[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 60 (Monday, May 16, 1994)]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: May 16, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


 Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, last month a member of my staff 
participated in a delegation--along with staff members from the offices 
of Representatives John Edward Porter and Jolene Unsoeld--to Tibet and 
Nepal to observe conditions in Tibet and to investigate the situation 
of Tibetans who have recently fled to Nepal. I ask that the text of the 
report on this trip be entered into the Record.
  The text follows:

      Report of Congressional Staff Delegation to Tibet and Nepal

                           executive summary

       In April, 1994 a congressional staff delegation spent three 
     days in Nepal and one week in Tibet assessing China's 
     treatment of the Tibetan people. In Tibet the delegation 
     found evidence of a significant Chinese civilian population 
     in urban areas, a large Chinese military presence in both 
     rural and urban areas, severe restrictions on the Tibetan 
     people's religious and cultural expression, and 
     discriminatory practices against the Tibetan people. This 
     difficult situation inside Tibet leads thousands of Tibetans 
     to flee to Nepal and India each year, where they are free to 
     pursue their religion and able to get an education in Tibetan 
       The delegation urges the United States and the 
     international community to call on China to reverse these 
     policies and take steps to protect Tibet's unique religion 
     and culture. Furthermore the United States should continue to 
     support the efforts of the Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve 
     the situation in Tibet through negotiations and to continue 
     to provide refugee assistance and other programs to Tibetans 
     who flee repression in their native land.


       From March 28 to April 10, 1994 a delegation of 
     congressional staff traveled to Tibet and Nepal to 
     investigate conditions in Tibet and to study the situation 
     for Tibetan refugees in Nepal. Tibet has received increased 
     attention in the United States as a result of President 
     Clinton's Executive Order conditioning renewal of China's 
     Most-Favored-Nation trade status on human rights improvements 
     in China and Tibet.
       Participants on the delegation included Robert Gustafson, 
     Administrative Assistant to Congressman John Edward Porter 
     (R-IL), Michael Lostumbo, Legislative Research Assistant to 
     Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and Lawrence Holland, 
     Legislative Assistant to Jolene Unsoeld (D-WA). The Nepal 
     trip was sponsored by the Tibet Fund and the Tibet trip was 
     sponsored by the International Campaign for Tibet. Both are 
     U.S. based non-profit organizations. The delegation was 
     accompanied by Rachel Lostumbo, Legislative Director of the 
     International Campaign for Tibet, who also assisted in 
       The delegation first traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal. During 
     the three day stay in Kathmandu, participants met with Tashi 
     Namgyal, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Mark 
     Koehler, Second Secretary at the U.S. Embassy; and Tahir Ali 
     and Andrea Solkner, Representative to Nepal and Associate 
     Protection Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner 
     for Refugees. Participants also spent one afternoon and one 
     morning interviewing newly arrived Tibetan refugees at the 
     Tibetan Reception Center.
       The delegation then spent one week in Tibet traveling to 
     Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse, and visiting numerous villages 
     and monasteries. In the past, Tibetans who have attempted to 
     contact government or human rights delegations visiting Tibet 
     have been harassed and often arrested by Chinese authorities. 
     As a result, the delegation's contact with Tibetans in Tibet 
     was limited to private, secure conversations and sources in 
     this report will not be identified.

                    Congressional support for Tibet

       The Congress has established several very important 
     programs for the Tibetan people, including a Voice of 
     America-Tibetan language service. Tibetans inside Tibet spoke 
     very highly of the Tibetan language Voice of America, but 
     expressed frustration over Chinese government efforts to jam 
     the broadcast. Other congressionally mandated programs 
     include a one-time allocation of 1,000 immigrant visas for 
     Tibetan refugees, humanitarian assistance for refugees in 
     India and Nepal, and grants for Fulbright scholarships.
       The Congress has also passed numerous resolutions 
     condemning China's practices in Tibet and supporting the 
     Dalai Lama's efforts to peacefully resolve the situation 
     through negotiations.
       Since the delegation's return, the Congress passed and 
     President Clinton signed into law the 1994-1995 Foreign 
     Relations Authorization Act. This bill contains several 
     historic provisions which call for extended relations with 
     the Tibetan Government in exile and establish more programs 
     designed to benefit Tibetans inside Tibet. It also builds 
     upon the legislation passed in 1991 declaring Tibet to be an 
     occupied country whose true representatives are the Dalai 
     Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile.

