Categoria: Press release

Detained Vietnam Labor Activist in Poor Health: Lawyer

A human rights defender held in detention for online activism is in poor health and has been refused visits from her family, according to her lawyer, who met with her Thursday for the first time since she was arrested nearly four months ago.

Tran Thi Nga, 40, was arrested on Jan. 21 in Phu Ly, the capital city of northern Vietnam’s Ha Nam province, and charged under Article 88 for “using the internet to spread propaganda videos and writings” against the state.

The labor and land rights activist also known as Thuy Nga faces up to 20 years in prison.

On Thursday, Nga’s lawyer Ha Huy Son met with her at the Ha Nam Police Detention Center and told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that she is suffering complications from an injury she sustained in May 2014 when a group of men armed with pipes assaulted her for her campaign work.

“Her health is not so good—she suffers from knee pain due to the brutal attack some years ago,” he said.

In a video of the 2014 attack, assailants beat Nga while she rides on the back of a bicycle with her children, chase her into a nearby car dealership, and return three times to inflict harm. The assault sent her to the hospital with an arm and leg in bandages and splints, and left her body covered in swollen bruises.

Meanwhile, Son acknowledged that the charge against Nga under Article 88—for what is considered a “national security offense”—allows for her incommunicado detention throughout the investigation of her case.
“In accordance with the law, she is only entitled to meet her defending lawyer,” he said.

“There are no stipulations for family visits.”

Son told RFA that he was unable to copy Nga’s case documents during Thursday’s visit because a representative of the prosecution was not present, but said he would try to do so when he next meets with her.

“If she is formally prosecuted, [her case] would take at least two months,” he added.

Nga is well known for defending the rights of Vietnamese migrant workers and victims of government land grabs.

The seizure of land for development—often without due process or fair compensation for displaced residents— is a major cause of protests in Vietnam and other authoritarian Asian countries, including China and Cambodia.

In February, more than two dozen Vietnamese civil society organizations and nearly 850 individuals signed a petition demanding Nag’s immediate release.

According to the petition, Nga was harassed, attacked, and monitored before her arrest, and was innocent when she carried out her peaceful activities advocating for human rights and democracy.

Radio Free Asia,2017-05-11

Tibetan Woman Freed From Prison After Serving Four-Year Term

A Tibetan woman jailed for four years in China’s Sichuan province for blocking police from seizing the remains of a self-immolation protester has been released in poor health after serving her full sentence, a Tibetan source says.

Tsedrup Kyi is shown in a photo taken after her release, April 2017.

Tsedrup Kyi, 32, was freed on April 5 and returned to her home in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county at around 11:00 that night, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“More than 200 Tibetans, including her family members and relatives, were present to welcome her home,” RFA’s source said.

“[Kyi’s] health was poor throughout her detention, and she had to stay in the prison hospital for about a year,” the source said, adding, “At the time of her release, she was asked to pay back 30,000 yuan [U.S. $4,349] the authorities had spent on treating her.”

“She endured many other hardships while in prison,” he said.

News of Kyi’s release was briefly delayed in reaching outside contacts owing to communications clampdowns imposed by Chinese authorities in the area.

Kyi had been sentenced for her involvement in the Dec. 3, 2012 self-immolation protest of Lobsang Gendun, a native of Sele Thang township in Pema (Banma) county in neighboring Qinghai province’s Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, RFA’s source said.

“After Lobsang Gendun set himself on fire and died during his protest, Tsedrup Kyi held onto his body, prayed over him, and called for freedom for Tibet and the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama,” he said.

“She was then detained and later given a four-year sentence and jailed in [Sichuan’s] Mianyang prison.”

“She is now 32 years old. Her father’s name is Konchok Ngora, and she has eight siblings. She also has a son named Patsal Kyab,” he said.

Struggle over body

Chinese security forces and Tibetan residents tussled over the body of Lobsang Gendun, 29, who had walked about 300 steps with his hands folded in prayer and shouted slogans before collapsing dead on the ground, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

“Police and public security officers then arrived at the scene and attempted to take his body away,” one source said.

“However, the local Tibetans managed to wrest his body away from the Chinese and brought it to a monastery,” he said.

A total of 148 Tibetans living in China have set themselves ablaze in protests since the wave of self-immolations began in 2009. Of these 125 are known to have died.

Most protests feature demands for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.

Radio Free Asia,2017-05-01

Calls Grow For Release of Tibet’s Panchen Lama, Now 28

Tibetan advocacy organizations and international rights groups called this week on China to release a high-ranking Tibetan religious figure taken into custody 22 years ago and held incommunicado ever since.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, now 28 years old, was detained together with his family by Chinese authorities in 1995 after he was identified by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second most-senior Buddhist monk.

A Beijing-backed candidate, Gyaincain Norbu, was then installed by China in his place, and remains unpopular among Tibetans.

Nothing has been learned of the fate of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima since he vanished with his family in detention, and requests by the United Nations and other international agencies and human rights organizations to visit him have consistently been refused by Beijing.

Speaking in an interview with RFA’s Tibetan Service, Dardon Sharling—a secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations of the Dharamsala, India-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)—described the Panchen Lama’s continued disappearance as the “greatest representation of China’s overall policy toward Tibet and Tibetans.”

“The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance has told CTA officials that the issue of the Panchen Lama remains an ‘unresolved case,'” Sharling said.

China’s refusal to allow the young lama to fulfill his traditional role is a “huge loss not only for the Panchen Lama himself but also for Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan people,” Sonam Gyaltsen—a professor of history at the College of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah, in Dharamsala—told RFA.

“Getting a proper spiritual education is the most important cause for a reincarnated lama to be able to continue the work of his predecessor,” Gyaltsen said.

‘Serious international crime’

In an open letter released on April 25, the Panchen Lama’s birthday, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom commissioner Tenzin Dorjee chose words that spoke directly to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, voicing his sadness that the missing Panchen Lama may never read his words.

“Ever since you were abducted as a young child at the age of six, the Chinese government has refused to share even basic information about you and your whereabouts,” Dorjee wrote.

“Please know that I think about you every day, and as each year passes, my resolve to find you and restore you to your rightful role becomes stronger.”

“The continued detention of the Panchen Lama in secret is an act of enforced disappearance,” the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) added in a statement this week.

“[This] is a serious international crime that violates multiple human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other major international human rights instruments,” TCHRD said.

“TCHRD calls on the Chinese government to end the enforced disappearance of the Panchen Lama and allow him to live like a ‘normal’ human being with all the basic rights such as life, livelihood, and [freedom of] movement,” the rights group said.

Interference from Beijing

The selection of reincarnate lamas in Tibetan areas of China is now subject to approval by Beijing, with high-ranking religious teachers often cultivated by the government as “patriotic lamas”-—politically reliable figures who will not call for Tibetan independence from Chinese rule.

China is now keen to engineer a process that produces a pro-Beijing monk as the next Dalai Lama when the present holder of the title, now 81, eventually passes away.

“Without any recognition from the Dalai Lama, the Chinese authorities can never be able to put the stamp of legitimacy to their selection of any religious leader, whether it is the Panchen Lama or a future Dalai Lama,” Bhuchung Tsering, vice president of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in an April 25 statement.

“China might want to have its own version of Rule by Incarnation,” Tsering said. “But it is the will of the believers that will really matter.”

“The earlier the Chinese authorities realize this, the better it will be for them.”

Radio Free Asia,2017-04-26

Wife of Tortured Rights Lawyer Calls For His Release Ahead of Trial

The wife of jailed human rights lawyer Xie Yang has spoken publicly for the first time since arriving in the United States, ahead of her husband’s trial on Tuesday, calling for his immediate release amid detailed reports of his torture in detention.

Xie will stand trial at the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court on charges of “incitement to subvert state power” and “disrupting court order,” Chen Guiqiu said in a recent statement.

She said the authorities had prevented Xie’s defense lawyers from working on the case after they made detailed reports of Xie’s torture in detention public, substituting a government lawyer in their place.

“Xie Yang’s family, defense lawyers, and his friends in China and overseas are anxiously watching and waiting for what the authorities will do,” wrote Chen.

In a later interview with RFA, Chen Guiqiu called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to release Xie and other prisoners of conscience who are still behind bars in the country.

“The best thing to do would be to release all of them,” Chen said. “International calls for this are growing very strong now.”

“None of these people have committed any crime, but they insist on jailing them on trumped-up charges, which is the worst kind of inhumanity,” she said.

Magnitsky Act for China?

Chen said New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith had pledged continuing interest in the plight of China’s detained rights lawyers, law firm staff and associated activists.

“Rep. Smith is paying close attention to the July 2015 crackdown on lawyers, and he knows all about the torture that these lawyers have suffered, as well as the illegal detention of their family members and so on,” Chen said.

“He said he plans to report on this issue … to President Trump and has a number of measures to address it,” she said, in a reference to the Trump administration’s reported willingness to bring the Magnitsky Act to bear on Beijing.

