Tibetan residents of Dzatoe have long regarded the mountains in their area targeted for mining as the abodes of protective deities, and documents appearing to give central government approval for the work were later found to be fakes, one source said.

"So this year, the Tibetans were determined to resist the mines," he said.

Tibetan government employees in Dzatoe are now protesting the Chinese officials’ decision to remove the village chiefs, Dondrub said. 

“They say they are unable to work with the Chinese officials who have tortured Tibetans, and demand that the men who were dismissed be allowed to return to work. They have presented a written appeal to Dzatoe county authorities to restore the village leaders to their original positions.” 

Now, authorities plan to order local Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from the roofs of family homes and monasteries in a forced display of loyalty to the Chinese state, Dondrub said. 

Authorities have enforced similar flag-raising campaigns in other Tibetan-populated areas of China in recent months, prompting clashes in which Chinese security forces have beaten and detained protesters and fired into unarmed crowds.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Fire at Tiananmen Square in China; Possible Self Immolation, 3 Dead

Embedded image permalink
A fire broke out on Tiananmen Square on Monday, prompting an evacuation and closure of the tourist attraction–and Chinese people are saying that it was a “self-immolation incident.”

The sensitive area is often under heavy guard.

Chinese police closed the road that runs through the square, a witness told Reuters.

Representatives of the Beijing government and police said they didn’t know what happened. Xinhua, a state-run media outlet, said via Twitter that a motor vehicle “went into the crowd.” It later reported that three people died, and multiple tourists and police officers were injured.

Reports on Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like social media service, indicated that people believe that there was a self-immolation (that someone or more than one person set themselves on fire). Many of the photos posted online are being deleted, as is often the case in the heavily censored country, but many were preserved on Twitter.

“Craziest thing ever. Just walked inside TianAnMen square and a car explodes outside the square,” said Grace Ng, who is based in New York but is currently in Beijing, via Twitter. 

Philip Wen, a China correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, posted a photo showing police officers cleaning up after the fire.

Story developing; check back for updates

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Tibetan monks describe a web of unseen controls

By Dan Levin
New York Times

XIAHE, China » Buddhist monks in flowing burgundy robes hurried along the dirt paths of the Labrang Monastery, trying their best to ignore the scrum of Chinese tourists following their every move, many with cameras fit for paparazzi.
Pilgrims and those less spiritually inclined wandered through the ornate complex here in the mountain town of Xiahe to gaze upon towering Buddha statues bathed in incense. Some tourists held back to indulge in distinctly unenlightened pursuits, smoking cigarettes and pouting at their smartphones in the high-tech vanity ritual known as the selfie.

One of the most important sites in Tibetan Buddhism, Labrang presents an idyllic picture of sacred devotion that is carefully curated by the Chinese government, which hopes to convince visitors that Tibetan religion and culture are swaddled in the Communist Party's benevolent embrace.

But behind closed doors, many of the monastery's resident monks complain about intrusive government policies, invisible to tourists, that they say are strangling their culture and identity.

"Even if we're just praying, the government treats us as criminals," said a young monk, who like others interviewed recently spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid government repercussions.

Such frustrations, many monks say, are what have driven more than 120 Tibetans to set fire to themselves since 2009, including 13 in the Labrang area, in a wave of protests that has gone largely unreported in the Chinese news media.

International human rights advocates say that rather than address the underlying grievances — including Beijing's deeply unpopular campaign to demonize the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader — Chinese authorities have responded with even harsher policies that punish the relatives of those who self-immolate and imprison those who disseminate news of the protests to the outside world.

Exile groups and analysts say Labrang and a handful of other monasteries across the vast Tibetan plateau in Central Asia have become showcases for Beijing's strategy, which seeks to stifle dissent in well-trafficked tourist sites without scaring away visitors.

Monks here describe a largely unseen web of controls that keep potential troublemakers in line: ubiquitous surveillance cameras, paid informers and plainclothes security agents who mingle among the busloads of tourists. Hidden from the throngs are the political education sessions during which monks are forced to denounce the Dalai Lama. Stiff jail sentences await those who step out of line. "If we don't obey, it will be terrible for us," the monk said.

Founded in the early 18th century, Labrang Monastery is tucked into the dusky hills of northwestern Gansu province. Each day, hundreds of Chinese tourists arrive to spin colorful prayer wheels lining the monastery perimeter and sip tea at hotels designed to resemble Tibetan nomadic tents. Along the town's main street, they buy turquoise-encrusted amulets, dress up in monks' robes and take turns trying on the ceremonial yellow hats that resemble mohawk-style haircuts. Officials hope that a recently completed airport will draw even bigger crowds.

In a monastery courtyard surrounded by whitewashed mud walls, a Chinese family from the provincial capital, Lanzhou, knelt down to pray to Buddha. "If you ask nicely, he'll make your wish come true," said the mother, Ming Yang, who acknowledged that her understanding of Buddhism ended there.

With an eye on the lucrative prestige of a UNESCO World Heritage listing, the central government is giving the monastery a $26 million face-lift. Around 1,000 monks and 65,000 volumes of Buddhist scripture are housed in the sprawling complex, which local officials say is in dire need of structural improvements.

Yet locals complain that much of the construction is aimed at increasing tourism, rather than benefiting Tibetans. "It looks fancy, but in reality all the improvements are for Chinese people," one said.

Tourism is rapidly reshaping much of the Tibetan plateau. According to the Xinhua state news agency, 6 million tourists visited Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, in the first eight months of this year, a 20 percent increase over the same period in 2012. The boom has attracted several international hotel chains to the city, which is under de facto martial law.

In May, Tibetan exile groups started a boycott campaign against the InterContinental Hotels Group, which is building a 2,000-room luxury resort next to the historic residence once occupied by the Dalai Lama.

In the wake of violent anti-Chinese protests that swept Tibet in 2008 and the wave of self-immolations that followed, security forces have tightened their grip. The crackdown reaches deep into the folds of Tibetan spirituality. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, officials have posted notices in Tibetan areas declaring it illegal to pray for self-immolators or to show solidarity "by burning incense, chanting religious scriptures, releasing animals from killing and lighting candles." At least two monks have been jailed for praying on behalf of self-immolators, the group said.

