In its annual human rights report, released today, the State Department said “repressive social and political controls continue to limit the fundamental freedoms of Tibetans and risk undermining Tibet’s unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage.”

According to the report, severe restrictions on traditional Tibetan religious practices, substantial increase of Chinese presence in Tibetan areas, discrimination in employment practices as well as lopsided implementation of regulations are responsible for undermining Tibetan identity.

The report said China’s record on respect for religious freedom in Tibet remained of grave concern. Severe new restrictions were imposed on many traditional religious practices and public manifestations of belief in the spring and summer of 2000, the report said. The government continues to oversee the daily operations of major monasteries.

“The report demonstrates the need for the U.S. and other countries to introduce a resolution on Tibet at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva,” said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. The United States does not have a seat on the Commission this year but can co-sponsor resolutions and work to garner support to condemn egregious human rights violators.

The report also highlighted the case of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. It said repeated requests for access to the Panchen Lama to confirm his well-being and whereabouts have been denied. The report also noted that the ban on the Dalai Lama’s photographs continued to be in effect.

The report also discussed the negative impact of increasing Chinese presence in Tibet. It said there was a “substantial increase” in the Chinese population from “freer movement of persons throughout China, government-sponsored development, and the prospect of economic opportunity in Tibet.” As a result, Chinese cultural presence is obvious and widespread in Lhasa and Chinese language is used in official communication, despite government regulations which stipulate that government and legal documents are to be in Tibetan.

The influx of Chinese has also resulted in prostitution as a serious problem in Lhasa. As many as 10,000 commercial sex workers, mostly ethnic Chinese from Sichuan province, may be employed in Lhasa alone, the report said. Moreover, “small business run by ethnic Han and Hui citizens (mostly restaurants and retails shops) predominate in almost all Tibetan cities.”