Introduction to Tibet

“Tibet today is one of the most repressed and closed societies in the world.”
Senator Robert Menendez, Chair of US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2012

Photo credit Pedro SaraviaChina invaded Tibet in 1950. Its occupation has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans and the imprisonment and torture of thousands more.

After a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India followed by over 100,000 Tibetans.

Since 1959, Tibetans have continued to oppose and resist China’s rule and China has responded with intense repression.


  • Free Tibet uses the term ‘Tibet’ to refer to the three original provinces of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo.
  • When the Chinese refer to Tibet, they invariably mean the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR, which includes only U-Tsang.
  • The Chinese renamed Amdo as the province of Qinghai and Kham was incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan.


In 2014, US think tank Freedom House ranked Tibet among the twelve worst countries in the world for repression of political and civil rights.

See below for a summary of the challenges faced by Tibetans as a result of China’s occupation. For more detailed information, use the menu on the left.

Economic discrimination

Photo credit Jim McGill

  • The language of business in Tibet is now Chinese. Many Tibetans are not literate in Chinese and are disadvantaged in business and the jobs market.
  • Most Tibetans work in agricultural sector while most economic activity outside of agriculture is controlled by the central government or state owned corporations.
  • In urban centres Tibetans are a minority as a result of Chinese encouragement of ethnic Chinese migration.
  • Most tourist activity is located in urban centres where the main employees are ethnic Chinese migrants.
  • The Chinese government has forced thousands of Tibetans to abandon their traditional rural nomadic lifestyle and move into new housing colonies or towns. Many of these people do not have the skills or experience to compete for jobs in the urban environment.

Religious suppression

  • Since 1949, the Chinese have destroyed over 6,000 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and shrines.
  • By 1978 only 8 monasteries and 970 monks and nuns remained in the TAR.
  • The number of monks and nuns allowed to enter monasteries and nunneries is limited. Any reference or images of the Dalai Lama are banned.
  • The Chinese government places officials in every monastery to monitor and often to control religious activity.

Read more about the treatment of monks and nuns in Tibet.

Political oppression

  • The Chinese have responded to uprisings with extreme violence and around 300,000 Chinese soldiers are posted in Tibet.
  • Tibetans are subject to intense surveillance of their daily activities and communications.
  • China has repeatedly violated UN conventions through extensive use of torture against Tibetan political prisoners – often monks or nuns.
  • Tibet is governed directly by the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. No Tibetan has ever been appointed Party Secretary – the most senior government post – in the TAR.

Exclusive: U.N. experts trace recent seized arms to Iran, violating embargo

Exclusive: U.N. experts trace recent seized arms to Iran, violating embargo

UNITED NATIONS Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:24pm EDT

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna June 17, 2014.



(Reuters) – A U.N. expert panel has concluded that a shipment of rockets and other weapons that was seized by Israel came from Iran and represents a violation of the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran, according to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday.

The finding comes just days ahead of the next round of negotiations in Vienna between Iran and six world powers aimed at securing a deal that would gradually lift international sanctions on Tehran — including the arms embargo — in exchange for curbs on the controversial Iranian nuclear program.

Despite Israel’s public statements that the seized arms were destined for Gaza — an allegation that Gaza’s governing Islamist militant group Hamas dismissed as a fabrication — the experts said the weapons were being sent to Sudan.

The experts do not speculate in the report about why the arms were being sent to Sudan, a country which Western diplomatic and intelligence sources have told Reuters has in the past been a conduit for Iranian arms shipments to other locations in Africa, as well as the Gaza Strip.

The experts said the Israeli U.N. mission wrote to the U.N. Iran Sanctions Committee on March 13 about “the transfer of rockets, mortars and related materiel from Iran to Sudan.”

The 14-page report on the incident by the U.N. Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Iran makes no mention of the Gaza Strip as a possible destination for the arms, which were concealed in 20 containers on the Panamanian-flagged vessel Klos C. The weaponry was seized by Israeli authorities in March.

The U.N. experts reached their conclusion after investigating the case and inspecting the seized cargo and documentation related to the shipment, which traveled from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, and from there in the direction of Port Sudan.

The vessel was intercepted by the Israeli navy in the Red Sea before it reached Sudan.