Exile groups say such tactics only alienate Tibetans further. "Even lighting a butter lamp or incense stick becomes an act against the state," Kate Saunders, communications director for the organization, said from London.

Yet local enforcement has been erratic. Nowhere is this more clear than at Labrang, where a framed photo of the Dalai Lama sits on an altar beside a large golden Buddha. For years, the government has banned photos of the Dalai Lama and forbidden Tibetans to worship him as a religious figure. Monks at Labrang said they believed local officials had decided to quietly tolerate such photos in an effort to head off further unrest.

On the tour, few of the Chinese day-trippers seemed to recognize the older, bespectacled man Beijing has called "a wolf in sheep's clothing." The monk guiding the group made no mention of his identity, lest it threaten the ticket sales and donations needed to cover operating costs.

But being the main attraction on a Buddhist safari has spiritual drawbacks.

"Chinese tourists just barge in when we're studying," a middle-aged monk said as he fingered a set of prayer beads. "It knocks on our minds, but they don't care."

Such complaints appear to be falling on deaf ears. During a tour of the region in July, China's top official in charge of ethnic minorities, Yu Zhengsheng, insisted that economic development was the panacea for what ailed Tibetans. In the same breath, he condemned the Dalai Lama's "middle way," which calls for genuine autonomy in Tibet but not independence, saying it conflicts with China's political system.

"Only when people's lives have been improved can they be better united with the Chinese Communist Party and become a reliable basis for maintaining stability," he said, according to Xinhua.

But local Tibetans seethe at China's refusal to recognize their most basic aspirations. "Our hope is that the Dalai Lama can return," said a monk, looking out for eavesdroppers while sitting at a cafe. "Without him, there is no chance our religion and culture will survive."

It costs a Tibetan his life to ensure two columns in a newspaper: Tenzin Tsundue

Tenzin Tsundue
"Tibetan struggle was primarily led by political activism on the streets to demonstrate our dissent. The biggest change in the last 10-15 years is that a deep sense of intellectual inquiry has crept in among the Tibetan youth. I think this is a huge leap. When a lot of people put in a lot of effort, it strengthens and sustains the community. It helps us define the freedom we are fighting for. The crux of the intellectual inquiry now is, ‘Are we demanding equal share of China’s mining in Tibet? Or China’s development in Tibet?’ Earlier, we would just deflect our protests to the Western media. Our demands and activism are changing now. A film festival like this tells our young people what the world is up to. And this, in turn, helps us in telling our own stories. A number of young people are using creative arts to exhibit their works.
I am deeply frustrated and angry that the international media has enough resources to report on the choice of clothes of celebrities, but is unable to and unwilling to investigate the causes of these self-immolations. It costs a Tibetan his life to ensure two columns or a picture in a newspaper. Much of the media is either state owned or corporate owned, with many having direct interests in China. This makes them naturally biased. The real reason behind these immolations is the brutal Chinese oppression of the Tibetan people, and the rejection of the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. Even after 121 cases of immolation so far, China continues to say that this was at the instigation of exiled Tibetans. At the ground level though, we will do anything to stop a self-immolation. When a Tibetan tried to immolate himself in Dharamshala in March this year, our activists stopped him from doing so and counselled him later."

Friday, 25 October 2013

China on the defensive as 11 countries challenge its policies in Tibet

Eleven countries spoe up to urge China to improve the human rights of Tibetans at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on October 22. The delegates cited the lack of religious freedom, minority rights, and access of UN officials to Tibet, and called on China to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama, during oral questioning at the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China’s human rights record.

The questioning represented a broadening and deepening of concern for Tibet from China’s previous UPR in 2009, when four countries specifically mentioned Tibet at the Council session. More than 130 countries spoke up on China’s rights record, with many critical, and some, such as Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Russia, supportive. Each country was given only about 50 seconds to make a statement.

At the end of the session, China dismissed the concerns of countries that highlighted concerns about its human rights record (see below). Its full reply to oral and written questions will be reported on October 25.

Canada (00.55.06): “Stop the prosecution and persecution of people for the practice of their religion or belief, including … Tibetans … and set a date for the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief.”

Czech Republic (01.06.43): “Protect ethnic and religious minorities including Tibetans and Uyghurs and stop all disproportionate policies against them while addressing their discontent in a non violent dialogical manner.”

France (01.18.17): “Given the concerns aroused by the human rights situation of … Tibet to follow up to the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief to go to this region.”

Germany (01.20.19): “To ensure democratic participation of members of all ethnic minorities, and allow unhindered access to all minority areas including Tibet.”

Japan (01.55.04): “Human rights and the fundamental freedoms must be ensured for minority groups such as Tibetans and Uyghurs. Japan recommends that further efforts be made to securing all human rights, including cultural rights for minorities.”

New Zealand (02.20.47): “As a consistent supporter of dialogue to achieve meaningful outcomes that address the interests of all communities in Tibet, New Zealand recommends China resume the two way dialogue in Tibet”

Poland (02.27.44): “Poland notes the joint communications of eight Special Procedures with regards to alleged systematic attempts to undermine the rights to freedom of religion, culture and expression of the Tibetan Buddhist community. Poland recommends that China takes the necessary measures to ensure that the rights of religion, culture and expression are fully observed and protected in every administrative entity of China.”

Switzerland (03.15.13): “Switzerland takes note of the candidacy of China for the council. In this context Switzerland recommends that they facilitate visits of OHCHR and Special Procedures including to Tibetan and Uyghur areas”

United Kingdom (03.27.45): “We also remain concerned about the human rights situation in ethnic minority areas including … Tibet in particular with respect to the protection of cultural rights and religious freedoms.”

United States (03.30.00): “Protect the rights of ethnic minority groups including Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongolians, in accordance with the Chinese constitution and international human rights commitments.”

Iceland (03.35.16): “Facilitate the access of Special Rapporteurs on various human rights issues in Tibetan areas.”

In China’s final reply (03.36.40), its delegate said that, “Some countries in their comments equated security actions to protect civilians as ethnic cleaning, and called certain criminals in China as human rights defenders. Normal judicial procedures were called political persecution. This is a typical case of politicizing human rights… The best persons to know human rights in China are Chinese.”

