U.S. Department of State's 2009 Human Rights Report for China

BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR: 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010. The government's human rights record in Tibetan areas of China remained poor, and the severe repression of freedoms of speech, religion, association, and movement that increased dramatically following the March 2008 Lhasa riots and subsequent unrest that occurred across the Tibetan Plateau continued during the year. Authorities continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial detention, and house arrest. The preservation and development of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage remained a concern.

The complete report covering China as a whole and sections on Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau, can be read here. The section dealing with Tibet follows in full below.


The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures, counties, and townships in other provinces to be a part of the People's Republic of China. The Tibetan population within the TAR was approximately 2.8 million, while the Tibetan population outside the TAR was an estimated 2.9 million. The government strictly controlled information about, and access to, the TAR and Tibetan areas outside the TAR, making it difficult to determine accurately the scope of human rights abuses. The government intensified these controls following the March 2008 unrest in Tibetan areas and continued the policy during the year.

The government's human rights record in Tibetan areas of China remained poor, and the severe repression of freedoms of speech, religion, association, and movement that increased dramatically following the March 2008 Lhasa riots and subsequent unrest that occurred across the Tibetan Plateau continued during the year. Authorities continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial detention, and house arrest. The preservation and development of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage remained a concern.

In March 2008 monks and nuns from a number of monasteries in Lhasa and other Tibetan communities mounted peaceful protests to commemorate the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. After four days the protests and security response devolved into rioting by Tibetans and a violent police crackdown in Lhasa. Some protesters resorted to violence, in some cases deadly, against Han and Hui residents. The ensuing police actions resulted in an unknown number of deaths, injuries, arrests, and human rights abuses. During the year a number of Tibetans, especially monks, were sentenced to prison for their role in the 2008 protests and riots.

A significant number of People's Armed Police (PAP) remained in many communities across the Tibetan Plateau during the year. The fallout from the protests continued to affect the human rights situation in Tibetan regions of China.

Deprivation of Life

There were numerous reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings; however, it was not possible to verify independently these reports. There were no reports that officials investigated or punished those responsible for the killings.

On January 23, Pema Tsepag died of injuries sustained during beatings by authorities after he and two other Tibetan youths protested in Dzogang County, Chamdo Prefecture, calling for independence for Tibet and a boycott of the Tibetan New Year.

According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), on March 25, public security agents killed 27-year-old monk Phuntsok Rabten of Drango Monastery in Drango County, Kardze (Ganzi), Sichuan Province, for distributing leaflets calling for a work strike.

In March Panchou Lede, a monk from the Hor Drago Monastery, was killed in a clash that erupted between Tibetan farmers and soldiers when the farmers refused to sign a pledge committing to keep a certain percentage of their land under cultivation. According to press reports, the monk had been organizing farmers to refuse to plant crops.

In August, according to TCHRD reports, 32-year-old Kalden, a monk from Drepung Monastery, died after being tortured in a Lhasa prison. Kalden was arrested in March 2008, and his relatives were not informed of his detention location.

Following the outbreak of protests in 2008, the government reported that 22 persons were killed in the Lhasa violence, including 18 civilians, one police officer, and three rioters. However, outside observers, including Tibetan exile groups and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), variously placed the number of persons killed in Tibetan areas due to official suppression that began March 10 at between 100 and 218.

According to official media, in April Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak were sentenced to death for their participation in the 2008 riots in Lhasa on charges related to "starting fatal fires." The government confirmed that they were executed on October 23. Reports of a third Tibetan executed at the same time could not be confirmed.


Following the March 2008 riots in Lhasa, authorities arrested Tibetans arbitrarily, including monks and nuns, many of whom remained missing. Official statistics for the number detained were incomplete and covered only limited areas. On February 10, official media reported that 953 persons were detained or had surrendered to police in Lhasa following the riots. The report stated that 76 persons were sentenced to prison in connection with the unrest, and an additional 116 were awaiting trial.

According to the International Campaign for Tibet, Northwest Nationalities University student Tashi Rabten disappeared in July, soon after publication of his book Written in Blood. Tashi Rabten had edited a banned collection of writings on the March 2008 demonstrations.

Documentarian Dhondup Wangchen remained in an undisclosed prison near Xining, Qinghai Province. Authorities forced Dhondup Wangchen to fire his original Beijing-based defense counsel and told his family that only lawyers based in Qinghai Province could represent him. Qinghai authorities refused a request by foreign diplomats to observe his trial. On December 28, a court in Qinghai Province sentenced Dhondup Wangchen to six years in prison for making a film critical of human rights conditions in Tibet. At year's end there was no information on where he was serving his sentence.

There was no information on the whereabouts of five monks, including Sonam Rabgyal, Damdul, and Rabgyal, who disappeared following an April 2008 midnight raid on the Ramoche Temple in Lhasa. The whereabouts of Paljor Norbu, a Tibetan traditional painter sentenced to seven years in prison after a secret trial in November 2008, remained unknown at year's end. No new information was available on the whereabouts of Phuntsok Gyaltsen, the deputy head of Phurbu Township, Palgon County, who was detained in 2007.

The whereabouts of the Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, Tibetan Buddhism's second-most prominent figure after the Dalai Lama, and his family remained unknown. In October government officials in Tibet told a visiting foreign delegation that Gendun Choekyi Nyima was "growing up very well, loves Chinese culture and enjoying his life." The officials asserted that his identification as the 11th Panchen Lama was "illegal."


The security regime employed torture and degrading treatment in dealing with some detainees and prisoners. Tibetans repatriated from Nepal reportedly suffered torture, including electric shocks, exposure to cold, and severe beatings, and were forced to perform heavy physical labor. Prisoners were subjected routinely to "political investigation" sessions and were punished if deemed insufficiently loyal to the state.

In March police severely beat 21-year-old Tibetan nun Lobsang Khandro from the Gema Dra-wok Nunnery for carrying out an individual protest in Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture. She carried pamphlets and some prayer flags and shouted calls for freedom and the Dalai Lama as she walked to the Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture government headquarters.

On May 24, according to the TCHRD, police injured six persons in Tawu County of Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture, Sichuan Province, while breaking up a protest against a hydroelectric project.

According to numerous sources, many of those detained after the rioting in March 2008 were subjected to extrajudicial punishments such as severe beatings and deprivation of food, water, and sleep for long periods. In some cases detainees suffered broken bones and other serious injuries at the hands of PAP and Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers. According to eyewitnesses, the bodies of persons killed during the unrest or subsequent interrogation were disposed of secretly rather than returned to their families.