“The Panel finds that the manner of concealment in this case is consistent with several other cases reported to the (Security Council’s Iran Sanctions) Committee and investigated by the Panel,” the experts said.

“The Panel concludes that the shipment of arms and related materiel found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran’s obligations under paragraph 5 of resolution 1747,” they added, referring to the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.

Despite Iranian denials, the experts said official seals from Iranian customs authorities on containers that held some of the arms “substantiates the Iranian origin of those containers.” Further evidence on the Iranian origin came from the Iranian bill of lading, cargo manifest and the container stowage plan.

Iran’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



The report includes details on the arms, which were concealed in a shipment of cement: 40 M302 rockets and fuses, including four different variations of the rockets; 181 120 mm mortar shells; roughly 400,000 pieces of 7.62 caliber ammunition.

The experts could not confirm the Israeli allegation that some of the weapons were made in Syria.

“According to Israeli officials, the rockets were produced in Syria by the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC),” they said. “No markings were identified on the rockets during the Panel’s inspection that would have allowed confirmation of the Syrian origin of the rockets.”

“One expert notes that the Syrian origin of the rockets cannot be independently established and neither can the movement of the rockets from Syria to Iran,” the report added.

It was not clear from the report what, if any, role Iraq could have played in the smuggling of weaponry. The 20 containers that held the illicit arms were part of the 100-container shipment loaded onto the Klos C at Bandar Abbas, Iran.

The 50 containers of cement loaded onto the ship at Umm Qasr in Iraq did not contain weapons, the report said, citing information the experts had received from Israeli authorities.

The experts said the concealment techniques were similar to other cases of alleged sanctions violations by Iran they have investigated — in Nigeria, arms were shipped amid crates of marble; in other cases reported by Israel arms were hidden in containers with polyethylene pellets, lentils and cotton.

In another case of reported by Italy, Iran allegedly shipped dried explosives among bags of powdered milk, the report said.

At the time that the arms were seized, Israel said the case showed Iran was not negotiating in good faith with the six powers – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

“At the same time that it is talking to world powers, at the same time that Iran is smiling and saying all kinds of honeyed words, that same Iran is sending lethal weaponry to terrorist organizations and it is doing so in a complex web of covert, worldwide operations,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The circulation of the Panel of Experts’ report to the Iran Sanctions Committee just ahead of a deadline for Iran and the six powers to reach an agreement in the Vienna nuclear talks clearly irritated Russia.

Earlier this week Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, complained that “any information not backed up by concrete facts … could have a negative impact on the conduct of negotiations of the group of six and Iran.”

But Russia was in the minority in its complaints. Other Security Council members, including the chair of the Iran sanctions committee, Australian Ambassador Gary Quinlan, praised the investigative work of the Panel of Experts.

France’s deputy U.N. envoy Alexis Lamek said the experts annual report submitted to the sanctions committee last month was a “precise source of information on Iran’s illicit programs and its methods of circumventing sanctions.”

The panel’s annual report said that Tehran’s illicit procurement appeared to have slowed during its negotiations with the six powers, though Iranians continued to attempt to bypass sanctions on a regular basis.


(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Leslie Adler)


Thai junta sets up panels to crack down on critical news reports

BANGKOK Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:59am EDT

Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks at a meeting to discuss the 2015 national budget, at the Army Club in Bangkok June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks at a meeting to discuss the 2015 national budget, at the Army Club in Bangkok June 13, 2014.





(Reuters) – Thailand’s military authorities are setting up a network of panels to closely monitor domestic and international media and crack down on criticism of what the junta sees as its efforts to right the country, a senior officer said on Thursday.

Rights groups and journalists have criticized curbs imposed on the press since the May 22 bloodless coup the military says was aimed at ending six months of street protests and political paralysis.

Adul Saengsingkaew, deputy head of the National Council of Peace and Order, said the military would monitor reports that were false or posed a threat to national security.

Offenders who refused to cooperate could face charges.

“There will be five committees set up to monitor local and international media that will report to the military daily,” Adul, a former national police chief, told Reuters by telephone.

“Police will not pursue legal action against media so long as journalists are cooperative and help share news that is constructive and true. Those that spread inappropriate content may face criminal charges.”

