Legal Materials on Tibet
United States

Congressional Record 119: Staff Trip Report (August 1992) [261]


Congressional Staff Trip Report on Tibetans in Exile

Mr. SIMON. Mr. President, earlier this year a member of my staff and eight other House and Senate staff members visited Tibetan refugee centers in India and Nepal. Their findings and recommendations for United States policy toward Tibetans in exile and occupied Tibet have been set forth in a trip report, which I commend to my colleagues.

The sufferings of the Tibetan people in their homeland and abroad are well known. The staff report details the U.S. Government response to these problems--mostly at congressional direction--but also points up the need to do more. In this area, as in other areas of foreign policy, we have not shown adequate leadership.

A few weeks ago, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we held a hearing on United States and Chinese policies toward occupied Tibet. We heard testimony from the Administration that could have been written by Beijing. The reality is that Tibet is still suffering, that the Chinese are warring against Tibet's Buddhist faith and that the Bush administration, unlike the Eisenhower administration, refuses to support Tibet's right to self-determination. I hope that this policy will soon by changed.

Mr. President, I ask that the attached trip report by printed in the RECORD in full.

The report follows:


Submitted by Congressional Staff members: Alexandra Arriaga, Mark Gage, Judy Grayson, Bob Henshaw, Rachel Lostumbo, Keith Pitts, Steve Rickard, Deborah Spielberg and Jonathan Stein.



When the first congressional staff delegation visited the Tibetan refugee community in India and Nepal in late 1988, recent demonstrations in Lhasa, Tibet, and the Chinese government's brutal suppression of Tibetan protests for independence, had again focused widespread international concern on the Chinese policies in Tibet. The Chinese occupation of Tibet had not been a major international issue since the Tibetan Uprising and the subsequent flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. Suddenly, a generation later, the crackdown in Lhasa presented an international crisis and was a grim harbinger of the Chinese government's "solution" to calls for democratic reforms that were to occur only months later in Beijing and other cities in the People's Republic of China. The US and international community's modest and cautiously measured response to Chinese occupation and oppression in Tibet have done little to improve the current situation in Tibet.

Today, Tibet's geopolitical importance has significantly increased. In recognition of his nonviolent efforts to regain Tibetan independence, the Dalai Lama received the 1969 Nobel Peace Prize. Also, many heads of state, including President George Bush, British Prime Minister John Major and former Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel, have held, for the first time ever, meetings with the Dalai Lama. Similarly, the United States Congress has taken a very strong stance on Tibet. What had earlier been an obscure issue on the US congress is now a cause that enjoys unanimous and bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and the Senate. In recent years Congress has responded to the Tibetan crisis with the following:

Provisions in the 1991 State Department and Foreign Relations Authorization Act declaring Tibet an occupied country whose true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-exile;

An April 1991 ceremony honoring the Dalai Lama in the Capitol Rotunda at which the joint, bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate spoke in support of the Tibetan independence:

The establishment of a Tibetan language program at the Voice of America and of a Fulbright scholarship program for Tibetan refugees to study at US colleges and universities;

1,000 immigrant visas for Tibetan refugees to settle in the United States;

Government assistance in the form of humanitarian aid ($500,000 in FY 1991 and $1.5 million in FY 1992) for Tibetan refugees currently settled or being settled in India and Nepal.

As a consequence, Tibet is no longer a marginal issue in the United Sates. The Tibetan issue has evolved into a serious concern in U.S.-China relations, and is likely to have the sustained and active support of the US Congress.

The Trip Report issued by the International Campaign for Tibet-led 1988 congressional staff delegations helped to establish many of the previously mentioned US sponsored programs to assist Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal. Key findings of the 1988 Tip Report is included in Appendix I. The 1992 delegation was able to monitor many of these programs, our interpretation of their efficacy and some new suggestions are discussed in this report. Continued monitoring of the situation for Tibetan refugees and existing US aided programs in Nepal and India is beneficial to the Tibetan community.

Unfortunately, many problems that were identified by the 1988 Delegations have yet to be addressed or rectified, and it is our hope that future US Government assistance (political, technical and monetary) will be forthcoming to relive the suffering of Tibetans in Tibet and to help the Tibetans in exile save their ancient culture and redress blatant violations of international law.


From January 1 through January 14, 1992, a congressional staff delegation traveled to India and Nepal to assess the situation of Tibetan refugees and to collect information concerning conditions inside of Tibet. The delegations was sponsored by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). ICT is a tax exempt, non-profit membership organization and is a nonpartisan, public interest group dedicated to promoting human rights as democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet. The International Campaign for Tibet has played an instrumental role in educating the United States Congress and the Administration, and providing current, up-to-date information to government officials, the press and non-government organizations.

