Worsening Human Rights Situation In Tibet Under Xi Jinping

(Author is a veteran Tibetologist and Chairman, Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement)

What ordinary Tibetan refugees havefeared about and have been calling upon the world community for help is now confirmed by the United Nation’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Releasing its ‘Concluding Observations’ on its third periodic review of China on 6th March, the Committee has underlined a number of issues related to human rights of Tibetan people under Chinese rule which call for serious and urgent attention of world community. These issues include serious onslaught on Tibetan culture and religion; forced relocation of nomad communities; poor treatment and exploitation of Tibetan labour; and brainwashing and forced assimilation of Tibetan children through Chinese Communist Party run boarding schools.

It is not a coincidence that Freedom House, a global watchdog of human freedoms across the world, also released its latest report titled “Freedom in the World 2023 Report” on 9 March which has ranked Tibet as “World’s least-free country” alongside South Sudan and Syria. This is successively third time, following similar reports of the Freedom House in 2021 and 2022 that Tibet has won this dubious distinction of being ranked at the bottom of community of countries. Using its own method of grading political rights and civil liberties, the organization assigned minus 2 marks out of a possible 40 for political rights and just 3 marks out of 60 for civil liberties in Tibet. That puts Tibet with a total score of 1 out of 100 and thus bracketing Tibet with South Sudan and Syria who have been also assigned the same score of 1.

In its report the Freedom House has found that both the Chinese and Tibetan citizens living in Tibet lack basic rights, but the (Chinese) authorities are especially rigorous in suppressing any signs of dissent among Tibetans, including manifestations of Tibetan religious beliefs and cultural identity.

Commenting on this report of Freedom House the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), a prominent Tibet advocacy group in the USA and Europe, said, “After more than six decades of illegal occupation, China has turned Tibet into the world’s least-free country…. With Tibet once again at the bottom of Freedom House’s global freedom scores, it’s imperative that the global community take action to resolve the decades-long conflict in Tibet.” The ICT also referred to the historic bipartisan bill, recently presented jointly by representatives of Democratic and Republican parties of USA, for passing “Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act” which acknowledges Tibet as an ‘unresolved’ issue and makes it an official US policy that China must resume dialogue with Dalai Lama to determine Tibet’s legal status under the international law.

Tibet watchers have regularly expressed disappointment at what they call as “return of Mao’s Cultural Revolution” in Tibet since President Xi Jinping took over reigns of China. His openly expressed goal of wiping out Tibet’s distinct cultural and social identity by assimilating Tibetan

population into a ‘uniform’ Chinese identity has given rise to such fears both among the Tibetan people and human rights watchers across the world. In his first ever sudden and secrecy wrapped visit to Tibet in July 2021, Xi addressed a widely attended meeting of Chinese administrative officials of Tibet and the local Communist cadres to call upon them for taking necessary steps to convert Tibetan Buddhism into a ‘Buddhism with Chinese Characteristics’.

Xi’s call for this attack on the religious faith of Tibetan people simply exposed the failure of China’s rulers to tame and discipline the Tibetan masses even 70 years after their colonial rule over Tibet. Xi and his fellow communist leaders of China have many times shown their frustration over Tibetan people’s continuing faith in Buddhism and their love for the exiled ruler of Tibet the Dalai Lama who was forced to flee Tibet and take asylum in India in 1959. This had followed the violent crushing of Tibetan uprising against nine year old Chinese rule. Following President Xi’s call the Chinese administrators of Tibet have gone into an overdrive to reduce the influence of Buddhism in Tibet. Reviving the memories of blasting of Buddha’s giant stone statue in Bamianof Afghanistan by the Taliban on 2 March 2001, the communist administrators of Kham Drakgo, a Tibetan area incorporated in Sichuan Province of China, demolished a 99-foot tall bronze statue of Buddha and 45 huge prayer wheels in December 2021. Since then there have been regular reports of demolition of many such statues which dominated the skyline of various Tibetan towns in occupied Tibet.