During his trial, which began on April 21, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, head of Pangri and Yatseg nunneries in Kardze (Ganzi), who was arrested in March 2008, claimed that police handcuffed him with arms outstretched to an iron pillar and forced him to stand while they interrogated him continuously for four days and four nights. They told Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche that if he did not confess his wife and son would be detained. His trial was later postponed indefinitely. Foreign diplomats asked to observe the trial but received no reply. In late December a court sentenced Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche to eight-and-a-half years in prison for illegal possession of weapons and ammunition (see Denial of Fair Public Trial section).

On May 3, Tibetan monk Jigme Guri from the Labrang Monastery was released from prison. He alleged that prison authorities beat him repeatedly during two months of detention beginning in March 2008. According to Jigme, the beatings left him unconscious for six days, and he required two hospitalizations.

Prison Conditions

The mass detentions connected with the March 2008 unrest amplified already crowded and harsh prison conditions. Some prisons used forced labor, including those in the public security reeducation through labor system (RTL), to which prisoners may be assigned for two years without court review, detention centers, and prison work sites. The law states that prisoners may be required to work up to 12 hours per day, with one rest day every two weeks, but sometimes these regulations were not enforced; conditions varied from prison to prison.

According to numerous sources, political prisoners in Tibetan areas endured unsanitary conditions and often had little opportunity to wash or bathe. Many prisoners slept on the floor without blankets and sheets. Prisoners reported having to "sleep" side by side with 20 to 30 cell mates for many days.

Former detainees reported that prisoners were not provided with enough food. According to sources, prisoners rarely received medical care unless they had a serious illness. Prisoners also complained that they often failed to receive money, food, clothing, and books sent by their families because such items were routinely confiscated by prison guards.

Arbitrary Arrest and Detention

During the year arbitrary arrest and detention continued in Tibetan areas. Police legally may detain persons for up to 37 days without formally arresting or charging them. Following the 37-day period, police must either formally arrest or release the detainees. Police must notify the relatives or employer of an arrested person within 24 hours of the arrest. In practice police frequently violated these requirements.

Official state media reported the detentions of 4,434 persons in Tibetan areas (1,315 in Lhasa) between March and April 2008, although in November 2008, official media reported that approximately 1,317 persons were arrested, 1,115 of whom were released afterwards. Overseas organizations and the Tibet government-in-exile placed the total number detained at more than 5,600.

Many prisoners were subject to the RTL system or other forms of detention not subject to judicial review.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

Due to the lack of independent access to prisoners and prisons, it was impossible to ascertain the number of Tibetan political prisoners. A number of the Tibetans arrested or detained in the days and weeks following the spring 2008 protests were sentenced throughout the year. Many prisoners were held in the extrajudicial RTL prisons operated by the Ministry of Public Security and never appeared in public court.

Based on information available from the Congressional Executive Commission on China's political prisoner database, at year's end there were 754 Tibetan political prisoners imprisoned in Tibetan areas. However, the actual number of Tibetan political prisoners and detainees was believed to be much higher. Of the 754 documented currently detained political prisoners and detainees, 715 were detained on or after the March 2008 protests and 447 political prisoners and detainees were Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns. At year's end the commission's database contained sentencing information on only 148 of the Tibetan political prisoners. The judicial system imposed sentences on these 148 political prisoners ranging from one year to life imprisonment. An unknown number of prisoners continued to be held under the RTL system.

On February 5, six Tibetans in Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture, Sichuan, were sentenced from 18 months to three years in prison for participating in protests.

On May 21, according to the TCHRD, Tsultrim Gyatso, a monk of Labrang Monastery in southern Gansu Province, was sentenced to life imprisonment for "endangering state security."

The TCHRD reported that on July 3, the Lithang County, Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture intermediate people's court sentenced Tibetan monk Jamyang Tenzin of Yonru Geyden Rabgayling Monastery, Lithang County, to three years' imprisonment for opposing a work team sent to conduct a "patriotic education campaign" at his monastery.

On August 13, the TCHRD reported that eight Tibetans in Machen County were sentenced to one to seven years in prison following protests related to the suicide of Tashi Sangpo, which was reportedly triggered by his inhumane treatment at the hands of the police.

According to the Agence France Presse, early in the year authorities handed down sentences ranging from three years to life in prison to a total of 76 persons involved in the March 2008 riots. In April Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak were sentenced to death for setting fires to shops that reportedly resulted in seven deaths, and they were executed in October. Two others were given suspended death sentences.

Wangdu (Wangdui), a former employee of an HIV/AIDS prevention project run by a foreign NGO, who in 2008 was sentenced to life imprisonment for engaging in "espionage" on behalf of the "Dalai clique," remained in prison. Migmar Dhondup, another former employee of a foreign NGO, also remained in prison on the same charge.

Prominent Buddhist figure Tenzin Delek Rinpoche remained in a Sichuan prison on firearms charges. According to Tibetan sources, the firearms were left at his temple by a group who had renounced hunting.

Dozens of monks and nuns who resisted "patriotic education" campaigns before the March 2008 protests continued serving prison terms.

According to the TCHRD, the PSB arrested Kunga Tsayang, a monk from the Amdo Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery, during a late-night raid on March 17; at year's end his whereabouts remained unknown. The reported disappearance of Kunga Tsayang was part of a continuing sweep of Tibetan Internet writers that began after the March 2008 unrest. On November 12, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets in a closed-door trial by the Kanlho Intermediate People's Court in Gannan, Gansu Province.

The following persons also remained in prison: Rongye Adrak; Adak Lupoe; lama Jigme Tenzin (Jinmei Danzeng) aka Bangri Chogtrul; Jarib Lothog; monk Lodroe; Khenpo Jinpa; Jarib Lothog; art teacher and musician Kunkhyen; Buchung; Penpa; and Bangri Chogtrul Rinpoche; monk Choeying Khedrub (Quyin Kezhu); Dawa (also called Gyaltsen Namdak); monk Lobsang Palden; teacher Dolma Kyab; Sherab Yonten, Sonam Gyelpo, retired physician Yeshe Choedron (Yixi Quzhen) monk Tenzin Bucheng (Danzeng Puqiong), monk Lobsang Ngodrub; and monk Tsering Dhondup.

Denial of Fair Public Trial

Legal safeguards for Tibetans detained or imprisoned were inadequate in both design and implementation. Most judges in the TAR had little or no legal training. According to a TAR Bureau of Justice official, all seven cities and prefectures had established legal assistance centers that offered services in the Tibetan language. Prisoners may request a meeting with a government-appointed attorney, but in practice many defendants did not have access to legal representation.

Lawyers who volunteered to represent detainees involved in the March 2008 protests received warnings from authorities not to take on such cases. Authorities threatened some with punishment or placed them under police surveillance. In cases involving state security, trials often were cursory and closed. Authorities denied multiple requests from foreign diplomats to observe the trials of those charged with crimes related to the March 2008 unrest. By law maximum prison sentences for crimes such as "endangering state security" and "splitting the country" are 15 years for each count, not to exceed 20 years in total. Authorities sentenced Tibetans for alleged support of Tibetan independence regardless of whether their activities involved violence.