China admits human rights shortcomings

Students for a Free Tibet organizationGENEVA -- Faced with a UN review of its human rights, China acknowledged Tuesday that it still faces shortcomings but insists it has reduced poverty, deepened judicial reforms and protections of ethnic minorities.

China put its pride and promise to better itself on display at the UN's Human Rights Council, which reviews each nation's record once every four years, as human rights groups and activists called attention to what they described as serious abuses and violations of international protections such as crackdowns on human rights defenders and ethnic Tibetan and Uighur populations.

Tibetan activists, meanwhile, managed to get past UN security and enter the grounds of the Palais des Nations, where the meeting is being held, and unfurl a banner denouncing China's rule in Tibet.

Other nations called for better treatment of women, disabled people, and ethnic minorities and for a wide range of judicial improvements, such as an easing in death penalty cases and detentions of human rights defenders.A special envoy for China's foreign ministry, Wu Hailong, launched the three-hour session in the 47-nation Council with a speech that the nation has made many improvements but acknowledged the difficulties of a big, fast-growing country with more than 1.3 billion people and 56 ethnic groups.

China said that since the last such review in 2009, when it accepted 42 recommendations by other countries, the country had reduced poverty, deepened reforms of the judicial systems and protections for ethnic minority groups, along with helping to spread "the right to development" among other developing countries.

"Unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development remains an acute problem," Wo told the Geneva-based Council.

He also acknowledged that social programs lag "in parts of the ethnic minority regions" and there was insufficient human rights "awareness" among law enforcement personnel.

"We are soberly aware that China still faces many difficulties and challenges in promoting and protecting human rights," Wu said.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

China blames Dalai Lama for border dispute with India

BEIJING: China on Tuesday blamed Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and his supporters for creating border problems between India and China.

"After the failure of their armed rebellion in 1959, they fled abroad and began to harass China's borders for years," said a white paper, issued as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh landed in Beijing for a three-day visit.

Observers said the link indicates China would raise the issue of the Dalai Lama's presence in India with the Prime Minister and seek curbs on his "anti-China" activities.

The paper said the Tibetan leader's main purpose is to "overthrow the socialist system and the system of regional ethnic autonomy that is practiced in Tibet''. It added he wants "to rock the systemic foundations that have ensured the development and progress of Tibet''.

The document cited the Dalai Lama's suggestions like "Greater Tibet" and "a high degree of autonomy" and said they were against "China's actual conditions and violate the Constitution and relevant laws".

It said 94% adult Tibetans had voted to elect local leaders to suggest support for the government's stand and little backing for the Dalai Lama.

"There are some others in the world, who intentionally distort the past and present of Tibet due to their ideological bias or out of consideration for their self interests. They created a 'Shangri-La' myth, wishing to keep Tibet in a backward primitive state forever," it said.

Tibet must be lesson for Taiwan: Chinese dissident

The 10th Panchen Lama was murdered by former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), a prominent Chinese dissident said in Taipei yesterday as he warned that Beijing’s cultural genocide in Tibet could serve an example for those Taiwanese who still have false expectations of China.

Citing the findings from his private interviews with Chinese and Tibetan officials, Yuan Hongbing (袁紅兵) told a press conference that the 10th Panchen Lama, Choekyi Gyaltsen, was poisoned to death in January 1989 rather than dying from a heart attack as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claimed.

Yuan, a Chinese writer who sought political asylum in Australia in 2004, detailed the findings in a book he co-wrote with Tibetan author Namloyak Dhungser titled Shafo (殺佛) — killing a Buddha — which has since been published in Taiwan.

The assassination was plotted by former Chinese presidents Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) and Li Xiannian (李先念), and Bo Yibo (薄一波), father of disgraced Chinese official Bo Xilai (薄熙來), and he was executed by Hu and Wen, said Yuan, who first revealed the allegation in 2011.

However, the reason Taiwanese should pay attention to Tibet is far more than the Panchen Lama’s death, he said, as they should understand that Beijing’s cultural genocide spanning several decades had caused the death of 1.2 million Tibetans and at least 126 cases of self-immolation in recent years.

“I would say that Tibet is far away and close to Taiwan at the same time, because what happened and is happening in Tibet could happen in Taiwan in the future,” Yuan said. “When President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) suggested that the cross-strait flights are domestic flights, that told you how close Taiwan could be to becoming the next Tibet.”

The signing of a peace agreement with Beijing in 1951 and the retreat from being an independent country to an autonomous region had both failed to bring Tibetans the peace and religious freedom they deserve, Yuan said, and the CCP was never serious about keeping its promises.

“[Beijing] has never stopped oppressing the Tibetan people in the past six decades. When you realize that, I don’t know what expectations Taiwanese could have of the CCP,” Yuan said.

National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is mulling running in the Taipei mayoral election next year, said Yuan’s book was a reminder to Taiwanese about what they could learn from Tibet.

“It is also important for Beijing to understand that what happened in Tibet was why most Taiwanese still have doubts about China’s ‘peaceful unification’ pledge. Past experiences show that the CCP has not been trustworthy,” Ko said.

UN criticises China's rights record at Geneva meeting

File photo: Xi JinpingThis is the first time China's record is being examined under President Xi Jinping

The UN human rights council has criticised China during an official review of its human rights record.

Many members of the council expressed concern at the arrest of dissidents, the continued use of the death penalty and the use of torture in prison.

But Chinese officials said major progress had been made in improving social and economic rights.

They said people had better access to healthcare and education, and incomes had risen across the country.

But Julie de Rivero, of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC that China's focus on economic progress was a way of avoiding the real issues.

"The question is why does does China continue to torture people in prisons and why is it systematic? Why do they not allow human rights defenders to raise questions that party members are even raising, about corruption? When it comes from the mouth of a human rights defender it earns them a place in prison," she said.

All UN member states undergo the review by the UN once every four years.

In 2009 it was recommended that China make improvements in reducing poverty and support the rights of ethnic minorities.

Human rights groups say China has failed to address these and other issues.

Ahead of proceedings on Tuesday, at least three Tibet activists scaled scaffolding at the UN headquarters in Geneva, with a banner saying: "China human rights - UN stand up on Tibet".

A Chinese government white paper released on Tuesday said that Beijing had no intention of altering its "correct" policies in Tibet as they had brought "unprecedented achievements".

