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


Harrowing images reach Tibetans in exile after self-immolation in Golog

A 42 year-old Tibetan, Kunchok, set himself on fire outside a police station in the Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province on September 16, according information received from Tibet. Image of Kunchok with his face completely burnt has reached Tibetans in exile.

Kunchok’s self-immolation took place in Tsangkor town in Gade (Chinese: Gande) county in the Prefecture but Tibetans nearby managed to extinguish the flames. Kunchok was rushed to hospital, and was deeply distressed that he had survived, according to Tibetan sources. Although the self-immolation happened on September 16, news only reached Tibetans in exile weeks later due to restrictions on information and tightened security in the area. Please see the full ICT report for more (warning: graphic image).

Tibetan held incommunicado following solitary protest

Pasang Wangchuk

Pasang Wangchuk states a solitary protest on Oct. 4 (Image: TCHRD)

Holding a banner inscribed with calls for human rights, freedom, and the return of the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan man named Pasang Wangchuk staged a solitary protest in Kardze town last weekend. Pasang, a businessman with three children, also shouted slogans calling for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A large crowd assembled before Chinese police arrived and took him away. No more is yet known about his current condition.

Imprisoned Tibetan writer released after completing his sentence

According to reports, the Tibetan writer Gyitsang Tagmik has been released following four years in prison. Gyitsang had written and spoken about discrimination against Tibetans, saying:

“We are not the criminals. Chinese rule is criminal. Even the Chinese government makes accusations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his Middle Way Approach, calling him and his supporters the “Dalai clique” and “separatists.” It is well known that the Middle Way of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the best way to solve the problem between Tibet and China. It will bring benefit for both Tibetans and Chinese. But still, the Chinese government refuses it. How would the Chinese act if we Tibetans took the picture of Mao Zedong over the Tiananmen Gate and trampled it into the ground? And yet the Chinese authorities did this to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photo many times in monasteries.”

He was held in the Kanlho PSB detention center prior to his release in early October.

ICT Obituary: Irmtraut Wäger, “Mother” to many Tibetan refugees

Irmtraut Wäger

Photo of Irmtraut Wäger at her 90th birthday by Jan Anderson.

Irmtraut Wäger passed away on October 2, 2014, aged 95. For 50 years she was closely associated with Tibet, especially as President of the German Aid to Tibetans. The International Campaign for Tibet’s Light of Truth award, presented to her in Berlin 2005 by H.H. the Dalai Lama, was among the many awards she received for her work.

Her eventful life reflected European history in the 20th century. Born in East Prussia, her family impoverished in the economic crisis in the 1930s and she could go to school for only seven years. In World War II she served in a hospital in Königsberg where, on her 25th birthday, she witnessed how the city was bombed to ashes. It was here that she also first came in contact with Tibet through books she found there.

To read the full obituary by ICT-Germany Board Chairman Jan Andersson, please click here.

Confucius Institutes, long suspected of propagating Chinese censorship on Tibet and other subjects, face growing backlash

The closure of the Penn State Confucius Institute comes fast on the heels of a similar closure at the University of Chicago. As Charles Liu of The Nanfang writes:

In the ten years since it first opened in South Korea, Confucius Institutes have spread around the world with around 1,000 branches. However, Confucius Institutes have also brought controversy and accusations wherever they have gone. As noted in a report written by Tao Xie and published in the Journal for Contemporary China, Confucius Institutes tend to open in areas where where public opinion of China is low, particularly in North America and Europe. The institutes are now in decline amid accusations of censorship, academic freedom, and espionage.

ICT President Matteo Mecacci wrote about Confucius Institutes and Tibet earlier this summer in a ChinaFile conversation on the subject.

Human Rights and Freedom Defenders Prize awarded to Congressman
Frank Wolf

Frank Wolf

Congressman Frank Wolf receiving the Wei Jingsheng Foundation’s award. Others in the photo are (from L) Carl Gershman, President of National Endowment for Democracy; Chinese Democracy activist Wei Jingsheng; ICT President Matteo Mecacci; Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch; and Delphine Halgand, US Director of Reporters Without Borders.

On Thursday October 2, dedicated Tibet supporter Congressman Frank Wolf was recognized with the “Human Rights and Freedom Defenders Prize” at an event organized by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation jointly with Reporters Without Borders, and the European Parliament Liaison Office with US Congress. The award ceremony took place in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building.

ICT President Mr. Matteo Mecacci was invited to joined other distinguished guests speaking at the panel including Mr. Carl Gershman, President of National Endowment for Democracy, Ms. Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch, and a student leader from Hong Kong. Mr. Mecacci said, “Congressman Wolf has been a long-time champion for Tibet and it is an honor to join this gathering to express our thanks to the Congressman for his years of dedication to this issue.” Representative Wolf’s report after visiting Tibet can be read in full here.