In November 2008 the Sichuan Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People's Court sentenced Dorje Kangzhu, a 34-year-old nun, to seven years in prison for "inciting secession." She was arrested for distributing Tibetan independence leaflets and shouting pro-Tibet slogans in May 2008.

In late December Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, a senior religious leader who allegedly had been tortured to get a false confession, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison on weapons charges following the riots in Tibet. Prosecutors maintained that a pistol and ammunition were found during a police raid, but Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche countered that he had been framed. The monk's lawyer stated he had given a false confession after police deprived him of sleep for four days (see Torture section).

Freedom of Speech and Press

Tibetans who spoke to foreign reporters, attempted to relay information to foreigners outside the country, or passed information regarding the 2008 protests were subject to harassment or detention.

The government severely restricted travel by foreign journalists to Tibetan areas. In the TAR, foreign journalists can gain access to the region only by participating in highly structured government organized tours, where the constant presence of government minders makes independent reporting difficult. Outside the TAR, foreign journalists were frequently expelled despite new government rules, adopted in October 2008, that state foreign journalists no longer need the permission of local authorities to conduct reporting.

In March the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China urged the government to halt detentions of journalists and open Tibetan areas for news coverage. Reporters from at least six different news organizations were detained or had their property confiscated when they attempted to visit Tibetan areas of Gansu, Sichuan, and Qinghai provinces ahead of the first anniversary of social unrest in Tibet.

For example, on February 27, PSB authorities detained Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield, two New York Times reporters, in Gansu Province for nearly 24 hours and forced them to board a flight back to Beijing the next day. On March 8, police detained Isabel Hormaeche, a producer with broadcaster TVE, and her team in Sichuan Province. Some of their materials were confiscated, and they were escorted out of the region. On March 9, authorities detained Beniamino Natale, a reporter with ANSA news agency, along with two colleagues for more than two hours after they visited a monastery in Qinghai Province. At approximately the same time, police repeatedly detained and followed Katri Makkonen of the Finnish Broadcasting Company on the road from Tongren to Xining, Qinghai Province. No explanation was given for the police actions.

In August Reporters Without Borders reported the arrests of four Tibetan writers: Zhuori Cicheng, the monk Gang Ni, journalist Tashi Rabten (aka Therang), and Kang Gongque. Kang Gongque was sentenced to two years in a Sichuan Province prison.

The government continued to jam radio broadcasts of Voice of America's (VOA) and Radio Free Asia's (RFA) Tibetan and Chinese-language services and the Oslo-based Voice of Tibet. In Tibetan areas of southern Gansu Province and the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, police confiscated or destroyed satellite dishes suspected of receiving VOA Tibetan language television as well as VOA and RFA audio satellite channels. Some Tibetans reported that at times they were able to receive such radio broadcasts despite frequent jamming. Some Tibetans were able to listen to overseas Tibetan-language radio and television on the Internet.

Cell phone service and Internet service in the TAR and the Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces were curtailed at times during the March period of sensitive anniversaries and the new "Serf Liberation Day" (see Academic Freedom and Protection of Cultural Heritage).

Officials also routinely denied foreign media representatives access to Tibetan areas, ostensibly out of concern for their safety. Domestic journalists reporting on repression in Tibetan areas faced punishment.

Internet Freedom

The Internet blog of well-known Tibetan poet and journalist, Tsering Woeser, remained inaccessible to Internet users inside China due to official Internet filtering. Authorities continued to refuse to issue Woeser a passport. Most foreign Tibet-related Web sites critical of official policy in Tibetan areas were blocked to users in China throughout the year. On March 24, government censors blocked the YouTube site after a video purporting to show police beating a Tibetan monk appeared on the site.

Official censorship greatly hampered the development of Tibetan-language Internet sites. Although the government funded projects designed to improve Tibetan-language computer interfaces, security agencies responsible for monitoring the Internet often lacked the language skills necessary to monitor Tibetan content. As a result, Tibetan-language blogs and Web sites were subject to blunt censorship, with entire sites closed down even when the content did not appear to touch upon sensitive topics.

On February 26, police in Machu County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, arrested Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, owner of the Tibetan cultural and literary Web site "The Lamp," which was taken off the Internet for several months. In November he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets.

According to the Dui Hua Foundation, Gonpo Tserang was sentenced in Dechen, TAR, to three years in prison for "inciting separatism" by sending e-mail and text messages about the March 2008 protests. The verdict from the trial stated that "Gonpo Tserang used the Internet to deliberately fabricate rumors, distort the true situation to incite separatism."

In February both Internet and cell phone text messaging was cut off in various parts of Kardze (Ganzi) and Aba prefectures in the TAR.

Academic Freedom and Protection of Cultural Heritage

Authorities in Tibetan areas required professors and students at institutions of higher education to attend political education sessions in an effort to prevent separatist political and religious activities on campus. Ethnic Tibetan academics were frequently encouraged to participate in government propaganda efforts, such as by making public speeches supporting government policies or accepting interviews by official media. Academics who failed to cooperate with such efforts faced diminished prospects for promotion. Academics in China who publicly criticized the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) policies on Tibetan affairs faced official reprisal. The government controlled curricula, texts, and other course materials as well as the publication of historically or politically sensitive academic books.

Rapid economic growth, the expanding tourism industry, the forced resettlement of nomads, and the introduction of more modern cultural influences continued to disrupt traditional living patterns and customs.

The 2002 revision of the 1987 Regulation on the Study, Use, and Development of the Tibetan Language in the TAR formally lowered the status of the Tibetan language from the primary working language to an optional language in many official contexts.

In January the Lhasa Municipal PSB began a city-wide "strike hard" campaign. Although ostensibly an anticrime operation, police searched private homes, guest houses, hotels, bars, and Internet cafes for photographs of the Dalai Lama and other politically forbidden items. Police examined the cell phones of Lhasa residents to search for "reactionary music" from India and photographs of the Dalai Lama. According to a foreign press report, more than 5,000 suspects were investigated, and at least 81 were detained. Human rights groups believed the motive behind the "strike hard" campaign was to harass human rights activists and supporters of Tibetan independence.

Many Tibetans both inside and outside the country advocated that the Losar Tibetan New Year holiday, which fell on February 25, be a day of remembrance and prayer, rather than celebration, in light of the deaths that occurred in 2008. To counter this Losar boycott, officials in many Tibetan regions ordered Tibetans to celebrate the holiday. In some Tibetan areas, authorities distributed fireworks to government offices and work units with orders that workers participate in celebrations. The state media devoted heavy coverage to Losar activities. More than 100 monks from Lutsang Monastery, in Guinan, Qinghai Province, conducted a candlelight vigil on the Tibetan New Year and a peaceful march to the county government headquarters. They were arrested, and all but six were released a few weeks later. In April four of the monks were sentenced to two years in prison.

