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


South African government denies the Dalai Lama a visa, undermining the legacy of Nelson Mandela


Nobel Peace Laureates the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela

The South African Government’s has again refused to give His Holiness the Dalai Lama a visa, this time to attend the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates being held in Cape Town from October 13 to 15. When the South African Government denied a visa to the Dalai Lama in 2011, Archbishop Desmond Tutu had then said that it was “a total betrayal of our struggle’s history.” This time Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille called the denial “absolutely appalling, and an affront to a key theme of the summit: celebrating 20 years of South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela.” Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said “The Dalai Lama is known internationally for his unflinching stand for peace and non-violence and the South African action goes against the thinking of its own late leader Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela showed his solidarity with the Dalai Lama by inviting him to South Africa and publicly meeting him twice, in 1996 and 2004.” For more please see the full ICT release.

ICT asks UN Human Rights Council to look into 41 individuals feared disappeared in Tibet

The International Campaign for Tibet asked the UN Human Rights Council to look into 41 cases of enforced disappearances in Tibet that ICT documented between April 2010 and February 2014.

Presenting a joint statement with Helsinki Foundation at the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGIED), ICT’s Elena Gaita said, “during the period of April 2010 to February 2014 the International Campaign for Tibet in its report Acts of Significant Evil: The Criminalization Tibetan of Self-Immolations recorded at least 41 cases of individuals feared disappeared because of these new measures. We endorse the Working Group’s call to State’s to take specific measures to prevent threats, intimidation and reprisals against victims of enforced disappearances including family members, witnesses and human rights defenders.”

ICT’s report ‘Significant Acts of Evil: The Criminalization of Tibetan Self-Immolations’ documented 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 totaling 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.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet said, “I call upon the High Commissioner and the Council to ensure that the Chinese government puts an end to these unacceptable policies that amount to collective punishment.”

Outspoken monk Labrang Jigme jailed for five years

Jigme Guri

Jigme Guri, known as Labrang Jigme, was detained on August 20. His current whereabouts are not known.

Labrang Jigme, also known as Jigme Gyatso or Jigme Gyuri, is best known for releasing a video in which he described his arbitrary arrest and subsequent beatings and torture by Chinese police in 2008. Radio Free Asia reports that he has been sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Lanzhou, China, following a number of detentions over the last six years. Local sources told RFA that he was convicted of “splittist activities.”

Freedom House annual report describes repressive atmosphere in Tibet

Freedom House has released its 2014 report on Tibet, which found that Tibet under Chinese rule earned the lowest possible ratings for civil liberties, political rights, and freedom. Their overview for the year 2013 is as follows:

The security clampdown established after an uprising in 2008 was sustained during 2013 and increasingly extended to Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Over the course of the year, a total of 26 Tibetans set themselves on fire to protest Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule. The authorities responded with communications blackouts, “patriotic education” campaigns, travel restrictions, and intrusive new controls on monasteries. Despite the repressive atmosphere, many Tibetans expressed solidarity with the self-immolators, protested discriminatory language policies, and quietly maintained contact with the exile community.

Intermittent talks between the government and representatives of the Dalai Lama, last held in 2010, did not resume during 2013, marking the longest period without negotiations since 2002. Meanwhile, Beijing continued to press foreign leaders to refrain from meeting with the Dalai Lama and to endorse the official Chinese position on Tibet.

While the region had been periodically accessible to tourists and journalists under special conditions since 2008, travel restrictions on Tibetans and foreigners attempting to enter the TAR intensified in 2012, and access remained extremely limited in 2013. The U.S. ambassador to China was allowed to visit the TAR in June, the first such visit by an American official in over two years.

Their report can be read in full here.

“Tibet in Sichuan” photo-essay explores Kardze region

Tibetans in Kardze, part of the traditional Tibetan province of Kham. (Image: Miguel Cano)

Tibetans in Kardze, part of the traditional Tibetan province of Kham. (Image: Miguel Cano)

The Diplomat is featuring a photo-essay by independent journalist Miguel Cano. Cano traveled through Kardze prefecture for a month earlier this year, and The Diplomat notes that he was frequently detained by the police in the area. The full photo-essay is located here.