The delegation consisted of eight congressional staff an one staff member of the ICT. Alexandra Arriaga of the Office of Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus; Mark Gage of the Office of Congressman Gerald B. Solomon (R-NY) and the House Committee on Rules; Judy Grayson of the Office of Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA); Bob Henshaw of the Office of Congressman Charlie Ross (D-NC); Rachel Lostumbo of the Office of John Edward Porter (R-IL) and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus; Keith Pitts of the Office of Congressman Charlie Rose and the House Committee on Agriculture; Steve Rickard of the Office of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY); Deborah Spielberg of the Office of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA); and Jonathan Stein of the Office of Senator Paul Simon (D-IL).

The delegation first traveled to Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India to visit the seat of the Tibetan Governmentin-exile and the Central Tibetan Administration (hereafter referred to as the CTA). In Dharamsala, the delegation met with several Tibetan government, religious and cultural leaders. The visit to Dharamsala also provided opportunities to mingle with members of the surrounding refugee community and to meet newly arrived refugees that had only days before escaped Tibet, been processed and provided transportation to India by the United Nations High commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Kathmandu, Nepal. The delegation then had a brief stop over in New Delhi, where we attended a reception with members of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA, a representative of the U.S. Embassy, members of the Indian press, human rights activists and other Tibetan experts living in India. From New Delhi, the delegation traveled south to Karnataka State to visit a large, agriculturally based Tibetan settlement in Kollegal and to meet with the Dalai Lama.

Two scheduled attempts to meet with officials of the Indian Government were thwarted by flight delays. Bob Henshaw and Keith Pitts were able to visit the Mundgod, Bylakuppe and Hunsur settlements in South India, where the largest Tibetan settlements are based. Bob, Keith and Rachel Lostumbo were also able to visit Kathmandu to meet with CTA, Nepalese government, US Embassy and UNHCR officials in Nepal. While in Nepal and South India, they conducted extensive interviews with settlement officials, community leaders and newly arrived refugees.


The Tibetan government-in-exile currently consists of central Tibetan Administration, an executive branch that is administered by the Kashag, or Tibetan Cabinet, and a democratically elected Assembly of People's Deputies. Prior to 1991, the Dalai Lama appointed the seven-member Kashag, as provided by the Tibetan Constitution promulgated by the exile community in 1962.

Currently, the Dalai Lama remains the temporal and spiritual leader of the Tibetan nation. However, in 1991, the Dalai Lama called for the promulgation of new constitutions, one for the government-in-exile and one for the government of a free Tibet. The charter governing the exile community has been ratified by the Assembly and the constitution for a free Tibet is currently being drafted in consultation with Tibetans in Tibet, Tibetans in exile and constitutional scholars in India and abroad. The Dalai Lama has proposed a charter which substantially limits the authority of the Dalai Lama. The Kashag also is no longer appointed, but is elected by the Assembly of People's Deputies. The Kashag is not required to be elected from the membership of the Assembly of People's Deputies, and the present Kashag has five members.

As part of the reforms, the Assembly of People's Deputies has taken a much larger role in the governance of the exile community, including the careful review of the government budget an oversight of the CTA. Most importantly, the Assembly elects the Cabinet, and , for the first time, the Kashag is fully accountable to the Assembly. As with members of the Kashag, members of the Assembly of People's Deputies whom we met expressed some confusion over the democratic process and demonstrated some reluctance to set policy and exercise power. For centuries, Tibetans have come to rely on the institution of the Dalai Lama. Although many Tibetans expressed eager support for democratic reforms, strong emotional ties to the spiritual and temporal leadership exist among all Tibetans. A general fear exists among many Tibetans that the Dalai Lama is laying the groundwork for the eventual and complete phaseout of the traditional, temporal role of the Dalai Lama.

Finally, the democratic reforms will result in the establishment of a functioning, independent judiciary within the exile community. Earlier this year, the first Chief Justice was nominated by the Dalai Lama and confirmed by the Assembly of People's Deputies. The Chief Justice is mandated, by the draft constitution and the acting government-in-exile charter, to establish an independent judiciary. As a judiciary-in-exile in India, its scope of power is currently limited.

The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with several grassroots political and cultural organizations, such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, the Tibetan Women's Association and the Tibetan Freedom Movement. These organizations are well-established in every Tibetan refugee community. They often support policies and positions different than those of the CTA and the Dalai Lama, and, for this reason, they play an important role in sustaining an active and true democracy-in-exile.

Programming supported by the National Endowment for Democracy could prove useful in assisting the refugee communities continuing transition to a democratic system with independent legislative, executive and judicial branches.


During our audience with the Dalai Lama in Kollegal, he stated his intent to gradually phase out the role of the Dalai Lama in government affairs and to replace the traditional role of the institution with a participatory democracy. His personal preference is to focus his attention on studies and religious practice. However, like all Tibetans, the Dalai Lama's most pressing concern is to improve the current situation of Tibetans in Tibet and to give control of the land back to the Tibetan people.

