The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is encouraged that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) will visit Tibet soon to assess religious freedom under People’s Republic of China (PRC). TCHRD notes the systematic monitoring and reporting of violations of religious freedom in different parts of the world especially in Tibet in USCIRF reports.
The recent testimony by Vice Chair D. Gaer of USCIRF at a panel discussion on “Will Religion flourish under China’s New Leadership” touches upon overall religious repression in Tibet in the context of China’s new leadership, their ideologies and governmental policies on religion. Specific cases such as disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XI Panchen Lama of Tibet, and Trulku Tenzin Delek’s death sentence with a two-year reprieve were highlighted.
TCHRD would like to urge USCIRF to raise and recommend following issues with concerned authorities of People’s Republic of China:
- Ascertain whereabouts and well being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the XI Panchen Lama of Tibet. The 14-year-old boy went missing with his family since 1996 after he was officially recognised as the XI Panchen Lama of Tibet.
- Rescind death sentence with two-year reprieve for Trulku Tenzin Delek. A 28-year-old Lobsang Dhondup was shockingly executed on 26 January 2003. Both men were framed for “fomenting separatism and causing explosion”.
- Determine whereabouts of Chadrel Rinpoche, the former abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and Head of the Reincarnation Search Committee of the Panchen Lama. Rinpoche was allegedly released in May 2001 after his six years’ prison term for “colluding with the Dalai Lama” over Panchen Lama’s reincarnation issue.
- Release Geshe Sonam Phuntsok on medical parole. He is reportedly suffering bad health, and currently serving five-year prison term for “organising prayer ceremony for the Dalai Lama”.
- Release all prisoners of conscience in Tibet’s prisons, detention centres and labour camps. Almost eighty percent of total 208 known prisoners of conscience are monks and nuns with more than 50 prisoners serving more than 10 years’ sentence to life.
- Stop limiting the number of monks and nuns in the monasteries and nunneries and desist from coercing them to conform to communist ideologies.
- Lift bans on portraits of the Dalai Lama and Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in certain regions of Tibet
- Repeal restrictive measures imposed on traditional Tibetan festivals and ceremonies such as observance of Saga Dawa, the fourth holiest month of the Tibetan calendar, and celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday on 6 July.
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.