The UN Committee has also referred to China’s ongoing campaign of putting an end to the traditional lifestyle of Tibetan nomads who regularly migrate along with their yaks, sheep and cows with changing seasons. These nomads account for about one third of original Tibet’s six million population. The Chinese authorities have been forcing these nomads to sell off their animals and settle into designated, small and newly developed crowded settlements where strong Chinese surveillance system can keep them under discipline and close watch. Beside many other issues like what the UN Committee has termed as “coercive lobour programs implemented in Tibet’ and systematic ban on use of Tibetan language”, it has specially focused on “the Chinese government’s extensive resettlement policy and forced assimilation of Tibetan children at state run boarding schools.” This concern has gained international momentum over recent years following reports from China controlled Tibet that hundreds of thousands of Tibetan children, many of them as young as four year olds, are being forcibly taken away from their families and are being admitted to residential schools which are run by the CCP cadres. Terming it as a serious danger for the Tibetan identity and Tibet’s future generations, GonpoDhundup, President of Tibetan Youth Congress says, “These residential schools, controlled and run by the Chinese Communist Party remind you of the residential schools which were extensively established and used by the colonial occupants of North America and Australia. The only use of these schools was to completely wipe out the native languages and local social identity of many generations of the Red Indians and Aborigines. President Xi is also using the same method to convert future generations of Tibet who would look Tibetan in their physical appearance but their brains and hearts will be programmed as perfect communist cadres of China.” The UN Committee report has called for independent international investigations to the current Tibetan situation.

The UN’s Support: A ray of hope with the upcoming Tibetan Uprising Day

Tens of thousands of Tibetans protested China’s illegitimate invasion and occupation of their country on March 10, 1959, in the streets of Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. Many Tibetans risked their lives to secure the Dalai Lama’s escape into exile, where he has been a persistent advocate for his people. Tibetans from the past and present, who are now dispersed throughout the globe, have been affected by March

10. From the older generation, who sought safety in Lhasa’s streets after fleeing across Tibet, to the generations who followed, who risked their lives to flee across the Mountains with their children to a new generation who was born and nurtured in exile. There has never been a time in Tibet’s history when a single event has had such a profound impact on the lives of the Tibetan people and inspired successive generations to continue the Tibetan legacy of bravery, resiliency, and optimism, as well as to continue the campaign for their independence.

Tibetans still have the same fervour and determination to protect their leader and country against Chinese tyranny sixty years later. The right to be Tibetan, including the freedom to speak their own language, practise their Buddhist faith, and live in their own nation, is still something the Tibetans continue to want. Unmistakably showing that they will not submit to Beijing’s rule or put up with the severe repression they have been subjected to over the past 60 years, Tibetans inside Tibet are proving that they will not be ruled by Beijing. Since 2009, at least 155 Tibetans have self-immolated inside of Tibet in an effort to gain freedom. In exile, Tibetans have committed 10 self-immolations. Since March 10, 1959, Tibetans have risen up – from the protests of the 1980s to the 2008 general uprising to the recent self-immolations – and have risked all in the hope that their sacrifices would alter the course of history for the next generation. The Tibetan liberation struggle is currently being led by a completely new generation of Tibetans in Tibet and exile, who are leading with passionate, astute, and innovative nonviolent methods to complete what begun more than fifty years ago.

The US think tank Freedom House has consistently put Tibet among the nations with the worst political and civil rights records in the world. There is no freedom under the Chinese Communist Party. Despite this, Tibetans have fewer civil and political rights than the majority. Every day, the Chinese government subjects Tibetans to oppressive control and the use of violence, from the widespread police surveillance of Lhasa’s crowded streets to the torture that takes place in Tibet’s secret detention facilities. Tibet is under attack in every sphere of existence. Dissent, protest, or even wishing the Dalai Lama a happy birthday or carrying a Tibetan flag on your

phone will make you a criminal. In order to avoid being imprisoned, Tibetans must censor themselves. With significant use of torture on political detainees from Tibet, China has repeatedly broken UN agreements. A large number of Tibetans are detained and their families are unaware of their location since they are facing vague or undefined allegations. They go through trials that do not adhere to international standards of justice and are denied access to adequate legal representation. Even young children can have their freedom and human rights violated. With Chinese authorities actively observing and controlling religious activity at monasteries and nunneries, Tibetan Buddhism is strictly regulated since it is considered a danger to the occupying Chinese state. Tibetan is a confined and marginalised language; Chinese is the language of business and education, putting the Tibetan language in danger.

