TWA appeals UNESCO to save Lhasa

TWA 1To

Kishore Rao,

Director

UNESCO World Heritage Centre

 

Date: June 15, 2013

Subject:  Appealing to take immediate action to stop the destruction and frightening  modernization of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet.

 

Your Excellency,

 

We the Tibetan Women’s Association, an organization that encompasses 16,000 members in 56 regional chapters across four continents (Asia, America, Europe, and Australia) urge the United Nations World Heritage Centre to take immediate action to stop the Chinese government’s destruction and frightening modernization of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet.

 

China’s ongoing project of constructing Bakhor Shopping Mall is destroying Lhasa. The project covers 150,000 square meters and includes an underground parking space for 1,117 garages. This project also has environmental ramifications since it is destroying the root of the city as it pumps out groundwater throughout the day and night.

 

In 2000 and 2001, UNESCO, in recognition of Lhasa’s value for its religion, history and the humanities, listed the Jokhang and the Norbulingka as extensions of the Potala on its World Heritage list. However, by continuing its modernization projects in Lhasa, the Chinese government is not only destroying Tibet, but also threatening World Heritage.TWA 2

 

In Woeser’s letter, “Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction! Please, Save Lhasa,” she describes the Chinese government’s plans to divide Lhasa into several parts:  the historic circumambulation path around the Jokhang is to be thoroughly cleared, all the street peddlers are to be moved inside what will be the Barkhor Shopping Mall, and all the residents originally living along the streets are to be moved to Tolung Dechen County in the western suburb of Lhasa. Chinese authorities announced that it would grant subsidy of between 20,000 to 30,000 RMB for households that quickly move into the Tolung Dechen County, and reprimand those who refuse to comply.

 

Lhasa is not merely a capital city; it is the spiritual, cultural, and political center of Tibet. Like Mecca is holy for Islams, so is Lhasa for Tibetans. Throughout the year, countless Tibetans make pilgrimage to the holy city of Lhasa. The city’s unique beauty is reflected in the images of pilgrims circumambulating the Jokhang Temple and prostrating in front of it. However, the frightening and rapid pace of modernization of this ancient city is directly endangering Tibetan religion, culture and identity.

 

In 1994, UNESCO honored the Potala Palace by including this landmark structure on its World Heritage List. However, since then, there have been questionable developments in Lhasa that threatened the preservation of this capital city. One incident was in 1996, when the Chinese authorities destroyed the village of Shol, an area that had previously stood at the foot of the Potala Palace for 1100 years. Then in 2007, UNESCO itself pointed out the overtourism at the Potala Palace by giving a “Yellow Card Warning” to the Chinese government and threatening the removal of the Potala Palace from the World Heritage List. Now we urge you to take action to prevent another mishap like that which took place in Shol. As we currently witness the destruction of area around Jokhang, we now need your help more than ever.

 

The ancient city Lhasa, especially surrounding Jokhang Temple is a unique and irreplaceable property of Tibetan people and the construction of 150,000 square meters shopping mall around Jokhang temple will lead to the deterioration or disappearance of the unique heritage of Tibet.

 

Therefore, on behalf of all the Tibetans, we the Tibetan Women’s Association appeal your excellence Mr Kishore Rao, to intervene in the construction of Bakhor Shopping Mall to save Lhasa from the Chinese government’s destructive and frightening modernization plans. We urge the World Heritage Center to remain committed in its mission of preserving and safeguarding the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

 

Thanking you

 

Yours sincerely

Tashi Dolma

 

President

Central Tibetan Women’s Association, Dharamsala.

 

 

Tibetan NGOs call whereabouts and release 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

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Dharamsala: Four Tibetan NGOs dedicated today’s Lhakar action for the release of 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whose predecessor 10th Panchen Lama was specifically vocal on Tibetan cultural and identity. Hundreds of Tibetans gathered at Mcleod square wearing Panchen Lama’s face masks demanding his whereabouts and his eventual release. A simultaneous petitioning campaign also took place where people were asked to call the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. All the signed petition including the ongoing online petition (1) will be delivered to Mr. Zhu Weiqun, Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department and copied to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi.

 

“We urge Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama so that he will be reunited with his family and thousands of followers who have been waiting for his release for the last 18 years. We also urge the Chinese government to release all the prisoners of conscience.” said Tashi Dolma, President, Tibetan Women’s Association.