He expressed particular concern about reporting on the activities of a government-in-exile that launched a campaign of civil disobedience this week, almost certainly based in a neighboring country.

Officials have made little comment on the group, saying only that there is only one legitimate government.

Junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the panels were not intended to restrict Thais’ access to information.

Instead, he said, they would help the state make the truth known faster. “We won’t close or obstruct the public’s right to know truthful news,” he added. “We ask for cooperation to write balanced and appropriate news.”

The military has shut hundreds of “inappropriate websites”, radio stations and television channels since the coup.

It has promised to install a government by September and stage elections in a little more than a year, but says it must first ensure stability. The United States and European Union denounced the takeover and halted cooperation programs.

Data released on Thursday showed exports and factory output fell more than expected in May, showing that the economy remains weak and underscoring the tough task the military faces.

Further battered by lower tourist arrivals, the economy shrank 2.1 percent in January-March over the previous quarter.



The Thai Journalists Association, in a statement on its website on Wednesday, said it was worried about the action against the media. “It could impact the information the public receives and be an obstacle to our work,” it added.

Hundreds of political figures, activists, academics and business people have been detained. Most were promptly released and told to steer clear of politics and public statements.

Opponents have staged a few minor protests, quickly broken up by security forces. Some largely unco-ordinated “silent protesters” were briefly rounded up.

Most of those detained had links to the ousted government of Yingluck Shinawatra and her exiled brother Thaksin, who handed out social benefits to disadvantaged northern regions during more than five years as premier. He was deposed in a 2006 coup.

Yingluck was ordered by a court on May 7 to step down for abuse of power. The rump cabinet that remained was removed in the military takeover.

Protesters opposed to the Shinawatras and linked to the royalist elite in Bangkok led six months of protests to topple Yingluck’s government. At least 30 people died in periodic outbursts of violence.

The junta has proclaimed national unity through “love and reconciliation” as its main aim. Round-the-clock radio and television broadcasts lionise the army’s virtues.

A song the junta says was written by coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha, with lyrics such as “We will act with honesty and just ask that you trust us”, is played at the top of the hour on most broadcast stations.


(Additional reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Editing by Ron Popeski and Clarence Fernandez)



Can Iraqi militants be kept off social media sites?

Image of ISIS fighters taken from TwitterIsis fighters have posted triumphant photos on Twitter

Alongside their efforts on the ground, Jihadist fighters in Iraq have waged a propaganda war on social media in the past few weeks, posting graphic images, promotional videos and updates of their campaign to overthrow the government.

Isis, the group at the heart of the insurgency, has even deployed an Android app that posts tweets automatically on users’ behalf (since removed), and co-ordinated hashtag campaigns to get its content trending on Twitter.

The Iraqi government responded by blocking social media sites and, in some provinces, barring access to the internet entirely.

But some of the most active Islamist social media accounts are still live, including those urging Muslims in other countries to join the struggle.

The three men featured in a recent Isis recruitment video, which was posted on YouTube but has since been removed, are all still on Twitter using military pseudonyms, the BBC believes.

An Islamist purporting to be British offered tips to those thinking of joining Isis on Ask.fmAn Islamist purporting to be British offered tips to those thinking of joining Isis on

But why have these accounts not been removed?

The BBC spoke to a number of social networks, all of which said they did not actively monitor their sites for content promoting terrorism, but rather responded to requests from governments and individuals to remove offending material.

A spokesperson for Twitter said the company would remove a reported post that violated its rules.

Some Isis Twitter accounts feature graphic depictions of violenceSome Isis Twitter accounts feature graphic depictions of violence

Twitter’s terms ban threats of violence and the “furtherance of illegal activities” on the site.

They added that Twitter does not monitor media reports on inflammatory posts.

Extreme content

Many of the militants on Twitter redirect users to their Kik accounts.

Kik, a personal messaging service similar to WhatsApp and Blackberry Messenger, allows users to have group conversations.

KIKKik allows users to have group conversations and surf the web

It can also be used to send free private messages.

Kik, which boasts 120 million users, could not be reached for comment.

Another tool being used is, a site that allows users to pose questions to an individual.

One account offered advice on how to join Isis fighters in Iraq, as well as what weapons one could expect to be equipped with on arrival., which has previously been the subject of a cyberbullying controversy, told the BBC a few days ago that it did not allow posts containing calls to violence and criminal activity.