After conducting its third-cycle review of China’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in mid-February of this year, the UN Committee on Economic,

Social, and Cultural Rights published its final findings. A large number of violations of China’s responsibilities under the Convention have been documented by the UN committee, including those in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. The relocation of nomadic herdsmen, particularly Tibetan ones, “is carried out in the State party without sufficient consultation and, in most cases, without free, prior, and informed permission,” according to the experts. In addition, it was taken into account that compensation for expropriated property is sometimes insufficient to sustain an adequate quality of living and that traditional lands and livelihoods may be lost as a result of poverty alleviation programmes and ecological restoration resettlement initiatives. China has been advised by the UN Committee to immediately suspend all such forced relocation and rehousing schemes and engage in genuine engagement to look at other solutions with full, adequate, and timely compensation.

Concerned about the subpar working conditions, workplace harassment, and absence of labour inspection procedures to look into violations in Tibet, the UN Committee has advised China to provide the funding for labour inspection and independent audit firms to pursue legal action against enterprises in Tibet. Concerns raised by the UN Committee regarding the significant limitations placed on Tibetans’ participation in cultural life, particularly their ability to learn and teach Tibetan language, history, and culture, have been noted. In order to allow for the establishment of private Tibetan schools, the UN Committee has urged China to dismantle its forced residential school system. Additionally, it has urged China to take all necessary steps to guarantee that Tibetans can fully exercise their right to cultural life, identity, and the practise and use of Tibetan. Reservations over the systematic and widespread destruction of religious sites, particularly monasteries in Tibet, as well as the tightening of laws governing religious practises have been raised by the UN Committee. By safeguarding and repairing holy places, the Committee has advised China to “take appropriate measures to maintain cultural diversity and the cultural practises and heritage” of Tibetans. Reports were filed by the Geneva office of the Tibet Bureau. Undoubtedly, the UN agency needs to act quickly to make sure that the Chinese government actually follows its suggestions rather than just documenting them.

China is destroying Tibetan identity, language and culture: UN report

A report by human rights experts of the United Nations on the eve of the International Language Day on February 21 has unmasked the real nature of oppression on Tibetans practised by the Communist Party of China now in the form of forced assimilation of Tibetan identity into the dominant Han Chinese identity.

Interestingly, February 21 often is observed solemnly by communist-minded individuals and groups in different parts of the world, projecting the language movement in Bangladesh as a token of anti-imperialist movement.

This report by UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on the right to education Farida Shaheed and Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Alexandra Xanthaki should make them rethink about the true face of the Communist Party of China.

The report by U. N. human rights experts, released in Geneva on February 6, 2023, says about a million Tibetan children have been separated from their families by the Chinese authorities and placed in government-run boarding schools.

“We are alarmed by what appears to be a policy of forced assimilation of the Tibetan identity into the dominant Han-Chinese majority through a series of oppressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious, and linguistic institutions,”the experts say in their report.

The Chinese rulers in Tibet are using the residential schooling system as a ploy to assimilate Tibetan people culturally, religiously and linguistically with the Han identity. “We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act s a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards,”the experts have said in a statement.

In these residential schools, the educational content and the environment are built around the majority Han culture, with contexts in textbooks reflecting almost solely the experiences Han students face in the course of their lives. Tibetan children are forced to complete a “compulsory education”curriculum in Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua, standard Chinese) without access to learning relevant to the Tibetan tradition and culture. These schools do not provide much study in the language, history and culture of the Tibetans.

“As a result, Tibetan children are losing their facility with their native language and the ability to communicate easily with their parents and grandparents in the Tibetan language,”leading to their assimilation with the Han Chinese identity and the erosion of their own identity.