                    Most-favored-nation trade status

       Since the first efforts by the Congress to condition 
     renewal of China's Most-Favored-Nation trading status (MFN) 
     in 1989, Tibet has played an integral part of the debate. 
     President Bush vetoed all attempts by the Congress to 
     condition MFN during his tenure.
       On May 28, 1993 President Clinton issued an Executive Order 
     which called on the Chinese Government to make significant 
     overall progress in human rights in order to be granted MFN 
     status in June 1994. One condition specifically called for 
     significant progress in ``protecting Tibet's distinctive 
     religious and cultural heritage.'' The Administration has 
     been calling on the Chinese to agree to begin substantive 
     negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives as a 
     benchmark towards meeting this condition. This approach to 
     the Tibet condition has been widely supported in the 
       While the issue of negotiations was not one that the 
     delegation was able to investigate while in Tibet, 
     participants were able to observe general conditions for the 
     Tibetans, including the overwhelming presence of Chinese in 
     Tibet, and the restrictions placed on the religious and 
     cultural expression of the Tibetan people. The report will 
     first discuss the Nepal trip, for it was in Kathmandu that 
     the delegation was most free to talk with Tibetans about 
     their personal experiences and about conditions in Tibet, 
     Following the summary of some of these interviews will be a 
     discussion of observations regarding conditions inside Tibet.