On March 28, the TAR celebrated a newly created holiday, "Serf Emancipation Day," to mark the day in 1959 that China's rulers formally abolished the Dalai Lama's regional government. Government-orchestrated celebrations included a large ceremony in the square of the Potala Palace and a televised musical gala. In the run-up to the new holiday, the official media launched a new round of criticism of the Dalai Lama. A government white paper released prior to the holiday stated the Dalai Lama's family once owned 6,000 slaves, and the country's liberation of Tibetan serfs "is entirely comparable to the emancipation of slaves in the American Civil War."

The Dalai Lama and other observers expressed concern that development projects and other central government policies disproportionately benefited non-Tibetans and continued to promote a considerable influx of Han, Hui, and other ethnic groups into the TAR. On November 24, the Chinese government reported that the railroad into the TAR had carried 8.3 million passengers and 62.21 metric tons of freight since its opening in 2006.

Residents lacked the right to play a role in protecting their cultural heritage, including their environment. In 2007 the TAR government revised the TAR Cultural Relics Protection Regulations, asserting ownership over religious relics and monasteries.

Tibetan and Mandarin are official languages in the TAR, and both languages appeared on public and commercial signs. Mandarin was widely spoken and was used for most official communications. The illiteracy rate among Tibetans was more than five times higher (47.6 percent) than the national average (9.1 percent), according to 2000 census data. In many rural and nomadic areas, children received only one to three years of Tibetan-language education before continuing their education in a Mandarin-language school. According to official figures, the illiteracy rate among youth and working-age adults fell from 30.9 percent in 2003 to 2.4 percent in 2008. However, the illiteracy rate for this group was much higher in some areas. According to a 2006 report by the Xinhua News Agency, a looser definition of literacy was used for Tibetan speakers than for Mandarin speakers in rural Tibet. Tibetan-speaking peasants and nomads were considered literate if they could read and write the 30 letters of the Tibetan syllabary and read and write simple notes. Mandarin-speaking nomads and herders were considered literate if they could recognize 1,500 Chinese characters.

The government established a comprehensive national Tibetan-language curriculum, and many elementary schools in Tibetan areas used Tibetan as the primary language of instruction. Tibetan students also were required to study Chinese, and Chinese generally was used to teach certain subjects, such as arithmetic and science. In middle and high schools--even some officially designated as Tibetan schools--teachers often used Tibetan only to teach classes in Tibetan language, literature, and culture and taught all other classes in Chinese.

As a practical matter, proficiency in Mandarin was essential to qualify for higher education. China's most prestigious universities provided no instruction in Tibetan or other ethnic minority languages. Lower-ranked universities established to serve ethnic minority students only offered Tibetan-language instruction in courses focused on the study of the Tibetan language or culture. At the minority universities, Tibetans and other ethnic minority students typically achieved high proficiency in Mandarin, since much of the curriculum, such as computer and business courses, was in Mandarin.

Leading universities generally required English language proficiency for matriculation. Most graduates of Tibetan schools, however, learned only Mandarin and Tibetan and were thus unable to attend the better universities. This resulted in a shortage of Tibetans trained in science and engineering and, consequently, a near-total reliance on imported technical specialists from outside the TAR to work on development projects inside the TAR.

Freedom of Religion

While the law provides for freedom of religious belief, the level of actual religious freedom remained poor. During the year the government maintained tight control over the teaching and practice of Tibetan Buddhism. During the year the CCP continued its efforts to discredit the Dalai Lama as a religious leader and link reverence for him with political opposition to the government and the CCP.

Press and NGO reports suggested that continued tight government controls on religious practices and places of worship in Tibetan areas, in addition to social and economic factors, were among the major reasons for the buildup of resentments that led to the widespread protests that began in March 2008. Although authorities permitted many traditional practices and public manifestations of belief, they promptly and forcibly suppressed activities they viewed as vehicles for political dissent or advocacy of Tibetan independence, including openly worshipping the Dalai Lama. Government officials closely associated Buddhist monasteries with pro-independence activism in Tibetan areas.

During the year authorities locked down many monasteries across Tibetan areas, detaining and physically abusing an unknown number of monks and nuns or expelling them from their monasteries. At year's end more than 500 monks from other Tibetan areas outside of the TAR who were expelled from monasteries in Lhasa in 2008 had not been permitted to return. In some Tibetan regions, local PSBs installed cameras and opened police substations inside monasteries to monitor the behavior of monks.

On July 24, according to the TCHRD, Lobsang Tsultrim, the disciplinary head monk of the Jachung Monastery in a Qinghai Province, was expelled from his monastery and forbidden to join any other monastery after no monk turned up for a "patriotic education" session officials ordered him to call. Lobsang Tsultrim was accused of opposing the "patriotic education" campaign.

Following the March 2008 unrest, authorities forced many monks to attend weekly, sometimes daily, political education sessions. This policy continued during the year, although the frequency and intensity of these campaigns declined. During the year "patriotic education" and "legal education" programs continued to be held at monastic institutions, workplaces, businesses, and schools. In some areas these political education campaigns involved forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama. Officials also forced monks to remove portraits of the Dalai Lama from prayer halls and personal residences, although enforcement varied significantly by region. Restriction on religious expression was most intense at high-profile monasteries, such as Drepung and Sera in Lhasa, in Kardze (Ganzi), and Kirti Monasteries in Sichuan, Labrang in Xiahe, Gansu Province and Kumbum near Xining, Qinghai province

Security measures intensified in the TAR and other Tibetan areas during the Dalai Lama's birthday, sensitive anniversaries, like the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising in March, and festival days. The prohibition on celebrating the Dalai Lama's birthday on July 6 continued.

The government continued to ban pictures of Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama. Photographs of the "official" Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, were not widely displayed except at some high-profile monasteries under tight government control and then only at the insistence of government leaders. However, photographs of the previous Panchen Lama, his daughter, and the Karmapa (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism's Karma Kagyu schools and one of the most influential religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism who fled to India in 1999) were widely sold and displayed. The ability of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns to possess and display photographs of the Dalai Lama varied greatly depending on location. In general rural monasteries rarely visited by Han tourists and officials were able to display photographs of the Dalai Lama. In some monasteries, monks were able to display photographs of the Dalai Lama in their private quarters, although such images were not always allowed to be shown in public areas.