Activists missing

Members of the UN panel also expressed concern about the treatment of a number of Chinese human rights activists in recent weeks.

A BBC correspondent says several have been arrested or banned from travelling in a bid to prevent them testifying in Geneva.

On Monday, a wealthy Chinese businessman, Wang Gongquan, was formally arrested on suspicion of "gathering crowds to disturb public order".

Mr Wang is considered a key supporter of a group of activists pushing for more official transparency, New Citizens Movement, which has been targeted in a crackdown this year.

Human Rights Watch has also expressed concern about a well-known legal rights activist who recently disappeared after being questioned by Beijing airport police.

The group says Cao Shunli has not been seen since 14 September, when she was barred from boarding a flight to Switzerland to attend a UN human rights training course.

A number of bloggers and journalists have also been detained over alleged "rumour-mongering", and high-profile micro-bloggers targeted.

The UN panel - with a rotating membership of 47 states that does not currently include China - has no binding powers.

The UN is expected to deliver a report on China later this week.

Tibetan self-immolations send unequivocal message to the world

Dharamshala: In response to the Chinese Government 'White Paper', the Tibetan Administration on Wednesday said the massive wave of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule is sending an "unequivocal" political message to the world about the failed policies in Tibet.

"The white paper issued by the Chinese government on 22 October is replete with information about Chinese state investment towards development in Tibet," said information Kalon Dicki Chhoyang of the Central Tibetan Administration.

"Yet, the 121 self- immolations that have taken place in Tibetan areas since 2009 as a form of political protest send an unequivocal message to the world that the policies in Tibet have failed to address the aspirations of the Tibetan people," she added.

She said that Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the US, the UK and Iceland raised their concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet.

"They pressed China over its systematic attempts to undermine the rights to freedom of religion, culture and expression and recommended China take necessary measures to ensure that the rights of Tibetans and other ethnic minorities are fully observed and protected. Furthermore China, they said should facilitate visits of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Procedures to assess the real situation in Tibet," Kalon Dicki added.

Kolan Dicki's response came after a Chinese official white paper claimed Tibetan people are "happy and healthy" and China has no intention of altering its "correct" policies in the restive region of Tibet as it has brought unprecedented achievements.

A total of 121 Tibetans in Tibet however have so far burned themselves in protest against Beijing's failed policies in Tibet. They called for freedom for Tibetan people and the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

In a lengthy policy paper carried by the Chinese state controlled media 'Xinhua news agency', the government said that Tibet under Chinese rule had achieved a great deal. "Today's Tibet is developing economically, making progress politically, has a flourishing culture, a harmonious society and a good environment; its people are happy and healthy," it said, adding "Tibet's development cannot be separated from this correct path."

The white paper rejected the criticism that it is eroding Tibetan culture and faith, saying that "any fair-minded person would be filled with amazement" at the advancements China has bought to Tibet. It repeated China's assertion that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is intent on pushing for Tibet's independence to sabotage its development and stability.

"There are some others in the world who intentionally distort the past and present of Tibet due to their ideological bias or out of consideration for their self interests. They created a 'Shangri-La' myth, wishing to keep Tibet in a backward primitive state forever," the white paper added.

In january, the Central Tibetan Administration issued its own white paper entitled "Why Tibet Is Burning" on the fundamental reasons for the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibet.

The official paper stated that "the reason lies in China's massive policy failure in Tibet over the course of more than 60 years of its rule. The revolution that is brewing in Tibet is driven by political repression, cultural assimilation, social discrimination, economic marginalisation and environmental destruction."

"China's failure to solve the fundamental problem of its rule in Tibet was foreseen in the early days of Chinese rule in Tibet by eminent Tibetan leaders working within the Chinese communist establishment," the Tibetan paper added, saying "as far back as the early 1960s, these Tibetan leaders strongly decried Chinese communist rule."

The White Paper on Self-Immolations stated "many Tibetan intellectuals and cadres who work in the communist establishment in Tibet make their judgment of Chinese communist rule in these terms:

"In the first 10 years (1950-60) we lost our land (i.e. communist China invaded Tibet). In the second 10 years (1960-70) we lost political power (the government of old Tibet was replaced by the communist establishment). In the third 10 years (1970-1980) we lost our culture (the Cultural Revolution destroyed Tibet's traditional beliefs). In the fourth 10 years (1980-90) we lost our economy (Chinese settlers took over the job market in Tibet)."

Monday, 21 October 2013

New Chinese leadership should use common sense: His Holiness the Dalai Lama

DHARAMSHALA: Reiterating that Tibetans do not seek separation from China, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has expressed hope that the new Chinese leadership will use common sense and follow Deng Xiaoping’s wisdom of seeking truth from facts.

Delivering a public talk on ‘The Virtue of Non-Violence’ in New York on 20 October, His Holiness said that over the last 60 years four distinct eras can be seen: Mao’s era of ideology; Deng Xiaoping’s era of creating wealth; Jiang Zemin’s welcoming the better-off into the party and Hu Jintao’s not entirely successful attempts to secure a harmonious society. Harmony is essential, but it is secured by trust and respect and not by use of force, he said.

“Now a new era associated with Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang has begun, in which it may be hoped they will exercise common sense and follow Deng’s admonition to seek truth from facts,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said.

He said every week 10-20 Chinese come to Dharamsala to see him.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama reiterated that overwhelming number of Tibetans do not seek independence but genuine autonomy for Tibet within the framework of the Chinese constitution. “90% of the 6 million Tibetans in Tibet feel our goal is realistic and can work. Of the 100,000 or so living in free countries, again about 90% support us. A small group think differently. One or two of them want outright independence,” he said.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama further said that most of the world leaders that he met advised him to work things out with the Chinese through dialogue. He explained that if we continue pursuing independence, the international community, not even the UN, would support our cause.

Therefore, we have proposed the Middle Way Approach to deal with the Chinese. This has helped the Chinese policy of opening up Tibet and allowing greater freedom of movements for Tibetans to visit outside and vice versa. Fact-finding missions were sent to Tibet to asses the situation, His Holiness said.

