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Memorandum to Australian Delegation visiting Tibet
TCHRD[Friday, August 01, 2003 10:30]
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is pleased to know that Australian delegation headed by Dr. Geoff Raby, Deputy Secretary of the Australian Foreign Ministry, will visit China and Tibet this week. Through submission of this memorandum, TCHRD would like to request Australian delegation to raise human rights situation of Tibetans with the officials of People’s Republic of China.

It is imperative that the delegation request free access within Tibet to assess the actual human rights situation in terms of political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of the Tibetan people. It is usual procedure for visiting delegations to be taken on guided tour and shown and told only what the Beijing government wants others to see and believe.

It is important for the delegation to pressure China on the whereabouts and well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XI Panchen Lama of Tibet; to withdraw Trulku Tenzin Delek’s death sentence with a two-year reprieve; to interview prisoners of conscience such as Ngawang Phulchung, Phuntsok Nyidron, Jamphel Jangchup, Lobsang Tenzin etc currently languishing in Chinese administered jails; to witness real living condition of Tibetans living in the rural areas; to ascertain Chinese claims of religious freedom within Tibet by random and discreet interview of monks and nuns; and to halt hydroelectric power projects in eastern Tibet which could impact displacement of local inhabitants.

TCHRD is a non-governmental organization established in 1996 with the primary goal of promoting and protecting human rights of the Tibetan people and to educate the Tibetan community on human rights concepts and democratic principles. Based in Dharamsala, North India, TCHRD monitor, document and highlight human rights situation of the Tibetan people through its research publication, educational and awareness activities, UN mechanisms and through international conferences.

SPECIFIC ISSUES
  • The whereabouts and well being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet, remains unknown since May 1995. The Chinese authorities continue to insist that the boy is safe and well but have provided no evidence of this to date.

  • In January 2003, a 28-year-old Lobsang Dhondup was shockingly executed while Trulku Tenzin Delek’s death sentence with two-year reprieve was upheld. Charged for their alleged involvement in a series of bomb blast incident in eastern Tibet, both men were denied proper legal representation during court trial. Trulku Tenzin Delek used to work towards environmental protection and restoration and preservation of Tibetan religion and culture.

  • Chadrel Rinpoche, the former abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and Head of the Search Committee for the Reincarnation of the Xith Panchen Lama, is under house arrest in an isolated resort (Chinese: dujian cun) south of Dib Military Camp in Lhasa, despite his alleged release in January 2002. He served six years in prison for having communicated with the Dalai Lama on the issue of reincarnation of the Xth Panchen Lama.
  • Geshe Sonam Phuntsok, a respected Buddhist teacher from Sichuan Province, is serving five years’ prison term for having met the Dalai Lama in exile and for having offered long-life prayer ceremony for the Dalai Lama. His health condition is critical and requires immediate attention.
  • Construction of hydroelectric power projects in eastern Tibet will lead to forcible displacement and loss of livelihood of the local inhabitants. It is feared that many holy Buddhist shrines and other age-old landmarks would submerge. The areas where the dams are to be constructed are Drakbar, Kyomkyo, Damba, Chuchen County, Dzongbud, Tawei, Tsodun, and Kokyab.
  • Xinhua cites the illiteracy rate of young people to be 34.27% though the White paper on Modernisation in Tibet in 2001 declared the illiteracy rate among the youth as 32.5%. An yet another report found that the illiteracy rate may be as high as 70%.
  • In Tibet, there is a high incidence of diseases resulting from malnutrition, outbreaks of plague, frequent occurrences or retardation and goiters due to Iodine Deficiency Disorders, and rates of child and infant mortality so high that Tibet can be categorized as one of the least developed regions on earth, according to London-based Tibet Information Network.

