US Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR), John Kerry (D-MA), and Russell Feingold (D-WI) have written to Secretary Condoleezza Rice expressing their concern over China’s recent detention of hundreds of peaceful protestors and the media black out in Tibet. In particular, the letter cited the case of Ms. Jamyang Kyi, a popular Tibetan singer and TV announcer who was arrested on April 1st and subsequently released early in May; however, reports indicate she is currently awaiting trial and possibly under house arrest.
The International Campaign for Tibet thanks Congress for acting in support of Tibet by passing resolutions, holding hearings and sending letters to the Administration. We thank Senators Smith, Kerry and Feingold for their letter on the rights of Tibetans at this critical time.
May 21, 2008
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Dear Secretary Rice,
We are writing you today to express our concern over China’s recent detention of hundreds of peaceful Tibetan protestors.
As you are aware, on March 10, 2008, Buddhist monks and ethnic Tibetans began to demonstrate against Chinese authorities in Lhasa. Clashes between protesters and Government forces turned violent, and spread to other ethnic Tibetan areas of China.
These protests were primarily motivated by Tibetan resentment against more than a half century of Chinese rule, as well as China’s ongoing repression of Tibetan ethnic, cultural, and political rights. The near-total media blackout enforced by China prevented the press from accurately reporting the situation and prevented the international community from ensuring the basic human rights of Tibetans.
The case of Ms. Jamyang Kyi is a textbook example of China’s use of detention to intimidate peaceful activists. Ms. Kyi is an announcer at a television station in the Chinese province of Qinghai, which borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).
Much of Ms. Kyi’s professional career has focused on the rights of women in Tibet. Among other achievements, she is the composer of several well-received albums comprising both mixes of pop and traditional Tibetan music. Ms. Kyi toured the United States in 2006, where she spent time as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, discussing the themes encapsulated in her work. In both her journalism and music, however, Ms. Kyi was cautions to steer clear of content which could be construed as challenging Beijing’s control over Tibet.
Following the March 10 demonstrations, she and many other Tibetans were swept up in mass arrests throughout the region by Chinese security forces. Ms. Kyi was arrested by security officials while she was leaving her office on April 1, and taken to an undisclosed location on April 4 or 5. China, however, steadfastly refused to officially confirm her detention, or inform her husband of her whereabouts. She was released several weeks later, early in May; however, reports indicate she is currently awaiting trial and possibly under house arrest.
The case of Ms. Kyi is not unique. Thus far, the Chinese government has acknowledged more than 4,000 people wer’e,detained after the recent unrest in Tibet, including hundreds of monks and nuns. We fear the true number of detainees and missing persons may never be known. China has now begun trials of the arrested. What little information we have about these trials paints a disturbing picture. Human Rights Watch, for example, has noted the use of “secret evidence” by the authorities when persecuting the demonstrators.
We request that you urge the Chinese government to allow independent access to the detainees arrested during the recent crackdown on ethnic Tibetans, and push Beijing to conduct free and open trials of the accused. We believe that those who commit violence should be brought to justice; however, the United States must not allow religious and political dissent to be criminalized because it is uncomfortable to those in power. We also ask that you keep us informed of the progress made toward ensuring transparent trials for those arrested during the recent crackdown.
We appreciate your attention to our request.
Gordon H. Smith
John F. Kerry
Russell D. Feingold
United States Senate