The government restricted ethnic Han Buddhists from living and studying in monasteries in the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Monks outside the TAR desiring to study in the TAR are required to obtain official permission from the religious affairs bureaus (RABs) of their home province and the TAR or Tibetan area involved, and such permission was not readily granted.

Although Tibetan monks were not allowed to conduct large-scale religious teachings outside Tibetan areas, many monks continued to give private teachings to audiences in non-Tibetan regions of China. According to reports, ethnic Han Buddhists outside Tibetan areas were sometimes discouraged from inviting Tibetan monks to give teachings. Such visits required explicit permission from both the monk's local RAB and the receiving province's RAB. Nevertheless, Tibetan monks sometimes traveled in plain clothes outside the TAR and other Tibetan areas to teach.

Monasteries in the TAR and major monasteries in other Tibetan areas were not allowed to establish relationships with other monasteries or hold joint religious activities. One example was the repeated refusal of authorities in Barkham County in the TAR to grant permission to hold an annual religious event at the Tsodham Monastery. This event, scheduled to take place in early 2010, would have brought together monks from 50 monasteries in the Kham and Amdo areas of the TAR.

The government continued to fund restoration efforts of religious and cultural sites as part of its program to develop tourism in Tibetan areas. Many Tibetans worried that the promotion of tourism to monasteries distracted monks from their religious work.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/.

Freedom of Movement

The law provides for the freedom to travel; however, in practice the government strictly regulated travel and freedom of movement of Tibetans.

Freedom of movement, particularly for monks and nuns, was limited severely within Lhasa and throughout the TAR, and in Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces. The PAP and local PSBs set up multiple roadblocks and checkpoints on major roads, in cities, and on the outskirts of monasteries. Tibetans traveling in religious attire were subject to extra scrutiny by police at roadside checkpoints. Several Tibetan monks reported that it remained difficult to travel outside their home monasteries, with officials frequently denying permission for outside monks to stay temporarily at a particular monastery for religious education.

Many Tibetans, particularly prominent religious figures, scholars, and dissidents, as well as those from rural areas, continued to report difficulties obtaining passports. It has been more difficult for Tibetans to obtain passports following the March 2008 protests. The renewal of existing passports was also difficult for ethnic Tibetans. In some cases, Tibetans had to promise not to travel to India to obtain a passport. In some cases Tibetan students with scholarships to foreign universities could not study abroad because authorities refused to issue them a passport.

Tibetans continued to encounter substantial difficulties and obstacles in traveling to India for religious, educational, and other purposes. Government and CCP cadres in the TAR and Kardze (Ganzi) Prefecture in Sichuan were not allowed to send their children to study abroad. In addition to passport restrictions, reinforcement of border posts made travel, such as pilgrimages to Nepal and India to see the Dalai Lama, more difficult.

The government restricted the movement of Tibetans during sensitive anniversaries and events and increased controls over border areas at these times. There were reports of arbitrary detention of persons, particularly monks and nuns, returning from India and Nepal. Detentions generally lasted for several months, although in most cases authorities did not bring formal charges against prisoners.

Tight border controls sharply limited the number of persons crossing the border into Nepal and India. The Tibet Reception Center in Dharamsala, India, received 838 visitors during the year. While this number was an increase from 2008, it was still down significantly from previous years.

The Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and leaders of all other schools of Tibetan Buddhism remained in exile.

The government also regulated foreign travel to the TAR. In accordance with a 1989 regulation, foreign visitors were required to obtain an official confirmation letter issued by the PRC government before entering the TAR. Most tourists obtained such letters by booking tours through officially registered travel agencies. Authorities halted nearly all foreign travel to Lhasa for several months following the March 2008 demonstration. Foreign tourists were again banned from the TAR in March during the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. After March the number of foreign tourists traveling to Tibet increased, but authorities enforced more tightly than before existing rules that foreign visitors must remain with tour groups.

Foreign nationals who were granted official permission to travel to Lhasa again had their movements restricted within the city and surrounding areas. PRC officials continued to severely restrict the access of diplomats and journalists to Tibet. Foreign officials and reporters were able to travel to the region only on closely chaperoned trips arranged by the Tibet Foreign Affairs Office. Foreign diplomats must obtain permission from the TAR's Foreign Affairs Office for each visit to the TAR; permission was difficult to obtain.

Official visits to the TAR were supervised closely and afforded delegation members very few opportunities to meet local residents not previously approved by the authorities. With the exception of a few highly controlled trips, authorities repeatedly denied requests for international observers to visit Tibetan areas to assess the situation.

National Minorities

Although TAR census figures showed that Tibetans made up 92 percent of the TAR's permanently registered population, official figures did not include a large number of long-, medium-, and short-term Han residents, such as cadres, skilled workers, unskilled laborers, military and paramilitary troops, and their dependents. Chinese social scientists estimated the number of this floating population, including tourists and visitors on short-term business trips, for Lhasa alone was more than 200,000 (nearly half the population of Lhasa and more than 10 percent of the TAR's population) during the May to November high season for tourism and migrant workers.

Migrants to the TAR overwhelmingly were concentrated in urban areas, where government economic policies disproportionately benefited Han Chinese. Small businesses, mostly restaurants and retail shops, run by Han and Hui migrants predominated in cities throughout Tibetan areas. Tibetans continued to make up nearly 98 percent of the rural population, according to official census figures.

The government continued its resettlement campaign of Tibetan nomads into urban areas across the TAR and other Tibetan areas. Officials offered nomads monetary incentives to kill or sell their livestock and move to newly created Tibetan communities. However, reports existed of incidences of compulsory resettlement with promised compensation that either failed to materialize or was inadequate.

In January 2007 TAR Party Secretary Zhang Qingli stated that the restructuring of Tibetan farming and grazing communities was not only to promote economic development but also to counteract the Dalai Lama's influence. He also stated that to do so was essential for "continuing to carry out major development of west China." According to a March 20 Xinhua report on the progress to settle all 219,800 herder households in the TAR, by the end of 2008, 200,000 households, including one million farmers and herders, had been settled into permanent housing.

Improving housing conditions and education for Tibet's poorest were among the goals of resettlement, yet a requirement that villagers build houses according to strict official specifications within two or three years often forced resettled families into debt to cover construction costs.

Although a 2008 state media report noted that Tibetans and other minority ethnic groups made up 69 percent of government employees in the TAR, ethnic Han continued to hold the top CCP positions in nearly all counties and prefectures, including that of TAR party secretary. Tibetans holding government positions were prohibited from worshipping at monasteries or practicing their religion.