“Based on media reports, the company is now assessing several profiles to evaluate their compliance with terms of use,” a spokesperson said.

“When requested, is ready to co-operate with law enforcement agencies in the framework of the official investigation.”

TwitterMany Jihadists are routinely switching Twitter accounts

However, almost a week later, Jihadist accounts on are still active.

Other social media sites, notably Facebook and YouTube, have been more successful in removing extreme content.

When asked about its policy towards extreme content, YouTube owner’s Google said it removed videos “when flagged by our users”.

The #BBCTrending team mapped Isis social media posts across the world

A spokesperson added that it also terminated any account registered by a member of a foreign terrorist organisation – as designated by the US secretary of state – and used in an official capacity to further its interests.

“We allow videos posted with a clear news or documentary purpose to remain on YouTube, applying warnings and age-restrictions as appropriate.”

The BBC understands that Facebook, whose rules ban terrorist organisations and those promoting extremism from posting on the site, removes content when reported by users.

BBC journalist Thomas Martienssen, who was been monitoring militants on social media, says all the Facebook accounts with which he was in contact were taken down earlier in the week.

However many accounts which are closed by social media companies soon return under a different name, with militants publicising the change on various platforms.


Asian shares wilt, oil prices rise on Iraq fears

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange June 23, 2014. REUTERS-Brendan McDermid
The outside of the London Stock Exchange building is seen in the City of London, March 7, 2005. REUTERS-Toby Melville

1 OF 2. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange June 23, 2014.





(Reuters) – Asian shares were on the back foot early on Wednesday, taking their cue from Wall Street as the deepening crisis in Iraq and a report that the U.S. could be loosening restrictions on crude exports triggered a rally in oil prices.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged leaders of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday to stand with Baghdad in the face of a Sunni insurgency, as security forces fought the rebels for control of the country’s biggest oil refinery.

A senior U.S. intelligence official said that the insurgents were “well positioned” to hold a broad swathe of territory captured in northern and western Iraq unless the Baghdad government can muster a counter-offensive.

Adding to upward pressure on oil prices was a Wall Street Journal report that U.S. officials have allowed two companies to export a kind of ultra-light oil known as condensates, a first step that effectively loosens a 40-year ban on most U.S. crudeexports. (Full Story)

U.S. crude for August delivery CLc1 added about 0.7 percent to $106.76 a barrel.

“Oil prices have been unusually stable in recent years, but events in Iraq are causing a reassessment of medium-term oil market fundamentals that we expect to translate into a phase of higher long-term prices and more volatile trading conditions,” strategists at Barclays said in a note to clients.

“Geopolitical risks have replaced China’s growth and Fed policy as the main concerns for investors,” they said.

Spot gold XAU= was treading water at $1,317.95 an ounce after spiking to a more than two-month high of $1,325.90 on Tuesday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dipped about 0.1 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average .N225 skidded 0.4 percent.

In volatile U.S. trading on Tuesday, the S&P 500 .SPX closed down more than half a percent for its sharpest loss since June 12, after earlier setting a fourth record high in five sessions following upbeat U.S. economic data.

Sales of new homes surged 18.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000 units in May, the highest since May 2008 and the biggest increase since January 1992. Separate data from the Conference Board showed its index of consumer attitudes rose to 85.2 in June from a downwardly revised 82.2 in May.

But U.S. Treasury prices shrugged off the brighter data and yields fell, with the benchmark 10-year rate US10YT=RR dropping to 2.577 percent in Asia from its U.S. close of 2.586 percent.

“While the improvement in consumer confidence and existing home sales are encouraging the decline in Treasury yields confirm what we have been saying all along which is that the data is just not good enough to push the Fed to tighten monetary policy early,” said Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.

A trio of Fed officials gave investors no reason to believe the central bank’s stance had changed. William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, said the U.S. central can wait to raise interest rates until mid-2015 without risking an undesirable rise in inflation.

San Francisco Fed President John Williams said on Tuesday that the U.S. economy is about two years from being “normal,” while Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser said the economy continues to improve, making steady rather than exuberant progress.