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Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, and his family have been missing for 18 years. This year the Panchen Lama will turn 24, and Tibetans, Tibet Supporters, and Buddhists all over the world are deeply concerned about his well-being.

“The last time we heard anything about the Panchen Lama from the Chinese government side was in 2010. In March 2010, Tibet’s then Chinese-appointed Governor, Padma Choling, told reporters that “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family are now living a good life as ordinary citizens in Tibet.”(2). said Mrs. Gang Lhamo, General Secretary, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet. “Without evidence this statement remains empty and we demand you prove that it is true.”

 

P1020588A number of human rights mechanisms including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, have called for his whereabouts to be revealed.

 

“The Chinese government’s intention behind appointing their own 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu is but to take over the political, financial and cultural powers that come with being the head of the Tashi Lhunpo monastery, ” said Gang Lhamo, General Secretary of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet. “Forced to become the 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu has to act and live a life, not chosen for by himself. Tibetans in Tibet have to recognize and worship him under duress. These actions not only highlight the lack of freedom and human rights, but also how the Chinese government undermines and insults Tibetan people’s tradition, culture and religion.”

 

P1020546Panchen Lama is one of the most important religious leaders in Tibet. The 10th Panchen Lama passed away mysteriously in 1989. His reincarnation, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized at age 6 in 1995 was taken into custody by the Chinese government along with his family and to date no one knows his whereabouts.

According to information received by Ven. Ngawang Woebar, the former President of Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet said, “His parents are currently placed under house arrest in their home town; they are not allowed to make any outside contact. Police officials are reportedly escorting and monitoring all their movements. Panchen Lama’s mother seem to have sadly expressed that she is the most unfortunate mother who has to live in constant fear and worry not knowing if her son is still alive or not.”

 

END

Coordinated by International Tibet Network www.tibetnetwork.org

 

ORGANISED BY:

Tibetan Women’s Association www.tibwomen.org

Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet http://9103.org

Students for a Free Tibet-India www.sftindia.org

Regional Tibetan Youth Congress – Dharamsala

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

1. www.freepanchenlama.org/take-action/

2. Padma Choling, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region: ‘Dalai-picked ‘Panchen’ Lives Normal Life’ (Xinhua) 2010-03-07 http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-03/07/content_9550348.htm

 

BACKGROUND:

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was 6 years old in 1995 when he was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, one of Tibet most important religious leaders.

 

He was born on April 25, 1989 in central Tibet. As soon as he was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama, Chinese authorities took him and his family into custody. Few other people, particularly Chartral Rinpoche, the head of the search party was arrested and sentenced for leaking his information to the Dalai Lama.

 

The Chinese government asserted its political motive into the reincarnation search by installing another young boy, Gyaiancain Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama. The replacement was kept in Beijing and recently given a political title in the Chinese government, equivalent to that of a member of parliament or congressmen. He was routinely asked to make propaganda statement for the Chinese government.

 

For the last eighteen years, concerned people and human rights entities all over the world have urged the Chinese government to release the Panchen Lama to no avail. The whereabouts and wellbeing of the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is a serious concern and the Chinese government should heed the call of devotees and supporters for his immediate release.

Alternative BRICS Summit in Dharamsala

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Press Release: For Immediate Release

Alternative BRICS Summit in Dharamsala

Tibet Campaigners demand action from BRICS leaders as Xi Jinping attends first summit as China’s Head of State

Photos of the campaign can be viewed here:
Tibet at BRICS Summit 2013

25 March 2013

Press contacts:
Tashi Dolma, Tibetan Women’s Association: Tibetan, Hindi +91 9459553943
Dorjee Tseten, Students for a Free Tibet – India: English, Tibetan +91 9911 521 009

Dharamshala: As government leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa and China prepare to meet for the BRICS Summit in Durban, Tibetans demand action for Tibet as China’s new President Xi Jinping travels to Durban for his first summit as Head of State, and highlight Xi Jinping’s Tibet Challenge.

A two-day summit starting tomorrow will witness a historic meeting of Xi Jinping with government leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa in Durban, South Africa, while the self-immolations in occupied Tibet – now totaling at least 110 – show no sign of abating. “In the months since Xi Jinping was elevated to the top of the Chinese Communist Party, there has been an increase in China’s hardline response to dissent in Tibet, with a heightened military presence, mass detentions and a campaign to “criminalize” family members of self-immolation protesters.” said Tashi Dolma, President, Tibetan Women’s Association. “These actions and China’s anti-Dalai Lama propaganda are exacerbating tensions in Tibet. Through this campaign we will explain the nature of Xi Jinping’s “Tibet Challenge”, and call on BRICS leaders to act collectively and with principle, to press Xi to lift China’s crackdown and urgently review China’s policies in Tibet.”