He continues to eschew violence as a means of protest or change, and believes it is necessary for the time being to retain much of his leadership over the temporal affairs of the Tibetan people in order to ensure a non-violent resolution of the current situation in Tibet. The overall tightening of Chinese control, the increasing repression in Tibet and the unwillingness of the Chines Government to enter into meaningful dialogue on Tibet seem to justify his concern that he situation in Tibet could explode into violence at any time.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community are very much heartened by the increasing worldwide support for the Tibetan cause. Sincere gratitude for the interest and action of the U.S. Congress on the Tibetan issue was expressed by the Dalai Lama and many members of the refugee communities.

The Dalai Lama expressed disappointment in the fact that the Chinese Government had not answered affirmatively to his requests to visit Tibet and to meet with Chinese Premier Li Peng during the Premier's high-profile visit to New Delhi in December 1991. On an optimistic note, the Dalai Lama stated that he believed democratic changes worldwide and brewing discontent within the People's Republic of China would result in positive changes in Tibet and China during the next five to ten years.



Approximately 16,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal. A few established Tibetan refugee camps do exist in Nepal, but are generally not open to new Tibetan refugees. None are on the large scale found in India, nor do these communities receive nay direct Nepalese government support as they do in India. Few are agriculturally self-sufficient, and most generate income through the production of Tibetan handicrafts. Many refugee camps are remote and inaccessible for extended periods of time, and living conditions in these camps are reported to be quite grim.

Several camps, particularly in the Pokhara region, are home (and originally staging areas and, then later, interment camps) to US-trained Tibetan guerrillas that were forcibly disarmed by the Nepalese government, with Chinese pressure, in the early to mid 1970's. Most camps in Nepal were established in the early 1960's and continue to receive assistance from their founding private voluntary organizations and/or the Central Tibetan Administration. A great deal of financial support for the refugee community also comes from the private donations of a relatively wealthy Tibetan business community that manufacture and exports popular Tibetan folk crafts, such as carpets and thangka paintings, and manages hotels and restaurants which target tourists.

In Kathmandu Valley, the refugee community has been highly successful in producing and marketing Tibetan carpets. These carpets are sold to tourists in Nepal, but are primarily exported to Europe. Last year, Tibetan carpets grossed $100 million in export sales and surpassed tourism as the largest source of hard currency for Nepal. Some 400,000 people in the Kathmandu area are believed to be employed by small cottage industries that manufacture these hand-woven carpets for export.

By the estimation of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) office in Kathmandu, at lease 2.000 Tibetan refugees were processed by the UNHCR office in Nepal in 1991. This number has steadily increased each year since 1987 and is expected to continue to do so. Of the new arrivals, almost all immediately transit Nepal to India with UNHCR assistance.


Until recently, political activates by Tibetans were strictly prohibited by Nepal's absolute monarch. On many occasions, leaders of the Tibetan community in Nepal were illegally imprisoned and detained even at the suspicion of demonstrations against China's actions in Tibet. Also, the forced repatriation of newly-arrived (post October 1987) Tibetan refugees to Chinese authorities was a well-documented breach of human rights by the Nepalese monarchy.

The relationship between the new, democratically-elected government of Nepal and the Tibetan refugee community is somewhat improved. The improvements seem less related to the new government's interest in the plight of the refugee community and more a result of the improved human rights situation in Nepal. Political protests by the Tibetans have been tolerated by the new government, but Nepalese government efforts to improve relations with the PRC could jeopardize any recent gains in freedom of expression and assembly for the refugee community. Similarly, a currently unstable domestic situation and the recent bloody, police crackdown on Nepalese protesters in Kathmandu raise concerns of the government's commitment to honor human rights.

A serious problem that continues to exist in Nepal is forced refoulement[p.sic] of Tibetan refugees attempting to flee Tibet and to transit Nepal to join the CTA and the refugee communities, schools and monasteries in India. Local Tibetan officials have estimated that well over 200 Tibetan refugees were forcibly repatriated by Nepalese border guards in 1991. Every newly-arrived Tibetan refugee in Kathmandu interviewed by members of the delegation had suffered some form of harassment from Nepalese border guards. Several had been turned back at the border at lease once, and of those repatriated many have been imprisoned and/or tortured by Chinese authorities. Moreover, during the course of the staff delegation trip, one Tibetan refugee was shot to death at the Tibetan border by Nepalese border guards at Namache Bazaar. New refugees generally agreed that successful border crossings happened less than half the time. Repeated attempts, often with the assistance of a paid Nepalese guide, seemed to be the usual formula for success.