The report of the experts indicates that the promotion of these residential schools in Tibet is a part of a Chinese conspiracy to destroy the Tibetan identity and culture. Such residential schools have mushroomed in and outside the Tibet Autonomous Region, with the large majority of Tibetan children studying in them; and their numbers are

increasing. At the national level in China, the share of students studying in boarding schools is much lower, at 20 percent.

“The increase in the number of boarding Tibetan students is achieved by the closure of rural schools in areas populated by Tibetans, and their replacement by township or county-level schools which almost exclusively use Putonghua in teaching and communication, and usually require children to board,”the experts have said in their statement. “Many of these residential schools are situated far from the family homes of the students boarding them.” According to the U.N. experts, these policies run contrary to the prohibition of discrimination and the rights to education, linguistic and cultural rights, freedom of religion and belief and other rights of the Tibetan people.

By contrast, when more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees entered India in the wake of Chinese invasion of Tibet, then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had set up a chain of Tibetan schools in areas of settlement of these refugees, fully aided by the Government of India, so that the children of these refugees could be taught their language, culture and tradition. Some of these schools are still functioning.

The communist rulers of China are keen to destroy the culture and language of the Tibetans and the Tibetan way of life because they think that is the only way Tibetans can be weaned away from their deep faith in Buddhism, observers feel. For the intolerant rulers of China, religious belief of any kind is like a red rag to a bull.

Buddhism, as scholarly articles have underscored, is inseparable from the Tibetan language, culture and way of life. Former Director Anukul Chandra Banerjee of Gangtok – based Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in the Indian state of Sikkim writes in his article titled ‘Buddhism – Its Impact on the Tibetan Life and Culture’: “Almost the whole of the Tibetan language developed for the Buddhist literature. Buddhist literary terms became the literary terms of the Tibetan language itself. Gradually the Tibetan language was transformed into a language totally based on Buddhist literary terms, Tibetanized. Today, without taking the Buddhist terms as base it would be difficult to construct even a single sentence in Tibetan. There are few literally works in Tibetan that are not influenced by Buddhist ideas.”

The influence of Buddhism on the Tibetan way of life goes back to the 7th century when king Songtsen Gampo introduced Buddhism in Tibet. The code of law that he had formed for his country was based on the important and essential Buddhist moral disciplines. “These laws were not only meant for disciplining the physical conduct of the people but also for shaping their mental attitudes,”writes Anukul Chandra Banerjee. From the 7th century till the middle of the present century (the 20th century), the same law has been the law of the land in Tibet.”

It is also a part of history that king Songtsen Gampo had sent his emissary Thonmi Sambhota from Tibet to the Buddhist university of Nalanda in India to borrow a script for the Tibetan language so that the Buddhist teachings could be codified and preserved in the form of religious texts. Thus, almost the whole of the Tibetan language had developed for Buddhist literature.

Indeed, the mark of Buddhism on the Tibetan way of life is found from the birth to the death of an individual. When a child is born, his parents celebrate his birth by making

offerings to the Buddha and monks and distributing food to the poor. Lamas are invited to perform religious services in houses where a child is born. The second child of the family is usually sent to the monastery to become a monk. When death occurs in a family, a prayer service by monks for seven weeks is arranged.

When the Chinese army invaded Tibet in 1950, they found Buddhism to be the force unifying all Tibetans and the Dalai Lama was the symbol of this unity. The Chinese rulers systematically dismantled the Buddhist religion by victimizing the monks. A large number of monasteries in Tibet were completely destroyed. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, along with a large number of Tibetans. Till recently, about 150 monks in Tibet have courted death by self-immolation in protest against the attack on their religion.

Scholars have noted the Chinese contempt for non-Chinese culture. “To the Chinese government, Tibetan Buddhism is a threat to its rule and a challenge to its goal of colonizing Tibet,”writes the website of Free Tibet, an organization of Tibetan refugees. “Undermining and eliminating the unique practices of Tibetan Buddhism is central to the policy of the Chinese government of eradicating Tibetan resistance to its rule. Every single aspect of Tibetan Buddhism is subject to intrusive state interference.”