                       tibetan refugees in nepal

       According to the United Nations High Commission for 
     Refugees (UNHCR) in Kathmandu, approximately 4,000 new 
     Tibetan refugees made the harrowing trip over the Himalayas 
     into Nepal in 1993. Comparable numbers are expected in 1994.
       Over the past three years the U.S. Congress has 
     appropriated humanitarian assistance for Tibetan refugees in 
     Nepal and India. Each year a portion of this funding has gone 
     to the UNHCR operation in Kathmandu. The UNHCR provides the 
     primary financial support for the Tibetan refugees when they 
     arrive in Kathmandu, interviews the new arrivals to determine 
     whether they are eligible to receive assistance from the High 
     Commissioner as political refugees, and then offers 
     protection and acts as a formal liaison between the Tibetans 
     and the Nepali Government. The Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office 
     carries out the day-to-day operations of the Reception 
       New arrivals from Tibet reach the Reception Center on their 
     own, arrive accompanied by a hired guide, or are arrested by 
     Nepali police who take them to the immigration office in 
     Kathmandu. Here they are detained until a UNHCR official 
     interviews them, determines if they are eligible, and sends 
     them to the Reception Center. About 97% of the new arrivals 
     entering Nepal from Tibet are deemed eligible for assistance. 
     At present Nepal does not allow the Tibetans to settle there, 
     although there is a significant Tibetan refugee population 
     from earlier migrations. All eligible refugees are give an 
     allowance by the UNHCR and sent on to India.
       Some Tibetans are turned back to Tibet before they reach 
     Kathmandu because the are stopped by Chinese or Nepali border 
     guards. The delegation heard accounts of Nepali border guards 
     robbing and assaulting refugees, or turning them over to 
     Chinese border guards. Such actions are contrary to the 
     publicly stated policy of the Nepali government, which claims 
     that these actions are undertaken without their authority. 
     While in Nepal the delegation learned that the UNHCR was 
     hoping to provide instruction sessions for border guards to 
     help put an end to such incidents.
       While in Kathmandu, the delegation had the opportunity to 
     interview several newly arrived refugees. This was an 
     important component of the trip as it was known that contact 
     with Tibetans inside Tibet would be extremely limited because 
     of security concerns. The case histories of several of those 
     interviews are highlighted below:
       Tenzin: aged 10: Tenzin arrived in Kathmandu minutes before 
     the delegation arrived at the Reception Center. Traveling 
     with three other young boys including his twelve year old 
     brother, Tenzin was the only one to make it to the Reception 
     Center. His brother and another ten year old had been 
     arrested by Nepali border guards. The other, an eleven year 
     old boy, had been taken off a bus by Nepali police in 
     Kathmandu as he and Tenzin made their way to the center. The 
     fate of his companions was unknown.
       It is not uncommon for Tibetan parents to send their 
     children out of Tibet alone. They do this to allow their 
     children an opportunity to obtain a genuine Tibetan 
     education, which is not possible inside Tibet. UNHCR 
     statistics show that 20% of those arriving from Tibet are 
     children traveling on their own.
       Jigme: monk, aged 25: Jigme had arrived in Kathmandu one 
     week prior to the delegation's visit. He had fled from 
     Labrang monastery in Amdo after his second arrest for 
     political activities. The trip from Amdo to Kathmandu took 
     him one month and five days. Today, many new refugees come 
     from Kham and Amdo where Chinese control is particularly well 
       Jigme was first arrested for making a poster calling for 
     human rights in Tibet, an act for which he was imprisoned for 
     15 days and fined 5,000 Chinese yuan. His second arrest came 
     after he was caught printing a political poster. He was 
     beaten and then released with a warning against participating 
     in any further political activity. It was then that he chose 
     to make the long trip into exile.
       Approximately 40% of all new arrivals are monks and nuns. 
     Unable to practice their religion freely, monks and nuns 
     often face persecution as a result of their faith.
       Tsering and Drolma: nuns, aged 18: These two nuns came from 
     Garu nunnery in the Lhasa area. They said that at least 20 
     nuns from Garu are currently imprisoned in Tibet, including 
     12 who were arrested in August 1993 for participating in 
     demonstrations and who had been given sentences of between 3 
     and 6 years.
       The nuns spoke at length about how since 1989 the younger 
     nuns have been brought together and ``instructed'' by Chinese 
     authorities on ``the proper view'' of the history of Tibet. 
     They were told that those Tibetans in exile would never 
     return to Tibet and that the Dalai Lama's ``gang'' has no 
     international support, so that there is no hope for 
     freedom. Nuns were also forced to sign statements 
     promising not to take part in political demonstrations and 
     were threatened with long prison terms if they refused to 
       They also described the heavy tax burden that is imposed on 
     the nuns and the requirement that their nunnery sell half of 
     its farm produce to the government at a deflated rate.
       Kelsang: monk aged 17: Kelsang came from Nalenda Monastery 
     in Penpo, an area two hours north of Lhasa. He discussed the 
     government-imposed cap on the numbers of monks allowed to 
     live and study at the monastery, and the increased activity 
     of the ``ledun druka'', a committee formed within the 
     monastery by authorities to ``educate'' monks on proper 
     behavior and political views. Monks are quizzed once or twice 
     a month on the content of these ``educational'' sessions and 
     on materials they are required to read. If they answer 
     incorrectly they are fined.
       Lobsang: farmer, aged 22: Lobsang, who also came from 
     Penpo, discussed some of the restrictions placed on farmers. 
     He said that one-third of all produce is taken by the 
     government without compensation and that another portion must 
     be sold to the government at a reduced rate. Farmers are told 
     what to plant, even though they hold leases on the land. 
     Asked about the ability of farmers to move to Lhasa, he said 
     that they must first receive permission from several 
     government authorities. He said he knew of Tibetan farmers 
     who had requested permission to go to Lhasa, but knew of none 
     who had been given permission to do so.


       The delegation spent three days in the capitol city Lhasa, 
     and three days in the countryside visiting smaller towns and 
     villages, including Gyantse and Shigatse. The delegation 
     visited monasteries, schools, markets and Tibetan and Chinese 
     neighborhoods. The delegation also spent an afternoon at 
     Yamdrok Tso, a large and controversial hydroelectric project 
     located on a lake considered sacred by Tibetans. The 
     delegation notes that Tibet is an extremely poor country and 
     that sanitary conditions, particularly in the Tibetan 
     neighbor-hoods, are abysmal.