“We want to modernize Tibet. But we must be able to preserve our fragile natural environment, whose waters serve a billion people in Asia, and we must be able to protect our culture, language and religion. Once again, monastic centers must be revived to be the center of learning for students from all parts of Tibet inlcuding Kham and Amdo. This is a unity we seek to restore,” His Holiness said.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Dalai Lama accused of seeking Tibetan independence!

Beijing: A senior Chinese official has denounced the Dalai Lama's long-standing pursuit of autonomy for Tibet, describing it as equivalent to advocating Tibetan independence, state media said on Saturday.

The comments by Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory body to parliament, signal that China would probably refuse to pursue a compromise with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama, who fled China in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, is considered a violent separatist by Beijing. The India-based Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

"In the fundamental sense, 'high-level autonomy' means Tibet's independence," Zhu was quoted as saying in the China Daily newspaper. "It is separated into two steps. The first step is so-called autonomy. The second one is actual independence."

The Dalai Lama's brand of autonomy "is against China's autonomy system and does nothing but insert secessionist elements into China's regional ethnic autonomy law", Zhu was quoted as saying.

The Dalai Lama's approach, called the "Middle Way" by Tibetans, seeks a Hong Kong-style autonomy for the region, with Tibetans to respect Chinese sovereignty over their homeland but have a greater say over religious and cultural affairs.

Some Tibetan activists have expressed frustration with the "Middle Way" and have pressed for independence, not just autonomy. Years of autonomy talks between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government broke down in 2010.

Tensions over the issue are at their highest in years after a spate of self-immolation protests by Tibetans, which have led to an intensified security crackdown.

More than 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2009, mainly in heavily ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces rather than in what China terms the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Most of those who set themselves on fire have died.

China defends its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation of serfs and economic stagnation until 1950, when Communist troops "peacefully liberated" Tibet and introduced "democratic reforms" in 1959.

On Monday, China denounced a decision by a Spanish criminal court to indict former Chinese president Hu Jintao for genocide as part of an investigation into whether his government committed abuses in Tibet.

Friday, 18 October 2013

His Holiness says there will be change in Tibet within next 10-15 years

Tibet-Mexico-2013Mexico City, Mexico 14 October 2013 - His Holiness the Dalai Lama began a final busy day in Mexico City by giving an interview to Adela Micha of Televisa. She began by telling her viewers that she was speaking in person to the Dalai Lama and asked him how he sees himself, to which he answered: "As just another human being."

She asked his view on the status of women in Buddhism and His Holiness replied that 2600 years ago women were treated equally. As human history unfolded men took over leadership because of their physical strength. He added that education now compensates for that inequality and he looks forward to women filling more leadership roles.

His Holiness was asked about the issue of Tibet and siad that he expects to see change within the next 10-15 years.

On the subject of young Tibetans criticizing his approach he said that they lacked experience and a holistic view of the issues involved. He then outlined his past meetings with Mao Zedong, Pandit Nehru and the UN, stating that all Tibetans should have the opportunity to preserve their culture and language etc.

His Holiness then sat quietly in the Arena where he was going to teach and a Sanskrit recitation of the Heart Sutra was recited. He then talked about generating the awakening mind of Bodhichitta and pointed out that when he conducts such a ceremony, rather than just a lecture, a bond is formed between teacher and student. Therefore, he requested that anyone who propitiates Gyalpo Shugden should leave the arena. The 5th Dalai Lama described Shugden as a perfidious spirit who brought only harm to the Dharma and sentient beings.

The assembled crowd then recited the appropriate verses from the 'Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life' and then His Holiness led them in reciting the verses for generating the awakening mind of Bodhichitta, the altruistic aspiration to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.

Tony Karam, the organiser, thanked His Holiness on behalf of Casa Tibet Mexico and read out a financial statement. A donation to the Dalai Lama Trust would be made from surplus funds.

During a lunch break His Holiness was interviewed by Fernanda Gonzalez Vilchis, Editor of the National Geographic Magazine. Pictures of Lhasa appeared in the very first edition and she offered His Holiness archive photographs including some of the Potala Palace in 1946. His Holiness told her that he had found copies that belonged to his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama and that he regularly received the magazine when he was in Tibet.

His Holiness returned to the Arena to meet a number of members from other faiths. There were 12000 in the audience, which was free to enter, and tickets had been distributed to students who in turn were allowed to invite teachers, parents and friends.

His Holiness began by noting that the young people in the audience belong to the 21st century and it will be their responsibility to shape the future and make this 'a time when disputes are settled by dialogue.' He said that they will need 'vision' and 'determination and self-confidence.'

His Holiness then answered several questions and left the Arena to much applause.

former Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife came to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They met privately for a few minutes before walking with him from the main house to the newly established Vicente Fox Center of Studies, Library and Museum.

WeChat leads to the arrest a mother of three in Driru, Tibet

DHARAMSALA, October 17 - A Tibetan woman named Kalsang from Tsala township in Driru was arrested by Chinese police on October 11, 2013, a Tibetan source with reliable local contacts said. The Chinese police arrested her from Dejang Hotel on Nagchu highway around 11 AM last Friday. 

The Chinese authorities allege that Kalsang had expressed "anti China" sentiments in social networking app WeChat and kept "banned pictures of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama" in her cellular phone. They also allege that she has stored banned Tibetan songs in her phone. 

Her relatives who went to demand justification for her arrest were turned away by the authorities who said they would not comment on anything until a decision is reached regarding the allegations against her. The authorities told her family and relatives that they did not know where she is currently. 

The situation in Driru is still tense with the authorities strictly monitoring all communication lines and transport in Driru. 

Tensions escalated after Chinese authorities in Diru forced Tibetans in several villages to hoist the Chinese national flag atop their houses days before China's national day on October 1. 

Sources say 4 Tibetans have died due to gunshots fired on October 8 but it could not be verified. 