A scholar like American anthropologist Melvyn C. Goldstein has debunked the Chinese propaganda of ruthless exploitation in the name of religion prevailing in Tibet before the Chinese invasion. His studies have found that there were in-built mechanisms in the Tibetan society under which the common people were taken care of by the aristocracy. This had lent stability to the Tibetan system, prevailing undisturbed for centuries before the Chinese invasion. Having failed to wean the Tibetan people away from the Buddhist religious faith after more than 70 years of illegal occupation of Tibet, mandarins of the CPC have floated the laughable idea of Buddhism with Chinese characteristics. The real intention behind this idea, say observers, is to interfere in the process of choice of the next Dalai Lama and foist on the Tibetan people a Dalai Lama of its own choice; the way Beijing has installed a puppet Panchen Lama on the second most important holy seat of the Tibetan Buddhist order.

UN Committee Questions China on Monoracial Policies and Widespread Rights Violations in Tibet and other Regions

Geneva: During the last two days, 15-16 February 2023, the UN Committee on Cultural, Economic and Social Rights reviewed China for the third time on China’s implementation of the Covenant. The UN Committee members questioned China on its monoracial policies enforcing forced assimilation of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongolians and others as well as the widespread rights violations being carried out in Tibet, East Turkistan (CHN: Xinjiang), Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China.

Mohamed Ezzeldin Abdel-Moneim, Chair of the UN Committee, chaired the review session. The task force that carried out the review consisted of Country Rapporteur Michael Windfuhr, Ludovic Hennebel, Preeti Saran and Asraf Ally Caunhye. The Chinese government delegation of 39 members was led by Ambassador Chen Xu, Permanent Representative of China, to the UN office in Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland. 

The UN Committee members repeatedly questioned China on its monoethnic, monoracial policies enforced by China against Tibetans, Uyghurs and Southern Mongolians and noted that these policies of China are evidently counterproductive and in violation of international laws. The UN Committee questioned China on wide-ranging topics related to Tibet, including persecution of Tibetan human rights defenders, forced resettlement of Tibetan nomads, appropriation and mass-evictions of Tibetans from their lands, free and prior consent from Tibetans before construction of mega dams in Tibet, forced labour in Tibet, discrimination against Tibetans in labour markets, freedom of religion in workplace, disparity in access to education for Tibetans, forced assimilation of nearly 1 million Tibetan children in boarding schools, language rights of Tibetans, rights of Tibetans to freely practice their religion including the flying of prayer flags and circumambulation (kora) of holy shrines, large-scale destruction of religious sites, measures to control Tibetan Buddhist practice of reincarnation and so on. 

Despite specific and repeated questions from the UN Committee members asking for data and clarification, the Chinese delegation failed to provide satisfactory answers. The Chinese delegation either denied all charges or provided blanket self-praising statements. Exasperated by the delegation’s unsatisfactory line of answering, one of the committee members remarked that if the Chinese delegation considers the well-substantiated allegations of violations as “baseless,” then it should provide details of the investigation based on which this conclusion was arrived at. 

The Tibet Bureau Geneva, International Campaign for Tibet and members of Tibet Advocacy Coalition attended the review session. Representative Thinlay Chukki from Tibet Bureau Geneva thanked the UN Committee members for the detailed review of China, touching upon all major areas and noted, “The review evidenced the dedication and passion of the Committee members and the Secretariat to protect and promote human rights.” 

“The widespread human rights violations in Tibet are well-documented, and despite this, China repeatedly denies the substantiated criticisms as evidenced in the review. It is time China is held accountable for the egregious human rights violations in Tibet. As we look forward to the Committee’s concluding observations, we hope China will introspect its policies and ensure that Tibetans, Uyghurs, Southern Mongolians, Hong Kongers and Macau people are guaranteed genuine universal human rights,” remarked Representative Thinlay Chukki.


A press statement,jointly issued by three Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council of United Nations has revived the ghastly memories of ethnic cleansing of Red Indians and Aborigines in North America, Latin America and Australia which was committed by the Europeans to establish their colonies. In this statement, released on 6 February this month in Geneva, the three independent experts and Rapporteurs of the HRC have come out with a shocking revelation that the Chinese government is running a chain of residential schools where about a million Tibetan children are forcibly lodged in order to wipe out their Tibetan cultural identity and to brainwash them into Chinese Han culture.

