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.

Dhasa: The three-day General Meeting of the People for the Movement of the Middle Way began today in Dharamshala. The speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Mr Penpa Tsering, attended as special guest along with around 100 others, including representative members from 15 regional chapters and envoys from Tibetan non-government organisations.
Attendees stood to sing traditional Tibetan songs to mark to beginning of the meeting, which were followed by an introduction by Mr Doctor Kyenrob, coordinator of the middle way movement. Mr Yuten Gyaltso later reported on the movement's activities and expenses over the past year and a half.
Penpa Tsering addressed the audience with the main tenets of the middle way approach, which seeks genuine autonomy as opposed to complete independence. He spoke of the importance of the approach for the struggle and why it is necessary to emphasise that this is the viewpoint of the majority of Tibetan people, not just His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The next two days will focus on ways in which the people of Tibet can advance the movement and how amiable relations between Tibetans and Chinese (something which the Dalai Lama strongly advocates) can be promoted and achieved. The expansion of the movement and its future developments will also be discussed, as well as the election of additional coordinators.
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