United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Dear Commissioner Guterres:
On Friday, 28 January 2011, a large contingent of armed police made warrantless entry of the Gyuto Tantric Monastery in Himachal Pradesh, India -- a Buddhist religious institution identified with the Tibetan refugee population -- and searched for cash donations made by devotees. Approximately one million dollars in currency was seized, and refugee religious functionaries were detained and arrested.
In particular, both the person and the office of His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa -- a highly-ranked Tibetan Buddhist leader with millions of followers throughout the world -- came to be gravely insulted, and oppressed by this irrational disrespect for the rule of law.
In the wake of this incident, official government spokesmen issued an almost continual stream of political invective directed against Tibetan Buddhist refugees, and mounted a media campaign designed to inflame public opinion against His Holiness.
All evidence that has come to light since the raid on Gyuto Monastery, as well as the numerous raids and seizures at other Tibetan Buddhist refugee homes and institutions following in its wake, establishes that the action by the Himachal Pradesh state government had been planned many days in advance.
Indeed, the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, has now issued a public statement that, "We will set up a Tibetan refugee unit in the state intelligence department in Shimla and a refugee cell in Dharamsala."
As a person concerned with the safety of Tibetan refugees in Himachal Pradesh, I am calling upon you to immediately send international observers to the region, to monitor the treatment of Tibetan refugees, and in particular, to vouchsafe the continued security of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa.
It should be recognized that the Tibetan Buddhist leaders in this northern Indian state find themselves in a precarious political climate. They may not be able to make such requests of your office directly. They may even be forced to publicly deny the necessity for such requests. Their fear of reprisal may quite simply be too much for them to bear.
Nevertheless, it is both your obligation and your charter to immediately dispatch such observers, and further, to raise this matter at the highest levels of the Indian government. It is of particular importance to discover whether these acts are the work of a rogue politician, or if they represent the Indian government's future intentions toward Tibetan refugees in the wake of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's December 2010 state visit to India.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.