The three experts Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Ms. Farida Shaheed and Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki who are respectively Special UN Rapporteurs for minority issues, right to education and cultural rights, said in their joint statement, “We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential schools system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards.” In their study they discovered that Tibetan children, forcibly taken away from their families are lodged permanently into specially established schools across Tibet Autonomous Region as well as in other parts of original Tibet which are now part of adjoining Chinese provinces. As already alleged repeatedly by various Tibetan groups, including the Central Tibetan Administration which was established by the deposed and exiled ruler of Tibet Dalai Lama, the education in Tibetan language has been banned across Tibet and the education medium has been changed exclusively to Mandarin Chinese. There have been many cases where community schools, run by Tibetan volunteers to impart Tibetan language teaching to Tibetan children and youths outside the Chinese run schools are shut down, razed and the teachers were sent to jail.

In newly established special schools which are run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the children are not allowed to visit their families and are punished for talking to each other in Tibetan language. Commenting on this statement of UNHRC experts, GonpoDhundup, President of Tibetan Youth Congress said to this author, “President Xi Jinping has not only closed Tibetan language schools across Tibet but his government has started a new movement of snatching away Tibetan children as young as four and five years from their parents and pushing them into residential Chinese language schools. In the name of education these little kids are being subjected to communist brainwashing and loyalty to the CCP”.

It is interesting to note that the campaign of using education to convert Tibetan children into ‘patriotic’ Chinese citizens has gained momentum following the sudden and unannounced visit of President Xi to Tibet in July 2021. During his

visit to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, President Xi had addressed a special gathering of the cadres of CCP and the Chinese administrators of Tibet in which he had called upon them to work for establishing Tibetan Buddhism with ‘Chinese Socialist Character’. The statement of the UNHRC Rapporteurs has referred to the directivesof China’s Central Conference on Ethnic Affairs which was issued in August 2021 soon after Xi’s above mentioned call in Tibet. According to this statement the Conference had asked all ethnic groups of China to ensure that “interests of the Chinese nation were above all else.”China’s ongoing campaign of confining millions of Uygur Muslims of Xinjiang into a vast range of concentration camps across the occupied region is also aimed at eliminating Islam and Uyighur national values from the minds of population in order to mold them into a uniform Chinese socialist identity.

The current report of the UNHRC Rapporteurs reflects a big contradiction between the established behavior patterns of the Human Rights Council which has been repeatedly voting against even a discussion about the serious human rights situation in China and its colonies like Tibet, Xinjiang and Southern Mongolia. Interestingly, almost all Islamic countries including Qatar, Pakistan and Indonesia have been voting every time to protect China from scrutiny of its actions against the Muslim population of Xinjiang. Last year in October a similar resolution was defeated by thin margins of 17 to 19 and abstention by 11 countries. The Amnesty International had expressed its dismay at this voting saying, “Today’s vote protects the perpetrators of human rights violations rather than the victims – a dismaying result that puts the UN’s main human rights body in the farcical position of ignoring the findings of the UN’s own human rights office.” The current findings of the UN HRC Rapporteurs may or may not affect the next voting in the Council on this subject. But these observations have revived the ghastly memories of 19th Century when besides mass shootings of the Read Indians of America and Aborigines in Australia, the white settlers from colonial Britain, France, Germany and Holland etc. had extensively used the Christian Church to run residential schools for ethnic cleansing. In these schools the local children were brainwashed, sexually exploited and even killed to wipe out their original cultural identity and to convert them into obedient Christian subjects of the white masters. President Xi Jinping’s currently ongoing system of residential CCP schools and concentration camps in Xinjiang to convert the locals colonial subjects into a uniform population with ‘Chinese Socialist Character’ is the modern version of the cultural genocide of 19th century and a challenge to the collective world conscience.

‘Tibet’ gov’t to invest $1.99 billion this year to mainly improve new border defence village conditions

China said Feb 22 that its Tibet Autonomous Region would invest 13.7 billion yuan (about $1.99 billion) this year in initiatives aimed at improving the well-being of local residents, especially in the new border defence villages across the Line of Actual Control on the border with India.