Officials at the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the US Embassy in Kathmandu monitor this situation and protest documented cases of harassment or refoulment. They have found the Tibetan reports of repatriation to be credible and accurate. The UNHCR regularly visits known crossing points in an attempt to monitor the situation and to discourage acts of refoulement. The government of Nepal denies any policy of repatriating Tibetan refugees and have continually cast the blame on the guards, who consistently attempt to coerce Tibetan refugees. Several officials associated with the diplomatic corps and the human rights community in Kathmandu were quick to point out that the Nepalese government has taken no noteworthy action to warn, punish or train offending guards. Some within the diplomatic community suggested political and economic complicity against the Tibetan escapees between Chinese and Nepalese border police.


The UNHCR Office in Kathmandu was slated for closure in 1991, but an infusion of US $100,000 from the US government to support a Tibetan refugee protection and processing program was critical to keeping this Office open. US funds were primarily used to administer a refugee reception center in Kathmandu, with some assistance also coming from the CTA Office in Nepal, and to provide health care, food and transportation money for newly arrived Tibetan refugees. The 1992-93 UNHCR budget estimate for continued administration of the Tibetan refugee program is US $130,000.

The Office has been diligent and effective in meeting its mandate to provide protection to Tibetan refugees. However, the recent and burgeoning influx of Bhutanese refugees into Nepal (9,000 refugees in 1991) and the fact that the Office has only one automobile have prevented the UNHCR from regularly conducting first-hand investigations and monitoring of the forced repatriation problems at the Tibet-Nepal border. A second automobile, preferably a four-wheel drive vehicle would greatly enhance a badly-needed UNHCR presence at the Tibet-Nepal border.

The work of the Office received very high marks from newly arrived Tibetan refugees, the CTA and the US Embassy in Nepal. All interviewed new arrivals were previously unaware of the protection they are now eligible to receive through the UNHCR and were genuinely surprised and grateful of the attention and services provided by the Office in Kathmandu. Similarly, the UNHCR representatives in Kathmandu praised the cooperative spirit of the new arrivals and the CTA authorities in Nepal. Unlike other past refugee populations in Nepal, the Tibetans had no interest in collecting a regular stipend from the UNHCR Office. Usually, even Tibetans in the most dire conditions of health were eager to leave Nepal immediately and to travel to Dharamsala, India, "to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama."

After the issue of refugee refoulement and the need to better monitor Nepalese border guards, an immediate need is to build a large and permanent building to serve as a reception center and health clinic for newly arrived refugees. The current center is rented and inadequate to meet current and projected demands. The center has also changed sites several times because of Nepalese landlords' fears that he Nepal Government disapproves of the refugee facility and that the large numbers of refugees regularly overcrowd and badly damage housing property. The CTA has purchase a five-acre site outside of Kathmandu and has drawn up plans, in consultation with the UNHCR Office, to construct a permanent reception center. The cost is estimated to be US$264,896. The summary of the design proposal is included in Appendix II.



More than 110,000 Tibetan have sought, and found, refuge on Indian soil since 1959. Refugees are settled in thirty-four communities that are scattered throughout India; by far, the majority of Tibetan refugees live in agriculture-based settlements in South India. The largest of these settlements can accommodate 10,000 Tibetans. According to a recent CTA census, 11,045 refugees remain unsettled, some of which have lived in exile without adequate shelter and services since 1959.

Recent demonstrations in Tibet and the ongoing Chinese suppression have resulted in an increasing flux of refugees from Tibet. In 1991, 3,395 new refugees successfully made their way to Dharamsala. Of this group, 1,841 refugees were resettled in eighteen settlements, 670 returned to Tibet (usually after leaving children under the guardianship of the CTA), and 884 refugees remain unsettled because adequate shelter cannot be found for them. The makeup of the new arrivals varies. Immediately following the 1987-88 demonstrations, most refugees escaped from the volatile Lhasa Valley of Central Tibet. In recent years, most refugees have been young Tibetan monks from Kham and Amdo in Eastern and Northeastern Tibet. Some staff were told that recent demographic shifts could be indicative of the tight security measures in Lhasa that prohibit Tibetan movement from the city and the stricter controls of religion and education by the Chinese authorities in Eastern Tibet that have forced many young Tibetans to flee in order to obtain a Tibetan education in exile.

Our observations in Nepal and India indicate that the number of Tibetans fleeing their homeland will continue to increase. Without additional outside assistance, many of these "new arrivals" will not be properly settled. Many existing refugee communities are now over stressed and overcrowded and are unable to provide housing and agricultural commodities at adequate levels for the established communities at adequate levels for the established communities. After overpopulation, the immediate problems concerning existing settlements are, in general, adequate water resources and little crop diversification and rotation.

Without additional land and startup funds, proper settlement of existing unsettled refugees and new arrivals will not be possible. The ability of the Indian government and the CTA to solely carry the full financial burden of the additionally needed resettlement efforts is improbable. The estimated cost for establishing new refugee camps and expanding existing camps to accommodate unsettled refugees and the anticipated stream of new arrivals in US$6.5 million. Of this amount, the Indian Government has pledged US$1.3 million and the CTA has US$25,000 available for establishing new settlements; setting the current finding shortfall at US$5.1 million.


