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22january20104Dharamsala: Mr. Urgen Tenzin, Executive Director of the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights, and Assistant Director Mr. Jampa Monlam have just released the organization's 2009 annual report on the human rights situation in Tibet. The report consists of two books in Tibetan and English, and reporters are invited to the release ceremony.

The Executive Summary began by stating that 2009, "marked 50 years of exile for Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people. During these five decades, the Tibetan people have suffered enormous hardship and systematic human rights abuses by the government of People's Republic of China. Human rights violations continue with impunity and there is no sign of reform by the government."

The report cited the Chinese government's aggressive implementation of death sentences as one example of its abuses. Despite international and UN appeals, the Chinese carried out numerous executions in Tibet, and East Turkestan, as well as that of a mentally ill Briton for whom the British government sought clemency.

According to the summary, 2009 saw 145 known cases of detentions or prison sentences. Out of these, 62.06% (or 90 Tibetans) were from Sichuan, 18.62% (27 Tibetans) were from the "TAR", 4.13% (6 Tibetans) were from Qinghai and 1.37% (2 Tibetans) were from Yunan province. The report warned that control in areas outside the "TAR" which used to enjoy a relative freedom may be made tighter in the near future.

The authorities have already taken stringent measures and heightened vigorous patrolling of the border areas. Around 2000 Tibetans escape to Nepal each year on average; however, this year only 691 Tibetans managed to get out, while 627 fled Tibet in 2008.

In order to protect the party interest and legitimize the party leaders call for "people's war", laws of the country have been twisted to convict Tibetan demonstrators. According to TCHRD documentation, over 334 known Tibetans have received legal convictions since spring 2008 protest. Out of the total convictions, 11 are known to be life imprisonment sentences. The legal proceedings have been performed with political motivations and were not "free and fair" in any sense.

One of the most high profile cases this year was the sentencing of Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche. Rinpoche's lawyer from Beijing was barred from representing him and in a closed door trial the court sentenced him to eight and a half years in prison on charges of "possessing weapons".

Tibetan intellectuals, artists and Internet bloggers were also prosecuted by the Chinese government in 2009. They were mostly charged for "leaking state secret" and for activities which are otherwise a standard practice of expression of opinion or belief. One of the most prominent cases was that of Kunga Tsangyang, who was sentenced to five years in prison for writing essays and photographing environmental degradation in Tibet.

Monks and nuns were also targeted in 2009. Kalden, a monk from Drepung Monastery who was arrested on 10 March 2008 for participating in the demonstration, died in August 2009 after a prolonged period of confinement and torture. Another prominent case of death due to torture came to light when a 33-year-old nun, Yangkyi Dolma, died in December 2009 at the Chengdu government hospital. She had been arrested for staging a peaceful protest calling for " human rights for Tibetans in Tibet".

Freedom of religion is severely curtailed in present day Tibet. The Chinese authorities' tactic of intimidation and restriction of the religious activities of monks and nuns in religious institutions ensures the steady decline in the quality of religious education.

The Chinese state is obsessed with projects involving resource extractions rather than the development of human capacity. This is evident in the UN Human Development Report, where Tibet's human development index is at the bottom of all of the PRC's provinces.

In April 2009, China prevented the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy to participate in the UN Durban Review Conference. In August 2009, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination met to scrutinize China's compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In February 2009, while accepting some recommendations, China rejected most of the substantive recommendations made by the UN member states through the Universal Periodic Review system to advance human rights in China.

While 2009 has been a year of arbitrary and unjust legal convictions in the wake of March 2008 Tibetan uprising, there is a certain amount of positive energy in the Chinese intellectual community which seems to be increasing, and raises hope for the prospect of change in the People's Republic of China.

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