ICT’s Tibet Roundup—2024 Issue 9 (May 16-31)

ICT’s Tibet Roundup is a twice-monthly compilation of curated news from various sources, including Chinese state media, official Chinese documents, briefings, information reported by Tibetans in Tibet and international commentary on Tibet. The roundup is organized in categories, including law, politics, culture, economics, climate and commentary. The focus is on presenting news and reports with limited analysis and editorializing.


1. HRW report on forced relocations in Tibet

The Chinese authorities are projected to have relocated over 930,000 rural Tibetans between 2000 and 2025, according to a comprehensive investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW), based on over 1,000 Chinese official media reports, academic studies and testimonies. Alarmingly, over 709,000 Tibetans, or 76% of the total relocations, have taken place since January 2016.

These mass forced relocations have been euphemistically labeled under various policy initiatives, such as “targeted poverty alleviation,” “extremely high-altitude ecological relocation in the TAR” etc. However, the misleading policy labels belie the reality of coercive displacement, which has been facilitated through various tactics, including coercion, explicit or implicit threats, extreme pressure, administrative punishment, and even criminal prosecution.

2. Obstruction of Justice Alleged in Delayed Response to Complaint

Gonpo Kyi, sister of imprisoned Tibetan businessman Dorjee Tashi, complained that policemen from the local police station in Lhasa beat her up, in video clips obtained by the International Campaign for Tibet on May 31. Showing blue bruises on her arm, Gonpo says that the police beat her on May 28, 2024, when she went to the Procuratorate’s office in Lhasa.

In another video clip, Gonpo states that approximately seven years ago, after filing a complaint with the “National Unified Procuratorial Service Hotline” in Beijing, she was assured that the People’s Procuratorate of the Tibet Autonomous Region would respond within three months. However, she claims that several years have passed since the higher authority issued the order, and the Lhasa Procuratorate’s failure to comply constitutes an obstruction of justice and a violation of the constitution.

Gonpo’s allegations highlight the frustrations faced by many Tibetans in seeking redress through official channels.

3. Party Secretary Reiterates Focus on Security in Speech

Wang Junzheng, Party Secretary of the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region presided over a “study meeting of the theoretical learning of Xi Jinping’s thoughts” in Lhasa on May 28.

An extract of his speech carried by the state media with emphasis on the so-called “fight against separatism”, “sense of community of the Chinese nation”, “manage religious affairs according to the law”, “rural revitalization”, “national security”, “smart border defense”, “deepening of military civilian integration”, reveals the Party staying firm on its policies in Tibet.

The party’s continued focus on security in Tibet is concerning for its continued prioritization of control and suppression of Tibetans over the rights and aspirations of the Tibetan people. Calls for “in-depth anti-secession struggles” and the promotion of “national unity and progress” are used as a pretext for cracking down on peaceful expressions of Tibetans. Emphasis on “managing religious affairs according to law” could lead to further restrictions on the freedom of religion and belief for Tibetan Buddhists as the Chinese government has imposed strict controls on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and practices over the years. The call for strengthening border security and promoting “smart border defense” also lead to increased surveillance and restrictions on movement. Furthermore, Wang’s emphasis on enhancing cadres’ abilities and raising public awareness of national security means continuation of increased indoctrination and propaganda efforts.

4. Tibetan Protesters Subjected to Political Education After Land Dispute

Tibetan herders in Markham County, located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, have been forced to undergo political education sessions after protesting the seizure of their pastureland by Chinese authorities. The protests erupted in April when local officials attempted to confiscate the land, offering meager compensation that the Tibetans deemed inadequate.

The Chinese officials have labeled the Tibetan herdsmen’s actions as political opposition, subjecting them to a series of political education classes aimed at instilling loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.

An anonymous local Tibetan told the US based Radio Free Asia that the dispute arose when county officials sold the herders’ grasslands to business owners in early 2023 without their knowledge. When the new owners attempted to remove the Tibetans and take over the pastureland in April, it led to protests by 25 Tibetan families from Taktsa village. Four protesters were arrested, beaten, and later released with a compensation offer of just 3,000 yuan (US$415) per family, which the Tibetans rejected as inadequate. A local Tibetan estimated the 1 square kilometers (one mile) long land at 5 million yuan (USD 692,000).


5. Indoctrination of young reincarnate monks

In addition to the CCP’s indoctrination policy for Tibetan youth by exposing school children to the historical landmarks of the CCP in China, group of young reincarnate monks are also taken on a similar indoctrination tour to China.

Labelled as “Tibetan Youth Living Buddha Study Group”, the Chinese authorities took a group of young Tibetan reincarnate monks to the Memorial Hall of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai on May 19. The tour is a broader effort by the Chinese authorities to promote the ideology and narrative of the Communist Party among the young reincarnate monks to undermine their traditional role.

The guided tour, which included exhibitions highlighting the Party’s history and achievements, is designed to indoctrinate the young monks with the Party’s ideology and to promote allegiance to the Chinese state.

The targeting of Tibetan youth, particularly those with religious significance, is particularly concerning, as it could have long-lasting impacts on the preservation and transmission of Tibetan culture and traditions to future generations.

6. ‘Sinicization’ Campaign in Nagchu Monasteries

According to a report on its official website, the United Front Work Department of Nagchu in the Tibet Autonomous Region has been actively promoting the “Sinicization” of Tibetan Buddhism, to drive Tibetan monastics loyalty to the Communist Party.

The report states that monasteries have been required to fly the Chinese flag and display political slogans on their walls, to assert the dominance of the Chinese state over the traditional Tibetan Buddhist institutions. Additionally, the department has conducted over 150 sessions of “Three Consciousnesses” Education, indoctrinating more than 2,100 monks and nuns with the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology. The report also boasts of organizing over 60 events where Chinese national flags were raised in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and the Chinese national anthem was sung, with the participation of over 970 monks and nuns.

The forced display of Chinese state symbols and the indoctrination of monks and nuns with the Party’s ideology undermine the fundamental principles of religious freedom.

7. Tibetan Monk commits suicide over depression for being forced to disrobe

A 17-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk, Kunzang Longyang, committed suicide in mid-April in Drakkar County, Qinghai province, after authorities required him to disrobe and attend a government-run school. This tragic incident underscores the immense pressure faced by young Tibetan monks due to restrictions on practicing Buddhist religious and cultural traditions imposed by Chinese authorities.

Although Longyang was forced to leave Yulung Monastery three years ago for a general school, he continued to wear his monk robes. However, a renewed enforcement of the rule required him to disrobe permanently causing him severe distress, reported the RFA. After being sent home from school in April, Longyang took his own life out of depression.

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