WeChat's popularity has grown dramatically since its launch in 2011. For Tibetans in Tibet and those in exile, WeChat has become the most used mode of communication through its walkie-talkie style messaging. However, activists and experts fear that the app's voice-messaging service enables security officials to monitor users' movements in real time and access other information shared via the app.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

H. H. the Dalai Lama: Basic Meditation posture

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
"First, look to your posture: arrange the legs in the most comfortable position; set the backbone straight as an arrow. Place your hands in the position of meditative equipoise, four finger widths below your navel, with the left hand on the bottom, right hand on top, and your thumbs touching to form a triangle. This placement of the hands has connection with the place inside the body where inner heat is generated. Bending the neck down slightly, allow the mouth and teeth to be as usual, with the top of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth near the top teeth. Let the eyes gaze downwards loosely -- it is not necessary that they be directed to the end of the nose; they can be pointed toward the floor in front of you if that seems more natural. Do not open the eyes too wide nor forcefully close them; leave them open a little. Sometimes they will close of their own accord; that is all right. Even if your eyes are open, when your mental consciousness becomes steady upon its object, these appearances to the eye consciousness will not disturb you."

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Raise the Chinese flag on your roof or face the gunfire

tibet-homeflag-oct2013.gifResidents of a Tibetan township in western China’s Qinghai province are refusing demands by authorities to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes after deadly protests against similar orders swept a county in the neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) earlier this month, sources said.

Only a few households in the Tsodru township of the Genkhuk district, Chentsa (in Chinese, Jianzha) county, in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture have complied with the demands, the sources said.

The refusal highlights what appears to be a growing resistance, even outside the TAR, to forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state and the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The order made at the weekend targeted Tibetan homes, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday.

“Against the will of the local Tibetans, the Chinese demanded that Tibetan families fly the Chinese flag from their houses on Oct. 13,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


To date, only 15 out of about 300 families in the district have obeyed the order, a second area resident told RFA, calling even this minimal level of compliance “bad news.”

“Some Tibetan families in my village have hoisted the Chinese flag. This is a disgrace to the Tibetan people, and we feel sad and disappointed,” the source said, also speaking anonymously.

“I don’t know when the rest of our homes will be forced to put up with this. As for myself, I will never raise the flag, even if it means my death,” he said.

The order to put up the flags was issued through district chairman Sonam Kyab and other township leaders, the source said, adding that an ornamental gate topped by a Chinese flag had been erected at the township’s entrance on Sunday.

“We wish that we had never been born into such an environment,” he said.

Deadly protests

The move followed weeks of protests in Driru (Biru) county in the TAR’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture this month in which Tibetan villagers refused to fly Chinese flags from their homes, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.

Shootings in Driru’s Sengthang and Trinring villages on Oct. 8 left four dead and at least 50 injured, sources said.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 6, security forces shot and wounded at least 60 Driru-area Tibetans demanding the release of a villager who had led protests against Chinese orders to hoist the flags.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 122 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

China denounces Spanish court's Tibet case against ex-president

China's President Hu Jintao makes a press statement in the historic Hofburg palace in Vienna October 31, 2011. Hu arrived for an official three day visit to Austria. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer(Reuters) - China denounced on Monday a decision by a Spanish criminal court to indict former Chinese president Hu Jintao for genocide as part of an investigation into whether his government committed abuses in Tibet.

The Spanish National Court last week accepted a Tibetan advocacy group's appeal in a case asserting that Hu had supported genocidal policies when he was Communist Party secretary in the Himalayan region from 1988-1992 and after he took over as China's head of state in 2003.

The ruling could lead to moves to seek Hu's arrest in Spain or other countries with which it shares an extradition treaty, though in practice he is unlikely to ever face a Spanish court.

"We firmly oppose any country or person attempting to use this issue to interfere with China's internal affairs," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.

Communist Chinese troops took control of Tibet in 1950.

China says it "peacefully liberated" the remote mountainous region that it says was mired in poverty, exploitation and economic stagnation.

Tibet's Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. Exiled Tibetan groups are campaigning for the return of the Dalai Lama and self-rule for their region.

Hua said the group that launched the legal case was trying to damage the "extremely friendly" relations between China and Spain.

"The Tibetan group's purpose is extremely obvious and its political motives are sinister - to destroy the relations between China and the relevant country and to attack China's government," Hua said.

Hu was succeeded as president in March by Xi Jinping.

China's human rights policy comes up for scrutiny at the Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations in Geneva on October 22, when groups and governments will be given the chance to press China on issues ranging from the death penalty to the treatment of dissidents.

The Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet called the ruling "ground-breaking". It says China's policies in Tibet have led to "a climate of terror", in which people face torture and pressure to denounce the Dalai Lama.

More than 120 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against Chinese rule since 2009, mainly in heavily ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces rather than in what China terms the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Most of those who set themselves on fire have died.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Four Tibetans Shot Dead in Driru County

tibet-troops-oct2013.gifChinese security forces have shot dead four Tibetan villagers and wounded 50 others in a continuing crackdown on protests in a Tibetan county opposing a government campaign of forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, sources said.

The shooting deaths in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture on Tuesday were the first reported fatalities since the authorities began a crackdown last month on Tibetans protesting against orders to fly the Chinese flag from their homes, the sources said, citing the tight security situation for the delay in transmitting the news. 

Last Sunday, security forces shot and wounded at least 60 Tibetans as they fired into a crowd demanding the release of a villager who had led protests against the Chinese orders.

The latest shooting occurred as Chinese paramilitary police flooded the county to suppress the unrest.

“On Tuesday morning, three Tibetans from Sengthang village and one Tibetan from Tinring village were killed when the Chinese opened fire on protesters,” a Tibetan source in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday, citing sources in the region.

“Around fifty Tibetans from Yangthang village were also injured,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Additional paramilitary forces have been sent to Driru from [the Tibetan capital] Lhasa and from Nagchu, and some have also been sent from the Karmo region,” he said.

“Driru is now flooded with Chinese paramilitary police, and Tibetans are being stopped from traveling with no reason given.”

Many detained

Separately, a Driru resident confirmed the deaths of those killed in Sengthang, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Today, I learned that three Tibetans were killed in the area of Sengthang,” he said. “I was also told that many Tibetans from Driru who now live in Lhasa are being detained.”

The names of those killed in the shooting were not immediately available.

Speaking from exile, a Tibetan with contacts in Driru said that Chinese police are confiscating the mobile phones of Lhasa residents with contacts in the county.

“Some contacts told me that if no messages are received, I should assume they have been detained by the police,” the source, named Tashi Gyaltsen, said.

'Better to die'

Many said that even if they are detained or killed, “it is better to die than to live under these conditions,” Gyaltsen said.