The dollar edged down about 0.1 percent to buy 101.92 yen JPY=, while the euro also inched about 0.1 percent lower to 138.66 yen EURJPY=R.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unveiled a package of measures on Tuesday aimed at boosting Japan’s long-term economic growth, though market impact was muted.

The common currency was steady on the day at $1.3604 EUR=.

The dollar index .DXY also consolidated at 80.318, solidly within the 80.000-81.000 range in which it has been stuck since May.


(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)






Here is a small true narration of a funeral that changed the course of history of TN politics.When jayallaitha rushed to MGR’s house on Dec 24th of 1984 on the Christmas eve when MGR died in the early hours she was locked out of the room the body was lying in.She ran from door to door to seek entry – the body taken away through the back door to lie in a state.Jaya madam rushed and ran to the ceremonial hall and parked herself at MGR’s head .She made sure she remained visible in full view to millions of TV audience and mourners for almost 30 hours.When weeping janaki came there on 25th She could only hold the hand of her husband’s body and Jaya the strategist held his head.
When MGR’s body was placed in the Gun carriage Jayalalitha climbed in to it.A few minutes latter , the ugliest scene in funeral history of political leaders was witnessed on TV all over the country – she was virtually pulled out by kin of Janaki and her opponents and abused.Both the women had to flee , Jaya under police escort.An estimated 2 millions saw their leader  MGR buried – neither of the two women in his life could see their hero’s burial.
Things recovered from Jayalalithaa’s house after the  raid included 750 pairs of footwear, 800 kg of silver, 28kg gold, 10,500 sarees, 91 watches and 44 Air conditioners.
This is an engrossing story of two ladies whose names became hyphenated. Nobody could ever think of either of them in isolation.

This story is full of love, affection, commitment, emotional blackmail and betrayal. A complete package for any Bollywood blockbuster. 
Here we are talking about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalaithaa and her alter ego Sasikala Natarajan.
The world was shocked when news broke out that Jayalalitha had expelled her companion for more than two decades Sasikala Natarajan from the party and had asked her relatives to move out of her residence where they were staying for years as family members. 





Ukraine government reports rebel attacks despite ceasefire

(Reuters) – Ukrainian government forces accused pro-Russian separatists of firing on Ukrainian military checkpoints in several parts of the east on Monday night despite a ceasefire declared by the rebels.

No sustained fighting were reported in the incidents, nor any casualties on the Ukrainian side which is also observing a week-long ceasefire until June 27.

“(Separatist) fighters are not ceasing to shoot at the positions of Ukrainian forces,” Vladyslav Seleznyov, a spokesman for the Kiev government’s “anti-terrorist” operation, said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

Rebel militia, using grenade-launchers and mortar, carried out attacks on a government military post near the rebel-controlled town of Slaviansk and used small arms in an assault on another post further east towards the border with Russia, Selznyov said.

He said Ukrainian government forces had not been involved in any military action in line with a ceasefire announced by President Petro Poroshenko last Friday.

“I can not say whether the separatists have violated or not violated (the ceasefire), but the facts speak for themselves – yesterday during the day and in the evening they fired on our positions,” Seleznyov told Reuters separately.

Separatist leaders in two main areas of Ukraine’s east on Monday night agreed also to a truce until the morning of June 27, raising the first real prospect of an end to hostilities since separatist rebellions erupted in the east in April.

The rebels, who have declared “people’s republics” and have said they want to joinRussia, declared their ceasefire after talks involving a former Ukrainian president, Moscow’s envoy to Kiev and a high-ranking representative of the OSCE security and rights watchdog.

Poroshenko’s ceasefire is part of his peace plan to end a pro-Russia insurgency in areas near the border with Russia which threatens dismemberment of the ex-Soviet republic.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula earlier this year after street protests in Kiev ousted the Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich from power.

Poroshenko’s plan, which offers a safety “corridor” back to Russia for pro-Russian fighters who lay down their arms, has secured the backing of Western governments and qualified support from Russian President Vladimir Putin who has urged Kiev to hold talks with the separatist leaders.

The next step in contacts between the two sides is not clear, though it seems likely the rebels may use the break in hostilities to press demands for “federalization” of Ukraine – something which Kiev refuses because it sees it as likely to lead to the country breaking up.


(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens)