A listing of the top news developments in and around Tibet during the previous week.


ICT report: New wave of repression in Tibet following quasi-legal response to self-immolations

Acts of significant evil
The Chinese Communist Party has responded to Tibetan self-immolations with an intensified wave of repression that has led to the convictions, detention without trial, or disappearance of at least 98 Tibetans by using a quasi-legal framework to criminalize them.

A new report by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) documents the impact of rulings announced in December 2012, a month after Xi Jinping became head of the Chinese Communist Party. The new measures, adopted in response to self-immolations across Tibet (now totalling 131), have resulted in a spike in political imprisonments, including one instance of the death penalty, and numerous cases of Tibetans being ‘disappeared’, with family and friends unaware of whether or not they are still alive, often for weeks or months. Please see the full report here.

Tibetans openly display images of the Dalai Lama during horse-racing festival

Tibetans in Bathang, Kham (eastern Tibet), defied Chinese authorities this week by displaying and ceremonially enthroning a portrait of the Dalai Lama earlier this week. Citing a local Tibetan, RFA reported that “organizers also invited Tibetans gathered at the festival to view the photo and offer ceremonial scarves.” Other sources report that images of His Holiness were also displayed during summer festivals in Nyachukha, Lithang, Dranggo, and Amchog, among others.

Harsh new regulations announced in restive Driru


The front page of new regulations enacted in Driru (Image: TCHRD)

The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has reported on a set of harsh punitive rules enacted in Driru, Tibet, which has been witness to strong discontentment among local Tibetans in reaction to a Chinese “loyalty” campaign last year. The new rules, which threaten the livelihood of Tibetans found to be in opposition to the Party, include the cancellation of welfare benefits and prohibitions on the harvesting of yartsa gunbu (caterpillar fungus), which is a major source of income for many rural Tibetans. Monks are threatened with being expelled from their monasteries. The acts which can trigger these and other penalties include refusing to fly the Chinese flag, or singing songs in praise of the Dalai Lama. For more please see the full TCHRD report.

Practice of “life liberation” grows across the Tibetan plateau

Tibetan woman

A Tibetan woman in Jyekundo works to save tiny river shrimp
(Image: NYT)

Reporting from Jyekundo, which was smashed by a deadly earthquake four years ago, New York Times (NYT) writer Andrew Jacobs found that dozens of Tibetans gather by a river every day to save the lives of tiny crustaceans stuck outside a receding river. Known as “life liberation,” the practice of saving the lives of animals of every size, today it can be seen across Tibet as a reflection of environmental awareness, Buddhist values and the belief in the sanctity of all life. A local woman explained to Jacobs that “Buddha has taught us that treating others with love and compassion is the right thing to do, no matter how tiny that life is.” The NYT story is accompanied by a short video feature.

ICT interviews Golog Jigme after his daring escape from Tibet

Golog Jigme, a respected Tibetan monk, teacher and former political prisoner, arrived safely in India in May after a perilous journey into exile from Tibet following 20 months in hiding. He was imprisoned after working with film-maker Dhondup Wangchen in interviewing 108 Tibetans about their views and feelings before the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The interviews became a powerful documentary, ‘Leaving Fear Behind’, that enabled the voices of Tibetan nomads, elders, monks and others in remote areas across the plateau to be heard in international capitals, by Parliamentarians, government officials, exile Tibetans and even journalists in Beijing.

ICT took the opportunity to interview Golog Jigme upon his arrival in Dharamsala, to learn from him about his experiences in Tibet, his remarkable work and perilous escape. We talked to him through our India-based Tibetan field team member and another Tibetan colleague based in London, who translated the interview into English. Please see the full interview here.