India has been quite generous to the Tibetan people. Since 1959, the Indian federal government and several individual state governments have generously contributed land, funding, teachers and/or other resources to the Tibetan refugees and the CTA.

Tibetan refugees enjoy many of the rights and privileges protected by the Indian constitution and its democratic government. Although Tibetans are, for all practical purposes, still accorded refugee status in India, subtle pressure has been (unsuccessfully) applied by the Indian government on Tibet and to accept full Indian citizenship.

Traditionally, the Indian government has officially prohibited political activities by the Tibetan refugee community while effectively ignoring Chinese government protestations of frequently organized Tibetan demonstrations against China. However, recent efforts by India to patch a strained and historically acrimonious relationship with the People's Republic of China have resulted in a less tolerant approach by the Indian government. In fact, just prior to the staff delegation visit to India, the Indian police staged summary arrests and detainments of several hundred Tibetans (and in a few instances Tibetan-looking individuals such as Korean and Japanese tourists) to discourage demonstrations during the December 1991 visit by Chinese Premier Li Peng to New Delhi. Reportedly, many Tibetans who failed to be intimidated and chose to demonstrate anyway were subjected to beatings and police brutality. During our visit, the Indian newspapers were still carrying accounts and photographs of victims of the police brutality.

The Indian public and press, as well as the international press, were highly critical of this unexpected government-sanctioned breach of human rights, and sympathetic individuals within the Indian legislature and courts moved quickly to successfully secure the release of the illegally-detained demonstrators.

In recent bilateral talks with the Chinese government, the Indian government has made very strong statements officially recognizing Chinese claims of sovereignty over Tibet. Further efforts of rapprochement between India and China could possibly establish a previously nonexistent rift between the Indian government and the Tibetan refugee community. If an improvement of dialogue between the Indian government and the Tibetan community is not established and maintained, a situation could easily develop that would be disastrous to the welfare and morale of the Tibetan refugee community in India. With the growing popularity of the Tibetan cause in India and abroad, it is in China's interest, more than ever, to work to create divisions between India and the Tibetans.


Since the escalation of conflict between Tibetans and Chinese occupation forces in Tibet that began in 1966, 10,416 refugees have escaped Tibet and made their way to India. A total of 8,359 new arrivals have chosen to remain in India and 2,057 have returned to Tibet. As previously mentioned, 3,395 refugees came to the Dharamsala Center in 1991; 884 of this group remain unsettled. To accommodate the immediate needs of new arrivals, the CTA, in 1990, established the Office of the Reception Center in Dharamsala, India. The Dharamsala Center is the primary hub for all refugees that have recently escaped from Tibet. Like the Kathmandu center jointly supported by the UNHCR and the CTA, the Dharamsala Center provides temporary shelter, food, medical care and transportation funds to new arrivals. The intended visitation period at the reception center for new arrivals is fifteen days.

When possible, the CTA will place new arrivals in existing refugee settlements. However, existing settlements are overcrowded. The resulting placement backlog has caused conditions at the current reception center to be cramped and unhealthy. Many refugees have suffered severe human rights abuse by Chinese authorities and have survived extreme physical and emotional trauma in their flight from Tibet. As a result, many new arrivals are demoralized and depressed. Conflicts between new arrivals and "old" refugees do occur. New arrivals oftentimes are poorly educated, and lack vocational skills. Refugees who are lay-persons and are above twenty-five years of age are particularly difficult to place and are often deficient in education and vocational skills. Efforts to properly assimilate new arrivals into the established refugee community are frustrated by the current lack of space and staff.

The CTA has a proposal to build a new and large reception/training facility near Dharamsala and an aforementioned long-term plan to expand existing refugee communities and to establish one or more new refugee camps. The proposed reception/training center would be a three story building that would provide temporary housing and training facilities for 240 refugees. After an intensive educational program and vocational training, the new arrivals could be more easily, effectively and judiciously assimilated into the larger refugee community. Startup costs for the facility are projected to be US$328,828, and annual administrative costs are estimated to be US$178,988. The summary of the Office of the Reception Center proposal is included in Appendix II.


The general health care infrastructure for Tibetans in exile is relatively good compared to other refugee communities but often shocking by Western standards. Health care is administered by the CTA. Most major settlements have a hospital or clinic, and both Western medicine and traditional Tibetan medicine are administered to the refugee community. Many patients rely on both medical traditions. Maintaining a reliable stock of basic Western medical supplies and pharmaceuticals and serving remote and unsettled refugee populations are major problems confronting health care delivery. Currently, there is also a shortage of health care workers. Technical and financial assistance form the US Government should be considered to help improve health care delivery, particularly in remote settlements and among unsettled refugees.