The economic and social exclusion of Tibetans was a major reason why such a varied cross section of Tibetans, including business operators, workers, students, university graduates, farmers, and nomads participated in the 2008 protests. Some Tibetans reported that they experienced discrimination in employment, and some job advertisements in the TAR noted that Tibetans need not apply. Some claimed that Han Chinese were hired preferentially for many jobs and received greater pay for the same work. Some Tibetans reported that it was more difficult for Tibetans than Han to obtain permits and loans to open businesses. The use of the Mandarin language was widespread in urban areas and many businesses limited employment opportunities for Tibetans who did not speak Mandarin. New restrictions on international NGOs that provide assistance to Tibetan communities resulted in the elimination of many NGO programs and the expulsion of many foreign NGO workers from the TAR.

The TAR tourism bureau continued its policy of refusing to hire Tibetan tour guides educated in India or Nepal. Government officials stated that all tour guides working in the TAR were required to seek employment with the Tourism Bureau and pass a licensing exam on tourism and political ideology. The government's stated intent was to ensure that all tour guides provided visitors with the government's position opposing Tibetan independence and the activities of the Dalai Lama. Some ethnic Tibetan tour guides in the TAR complained of unfair competition from government-sponsored "Help Tibet" tour guides brought in from outside the TAR and put to work after receiving a crash course on Tibet.

Women and Children

There were no formal restrictions on women's participation in the political system, and women held many lower-level government positions. However, women were underrepresented at the provincial and prefecture levels of government. According to an official Web site, female cadres in the TAR accounted for more than 30 percent of the TAR's total cadres.

There was no information on the incidence of rape or domestic violence.

Prostitution was a growing problem in Tibetan areas, and hundreds of brothels operated semi-openly in Lhasa. International development workers in the TAR reported there were no reliable data on the number of persons engaged in the commercial sex trade in Lhasa and Shigatse, the TAR's two largest cities. Some of the prostitution occurred at sites owned by the CCP, the government, and the military. Most prostitutes in the TAR were ethnic Han women, predominantly from Sichuan Province. However, some ethnic Tibetans, mainly young girls from rural or nomadic areas, also engaged in prostitution. While the incidence of HIV/AIDS among those in prostitution in Tibetan areas was unknown, the TAR Health Bureau reported 102 cases of HIV/AIDS in the TAR between 1993 and 2009, including 28 new cases during January and November. Lack of knowledge about HIV transmission and economic pressures on women and girls engaged in prostitution led them to engage in unprotected sex.

Family planning policies permitted Tibetans and members of other relatively small minority groups to have more children than ethnic Han. Some urban Tibetans who have permanent employment, as well as CCP members and government officials, and some ethnic Han living in Tibetan areas, generally were limited to two children. Rural Tibetans were encouraged, but not required, to limit births to three children.

According to official policy, primary education was compulsory, free, and universal. According to official TAR statistics, 96.5 percent of children between the ages of six and 13 attended school, and 90 percent of the TAR's 520,000 primary school students completed lower middle school, for a total of nine years of education. In 2003 the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education reported that official Chinese education statistics did not accurately reflect attendance and were not independently verified.

The TAR is one of the few areas of China that does not have a skewed sex ratio resulting from sex-selective abortion and inadequate health care for female infants.


Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the 51st Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day

Today marks the 51st anniversary of the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising in 1959 against Communist China's repression in Tibet, as well as the second anniversary of the peaceful protests that erupted across Tibet in March 2008. On this occasion, I pay homage to those heroic Tibetan men and women, who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet, and pray for an early end to the sufferings of those still oppressed in Tibet.

Despite the great hardships they have faced for many decades, Tibetans have been able to keep up their courage and determination, preserve their compassionate culture and maintain their unique identity. It is inspiring that today a new generation of Tibetans continues to keep Tibet's just cause alive. I salute the courage of those Tibetans still enduring fear and oppression.

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, it is the responsibility of all Tibetans to maintain equality, harmony and unity among the various nationalities, while continuing to protect our unique identity and culture. Many Tibetans in Tibetan areas are working in various responsible posts in the party, government and military, helping Tibetans in whatever way they can. We recognise the positive contribution that many of them have made up to now, and obviously when Tibet achieves meaningful autonomy in the future, they will have to continue to fulfil such responsibilities.

Let me reiterate that once the issue of Tibet is resolved, I will not take any political position nor will members of the Tibetan Administration in exile hold any positions in the government in Tibet. I have repeatedly made this clear in the past. To understand the situation of the Tibetans in exile and their aspirations, I invite Tibetan officials serving in various Tibetan autonomous areas to visit Tibetan communities living in the free world, either officially or in a private capacity, to observe the situation for themselves.

Wherever Tibetans in exile have settled, we have been able to preserve and promote our distinct cultural and spiritual traditions, while generating awareness of the Tibetan cause. Unlike other refugees, we have been relatively successful because we have also been able to give our children a sound modern education, while bringing them up according to our traditional values. And because the heads of all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the Bon religion are in exile we have been able to re-establish various institutions for religious training and practice. In these institutions over ten thousand monks and nuns are free to pursue their vocations. We have been readily able to provide educational opportunities for those monks, nuns and students who have continued to come from Tibet. At the same time the unprecedented spread of Tibetan Buddhism in both East and West and the prospect of continuing to flourish in the future gives us hope that it may yet survive. This is some solace to us during this most critical period in Tibet's history.

Today, the Chinese authorities are conducting various political campaigns, including a campaign of patriotic re-education, in many monasteries in Tibet. They are putting the monks and nuns in prison-like conditions, depriving them the opportunity to study and practise in peace. These conditions make the monasteries function more like museums and are intended to deliberately annihilate Buddhism.

Tibetan culture based on Buddhist values of compassion and non-violence benefits not only Tibetans, but also people in the world at large, including the Chinese. Therefore, we Tibetans should not place our hopes in material progress alone, which is why it is essential that all Tibetans, both inside and outside Tibet, should broaden their modern education hand in hand with our traditional values. Above all, as many young Tibetans as possible should strive to become experts and skilled professionals.

It is important that Tibetans maintain friendly relations not only with people of all nationalities, but also amongst themselves. Tibetans should not engage in petty disputes with each other. I earnestly appeal to them instead to resolve any differences with patience and understanding.

Whether the Chinese Government acknowledges it or not, there is a serious problem in Tibet. As the world knows, this is evidenced by the fact that there is a huge military presence and restriction on travel in Tibet. It is good for neither party. We have to take every opportunity to solve it. For more than 30 years, I have tried my best to enter into talks with the People's Republic of China to resolve the issue of Tibet through the Middle-Way Approach that is of benefit to us both. Although I have clearly articulated Tibetan aspirations, which are in accordance with the constitution of the People's Republic of China and the laws on national regional autonomy, we have not obtained any concrete result. Judging by the attitude of the present Chinese leadership, there is little hope that a result will be achieved soon. Nevertheless, our stand to continue with the dialogue remains unchanged.