“Tibet is Xi Jinping’s number one challenge and he has to address the legitimate grievances of Tibetans living in occupied Tibet and bring about an end to the tragic wave of self-immolations.” said Dorjee Tseten of Students for a Free Tibet India. “Recently Indian MP Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise the ongoing critical self-immolation issue inside Tibet with his counterpart Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit. This is also a challenge to other BRICS leaders not to shy away from this reality, and press President Xi to use his new position to find a just and lasting solution for Tibet.”

Tibetans and supporters from the BRICS nations have issued a joint statement urging their respective government to discuss the Tibet issue with Xi Jinping. We received news of another self-immolation yesterday by a 30 years old mother of four. Tibetans inside Tibet are continuing to resist against brutal security measures by Chinese police. “Tibet today is one of the most repressed and closed societies in the world, where merely talking on the phone can land you in jail. Support for the Dalai Lama can be prosecuted as an offence against the state,” Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee said.

We have also sent an open letter to the embassies of the BRICS nations in India including Indian PM office. In the letter we asked concerned government not to hide from the truth about China’s brutal repression of the Tibetan people. We appealed them all to urge President Xi to alleviate the situation by lifting the crackdown in Tibet and urgently review China’s policies in Tibet. We have also urged them to press Mr. Xi to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit all Tibetan areas as a matter of urgency.

Notes:
1. See Resistance in Tibet: Self-immolation and Protest, a timeline report which documents the current wave of self-immolations and protests across Tibet http://issuu.com/internationaltibetnetwork/docs/resistanceintibet_selfimmolationsandprotest

2. See reports from International Campaign for Tibet http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/distress-death-sentence-tibetan-accused-inciting-self-immolation
and
http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/thousands-tibetan-pilgrims-face-troops-religious-ceremonies-eastern-tibet

Pressure China to enter into appropriate water-sharing agreement

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c/o International Tibet Network
1310 Fillmore Street, #401
San Francisco,
CA 94115, USA

22 March 2013

To: Environment Ministers of the Governments of India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.
cc Mrs Irina Bokuva, Director General, UNESCO

Your Excellencies,

Today is World Water Day 2013 in the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. We are writing to share our concerns about the impact of China’s policies – especially its dam-building programme – on Asia’s regional water security, and to urge your government to join forces with other downstream nations to pressure China to enter into appropriate water-sharing agreements.

Over the last sixty years, China’s policies in Tibet, often called the earth’s “Third Pole” and the source of Asia’s great rivers, have led to widescale environmental degradation. This includes poisoned river and groundwater through unregulated mining, grasslands ecosystem degradation, and disrupted watershed and ecosystem services in the headwaters of these rivers, which has worsened already acute and chronic flooding downstream from Tibet, including your countries. In turn, global climate change is warming the Tibetan Plateau at twice the rate of the rest of the world, and the impact of this on Asia’s water supplies is exacerbated by China’s extensive dam-building programme, to harness hydro-power and divert water to mainland China. This programme threatens the safety, security, and sustainable livelihoods of more than one billion people downstream.

By claiming authority over the Water Tower of Asia, China is wielding considerable power over its neighbouring countries, yet it has not signed a single water sharing agreement. We urge you to act now to secure your future water supplies, by joining together with your counterparts in other nations downstream of the Tibetan plateau, and bring China to the negotiating table to sign appropriate regional and international water-sharing agreements.

Yours faithfully,

Ms Dhardon Sharling, Co Chair, on behalf of The International Tibet Network Secretariat, Tibetan Women’s Association and Tibet Justice Centre
dhardon@tibetnetwork.org

Dhardon Sharling Tibetan Women's Association 2012

Tibetan Women’s Association marks its 28th re-founding anniversary in exile

Dhardon Sharling Tibetan Women's Association 2012TWA’S TRIBUTE TO TIBETS’ TRUE HEROES:

September 10, 2012, Dharamsala: In commemoration of the ‘Twenty Eighth Years in Exile’ since its establishment, the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) on its 28th re-founding anniversary in exile, pays heartfelt tribute to Tibetan martyrs for their supreme sacrifices which continues to keep the spirit of Tibet alive and hopeful even after 53 years of China’s brutal suppression. More…