Tuberculosis remains the most urgent health care crisis in the refugee community. Cramped living conditions, the influx of new arrivals who are in generally poor health, and gaps in TB treatments caused by refugees leaving camps to sell sweaters during the winter months aggravate the problem. Repeat cases of TB and strains of drug-resistant TB are becoming more commonplace in the community. Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, Typhoid and Tetanus are also common diseases that afflict the refugee population. Previous US refugee assistance funds have helped to fund TB control and immunization programs administered by the CTA. Such funding should continue.

Technical and financial assistance should also be directed towards community health programs to improve sanitation, hygiene and water quality at the refugee settlements.


Education was an early priority for the Tibetan government-in exile. Upon leaving Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama immediately initiated an aggressive program to provide educational opportunities to all refugee children. Today, eighty-two schools in India, Nepal and Bhutan serve the Tibetan community. The system is extensive and is an amalgamation with some schools administered by the CTA, others run by the Indian Government, and still others, a system for primarily orphaned Tibetan children known as the Tibetan Children's Village, administered by a private organization based in Dharamsala.

Special education programs have also been established. Many of these programs focus on vocational education and the arts, such as thangka painting, woodworking and carpet weaving and provide income for the refugees. Some adult education programs, particularly literacy programs, are being conducted.

The CTA has also made aggressive efforts to provide special education to new arrivals. Many of these refugees, because of discriminatory Chinese government policies, lack even the most basic education skills and are unable to assimilate into ongoing school programs. In fact, many new arrivals are unable to read Tibetan and, in some instances, are unable to even speak Tibetan. A "new arrival school" has been established at Bir, India. The school provides a highly intensive "crash" course in Tibetan and English language skills and basic math and sciences. The increasing number of net arrivals has generated a need to establish more such schools.

In general, school curricula introduce students to the Tibetan, English and most common host country (Hindi or Nepalese) languages, mathematics, the arts, social studies and Tibetan history. Through the curricula the CTA makes an effort to preserve Tibetan language, culture, religion, arts and history. Currently, all nonlanguage courses are taught in English, and all textbooks are in English. To further cultural preservation, the CTA is initiating an ambitious project to print all textbooks in Tibetan and to use Tibetan as the primary teaching language in the school system.

Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and colleges also play instrumental roles in the educational system-in-exile. Their adherence to traditional studies, arts and disciplines also serve to preserve Tibetan culture. These institutions operate autonomously and must solicit donations within the refugee community and abroad, and engage in cottage industries and farming in order to survive. Newly arrived monks and nuns receive a small monthly stipend for food from the CTA and private foundations. The monasteries are dotted throughout several refugee camps and also suffer from severe overcrowding.

The Tibetan Medical Institute in Dharamsala teaches doctors to administer traditional Tibetan medicine, which is a holistic discipline that combines herbal and mineral medicines with Buddhist doctrine. The Institute has several Tibetan, Indian and Western students. Dharamsala is also home to the Tibetan Library, which houses the most extensive collection of Tibetan literature in the world. Finally, the Tibetan Institute for the Performing Arts is a CTA-sponsored school that trains Tibetan performance artists in traditional Tibetan theater, dance, song and opera. The troupe regularly travels abroad to perform. These institutions permit Tibetan culture and religion to be a vibrant component of exile community.


The issues mentioned in the preceding paragraphs: refoulement, overcrowding, water resources and crop diversification, are the most apparent and immediate concerns facing the refugee community. Political pressure is essential to ending the forced repatriation of Tibetan refugees. Certainly, continued and increased US refugee assistance is essential to assist the CTA and the Indian Government in their efforts to adequately matriculate and settle unsettled refugees and new arrivals. Problems concerning water resources (e.g. potable water and irrigation) and crop diversification and management require technical assistance. Settlements in South India have particularly acute problems with water resources and crop management.

In 1991, the Tibet Fund, a non-profit humanitarian organization based in New York City, with the help of the International Campaign for Tibet, received $500,000 from the US Government for Tibetan refugee assistance. This year, the Tibet Fund, working in conjunction with ICT, has submitted a US $1,275,500 request to the US Bureau for Refugee Programs to fund refugee programs in India and Nepal (See Appendix III). For FY92, the US Congress has appropriated $1.5 million for Tibetan refugee assistance. The full funding of this request will greatly assist the CTA in meeting many of its refugee resettlement goals. Needed technical assistance could be a coordinated effort between US agencies, such as AID, PVOs and the CTA. Such a cooperative effort should be explored and facilitated by the US Government.

During the 1988 congressional staff delegation visit, settlement directors and representatives of the CTA stressed the need for more economic diversification at the refugee settlements. At that time, settlements almost wholly depended on agricultural production and handicraft centers for jobs, economic support and capital development. A few small-scale cooperatives, such as handicraft centers, dairy cooperatives, feed mill operations received start-up funds directly from the CTA. No noticeable private enterprises, even of the smallest size, existed at the settlements.