It is a matter of pride and satisfaction that our mutually beneficial Middle-Way Approach and the justice of the Tibetan struggle have gained growing understanding and support year by year from many political and spiritual leaders, including the President of the United States of America, reputed non-governmental organisations, the international community, and in particular from Chinese intellectuals. It is evident that the Tibetan issue is not a dispute between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples, but has come about because of the ultra-leftist policies of the Chinese Communist authorities.

Since the demonstrations in Tibet in 2008, Chinese intellectuals inside and outside China have written more than 800 unbiased articles on the Tibetan issue. During my visits abroad, wherever I go, when I meet Chinese in general, particularly the intellectuals and students, they offer their genuine sympathy and support. Since the Sino-Tibetan problem ultimately has to be resolved by the two peoples themselves, I try to reach out to the Chinese people whenever I can to create a mutual understanding between us. Therefore, it is important for Tibetans everywhere to build closer relations with the Chinese people and try to make them aware of the truth of the Tibetan cause and the present situation in Tibet.

Let us also remember the people of East Turkestan who have experienced great difficulties and increased oppression and the Chinese intellectuals campaigning for greater freedom who have received severe sentences. I would like to express my solidarity and stand firmly with them.

It is also essential that the 1.3 billion Chinese people have free access to information about their own country and elsewhere, as well as freedom of expression and the rule of law. If there were greater transparency inside China, there would be greater trust, which would be the proper basis for promoting harmony, stability and progress. This is why everyone concerned must exert their efforts in this direction.

As a free spokesperson of the Tibetan people I have repeatedly spelled out their fundamental aspirations to the leaders of the People's Republic of China. Their lack of a positive response is disappointing. Although the present authorities may cling to their hard-line stand, judging by the political changes taking place on the international stage as well as changes in the perspective of the Chinese people, there will be a time when truth will prevail. Therefore, it is important that everyone be patient and not give up.

We acknowledge the Central Government's new decision taken at the Fifth Tibet Work Forum to implement their policies uniformly in all Tibetan areas to ensure future progress and development, which Premier Wen Jiabao also reiterated at the recent annual session of the National People's Congress. This accords with our repeatedly expressed wish for a single administration for all those Tibetan areas. Similarly, we appreciate the development work that has taken place in Tibetan areas, particularly in the nomadic and farming regions. However, we must be vigilant that such progress does not damage our precious culture and language and the natural environment of the Tibetan plateau, which is linked to the well-being of the whole of Asia.

On this occasion, I wish to take the opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to the leaders of various nations, their intellectuals, the general public, Tibet Support Groups and others who cherish truth and justice for continuing to support the Tibetan cause despite the Chinese government's pressure and harassment. Above all I wish to pay my heartfelt gratitude to the Government of India, the various State Governments, and the people of India for their continued generous support.

Finally, I offer prayers for the happiness and well-being of all sentient beings.

The Dalai Lama
March 10, 2010

Statement of the Kashag on the 51st Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day

Today — 10 March 2010 — marks the 51st anniversary of the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising against the Chinese authorities. On this momentous day, the Kashag pays homage to the brave men and women of Tibet who have laid down their lives for our spiritual and temporal cause. The Kashag also, in solidarity with those Tibetan compatriots who are presently undergoing torture inside Tibet, extends its best greetings and commiserations to all of them.

As detailed in the Kashag's 10 March Statement of the previous year, we have witnessed both positive and negative developments during the last over 50 years. On the one hand, all Tibetans living inside and outside Tibet have endured tremendous hardships and our spirituality, polity and race have suffered irreparable damages. However, on the other hand, Tibetans inside Tibet of all ages have, without losing heart and inner strength, kept alive our struggle for truth all these years. In exile also, we have made great spiritual and political accomplishments, particularly in the fields of the preservation and promotion of Tibetan spirituality and culture. Today, while remembering all these things, the Kashag would especially like to express our deep sense of gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama because all the positive results that we have been able to accomplish during these years is due to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's leadership.

From the last 10 March anniversary until now, the Tibetans in exile and their administration have been organising numerous programmes, or commemorative events, to mark the 50 years of their life in exile and to express their heartfelt "Thank You" to their host countries. As a part of this programme, an informal meeting of the employees of Central Tibetan administration (CTA) was held recently to reflect upon the past experiences and to propose ideas regarding our future plans. A summary of what transpired in this meeting, which has already been brought to the attention of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, includes, among other things, the CTA employees re-pledging themselves to the path of peace and non-violence in carrying forward our struggle for truth until the eventual resolution of the Tibet issue. It is our firm belief that the larger Tibetan population inside and outside Tibet will join in this solemn pledge.

Of abiding concern to us is that no positive developments have taken place in Tibet since a new crisis developed on 10 March 2008. Therefore, the Kashag would like to urge the People's Republic of China (PRC) to put an immediate halt to their inhuman and unlawful actions, including repression and violations of human rights in Tibet, as well as handing down death and long-term prison sentences to the Tibetan people without due process of law. The Kashag would also like to make an emphatic appeal to them to release all the innocent Tibetan prisoners, including the young Panchen Lama — Gendun Choekyi Nyima. Furthermore, the Kashag would like to appeal to the Tibetans inside Tibet to exercise utmost restraint and caution.

In the on-going dialogue process, we have presented to the concerned officials of the PRC the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People on 31 October 2008. In this memorandum, we have, besides articulating the fundamental aspirations of the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, requested for the full implementation of the National Regional Autonomy provisions as enshrined in the constitution. The Chinese side has, however, sought to distort or misrepresent the requests we have made in it. In order to offer clarifications to these, as well as to make a fresh request of two points, the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Beijing this year and conducted ninth round of talks with their Chinese counterparts on 30 and 31 January. In this latest round of talks, the envoys, as advised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, put forward these two points for the Chinese government's consideration:

1) The ultimate concern of His Holiness is only the welfare of the six-million Tibetan people. Regarding this, the Chinese central government contends that the Tibetan people in Tibet are leading a happy life to their satisfaction and that there is no such issue as the Tibet issue that needs to be resolved. We believe, however, that most of the Tibetans in Tibet face tremendous hardships. There is, among them, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction or discontentment in every respect — be it religion, politics, economy, language, culture or social conditions. In the light of such divergent views between the two sides, there is a need for us to collectively undertake a careful investigation of the situation on the ground so as to understand what the reality is. We would like to, therefore, request the Chinese government to undertake the proposed investigation in a manner that affords all Tibetans the real opportunity to express their true feelings without any fear and doubts in their minds. If, as a result of such an investigation, it is found that most of the Tibetan people do not believe there is a problem in Tibet and that they are completely satisfied with their lot, then this is what His Holiness the Dalai Lama is calling for. There is, then, no need for both sides to argue about the issue of Tibet in the future. Whereas if we find that most of the Tibetans are dissatisfied, then the Chinese central government should also — treading the path of "seeking truth from facts" — acknowledge that there is a problem in Tibet and start discussions to collectively find the ways and means of solving the problem.