Most of the border defence villages have been built in recent years in environmentally forbidding areas by compulsorily relocating Tibetan farmers in so-called Xiaokang (well-off) villages, some of them in areas claimed by India and Bhutan. The villages are meant to help secure Chinese-ruled Tibet’s border with India, with the villagers being employed also in various types of border-defence jobs.

The initiatives include providing livelihood subsidies for border residents, supporting medical professionals in aiding Tibet, and upgrading the oxygen supply facilities in border counties and townships located in areas 3,500 meters above sea level, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Feb 22, citing the regional government.

With an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters, Tibet experiences harsh conditions such as extreme cold and a lack of oxygen. For this reason, improving the well-being of local residents has been a top priority, the regional government has said.

The report said a total of 630 million yuan will be allocated to support the construction of heating projects in county and district public hospitals, and the operation of community-level heating facilities.

30 European senators support Tibet’s autonomy from China

Under the Presidency of the European Research Council (ERC), some thirty senators
from different political formations have created an interparliamentary group to
support Tibet’s autonomy from China, reported Europe Press.

The alliance will be formally established this Wednesday. This intergroup will work to
garner real support for the resumption of substantive dialogue between the Chinese
leadership and the Dalai Lama’s representatives to ensure “genuine and meaningful
autonomy” for the Tibetan people.

In their opinion, Tibet is an independent country with a thousand-year history that was invaded by China,
which continues to be “threatened” by Beijing and needs international support, reported Europe Press.

It will be attended by the representative of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, Rigzin
Genkhang; the president of the Tibetan community in Spain, Rinzing Dolma; and two members of the
Tibetan Parliament in exile representing Europe, Thubten Wangchen and Thupten Gyatso, reported
Europe Press.

In addition, a message from the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, Penpa Tsering, will also be

According to the promoters of the intergroup, its main objectives are “to promote and defend the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people, especially in order to improve respect for Human Rights in Tibet”, and to achieve “the recognition of the Central Tibetan Administration with headquarters in Dharamshala as the sole and
legitimate representative of the Tibetan people,” added Europe Press.

Reports of ramped up security measures belie China’s claim of joyous Losar celebrations in Tibet

China’s official media suggested that Tibetans ushered in Losar, their traditional New Year, which fell on Feb 21, with joy and gusto, greeting each other with the phrase “Losar Tashi Delek” (Happy Tibetan New Year), as its official Xinhua news agency put it. However, according to the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Feb 21, the Chinese government had imposed intense restrictions on residents of Tibet’s capital for the occasion, with security forces ramping up surveillance and monitoring of residents and conducting random searches. Xinhua also highlighted how the compulsorily relocated nomadic Tibetans and mixed-marriage families celebrated Losar with great festivity.

“Beginning in February, Chinese authorities started installing more surveillance cameras in Lhasa ahead of the start of Losar, citing unreasonable reasons such as for security,” the rfa.org report cited a local Tibetan as saying, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution from authorities.

“Police are stationed every kilometer where [members of] the public are summoned for random searches, especially of their cell phones,” he has said.

The Chinese government has not only deployed police and military troops in Lhasa ahead of Losar, but also posted government officials dressed in civilian clothing to spy on Tibetans, another resident from the region has said.

“The police are probing every shop and restaurant under an ongoing campaign called ‘Security and Welfare by the Police’,” he has said. “And the Tibetans visiting Lhasa from other parts of Tibet who are staying in hotels and guesthouses are constantly investigated and harassed.”

While the Norbulingka, the historical winter residence of the Dalai Lamas, was declared open to the public from Feb 15, visitors had to show their national identity cards and register their names.

“This is something that has never happened before, where people have to register their names and provide an identity card to visit Norbulinka for a pilgrimage,” Sangay Kyab, a Spain-based researcher at the Tibetan Center for Human Rights, has said. “So, this is a violation of religious freedom.”