Limited job opportunities, particularly for younger, well educated Tibetans, have resulted in an annual flux of Tibetans away from the settlements. Every year, thousands of Tibetans leave settlements for four to six months, usually between growing seasons, to engage in small-scale market sales throughout India. This is commonly referred to as the "sweater business" in the Tibetan community. During this period, some settlements take on the appearance of a ghost town. Many well-educated Tibetans who cannot secure limited positions available in the CTA have made the difficult decision to leave their communities and seek employment in major Indian cities. Education and health care (especially for tuberculosis) services are difficult to provide under such circumstances and are oftentimes neglected. CTA efforts to preserve Tibetan culture, which continues to be endangered and pressed into extinction by Chinese policies in Tibet, are frustrated by the temporary and, occasionally, permanent flux of refugees from the settlements.

During the 1988 delegation, the CTA was in the process of drawing up an aggressive five-year plan to assist in economic diversification and to improve job opportunities at the refugee settlements. Also, a private foundation based in the United States provided US $1 million to establish a revolving loan fund to assist the development of private enterprises by Tibetan refugees.

In 1992, the "sweater business" continues and very little development of micro-enterprises and small scale business has occurred. Some of the existing, CTA-sponsored cooperatives have grown, but, to date, few concrete advancements beyond existing government-supported enterprises have occurred. The revolving loan fund is severely hampered by Indian banking regulations that practically make loans from the fund unaffordable to the refugee community. On a positive note, the CTA has established a semiautonomous Planning Council that will more aggressively pursue economic diversification and development in the refugee community. Technical assistance for establishing small businesses would be very useful and should be facilitated and provided by the appropriate US Government agencies.


During the delegation tour, we had several opportunities to meet with members of the exiled community. Many meetings, particularly those with new arrivals, were planned, but many more were spontaneous and heart-rending encounters with refugees. On occasion, we found some new arrivals to be initially reluctant to share their stories with us. The sense of fear and great suffering the new arrivals carried with them was overwhelming, but once refugees grew comfortable speaking to a non-Tibetan and started their accounts, interviewers were often deluged with vivid, emotional and horrifying tales of torture and a life dominated by fear. All refugees expressed gratification for the support demonstrated by the US Congress and, usually, pressed for greater political support for the Tibetan cause.

The Tibetans we met in exile regularly pointed out that they felt fortunate to have escaped from Tibet, and their gravest concern was directed towards the conditions under which Tibetans in Tibet continue to suffer. Many refugees told of incidents of torture and imprisonment. The lack of political and religious freedoms in Tibet, the transfer of millions of Chinese settlers into Tibet, the Chinese policies which discriminate against Tibetans, and environmental destruction, particularly deforestation and toxic waste dumping, in Tibet were issues often raised by the interviewed refugees. These were issues also discussed with the Dalai Lama during our meeting with him. Most Tibetans stated their belief that the Chinese Government was consciously pursuing a policy of cultural genocide against the Tibetans. While we could not confirm these reports, the tales we heard were consistent with accounts published by Asia Watch, Amnesty International and the International Campaign for Tibet. (See Appendix IV).


Tibetan refugee assistance for Fiscal Year 1993 should be set at US$2 million to assist with basic humanitarian needs and refugee protection and resettlement. US Government agencies in India and Nepal should provide additional financial and technical assistance to assists with economic development, agricultural development, health care delivery, and sanitation and water resource improvements at the refugee camps.


New arrivals and members of refugee communities in India and Nepal expressed strong support and praise for the Tibetan language programming initiated by Voice of America (VOA). With the assistance of the ICT, this programming was begun in 1991, as mandated by Congress. All new arrivals stated that VOA was one of the few avenues for accurate and timely news information. All Tibetans expressed a desire for expanded broadcast time. Tibetans living in southern India complained of poor reception.

Newly arrived refugees stated that the program was immensely popular in Tibet even though fears of Chinese retribution against listeners did exist. But according to new arrivals, broadcasts occur at times that are inopportune for many Tibetans, especially the morning broadcast which is done at an hour when many people must report for work. Tibetans also come from three distinct regions that have different dialects. Tibetans from Kham and Amdo often complained that the exclusive use of the U-Tsang dialect of the more centrally-located Lhasa Valley and western Tibet is difficult to understand.

The delegation believes this program to be a huge success. We recommend that broadcast time be expanded, the signal be strengthened, Kham and Amdo dialects be incorporated into some portion of the programming and the time of broadcast into Tibet be reevaluated. As Congress presently has pending legislation for the establishment of a Radio Free China, we also suggest the a Radio Free Tibet be a component of this proposed project.