2) The allegation that His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his exile organisation has instigated the spontaneous and peaceful uprising that rocked the whole of the Tibetan areas since 10 March 2008 is not true. Hence, this allegation is not acceptable to us. This has been put across to the Chinese leadership during the informal discussion that took place in Shenzhen. As a result, during the seventh round of talks, the Chinese central government accepted the reality by changing its stance from the "Three Stops" to "Four Not-to-Supports". Of late, however, it has begun to make the same kind of allegations against us. A need has, therefore, arisen for the Chinese central government to clarify now as to whether its viewpoint is same as it was during the seventh round of talks, or has it changed since then. If it has indeed changed, then the Chinese central government should undertake an in-depth investigation — both inside and outside Tibet — to determine scientifically the truth of these accusations. The verdict of such an investigation should be accepted by both the parties concerned. Moreover, we should make amends if we are found to be wrong. If we are not found to be wrong, then the Chinese central government must stop spreading lies, or making such baseless allegations, both domestically and internationally, and issue a clarification to this effect.

The Chinese government didn't provide any clear answers to these two points and they also failed to exactly communicate our requests in its subsequent press briefings or statements. As for us, we will continue to press ahead with these two requests we made in a sincere and honest manner. If the views held by the Chinese central government — and what they say — have any truth in them, then it should not hesitate to subject these to investigation. All of us can vouch for the fact that once a proper investigation is undertaken, it will help clear things for the future, thus making it easier for all to see the reality.

During the past nine rounds of talks, the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama have stated categorically to the Chinese government that they have nothing to talk about the personal issue of His Holiness or about the issue of a few people surrounding him. The sole agenda of the dialogue process was to discuss about the welfare of the six-million Tibetan people. In none of these exchanges had they raised the personal issue of His Holiness. We have made this amply clear earlier and we would like to reiterate this today. Therefore, the Chinese government's saying, through its official statements, that their purpose of engaging in dialogue with us is only to talk about the personal issue of His Holiness and not about the welfare of the Tibetan people is not true. This is simply irrelevant. Although there is no change whatsoever in our determination to engage in dialogue with the PRC until the issue of Tibet is resolved once and for all, the Kashag would like to emphatically state that the agenda of the dialogue process should be only about the welfare of six-million Tibetans and nothing else. Therefore we reiterate that there is nothing to discuss about the personal welfare of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Considering the Tibet problem to be a domestic issue that has to be resolved within the framework of the PRC, we are always engaging with the Chinese central government. However, the Chinese side continues to talk about His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the issue of Tibet and exert enormous pressure in connection with these issues everywhere — be it in their bilateral relations with other countries or in various international forums. It is clear to all of us that this is what actually drives the issue of Tibet towards becoming an internationalised issue.

Our struggle is based on truth and non-violence. We have no doubt that if all Tibetans living inside and outside Tibet put their complete faith in the non-violent path that we have chosen and practise, then the truth of the issue of Tibet will prevail sooner rather than later. Today, there are an increasing number of justice-loving countries, peoples as well as religious and political leaders, showing great concern and support to the issue of Tibet. A significantly large number of Chinese intellectuals from Mainland China and from abroad are now beginning to appreciate and support His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle-Way policy. Moreover, the truth about the Chinese government's wrong policies in Tibet is becoming ever more evident these days. Particularly, the mutually beneficial Middle-Way policy does not envisage victory for oneself and defeat for others. Envied by all the people of the world, it has the strong support of the USA and many other like-minded countries. Tibetan intellectuals inside Tibet, across three regions of Tibet, also admire and support it. Hence, the issue of Tibet has achieved — and is continuing to achieve — great results that have both the short- and long-term benefits. While expressing our immense gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for formulating such a genuine policy, the Kashag would like to pledge before Your Holiness that we will continue to uphold this policy without any doubt in our minds in the future.

Unimaginable atrocities and cruelty of the past about 60 years have not been able to shake the spirit and determination of the Tibetan people. The Chinese government is now further sharpening its strategy of employing deceit and money to destroy the spirit and unity of the Tibetan people. The Kashag believes that the Tibetan people will not fall prey to these Chinese deceptions. The unity among all the Tibetan people, which has remained intact for a long time now, has been strengthened after the popular uprising of 2008. The Kashag would like to urge all Tibetans to make efforts to further strengthen this bond of unity and to stay clear from the incitements or machinations of the other side to drive a wedge between us Tibetans. The Kashag would like to also urge that we Tibetans should caution by refraining from indulging in internal squabbles over petty matters.

Two important issues that the Tibetans inside Tibet must give a serious thought to are: 1) Tibetan youths should be encouraged to broaden their educational horizon by concentrating on both traditional and modern education and by acquiring professional and specialised skills in their chosen fields of study; and 2) explore all possible ways and means to save the delicate environment of the Tibetan plateau from further degradation. These are non-political issues that have a strong bearing on the short- and long-term benefits of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. Therefore, it is very important for both sides to make collective efforts towards these ends. Similarly, everyone should make best efforts to put into practice the advices His Holiness the Dalai Lama give to the people of world in general and to the people of Tibet in particular, the advices of both spiritual and temporal aspect that have huge bearing not just in this life but also in many lives to come.

If the Tibetans, who are currently divided into many administrative units, could be brought under a single autonomous administration, it will be more helpful in devising a uniform policy to bring about all-round development in the fields of education, culture, health, etc. It will, in particular, help protect the unique culture and identity of Tibet. The request to bring all Tibetans under a single administration has now and again been made to the Chinese government since 1951. As such, during the recent Fifth Work Forum on Tibet, delegates from all Tibetan areas were summoned to deliberate upon a uniform development plan for all Tibetans. The Forum has also identified the fact that the Tibetans in general, and the Tibetan farmers and herders in particular, are lagging behind as far as the standard of living is concerned. We must take note of these developments indeed. We await the Chinese government to actually implement a uniform development programme for all the Tibetan-inhabited areas.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will turn 75 on 6 July 2010. The Kashag plans to celebrate his coming birthday more elaborately than the previous ones with major spiritual activities. Similarly, our exile democracy will complete 50 years on 2 September, this year. Therefore, we are planning to commemorate this day as well. We hope that all Tibetans will bear these upcoming events in mind. Although it is very difficult for the Tibetans inside Tibet to openly come out and celebrate these upcoming events, we believe they will be able to join us Tibetan exiles in their hearts and minds.

To conclude, the Kashag prays for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the spontaneous fulfilment of all his wishes. May the truth of the issue of Tibet prevail soon!

The Kashag
10 March 2010