GENERAL ISSUES
  • As of June 2003, TCHRD record approximately 208 prisoners of conscience in various Chinese administered prisons and detention centers in Tibet. It is commonplace for Tibetans to be arbitrarily arrested and detained on suspicions of being involved in political activities that China deems “endangering state security”. The common grounds for arrest in Tibet are sloganeering activities, poster pasting incidents, and possession of the banned photos and videocassettes of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet.
  • In the past, Chinese “work team” members used to conduct “patriotic re-education” campaign on a regular basis whereby monks and nuns are forced to study China’s version of Tibetan history and to denounce the Dalai Lama and Gedhun Chokey Nyima, the Xith Panchen Lama. Currently, this role and responsibility has been transferred to the Democratic Management Committee (DMC) on Tibet’s monasteries and nunneries. Failure to follow official diktats results in expulsion from the religious institution or arrest and subsequent imprisonment.
  • Restrictive measures are placed on observance and celebration of important religious and traditional festivals such as Saga Dawa, the fourth holiest month of Tibetan calender, and the Dalai Lama’s birthday on 6 July. Ban on photos of the Dalai Lama and Gedhun Chokeyi Nyima is still enforced.
  • Inspite of being a State Party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment since 1988, torture is still used to extract confession and to crush patriotic sentiments of political detainees.
  • The much-vaunted Western Development Programme (WDP), originally launched in 1999, and the Chinese government’s current Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005) for National, Economic and Social Development which encompasses a massive transfer of resources from the Tibetan plateau to eastern China violates the Tibetan’s right to livelihood. The Tibetans do not have any active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting there from in the government development projects.
  • The imposition of Chinese urban and industrial modes of production amongst Tibet’s nomads is leading to increasing poverty and contributing to grassland degradation.
  • According to China Human Development Report 2002 released by the United Nations Development Program, the educational index for Tibet ranks dead last against China’s other 31 provinces. The gross enrolment rate and adult literacy rate for Tibet are also the lowest in comparison with other provinces of China.
  • Although much progress has been made in primary healthcare, an intrinsic element in the right to subsistence, it remains out of reach for the majority of Tibetans. Contrary to Chinese claims that healthcare is “free in arming and pastoral areas”, prohibitive fees continue to compromise the Tibetan’s health, augmented by discriminatory treatment and a general lack of adequate health facilities.
  • On 15 April 2003, a group of 100 Chinese guides were sent to Tibet to bolster the tourist industry and this will be sent to Tibet every year for the next ten years, according to Xinhua, Official Chinese news agency. The recent lay-off scores of Tibetan tour guides indicate that the motivation may be political rather than economic. The recent layoff of the Tibetan guides only makes sense in the context of discrimination, suspicion, and paranoia that is characteristic of China’s policy toward Tibetans especially exile returnees for years.

RECOMMENDATIONS

TCHRD calls upon the Australian delegation to pressure Chinese Government:
  • To immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • To invite Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups of the United Nation, to provide them unfettered access to information and to give due consideration to their recommendations.
  • To clarify the scope and extent of the term “endangering state security” in its Criminal Procedural Law. The term’s ambiguity is used to suppress multiple legitimate rights including the right to freedom of _expression and speech.
  • To respect the rule of law, its universal relevance and application and to create a system of free and fair trial for people accused for political, religious or other reasons.
  • To release all prisoners of conscience held in prisons, labour camps and detention centers in Tibet for exercising their right to freedom of speech and _expression.
  • To release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XIth Panchen Lama of Tibet.
  • To withdraw death sentence with two-year reprieve passed on Trulku Tenzin Delek.
  • To allow free movement of Tibetan people wishing to travel within or outside Tibet without fear of harassment or fear.
  • To stop the ongoing anti-Dalai Lama campaign and to stop limiting the number of monks and nuns in the religious institution and to desist from coercing them to conform to communist ideology.
  • To carry out its obligations to recognize and provide implementation mechanisms to safeguard the right to work and an adequate standard of living.
  • To allow the Tibetan people direct control of the content of the curriculum and medium of instruction in Tibetan schools and monasteries.
  • To ensure participation of Tibetan people at all levels of development projects that is being undertaken in Tibet, particularly the Western Development Programme.
  • To provide its citizens and Tibetans the right to free or affordable healthcare services.
  • To lay down transparent taxation policy especially in rural Tibet, to ensure a realistic system and a cessation of the misuse of power by the local authorities.
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