(This section of the report on China has been prepared pursuant
to Section 536 (b) of Public Law 103-236. The United States recognizes
the Tibet Autonomous Region--hereinafter referred to as "Tibet"--to
be part of the People's Republic of China. Preservation and development
of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage
and protection of its people's fundamental human rights continue
to be of concern.)
Because the Chinese Government strictly controls access to and
information about Tibet, the scope of human rights abuses cannot
be precisely determined. However, according to credible reports,
during 1996 Chinese government authorities continued to commit
widespread human rights abuses in Tibet, including instances of
death in detention, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without
public trial, long detention of Tibetan nationalists for peacefully
expressing their religious and political views, and intensified
controls on religion and on freedom of speech and the press, particularly
for ethnic Tibetans.
authorities permit many traditional religious practices. Those
seen as a vehicle for political dissent, howeverl are not tolerated
and are promptly and forcibly suppressed. Individuals accused
of political activism faced increased persecution during the year,
as the Government moved to limit the power of religious persons
and secular leaders who openly sympathized with the Dalai Lama.
In February the Government issued orders to close all politically
active monasteries, and during the year authorities increased
repression, imprisonment, and abuse or torture of monks and nuns
accused of political activism. According to authoritative Chinese
press reports, in May Beijing launched a campaign to "limit
criminal activity in the guise of religious practice." The
crackdown appears to have three goals: To stop acts of defiance,
to break the political power wielded by lamas, and to remove officials
loyal to the Dalai Lama.
have been reports of bomb blasts in Lhasa. There is no information
about casualties. Chinese officials claim Tibetan separatist groups
are responsible for the bombing, which they characterize as "terrorist
acts." However, no group has claimed responsibility.
1996 small-scale protests occurred at the Ganden, Sera, Drepung,
Jokhang, and Tashilhunpo monasteries, resulting in swift detention
for many participants. In April the Government banned photographs
of the Dalai Lama in monasteries and private homes, extending
and widening a 1994 prohibition on the sale of the Dalai Lama's
photograph in shops and on officials displaying his photograph
in their homes or offices. Police reportedly conducted house-to-house
searches to enforce the ban. This ban prompted some of the protests
in monasteries. In May and June, approximately 90 monks openly
sympathetic to the Dalai Lama protested and were detained at Lhasa's
Ganden monastery. During a May incident at Canden, security personnel
reportedly shot three monks. One of the monks, 40-year-old Kelsang
Nyendrak, reportedly died of a bullet wound. According to press
reports, a Chinese official admitted that monks were arrested
but denied the murder.
safeguards for ethnic Tibetans detained or imprisoned mirror those
in the rest of China and are inadequate in design and implementation.
Lack of independent outside access to prisoners or prisons makes
it difficult to assess the extent and severity of abuses and the
number of Tibetan prisoners.
human rights organizations reported that a 49-year-old Tibetan
monk, Kelsang Thutob, died in July at Drapchi prison in Lhasa.
He was reportedly imprisoned in 1989 and sentenced to 18 years
for forming a prodemocracy group and distributing antigovernment
material that included a Tibetan translation of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. The monk reportedly suffered from
high blood pressure and other ailments but received no medical
care. Tibetan exile sources reported that a 19-year-old monk,
Sangye Tenphel, also died in Drapchi as a result of beatings by
prison guards. In September Tenchok Tenphel, a 27-year-old monk,
died in Sakya detention center, 2 weeks after being detained during
a ritual dance performance, according to an NGO report. Chinese
officials claimed the death was suicide, but, according to local
sources, he died of abuse while in detention. His body reportedly
was cremated before the family could view it, and no autopsy was
performed. Yongdrung, a 27-year-old artist who specialized in
painting portraits of the Dalai Lama was found in shock in Lhasa
in October after having been released from 58 days in a detention
center, where he was reportedly tortured. In July Ngawang Sandrol,
who has been in jail since she was 15, reportedly had her sentence
doubled for protesting a political reeducation campaign aimed
at monks and nuns.
were credible reports that Chinese authorities also detained foreigners
visiting Tibet, searched them, and confiscated materials deemed
politically sensitive. Ngawang Choephel, a 29-year-old Tibetan
ethnomusicologist and former Fulbright scholar, was held in incommunicado
detention in Tibet throughout 1996. He is believed to have been
detained in Shigatse in August 1995 while making a film documentary
about Tibetan performing arts. In December Ngawang Choephel was
sentenced to 18 years in prison for "espionage" under
the State Security Law. A New Zealand tourist was detained, interrogated,
and forced to make a confession after sending a fax to New Zealand
that included a reference to what he thought might be a bomb explosion
The Government does not tolerate religious manifestations that
advocate Tibetan independence. The Government condemns the Dalai
Lama's political activities and his leadership of a "government
in exile." The official press intensified the rhetoric against
him and repeatedly described him as a "criminal" determined
to "split" China. The Government sought to limit the
Dalai Lama's international influence by threatening leaders of
Britain, Germany, Australia, and other nations with serious diplomatic
and economic consequences if they met with him during his visits
to those countries. International leaders generally ignored China's
threats and welcomed meetings with the Tibetan Buddhist religious
leader and Nobel laureate.