“They say that now they cannot move from place to place, and are prisoners in their own homes.”

On Sept. 3, an elderly Tibetan was detained and severely beaten for shouting slogans for Tibetan freedom at a Driru cultural show where Tibetans were required to wave Chinese flags, triggering protests. 

Dayang, 68, who is recovering in hospital with internal injuries resulting from alleged police torture, has been ordered jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 122 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Monk suspect in monastery founder's death

A MONK is a suspect in the murder of Dr Choje Akong Rinpoche, the co-founder of the first Buddhist monastery in the UK.

The Tibetan Buddhist monk is one of three Tibetan suspects apprehended after Dr Rinpoche, 73, his nephew and driver were killed in a residential area of Chengdu.

Yesterday prayers were being said for Dr Rinpoche at the Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Eskdalemuir, Dumfries and Galloway, Europe's biggest and oldest Tibetan religious centre.

Dr Rinpoche's younger brother Yeshe Losal Rinpoche announced the launch of a memorial fund in his honour "dedicated to his memory" and to continue his humanitarian work.

"The tragic news of Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche's sudden death has deeply affected everyone who knew him. Rinpoche was highly respected and loved by many thousands of people all over the world and we intend to do everything to honour the passing of such a great being."

Buddhist nun and course leader at the Eskdalemuir monastery Gelongma Zangmo, who was close to Dr Rinpoche said: "Of course we know who was responsible, there is no question about it. We are all devastated here."

The monastery was set up 1967 and about 60 people, including monks and volunteers, are believed to live there.

Ms Zangmo added: "He was a remarkable man. He was brother, mother, uncle, cousin, adviser and doctor."

The Karma Leksheyling Buddhist educational institute in Nepal described the death as "an immense loss for the world".

Representatives of the institute said: "We are deeply saddened to learn about the tragic passing of Most Excellent Akong Rinpoche and wish to forward our deepest condolence to everyone who is close or associated with him, directly or indirectly.

"He is the Great Master who not only worked for the Lineage but also built many schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly and organised soup kitchens for needy people in Asia and Africa."

Tributes poured in to the Scottish monastery's Facebook page. Ann Pryce said: "Shocking news that men of peace die in such a violent way. In my prayers."

And Sydney Leijenhorst added: "Sad news about one of the forefathers of Tibetan Buddhism in the West."

Spanish court indicts China's ex-president Hu Jintao on genocide charges

Spain’s National Court has agreed to hear charges of genocide against former Chinese President Hu Jintao.

On Thursday, the court’s criminal division ruled in favour of an appeal by Tibetan exile groups allowing the indictment of Hu, a request which had been dismissed in June by the same court.

The court, which handles crimes against humanity and genocide, argued that the earlier decision had to be overturned because one of the plaintiffs, Thubten Wangchen, is a Spanish citizen and because China had not carried out its own investigation into the allegations.

“There’ll be some sort of diplomatic reaction,” said Nina Jorgensen, an associate professor at the Chinese Univeristy of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law. “China has been very much against these proceedings.”

“But in all likelihood, not a lot will happen,” she cautioned. “The case brings attention to the issue and gives the victims at least an opportunity to bring attention to their claims.”

Spanish courts can hear cases of crimes against humanity wherever they occur outside its national territory on the legal principle of universal competence. In 2009, the universality was limited to cases in which Spanish citizens are victims of such crimes.

The court’s decision follows lengthy proceedings which started in 2008, when Tibetan activist groups, one of them headed by Wangchen, asked the court to hold seven Chinese state leaders, including former President Jiang Zemin and former Premier Li Peng, responsible for crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the Chinese government in Tibet. China denounced the trial proceedings.

Hu Jintao served as Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region between 1988 and 1992, overseeing a crackdown on anti-Chinese riots in 1989.

The court “recognises that this genocide is against the country of Tibet and against the Tibetan nation, and the judges recognise that this indictment of Hu Jintao comes at the precise judicial moment ‘when his diplomatic immunity expires’”, the Madrid-based Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet, a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

China employing two million people as "web police" to monitor Internet

internet-cafe-us-635.jpgChina is employing two million people to keep tabs on people's Internet use, according to state media, in a rare glimpse into the secret world of Beijing's vast online surveillance operation.

Many of the employees are simply performing keyword searches to monitor the tens of millions of messages being posted daily on popular social media and microblogging sites, the Beijing News said.

The exact number of people employed to trawl through the Internet in a bid to prevent social unrest and limit criticism of the ruling Community party has long been the subject of speculation.

The "web police" are employed by the government's propaganda arm, as well as by commercial sites, the Beijing News said.

It said that despite their large number, the monitors are not always able to prevent comments that are deemed by the government to be undesirable from being published and reposted.

China's censorship authorities tightly control online content for fear of political or social unrest that could challenge the Communist party's grip on power.

Authorities in recent years banned the popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter, which were instrumental in the wave of uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa from late 2010 in what became known as the Arab Spring.

Last year authorities blocked The New York Times after it cited financial records showing relatives of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion a report China branded a smear.

In recent months authorities have ramped up already strict censoring of domestic social media sites such as the popular microblog service Sina Weibo.

They have detained hundreds of people for spreading "rumours" online, and warned high-profile bloggers with millions of followers to post more positive comments.

The Supreme Court said this month that Internet users could face three years in jail if "slanderous" information spread online is viewed more than 5,000 times or forwarded more than 500 times.

China has more than 500 million Internet users, making it the world's largest online population.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

China bars Tibetan students from studying abroad

DHARAMSHALA: A group of Tibetan students in Machen area in northeastern have been denied passports by Chinese authorities to study overseas. The students are now staging protests outside the provincial government offices demanding that they be allowed to go, Radio Free Asia said in a report.

The Tibetan students, mostly from poor nomadic families in Machen area of Golog region in northeastern Tibet (incorporated into China’s Qinghai province), had been selected in July based on test scores to attend schools in Japan and Washington state in the US.

“On July 8, representatives arrived at the Girls’ School of the Tibetan Pastureland to recruit students for an American school called Skagit Valley College. Verbal and written tests were conducted for those girls who graduated this year, and 42 students passed the tests and were selected to study abroad in the US. On July 9, a second group of 34—21 students from the Girls’ School of the Tibetan Pastureland and 13 from the Qinghai Institute of Nationalities—was selected to study in Japan,” RFA quoted a source as saying.