                            Chinese presence

       The first and most striking observation upon arrival in 
     Tibet is the number of Chinese, both military and civilian. 
     Distinctive language, neighborhood architecture and style of 
     clothes made it possible to determine which parts of the 
     cities were dominated by Chinese and which by Tibetans. The 
     delegation notes that the Chinese neighborhoods consist of 
     large compounds which have more open space than the Tibetan 
     neighborhoods. Therefore, the Chinese sections of town are 
     likely to contain fewer Chinese per square kilometer than the 
     Tibetan neighborhoods.
       There was a pervasive military presence in the cities and 
     along roads. Chinese army bases and other government 
     compounds were relatively easy to spot. They often had 
     Chinese flags displayed, red stars over the entrance gates, 
     or the distinctive red and white logo that denotes a 
     government facility. Some also had tall transmitting 
     antennae, military vehicles parked in plain sight, or 
     soldiers within the compound walls.
       On the road into Lhasa from the airport the delegation 
     passed large military facilities, potentially housing 
     thousands of troops. At regular intervals around the Barkhor, 
     the pilgrim circuit surrounding the Jokhang temple, Chinese 
     police monitored the Tibetans passing by. The delegation 
     heard reports of dozens of plainclothes security personnel 
     also circulating the Barkhor and located two surveillance 
     cameras in the area. Outside of Lhasa the delegation passed 
     numerous government and military compounds, as well as 
     several large convoys of military trucks.
       The delegation was informed that Chinese civilians are 
     largely concentrated in the larger cities and towns, although 
     there are now reports of Chinese moving into rural areas in 
     Tibet, particularly in the eastern regions of Kham and Amdo. 
     It is important to note that the delegation was only able to 
     travel where there were roads and most villages between the 
     larger cities appeared to be predominately Tibetan.
       Most modern shops and restaurants in the cities the 
     delegation observed were operated by Chinese and the Chinese 
     sections of town were expansive. Lhasa appeared to have two 
     distinctly Tibetan neighborhoods, at the foot of the Potala 
     and near the Jokhang temple. Even in these areas there is new 
     Chinese construction. From the top of the Potala it is clear 
     that only a small fraction of the buildings in Lhasa are in 
     the traditional Tibetan style and most of the extensive new 
     construction in Lhasa appears to have taken place in the 
     Chinese sections. Tibetan landmarks, like the Tibetan medical 
     college, have been destroyed and replaced by Chinese 
       In Shigatse the delegation observed only a small Tibetan 
     neighborhood surrounded by a large Chinese section of town. 
     While there the delegation was awakened by loudspeakers 
     blaring in Chinese. The delegation was warned by Tibetans not 
     to speak in Tibetan, as previous Tibetan speaking tourists 
     had been harassed by Chinese authorities for speaking in 
     Tibetan. There was a tangible tension in the streets in 
     Shigatse between Tibetans and Chinese.
       Gyantse appeared to have the largest Tibetan to Chinese 
     ratio of the three larger towns the delegation visited. In 
     preparation for the trip the delegation was told that Gyantse 
     was a good example of a real Tibetan city. From the top of 
     the fort which towers over the town, it became clear, 
     however, that the Chinese and Tibetan areas were roughly 
     comparable in size. This indicates a new trend of Chinese 
     settlers migrating into smaller and smaller cities and towns 
     in Tibet.
       It appeared to the delegation that the Chinese civilians in 
     Tibet are no longer simply providing goods and services to 
     the Tibetan people but are to a large extent serving other 
     Chinese. It also seemed that Tibetans are becoming marginal 
     to the economic and social processes in Tibet. Reports of 
     discriminatory practices against Tibetans in obtaining 
     permits to open businesses and restrictions against Tibetan 
     villagers moving into the cities when there are no such 
     restrictions for the Chinese further this process of 
       Numerous greenhouses were observed throughout the Lhasa 
     valley and along the major roads. The delegation had an 
     opportunity to visit a large compound of government-owned 
     greenhouses where the delegation was told that the produce 
     from the greenhouses was provided to government workers, and 
     not to nearby Tibetan villages.