Tibetan Buddhism and proindependence activism are closely associated
in Tibet, and already tense relations between Buddhists and secular
authorities worsened during the year in some areas, although nonpolitical
forms of worship were tolerated. In May the Government reportedly
began a campaign to "register" and "reeducate"
dissident monks at Tibet's three main monasteries, Drepung, Sera,
and Ganden. Hundreds of officials participated in the campaign,
during which monks were forced to attend sessions on law, patriotism,
and support for national unity and were coerced to sign statements
criticizing the Dalai Lama. According to reports, some monks fled
their places of worship and feigned illness to avoid attending
the sessions, but the management committees of the involved monasteries
imposed deadlines for participation forcing monks to cooperate
or be stricken from the roles of the monastery.
officials claim that some 46,000 Buddhist monks and nuns live
in approximately 1,400 Tibetan monasteries, and some travelers
to Tibet have reported seeing increased numbers of monks and nuns.
The Government, however, has moved to curb the proliferation of
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, which are seen as a drain on local
resources and a conduit for political infiltration by the Tibetan
exile community. In March 1995, the Government acknowledged that
it strictly enforces limits on the number of monks in major monasteries.
In April the Tibetan press reported that the Tibet Autonomous
Region Religious Affairs Bureau had issued regulations that restricted
leadership of management committees of temples to "patriotic
and devoted monks and nuns." To bolster loyalty to the party,
the Government stepped up efforts to ensure that party cadres
in Tibet, over 70 percent of whom are ethnic Tibetans, adhere
to the party's code of atheism.
November the official Tibet Daily newspaper called for "large-scale"
reform of religious policy. "Buddhism must conform to socialism,
not socialism to Buddhism...Some people are seeking to expand
the role and influence of religion, without recognizing its negative
influence." The article published statistics that it said
provided indications of the negative influence of religion on
Tibet's economic development: There were 1,787 temples in Tibet
at the beginning of 1996, "exceeding the number of towns
and cities," 46,000 monks and nuns "outnumbered middle
school students." Temples compete for scarce resources hurting
other areas, the article claimed. "We must adopt an offensive
strategy to protect the paramount interests of the state...."
Government continues to oversee the daily operations of monasteries.
Although the Government generally only contributes a small percentage
of the monasteries' operational funds, it retains management control
of the monasteries through the goverriment-controlled democratic
management committees and the local religious affairs bureaus.
Government continued to insist that a boy it selected and enthroned
in 1995 is the Panchen Lama's eleventh reincarnation. The boy
appeared publicly on at least two occasions, including Chinese
National Day inOctober. At all other times, he was held incommunicado
by Chinese authorities. Meanwhile, the Government also detained
the boy selected bythe Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lamals reincarnation.
The boy's family was also detained. The Government refused to
provide access by unofficial observers to either of the boys or
their families, whose exact locations were unknown. Tibetan monks
have claimed that they were forced to sign statements pledging
allegiance to the boy selected as the reincarnation of the Panchen
Lama by the Government.
sites, many of which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution,
continue to be restored. Despite government attempts to curb their
proliferation, the monasteries continue to house and train young
monks, making substantial increase in the non-Tibetan Population
(including China's Muslim Hui minority as well as Han Chinese)
in Lhasa and other urban areas.
of these migrants profess to be temporary residents, but small
businesses run by ethnic Han and Hui peoples (mostly restaurants
and retail shops) are becoming more numerous in or near some Tibetan
towns and cities. In Lhasa roughly one-third of the population
is Han Chinese; elsewhere, the Han percentage of the population
is significantly lower. Chinese officials assert that 95 percent
ofTibet's officially registered population is Tibetan, with Han
and other ethnic groups making up the remainder. Ongoing economic
development raises the prospect of the temporary or permanent
transfer to Tibet of increased numbers of non-Tibetan technical
personnel. Since 1994, 50 major investment projects have been
completed at a cost of $400 million. An increased number of immigrants
from China's large transient population is seeking to take advantage
of new economic opportunities.
development, fueled by central government subsidies, is modernizing
parts of Tibetan society and changing traditional Tibetan ways
of life. While the Government has made efforts in recent years
to restore some of the physical structures and other aspects of
Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture damaged or destroyed during
the Cultural Revolution, repressive social and political controls
continue to limit the fundamental freedoms of ethnic Tibetans.