Some of the selected students have already left for Japan.

Later the authorities stopped issuing passports to the remaining students. The students protested against the unfair treatment in front of provincial capital Xining government offices. They argued that if the children of high-ranking officials are permitted to travel for study abroad, students coming from common families on the grassland should be allowed the same rights, RFA reported.

Chinese police fire at Tibetan protesters

Tibetans confronting Chinese authorities in Driru, eastern Tibet.BEIJING: A US-backed broadcaster says Chinese security forces fired into a crowd of Tibetan protesters demanding the release of a fellow villager.

Radio Free Asia said on Tuesday that Chinese police also fired tear gas at the protesters in Biru county of the Tibet Autonomous Region and that dozens were injured.

The report could not be independently confirmed. Calls to local Communist Party and government offices rang unanswered.

The International Campaign for Tibet earlier reported that authorities have intensified a security presence in Biru county and nearby areas after residents refused to display Chinese flags to commemorate National Day on October 1.

Meanwhile, an official Chinese newspaper said authorities have detained more than 100 people in a restive Muslim region since late June for the spread of "religious extremism.''

Sunday, 6 October 2013

This is what happens when Tibetan villages refuse to fly the Chinese flag

A 2008 photo shows the Tibetan capital of Lhasa adorned with Chinese flags. (Getty)One of China's creepier policies in the Tibetan Autonomous Region is a 2011 initiative known as the "nine haves." Some of the nine are about development ("to have roads, to have water, to have electricity"), but one is less about helping Tibetans and more about entrenching Beijing's control in a region that doesn't seem to want it: "to have a national flag." Every house and monastery building would be required to fly the crimson, five-starred flag of China. (Monasteries are also required to display portraits of Chinese leaders.) It was to be a show of submission to Chinese rule and a continuation of Tibet's slow cultural dilution.

The rural Tibetan county of Driru, though, has defied the rule, with villagers refusing to fly the flag. On Sept. 27, Chinese authorities responded by sending in "thousands" of Chinese troops to force up the flags, according to Tibetan exile outlets and Radio Free Asia, a U.S. government-backed outlet that's among the few foreign media organizations regularly reporting on Tibet. Now, a week later, Chinese flags are still not flying.

Some Tibetans initially clashed with the troops when they arrived, precipitating a tight security clampdown. "Groups of seven paramilitary policemen have been stationed at each house and are watching the Tibetans,” an unnamed Tibetan local told Radio Free Asia. “Villagers are not being allowed to tend to their animals, and any Tibetan found loitering in the town is being taken away."

Earlier in the week, hundreds of Tibetans reportedly gathered in the Driru county seat, a village called Mowa, to protest on behalf of the civilians who had been taken away by the Chinese troops. It's estimated that 40 locals have been taken.

The most significant moment may have been on Tuesday, Oct. 1. That was China's National Day, the equivalent of America's July 4, a major national holiday – and one in which the flag is particularly important. It seems likely that the troops had arrived to ensure that all Chinese flags would fly in Tibet by the National Day. They didn't – and photos of Driru, taken clandestinely by locals, make it appear as akin to a military occupation.

Tibetans in Driru have held a number of protests against Chinese rule. In August 2012, demonstrations against Chinese mining expansion there ended when a Chinese troops shot and killed one of the protesters. Locals held more anti-mining protests in May.

The nature of China's rule has changed dramatically over the past four decades, easing with remarkable speed from the indoctrination and totalitarianism of Mao Zedong's era to the market reforms and flexible civil rights of today. But these sorts of stories from Tibet – portraits of political leaders required to be displayed in monasteries, national flags forced up over the homes of villagers – are a reminder that some of the old habits still remain.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

When it comes to China, which side is Germany on?

Angela Merkel Xi Jinping
A long-running dispute between the EU and China over the prosaic, but economically significant, matter of solar panels has thrown up a fundamental question: which side is Germany on? The trade war concerned billions of pounds of Chinese panels that Europe suspected were being heavily subsidised and then "dumped" on the European market. Germany led the opposition to taking punitive action against the Chinese.

"What is certain is that the Germans have taken up almost word for word the rhetoric of the Chinese trade ministry," said a European diplomat from one of the countries in favour of imposing sanctions on China.

There's a paradox at play here: it is German manufacturers who wanted the European commission to look into the solar panel issue. But for the German leadership there are bigger matters to consider, not least the country's burgeoning "special relationship" with the Asian powerhouse.

China is now Germany's third largest trade partner, after France and the Netherlands. The German economy would have certainly been the first to suffer in the case of a commercial war: almost 50% of European exports to China come from Germany. China accounts for 7% of German exports.

The synergy between the two giants is known: the "factory of the world" imports useful German machine tools and technology. China also wants to replicate the German model of professional training. Chinese investment in Germany is also growing.

"At the stage where China is at the moment, it wants to learn from these German familial societies which have a long tradition of branding," says Gao Zhikai, vice-president of Sino-Europe United Investment Corporation, an investment structure of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.

The acquisition in January 2012 by China's Sany Group, of Putzmeister, a German manufacturer of concrete pumps, is presented as a case in point.

So when the Chinese want to talk to Europe, it is the Germans that they turn to. It was Angela Merkel who managed to convince them last year that the euro crisis could be overcome. When the new Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, came to Europe this summer, it was Germany and only Germany that he visited – a few days before a vote on whether to punish China for the solar panel dumping. Li signed many agreements with Berlin. Germany voted against the sanctions.

German diplomats maintain that Berlin is doing all it can to ensure that the narrow and privileged relationship it has with Beijing benefits the joint European position on China. And despite the friendship there seems to be between Germans and Chinese, Merkel is, without doubt, the European head of state who puts the most pressure on Beijing regarding human rights.

After the months of reciprocal sulking after the German leader's meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007, and then her absence at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2008, Merkel clearly found a way to combine economic efficiency and political pressures.

"They are defending human rights with vigour," a French diplomat acknowledges, pointing to the mechanisms of dialogue on human rights and the rule of law established between the two governments. But, he added: "The Chinese are telling us that the Germans are less ideological than the EU."