Chen Guiqiu (R), wife of detained rights lawyer Xie Yang, meets with New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith (L), co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in Washington D.C., April 20, 2017.

The Magnitsky legislation, which originally targeted the Russian officials responsible for the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009, has been welcomed by Chinese activists as the best chance of holding Chinese officials to account for rights abuses.

Trump said in a letter to the Senate and House of Representatives judiciary committees on Thursday that his administration is “actively identifying persons and entities to whom the Act may apply and are collecting the evidence necessary to apply it.”

“Over the coming weeks and months, agencies will undertake thorough interagency vetting to ensure we fulfill our commitment to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses and corruption accountable,” the letter said.

Rights activists have repeatedly called for Xie’s immediate release in recent months, detailing his lawyers’ reports of his torture in a police-run detention center in the central province of Hunan.

Defense attorney Chen Jianggang, one of the lawyers who exposed details of Xie’s torture, said he has since been targeted by death threats on social media, and that the authorities’ handling of the case had made a mockery of the right to a legal defense.

“Our right to a legal defense is now worth no more than the paper it is written on,” Chen Jiangang told RFA. “The authorities can just rip it up whenever they feel like it.”

“The law has no effect in the Xie Yang case and as his defense lawyer I feel very heavy hearted and powerless to do anything,” he said. “The law is of no use to us lawyers as a weapon any more.”

Scant hope of fair trial

Xie’s trial judge Liu Zheng declined to confirm the trial date when contacted by RFA on Friday, saying he couldn’t speak to journalists who didn’t provide their credentials in person.

Meanwhile, rights lawyer Pang Kun said Xie has scant hope of a fair trial after the authorities appointed a government lawyer to defend him.

“Regardless of whether or not Xie Yang actually wanted to hire [government] attorney Jia Xiaoyao or not, the mere appointment of a defense attorney by the judiciary means that this case has now lost all semblance of impartiality,” Pang told RFA.

“The whole thing makes a mockery of the justice system in China.”

Initially detained on July 11, 2015, Xie was held under “residential surveillance at a designated location” in a government guesthouse belonging to the National University of Defense Technology in Hunan’s provincial capital, Changsha.

Subjected to abuse including deprivation of food and water, Xie was tortured again after being moved to the police-run Changsha No. 2 Detention Center following his formal arrest on Jan. 9, 2016.

Xie was subjected to confinement in a “hanging chair” made of plastic chairs stacked high above the ground for hours at a time, so that his legs swelled up and he was in excruciating pain, he told his lawyers.

He was also deprived of sleep and repeatedly beaten, humiliated, and taunted with death threats against his family, according to copious and detailed notes made public from meetings with his lawyers.

Radio Free Asia,2017-04-24

250 final nuns removed from Tibet’s Larung Gar, ending expulsions

Dharamshala — According to local sources, after the removal of a final 250 nuns on April 6th, the forced removals of monks and nuns from Sichuan Province’s Larung Gar are now complete.

“Among them, some went to Golog [in Chinese, Guoluo] prefecture in Qinghai, where they are being allowed to stay at Tsida monastery, which is led by Khenpo Rigdar,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“This was done at their own wish and was made possible with help from members of Larung Gar’s management committee,” he said, adding, “Other groups returned to their home towns and have joined local monasteries there.”

About 5,000 monks and nuns have now been expelled from Serthar (Seda) county’s sprawling Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, while homes and learning centers continue to be destroyed, much to the protest of international organizations.

The institute was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.

On March 30th, a group of Chinese officials led by Sichuan provincial governor Yin Li arrived at Larung Gar to observe the ongoing state-ordered demolition of monastic dwellings there, a source had previously reported.

“He also convened a meeting of Larung Gar’s management committee and reminded them that the reduction in numbers of monks and nuns living there and destruction of their homes had been ordered by higher authorities,” the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He added that anyone working against this plan would be breaking the law… He also pointed out that the houses remaining to be torn down would not be limited to the smaller dwellings, but would include some of the larger structures as well.”

The expulsions and demolitions at Larung Gar, along with restrictions at Yanchen Gar, another large Buddhist center in Sichuan, are part of “an unfolding political strategy” aimed at controlling the influence and growth of these important centers for Tibetan Buddhist study and practice, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a March 13 report, “Shadow of Dust Across the Sun.”

“[Both centers] have drawn thousands of Chinese practitioners to study Buddhist ethics and receive spiritual teaching since their establishment, and have bridged Tibetan and Chinese communities,” ICT said in its report.

