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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Members of Parliament press the UK government to take action on the series of self-immolations in Tibet, during a debate on the crisis.

December 11, 2011

Students for a Free Tibet UK International Tibet Network For Immediate Release 7 December 2011 Contacts: Pema Yoko, National Director Students for a Free Tibet, + 44 (0)7949104021 Mandie McKeown, Campaigns Coordinator International Tibet Network + 44 (0)7748 158618 Demands supported by 700,000 people who are calling for action to Save Tibetan Lives. [London] In an adjournment debate in the House of Commons today, the first on Tibet in three years Members of Parliament called on the British Government to make a public statement of concern about the recent series of self-immolations by Tibetans in eastern Tibet. Since March this year twelve Tibetans have set themselves on fire with a further case in 2009. At least six have died including two nuns [1]. Leading the debate, Simon Hughes MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats said “I hope the government will strongly take up the issue of the self-immolations with the Chinese authorities, and make a robust statement of concern." Mr Hughes acknowledged a petition by online advocacy organisation Avaaz, which has so far been signed by 665,000 people [2]. The petition, directed at Prime Minister David Cameron and other world leaders, urges governments to send fact-finding missions to Tibetan areas and to speak out about the self-immolations. A further 37,600 people have supported an online pledge coordinated by the International Tibet Network, a global coalition of Tibet Groups [3]. Interventions were made by a number of Members who shared Mr Hughes’ concerns, including Jeremy Corbyn MP who urged the government to take strong action against China’s systematic destruction of Tibetan culture and Nic Dakin MP who said “Everything must be done to cease the crackdown."Responding for the government, Foreign Minister Henry Bellingham said “The government is seriously concerned by the reports of the self-immolations by Tibetans and follows these and other developments very closely indeed.” The Minister said the government had called for restraint in responding to these incidents and will continue to urge China to allow access to Tibetan areas by diplomats and journalists. “Tibetans in Tibet need to hear very vocal expressions of concern about China’s intolerable oppression that has led to these tragic self-immolations,” said Pema Yoko, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet UK [4], a Member organization of the International Tibet Network. “Our government, and governments around the world, must listen to the call by over 700,000 people to immediately take bold, multi-lateral diplomatic action to press China to end the crackdown before more lives are lost.” Tibetans and Tibet supporters from the London area rallied outside the House of Commons to express support for today’s debate and were present inside Westminster Hall. Notes 1. In just nine months 12 Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule over Tibet. The most recent self-immolation took place on 1 December when Tenzin Phunstok from Chamdo, Tibet set fire to himself after expressing concerns about China’s extreme polices restricting freedom of religion in Tibetan monasteries. For more background information see http://standupfortibet.org/further-information/ 2. See the petition online at https://secure.avaaz.org/en/save_tibetan_lives/ 3. See www.StandUpforTibet.org. The “ENOUGH” campaign is coordinated by the International Tibet Network which has more than 180 Member Groups around the world. The Network is dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and to restoring the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and cultural status. 4. Students for a Free Tibet UK, www.sftuk.org.
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