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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Prison for Tibetan ecologist

July 25, 2010

WW4 Report
July 23, 2010

Earlier this month, Tibetan environmentalist
Rinchen Samdrup was sentenced to five years in
prison by a Chinese court, found guilty of
inciting separatism by posting a pro-Dalai Lama
article on his website. Samdrup, the third
brother in his family to be jailed, told the
Changdu Intermediate People's Court that he did
not post the article himself. His lawyer, Xia
Jun, was quoted as saying: "It was a mistake, but
not a crime." The website is devoted to
protecting the environment in the Himalayan region.

The sentence came just over a week after one of
Samdrup's brothers was sentenced to 15 years in
prison. Karma Samdrup, a nationally known
environmentalist once praised by the Chinese
government as a model philanthropist, was found
guilty of grave-robbing and dealing in looted
antiquities. His lawyer said police had used false evidence.

Karma's supporters said the sentence was intended
to punish his advocacy work -- including his
efforts to free Rinchen and another brother from
detention. Rinchen and brother Chime Namgyal were
held after accusing officials in eastern Tibet of
poaching endangered species. (BBC News, July 3)

Buddhists blocked from Shanghai Expo

While announcing plans to boost tourism along the
Nepal-Tibet border, China has blocked a Buddhist
car rally from Nepal to the ongoing Shanghai Expo
2010 due to fears that it could trigger new
unrest in Tibet. The Implementing Experts' Group
(IEG), a Nepali organization specializing in
trade expositions, had planned a motorcade from
Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha in southern Nepal, to Shanghai via Tibet.

The rally planned to carry a "Peace Lamp" lit in
Lumbini for display in the Nepal Pavilion at the
expo. The organizers sought permission from the
Chinese government nearly two months ago. The
rally was seemingly motivated more by Nepalese
than Tibetan nationalism -- organizers said it
was intended to dispel public ignorance about the
birthplace of the Buddha, which many people mistakenly believe is in India.

The ban on the Buddhist rally comes as China is
aggressively opening up Tibet to tourism. This
month it inaugurated the Gunsa Airport in Tibet's
Ngari prefecture to boost pilgrims headed towards
Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, Hindu sacred
sites annually visited by many pilgrims from India.

It also plans to inaugurate a "Peace Airport" in
Xigaze (Shigatse), Tibet's second city, later
this year. Direct bus service between Kathmandu
and Lhasa was also recently established to great
fanfare. But China's reluctance to issue visas
for the travel route outside of organized tour
groups has meant little traffic on the route.
(Indo-Asian News Service, July 19)

New Delhi restrains Dalai Lama

There are increasing signs that India is
attempting to impose discipline on the Tibetan
exile government there to appease Beijing. New
Delhi has allowed the Dalai Lama to visit areas
in Ladakh bordering the People's Republic for
religious functions later this week. But days
earlier, the government warned the Dalai Lama
against going too far in his criticisms of China.

Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao apparently called
the Dalai Lama and Somdang Rinpoche, prime
minister of the Tibetan exile government in
Dharamsala, to apprise them of ongoing Sino-India
talks and ask them exercise restraint in making "observations about China."

New Delhi also denied permission to the 17th
Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee and aides
to travel to the US. The Dharamsala-based
Karmapa, the young head of the Kagyu tradition of
Tibetan Buddhism, was scheduled to leave for the
US on a two-week religious tour on the invitation
of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Center in Woodstock, NY.

The denial has sparked protests from Karmapa's
followers. Spokesman Gonpo Tsering said that "the
tour was purely religious," and that the
government has a"not cited any reason for declining permission."

Karmapa entered India to reach Dharamsala in
January 2001 after crossing the highest Himalayan
passes in the midst of winter when he was 15. He
is the only Tibetan religious figure who is
recognized both by the Dalai Lama and China in
the surreal "reincarnation wars" between Dharamsala and Beijing. (DNA, July 20)
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