              Freedom of religious and cultural expression

       The delegation was particularly interested in exploring the 
     degree of religious and cultural freedom in Tibet. The 
     delegation visited numerous monasteries and temples and 
     learned of religious restrictions inside Tibet from monks, 
     nuns and layman; both in Tibet and in Nepal.
       As the centers for Tibetan culture and religious belief, 
     the monasteries and nunneries are often the focal point for 
     political activity for the Tibetan people. Human rights 
     organizations have documented over 350 monks and nuns 
     imprisoned in Lhasa alone for their political beliefs. 
     Torture and mistreatment of detained monks and nuns is 
     reportedly common.
       It has been documented that religious policies for Tibet 
     are developed by central authorities in Beijing and are 
     carried out in each monastery through Democratic Management 
     Committees (DMC). The DMC has the power to intervene in all 
     activities of the monastery and often works directly with 
     security forces. Restrictions on religion are enforced by the 
     Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB). The RAB oversees the 
     restoration and reconstruction of monasteries, administers 
     funds, and screens applicants for entrance into the 
       The delegation was able to visit several of the over 6,000 
     monasteries destroyed since the Chinese occupation. The 
     delegation observed evidence of new construction in several 
     of the monasteries visited, though none had been restored to 
     its former size. In one monastery half of the building was 
     still used as a government office, while in another only two 
     of the monastery's sixteen buildings had been rebuilt. 
     Tibetans displayed a vigorous interest in rebuilding and 
     using the monasteries. However, while the Tibetans have been 
     allowed in some cases to begin rebuilding, credible witnesses 
     told the delegation of numerous restrictions and regulations 
     over the building process and the actual management of the 
     monasteries. Special permission for any such project must be 
     obtained from Chinese authorities. According to numerous 
     individuals interviewed by the delegation, monks do not 
     completely control monastery finances, even though the vast 
     majority of funds in the large monasteries and all of the 
     funds in the smaller monasteries come from individual 
     donations from Tibetans. The large monasteries and temples 
     which are visited by tourists have received limited 
     government funds for reconstruction. The delegation was told 
     that the government, however, reaps the benefit of the 
     tourist entrance fees which are required in these 
       Monks interviewed by the delegation discussed at length the 
     significant restrictions placed on the number of monks or 
     nuns that each monastery is allowed to admit. Most 
     monasteries are allowed only a tiny fraction of the historic 
     levels of monks who taught, studied and lived in them prior 
     to 1949; few are allowed more than 100 monks. Thus many who 
     want to enter the monasteries are unable to do so. This is 
     particularly significant in light of the fact that the 
     monasteries were the traditional centers of learning and 
     cultural expression in Tibet.
       According to the monks the delegation met, those who are 
     admitted to the monasteries are not permitted enough time for 
     studying. Instead authorities have given them other duties to 
     perform which restrict their ability to get a full religious 
     education. Chinese informants are also reportedly prevalent 
     in the monasteries. They monitor the activities of the 
     occupants, and in some cases constitute a significant 
     percentage of the monastic population.
       The Panchen Lama was a controversial, high-level religious 
     figure who stayed in Tibet after the Chinese invasion in 1949 
     and cooperated with Chinese authorities. However, he did make 
     efforts during his lifetime to stem Chinese repressive 
     policies in Tibet. He died in Tibet in 1989. Many Tibetans 
     discussed their concerns regarding the selection of the new 
     Panchen Lama. Tibetans fear that when a child is selected as 
     the next Panchen Lama, that the Chinese authorities will 
     attempt to manipulate his education so that he will work 
     against the Tibetan people.
       The atmosphere in the Panchen Lama's monastery in Shigatse, 
     Tashi Lhunpo, was instructive. Because of the Panchen Lama's 
     relationship with the Chinese Government, it was the only 
     monastery that the delegation visited that had been spared 
     extensive destruction. It even had some new temples that were 
     elaborately and lavishly decorated. However, many Tibetans 
     described this monastery as being filled with ``Chinese 
     agents.'' Members of the delegation were told that in the 
     recent past, if a tourist were to give a picture of the Dalai 
     Lama to a monk in this monastery, a common practice for 
     tourists visiting Tibet, he or she would likely be turned 
     into the authorities and charged with instigating unrest. 
     Tashi Lhunpo, as well as the Potala in Lhasa, had numerous 
     Chinese tourists.

