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


Tenzin Delek Rinpoche dies in Chinese prison

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Long-standing Tibetan political prisoner Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died on July 12 in his 13th year of a life sentence in prison. His body was cremated four days later amid high security at a remote detention facility, despite pleas from his relatives and disciples for his body to be returned to the Tibetan community for prayers and traditional rituals. Demonstrations in Tibet were met with violence by Chinese authorities, with police firing live rounds and launching teargas at demonstrators. Communications from the Tibetan areas of Lithang and Nyagchuka have been blocked by the authorities, with internet connections disabled. There is now serious concern for the safety of Tibetans seeking to express their grief at Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death.


Tibetan monk self-immolates as security tightened for Dalai Lama’s birthday

Sonam Topgyal

Armed police gather in Kyegudo following the self-immolation on July 9.

A Tibetan monk in his late twenties set fire to himself in the main square of Jyekundo on July 9, in an atmosphere of heightened security imposed around the period of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. Images emerging from Tibet show the monk, who has been named by Tibetan exile sources as Sonam Topgyal, on the ground in flames in the town’s main Gesar Square. Security in the town was immediately escalated following the self-immolation, which is the sixth this year and the 142nd in the PRC.


ICT Chairman Richard Gere testifies before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

ICT Chairmen Richard Gere recognizes Geshe Tenpa, a student of Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, whose picture he is holding.

ICT Chairmen Richard Gere recognizes Geshe Tenpa, a student of Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, whose picture he is holding.

Gere testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission earlier this week, along with State Department Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Dr. Sarah Sewall, Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch, and Kaydor Aukatsang, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas. In his testimony, the full text of which has been uploaded to ICT’s website, Mr. Gere told the commission:

“Change will come to Tibet; it’s not a matter of if, but when. It may take time, but we need to act. As the Dalai Lama has said, change can only take place through action. We each have a role to play, and we must act now and consistently.”

The statements of Dr. Sewall, Commission Co-Chair Jim McGovern, and Mr. Aukatsang can be viewed on the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission site.


US Congressional Representatives speak out in support of Tibet: ‘It deserves our unanimous support’

On July 8 a group of Congressmen in the House of Representatives urged their colleagues to pass bipartisan resolution H. Res. 337, which denounces human rights violations in Tibet and calls for dialogue without preconditions between China and the Dalai Lama and its representatives leading to a negotiated settlement for the people of Tibet. It was agreed to without objections after Representatives Chris Smith (R), Eliot Engel (D), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Jim McGovern (D) and Dana Rohrabacher (R) took to the floor to speak in favor of the resolution. Transcripts of their statements and video, if available, can be seen here.


‘A policy alienating Tibetans’: New ICT report on systematic denial of passports to Tibetans

The Chinese authorities have intensified control over Tibetans’ movements by denying and recalling passports, in contravention of Chinese law and connected to the Chinese authorities’ political agenda of undermining the Dalai Lama and seeking to assert their control over Tibetan people.

A new report, ‘A Policy Alienating Tibetans‘, to be published by the International Campaign for Tibet on July 13 reports that:

  • Very few Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and in many other Tibetan areas have been issued passports in the past three years, and many people had their passports confiscated. In contrast, more and more Chinese are travelling both abroad and freely in Tibetan areas.
  • The denial of passports is accompanied by restrictions on movement in Tibetan areas linked to intensified militarization and security particularly in areas where there has been protest or self-immolations.
  • The Chinese authorities have imposed sweeping new measures in order to prevent Tibetans travelling to teachings by the Dalai Lama outside Tibet, and to punish those who do. For the first time at a major Buddhist teaching by the Dalai Lama in 2014, the Kalachakra in Ladakh, there were more Chinese Buddhists present than Tibetans from inside Tibet.
  • The restrictions threaten the survival of Tibetan Buddhist teachings in Tibet by making it nearly impossible for monks and nuns who wish to travel outside the PRC to receive instruction from teachers who are in exile, and difficult for exiled teachers to get permission to travel within Tibet to give teachings.
  • Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “Not only are Tibetans subjected to intense controls and surveillance in their everyday lives, but they are also discriminated against in one of their most basic rights: the ability to travel domestically and internationally. Even though Beijing considers Tibetans to be Chinese citizens, in practice, Tibetan passport applicants are treated differently than Chinese applicants, disregarding their rights under China’s passport regulations. This new report uses eyewitness testimony, discussion on social media, and translation of official documents to report on these important developments.”

The report is available here.