Tibet was invaded by Communist China in 1949. Since that time, over 1.2 million out of 6 million Tibetans have been killed, over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed and acts of murder, rape, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment were inflicted on the Tibetans inside Tibet. Beijing continues to call this a “peaceful liberation”.

The Tibet Post, 14 april 2017

Swiss Parliamentary delegation assure support to MWA approach

DHARAMSHALA, MAR. 31: A delegation of legislators from Switzerland has assured their support and solidarity with the Tibetan struggle for political rights and reiterated their endorsement of the ‘Middle Way Policy’ as a means to seek political resolution of the Tibetan issue with China. The delegation, touring the virtual capital of the Tibetan exiles were speaking to the press earlier today.

Swiss parliamentary delegation at a press conference in Dharamshala. March 31, 2017. Phayul photo- Kunsang Gashon

The group put forth a core statement that advocated resumption of dialogue between the representatives of the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and their counterparts in Beijing while assuring that the Swiss parliamentary support group for Tibet will continue its political support and activities for Tibetan people and its peaceful struggle for its rights, together with Swiss Tibetan community, the Tibet Support Groups in Swiss and the great support of Swiss people. In addition, the delegation also recognized Tibet’s ecological and environmental importance in the region’s sustainability and pledged support in international forums to safe guard the same.

Former speaker of the Swiss parliament and standing member of Green party, Maya Graf who leads the delegation, told reporters that the team has been impressed by the functioning of the exile Tibetan government under a democratic set up. “Switzerland has shared the burden of Tibetan diaspora in exile but out of this a very special and valuable friendship has grown. This gives us responsibility in the future development of the Tibetan cause,” she said.

Fellow MP Barbara Gysi laude, among other things, the status of Tibetan women in the community, highlighting her observation on the ‘Women Empowerment Policy’ framed by CTA and empowerment initiatives for the Tibetan women in the laity and the monastic community.

Swiss Tibet Friendship Association’s President Thomas Buchli said that he and fellow delegation members recognize the sacrifice and sufferings of Tibetans inside Tibet, especially the self immolators in the recent past. He said the Tibetan way of political fight has won over the international community, which has poured in support through solidarity with the Tibetan issue.

The six-member parliamentary delegation is on a weeklong visit to Dharamshala to observe the functioning of the Tibetan administration and the Tibetan exile community. The delegation called on His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Wednesday and also had an interaction with the Tibetan prime minister Lobsang Sangay. They also visited the various departments of the exile Tibetan government officially known as the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Parliamentary delegation comprised of Maya Gref, MP, Green Party, Rosmarie Quadranti, MP, Civil Democratic Party, Marianne Streiff, MP, EPP, Prisca Birrer Heimo, MP, Social Democratic Party, Barbara Gysi, MP, SP SG, Gina Ruetschi, MP, District Council: KR.

The delegation was accompanied by President of Swiss Tibet Friendship, Thomas Buchli, Vice President Lhawang Norkhangsar, Pasang Bartschi, board member, Swiss Tibet Friendship, Members of Tibetan parliament: Ven Thupten Wangchen and Jampa Tsering Samdho, Representative Ngodup Dorjee, Office of Tibet Geneva, Garne Deki, Executive member of Tibetan community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Phayul,March 31, 2017

Video shows demolition still continue at Larung Gar

DHARAMSHALA, MARCH 28: The largest Buddhist institution in the world, Larung Gar, is still witnessing demolition of its dwellings vacated by forcefully evicted monks and nuns over the past several months if a video circulating on the social media is anything to go by.

An unverified video shot reportedly by a monk shows Chinese workers demolishing empty houses, leaving behind wreckages on the road that once donned red-walled quarters on its either end.

An unnamed abbot at Larung Gar on March 23 said in an audio message to fellow monks and nuns that the demolition would begin on March 24 and that there were still ‘around 2000 homes remaining to be brought down’.

In some cases, eyewitnesses said, monks and nuns were seen helping each other to knock down the quarters ahead of scheduled demolition in order to save their belongings and store the timbers for future use.

According to the same abbot, a total of 4,828 monks and nuns had left Larung Gar since the forceful eviction began in 2016. While tension still lingering upon the remaining monks they have been asked to remain patient and not to protest.

Founded by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok in 1980, the Buddhist center once boasted around 10000 students including Han Chinese students studying at the institution. However, Beijing last year initiated a campaign to half the sprawling population in the name of development and renovation despite outcry from exile Tibetans and right groups.

Phayul,march 28, 2017