                              Yamdrok Tso

       Yamdrok Tso is a large freshwater lake southwest of Lhasa, 
     considered to be a sacred ``life-water'' lake by the Tibetan 
     people. Yamdrok Tso is currently being exploited by the 
     Chinese authorities for hydroelectric power and mineral 
     deposits. The Tibetan people have strongly protested this 
     project because of environmental and religious concerns. This 
     is one project that the Panchen Lama vocally opposed shortly 
     before his death. One Tibetan told us that ``there is no 
     reason for the Chinese to destroy Yamdrok Tso. They don't 
     need it. If they need electricity they could use the 
     rivers in the next valley.''
       As the delegation drove past the lake it passed a town 
     called ``Lhok Khang'' the hydroelectric station; an extensive 
     mining operation; and scores of military personnel.


       While in Tibet members of the delegation visited a middle 
     school and Tibet University to determine educational 
     opportunities for Tibetan students.
       The secondary school system in Tibet contains a Chinese and 
     a Tibetan tract. However, in order to progress to high 
     school, students must pass English and Chinese language 
     exams, subjects which can only be sufficiently studied on the 
     Chinese tract. At the middle school the delegation visited 
     there are 300 students, 100 of whom are Chinese. The school 
     has both Chinese and Tibetan teachers. However, the Chinese 
     teachers receive six months home leave every two years to 
     return to China, while the Tibetan teachers do not receive 
     comparable vacation time.
       One Tibetan told the delegation that she had gone to school 
     in China to receive a ``good education.'' Others also 
     expressed similar sentiments that schools in Tibet are 
     inferior and if a student is ambitious, he or she must travel 
     to China. Older Tibetans expressed the concern that Tibetan 
     children studying in China will forget their culture.
       According to an administrator at Tibet University, the only 
     university in Tibet, only 19 percent of the 1,300 students 
     are Tibetan, and the language of instruction in Chinese. The 
     delegation was told that many Tibet University graduates go 
     to China to work after they have graduated.


       The delegation spent ten days investigating current 
     conditions in Tibet through discussions with those in the 
     Tibetan exile community in Nepal and through first-hand 
     observations inside Tibet.
       Based on its observations, the delegation concludes that 
     China's policies in Tibet pose a grave threat to the survival 
     of the Tibetan religion and culture and are effectively 
     turning Tibet into another province of China.
       The pervasive presence of Chinese military personnel and 
     Chinese civilians, as well as the ongoing human rights 
     violations against the Tibetan people, have created an 
     atmosphere of fear in Tibet. Upon arrival in Lhasa, the 
     delegation was told that two days earlier several monks 
     staged a small demonstration outside the Jokhang temple. They 
     were reportedly arrested by the police who rounded up other 
     suspected sympathizers, in the Tibetan section of town the 
     following night. At various points during the delegation's 
     visit, Tibetans referred to other demonstrators currently in 
     prison for peacefully demonstrating against the Chinese 
       Growing support in the international community for the 
     Dalai Lama's efforts, including the awarding of the 1989 
     Nobel Peace Prize, seen to provide hope to the Tibetan 
     people. Many people asked delegation members about the Dalai 
     Lama; for photos of him, and for news of his activities. Many 
     of them volunteered the hope that he would be able to return 
     to Tibet and that the Chinese would leave.
       It has been the Dalai Lama's policy to advocate a peaceful 
     resolution to the situation in Tibet through negotiations. He 
     has also expressed his willingness to not raise the issue of 
     independence at negotiations, as long as all other issues 
     threatening the Tibetan culture are on the table. It is the 
     delegation's belief that until the Tibetans regain some 
     control over policies affecting their daily lives, the very 
     survival of their culture will remain at risk.

                         Policy recommendations

       The delegation believes that the U.S. and the international 
     community should use all policy tools to call on the Chinese 
     to immediately:
       Enter into substantive negotiations with the Dalai Lama or 
     his representatives;
       End government incentives for Chinese settlers to move to 
       Respect the basic human rights of the Tibetan people, 
     including the fundamental rights to freedom of speech and 
       Permit the Tibetans to freely practice their religion and 
     pursue their unique way of life;
       Provide more opportunities for educational advancement of 
     Tibetans studying in their own language; and
       Cease all discriminatory practices towards Tibetans.
       In addition, the United States should work in close 
     cooperation with the Tibetan Government in exile to provide 
     concrete and moral assistance to the Tibetan people as the 
     Congress recently suggested in adopting the Foreign Relations