Dhasa: The second ETC Organizing Committee is launching the European Chitue (MP) Initiative. This is an initiative to engage in a pre-election search for eligible candidates to run for office in the upcoming Tibetan Parliamentary preliminary elections in October 2010, and the final elections in March 2011.
The role of the next parliamentary representatives from Europe is of tremendous importance, as the number of Tibetans living in Europe is on the rise. According to the Tibetan Charter-in-exile, Tibetans living in Europe can elect two representatives.
"I believe that it is important that individuals committed to the Tibetan issue, combined with a good understanding of the European system, represent Tibetans living in Europe," said Thupten Gyatso, Chairperson of the ETC committee, which started this initiative. However, during the last general elections to the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, only 36 per cent of the registered voters, or around 800 people out of 2224 registered voters, elected the two deputies from Europe.
"This is very disheartening. A democracy is only as strong as the people who participate in the process," Mr. Gyatso pointed out. "While we expect the Central Tibetan Administration to find a solution to one of the hardest problems, we also need to put in effort from our part as individual Tibetans. As the oppression in Tibet continues, and there is no immediate breakthrough in the dialogue with the Chinese government, it is imperative that Tibetans use the democratic system to put forward our best candidates. This will improve our democracy and add strength to our common cause."
Tibetans living in Europe can visit the ETC website (http://europetibetancongress.wordpress.com/) and nominate their candidates, who will be listed as nominations are sent in. The criteria for candidates are that nominee be over 25 years old, have current residency in Europe, and holds a green book. The ETC believes more information and transparency will improve the democratic process, and was inspired by the Kalon Tripa initiative launched by Mr. Thubten Samdup.

Dhasa: Over 113 people, including three Tibetans, are dead and 500 more are missing after a mudslide devastated Leh, in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, India, yesterday (August 6). A full rescue operation is under way and workers continue to search for survivors, amid fears that the death toll could surpass 500, after torrential rain hit the Himalayan region.
Choglamsar, located 5km from Leh, is believed to be one of the worst hit villages, where over 200 people are still reported missing. Villages along the Chang La pass, the world's second highest motorable highway, are also believed to have been swept away by the flash floods. The Leh-to-Manali road should be reopened within a couple of days as heavy earth-moving equipment has been called into service. The road, one of only two lifelines to Ladakh, is a vital access route for material relief, food, fuel and military supplies.

Seattle: Seattle's 15th Annual Tibetan Festival, Tibet Fest, scheduled to take place from 28th-29th August, will be dedicated to the victims of the Kyigudo earthquake that shook the Tibetan region in April this year.
The Tibetan Association of Washington, who are organising the event, seeks to help young Tibetans establish stronger ties with their cultural heritage through song, dance and folk tales, whilst residing in their new communities.
The two-day event will feature a performance from Tibet's best known R&B singer, Phurbu T Namgral, along with traditional Tibetan performers, arts, handicrafts and foods. Expert speakers on Tibet will give talks, and a series of workshops will run throughout the festival.

Dhasa: A group of experts have urged the United States Congress to further their efforts to press China on issues of human rights abuses and reversals in their rule of law since 2008, Reuters reported on Tuesday (August 2). The plea comes after mounting evidence of a crackdown on ethnic minorities and critics of the Chinese regime.
Human rights and legal experts have accused Washington of downplaying human rights abuses in order to secure economic relations with Beijing.
The Diu Hua Foundation, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to improving universal human rights through well-informed dialogue between the US and China, has compiled a list of 5,800 people in China imprisoned for non-violent expression of religious or political belief. Jerome Cohen, of the New York University School of Law, told the congressional panel that the statistics reveal a clearly concentrated effort to target political activists and those who represent them in court.
The experts urged the panel to increase their annual human rights talks with Beijing to at least twice a year, raise the ranks of official participation and concentrate on specific cases as opposed to the general tone preferred by Chinese authorities.

Beijing: An appeal by Karma Samdrup, the Tibetan environmentalist sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for grave robbery and dealing in looted antiquities, was rejected outright by a Chinese court on July 7th, the Associated Press reported yesterday (July 3).
The tomb-raiding charges against Samdrup, the businessman and 2006 Environmentalist of the Year, date back to a 1998 when looted items were found in his possession. His lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, has said he was unaware of the origin of the wooden artifacts and other antiques in question.
There was no response to the documents filed by Zhiqiang for his client's appeal, which was rejected without any explanation from the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate Court. Many of Samdrup's supporters believe he is being made an example of due to his public role in environmental activism. Zhiqiang suspects the steadfast dismissal of the appeal may be an attempt at a cover-up.
Since the initial ruling, Human Rights Watch have reported that Samdrup has been beaten by prison officials as well as undergoing several months of interrogation, sleep deprivation, and that he was drugged with a substance that causes the eyes and ears to bleed.
Attempts by the Associated Press to contact the court for further information have fallen on deaf ears.
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