Meanwhile the Xinhua report highlighted the celebrations of Losar by nomadic Tibetans it had made to relocate from Tsonyi, “China’s highest county”, located in northern Tibet’s Nagchu City, with average altitude of over 4,500 meters, to Singpori on the north bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River in the city of Shannan (Tibetan: Lhokha) City, located at an altitude of 3,600 meters in southern Tibet.

The report noted that in In Jul 2022, Tibet launched the second phase of the high-altitude ecological relocation to Singpori. Under this compulsory program, China is to eventually relocate nearly 10,000 people from the counties in Nagchu City of Tsonyi, Amdo and Nyima, with an average altitude of over 4,500 meters, to Singpori.

The report also highlighted the celebration of Losar by Chinese immigrants who had settled in Tibet and married local Tibetans. China has a decades-long policy of actively encouraging local Tibetans to marry Chinese immigrants with the provision of a host of incentives as a part of its Sinicization drive there.

China spending over $2.17 billion for rural Tibet revitalization projects this year, citing ongoing India-border focus

China said Feb 16 that its Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government would implement more than 1,300 rural revitalization projects this year, with an estimated investment of more than 14.67 billion yuan ($2.17 billion). While the report did not say the focus will especially be on border villages, which China is alleged to have built even in Indian and Bhutanese territories as part of its border security measure, the only example it cited was of Nang County which is located just across the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Starting from 2021, a series of rural revitalization projects have been implemented, and rural villagers have been benefiting, the official chinadaily.com.cn Feb 16 cited Meng Chunhui, deputy head of the rural revitalization bureau in Nang County of Nyingtri City, as saying.

Meng has said rural revitalization projects in his county were mainly rural infrastructure upgrades, including the improvement of sewage treatment systems, water supplies, the living conditions and road pavement.

“More than 200 million yuan was invested in infrastructure projects in more than 10 villages and six townships in our county in 2022, and we plan to implement similar projects in 14 new villages this year,” Meng has said.

“These projects also provide job opportunities for residents, providing another main source of income for them. All construction sites welcome local workers, which enables them to earn money without traveling far from their homes.”

Overall, the report said, citing the region’s rural revitalization bureau. that among the plans, the construction of 84 projects with an investment of 701 million yuan had already begun, and a total of 809 projects with investment topping 9.13 billion yuan had completed preliminary work and entered the bidding process.

The region is working “to promote all-around rural revitalization, to enhance people’s sense of gain and happiness and to accelerate agricultural development in 2023”, Wang Junzheng, the region’s Party secretary, has said at a regional work conference on rural affairs recently.

It wants “to promote the intensive processing of agricultural products, to develop rural tourism, leisure agriculture and rural e-commerce, and to cultivate new agricultural and animal husbandry business entities in the rural areas,” Wang has said.

The region will “focus on introducing a number of agricultural and animal husbandry industrialization leading enterprises, build and strengthen professional cooperatives for rural residents and let them share the results of social reform and development”, Wang has added.

Tibetan Youth Congress organises freedom concert in Delhi to demand independence

The Tibetan Youth Congress recently organized a “Freedom Concert” in Delhi, India, to raise awareness about the political situation in Tibet. The event was attended by over 5,000 people, including Tibetans and supporters from various parts of India.

The concert featured performances by Tibetan artists, as well as speeches by political leaders and activists. The main aim of the event was to draw attention to the ongoing struggle for Tibetan independence and to highlight the human rights violations faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule.

The Tibetan Youth Congress, a pro-independence group, has been campaigning for the freedom of Tibet since its inception in 1970. The group has been advocating for the reinstatement of Tibet’s independence and for the return of the Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in India since 1959.

The event also marked the 11th anniversary of the 2008 Tibetan uprising, during which hundreds of Tibetans were killed or arrested for protesting against Chinese rule.

The organizers of the Freedom Concert expressed their gratitude to the Indian government for allowing them to hold the event, despite pressure from China to cancel it. They also called on the international community to support their cause and put pressure on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans. The event was seen as a significant step towards raising awareness about the Tibetan cause in India and around the world, and the organizers hope to hold similar events in the future to keep the issue alive in the public consciousness.