The USIA Scholarship program was established in 1968 and was developed to give Tibetan refugees the opportunity to receive higher education in the United States. Scholarships are competitive, and the students are chosen under a rigorous selection process. A board consisting of members of the CTA, Indian Government education officials, university scholars and members of the business community (including Americans) makes the final selection. Most scholarship recipients study in the United States for two years.

The delegation had the opportunity to interview some students that have returned from their studies. All students believed the training had been a positive and useful experience. Early students complained of inadequate preparation and follow-up by the program administrators--the Tibet Fund in New York, but all students attributed initial problems to inexperience and believed the preparation and follow-up had improved. Many initially experienced severe culture shock in the United States and believed a brief orientation program before visiting the United States would be useful. According to the Tibet Fund, such a program is now being implemented. Finally, the students suggested allowing greater flexibility in the length study in the United States because some refugee community needs could be addressed through brief technical training, while other necessary disciplines, like medical, business, public health degrees, could require more than two years of study.

An improved system to assist in school selection and placement was recommended. Initial school-student matches did not seem appropriate to many students. The students all felt they had inadequate exposure to computers prior to going to the United States and believed some preparatory computer training in India would be very valuable.

To address many of these concerns and to assist in planning for future students, the USIA scholars have founded an alumni association that advises the program administrators and serves as a support group for new and old students.

The delegation believes that the selection board and the CTA should target and encourage students with talents and interests most useful to the refugee community to apply for the program. Technical needs of the refugee community mentioned earlier in the report should most certainly be targeted. The delegation also recommends that, in order to broaden the representation and experience in the program women be more openly encouraged to apply for the scholarship program. We also believe that the Tibet Fund, with the help of ICT, should establish a board of university presidents, prominent educators and Members of Congress to coordinate, improve and ensure placement opportunities at colleges and universities in the United States. Overall funding should be expanded, and efforts should be made to identify schools that are willing to ensure annual Tibetan "slots" and matching funds for students to encourage continuity and stability in the program. The delegation also recommends that Tibetan refugees continue to participate in the USIA International Visitors program.


In 1990, Congress allocated 1,000 immigrant visas for Tibetan refugees. This program was a prominent issue during the delegation's visit to India. The application period had just closed, and the selection lottery for some categories of refugees (e.g. new arrivals, the extremely poor, government servants) had been initiated. Most Tibetans were ardent supporters of this initiative and believed the program was highly beneficial to the selected individuals and the refugee population as a whole. However, many Tibetans stressed concerns about a "brain-drain" that could occur in the exile community if too many well-trained Tibetans won a slot. Other Tibetan refugees expressed concern that the US resettlement program worked in conflict with the CTA's goals to protect and preserve the Tibetan culture by maintaining a cohesive refugee community.

Regardless, we found the program was well-liked and appreciated. Many Tibetan critics of the program were also quick to point our that they too had applied for the lottery. The program should provide many refugees with positive opportunities not available in Tibet, India or Nepal and could ultimately provide leaders for a free and democratic Tibet. Certainly, the new refugee communities and those involved with the resettlement project must work to sustain and preserve the Tibetan culture and identity for these communities.





Congress should continue, and increase as necessary, financial assistance to provide basic human needs to unsettled refugees and to improve general health and sanitation conditions in existing refugee settlements. Technical and financial assistance to improve drinking water supplies, farm productivity, vocational training, literacy and micro-enterprise development at the refugee settlements should be initiated.

Programming supported by the National Endowment for Democracy could prove useful in assisting the refugee communities continuing transition to a democratic system with independent legislative, executive and judicial branches.


After the issue of refugee refoulement and the need to better monitor Nepalese border guards, an immediate need is to build a large and permanent building to serve as a reception center and health clinic for newly arrived refugees. The US Government should work to ensure the safety of Tibetan refugees transiting Nepal and should provide financial assistance to complete the construction of an adequate reception center for new arrivals in Nepal and India.


Our interactions with newly arrived refugees lead us to believe that conditions inside Tibet are acutely oppressive. Without a more aggressive and coordinated US and international human right policy on Chinese policies in Tibet, there is little hope in improved conditions for the Tibetan people or for constructive dialogue between the CTA and the government of the People's Republic of China.

We believe that Tibet should be a central issue in any new US foreign policy initiatives towards the People's Republic of China (PRC), particularly efforts to deny Most Favored Nation trading status (MFN) to the PRC or to enforce sanctions against the current regime in Beijing. MFN should be conditioned on the halting of Chinese government initiatives to attract Chinese settlers to Tibet.

The US Government should also establish more formal government ties with the CTA, Similarly the US Government should provide greater leadership in supporting the CTA and the Tibetan cause in international fora, such as supporting CTA observer status in the United Nations, sponsoring Tibet resolutions at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and consulting the CTA when PRC proposals affecting Tibet are before the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and other multilateral organizations.

In general, we recommend that the US Government undertake a stronger advocacy role for Tibetan human rights, including the right to self-determination in its representations to the Chinese government and in international fora.

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