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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?"

Tibetan Flag Flies in Heart of London at the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square

August 24, 2009

A call for justice for Tibetans and Dhondup
Wangchen was made in the heart of London
Tibet Custom
August 21 2009

 From Tibet Society [London 14 August 2009]

On Tuesday 11 August, Tibet supporter, Mark, flew
the Tibet flag and highlighted  Dhondup
Wangchen's case during his one hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.
(Toview: http://www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/Tibet_Society)

Mark Cordell travelled down from Saltburn in the
north of England to take up his place on the
Fourth Plinth as part of sculptor Anthony
Gormley’s living monument “One and Other”. For 24
hours a day throughout 100 days, 2,400 people
from all over the UK will occupy the Fourth
Plinth and make it their own for one hour. This
innovative artistic experiment has been running
since 6 July, coincidentally the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Mark was the first "Plinther" to represent Tibet.
When he contacted Tibet Society he said "it seems
pretty scary to be on the plinth alone, but I
want to do something for Tibet”. He was very
disturbed by the plight of film maker, Dondup
Wangchen, so decided to speak out about Dhondup’s
forthcoming trial and Tibetans’ right to justice
through internationally recognised standards and rule of law.

Under its policy of engagement with China, the
British government works with the Chinese
government to help establish internationally
recognised due legal processes and rule of law in
China. However, whilst engagement and working to
improve conditions within China in key areas,
such as rule of law, is well intentioned,
questions must be raised about the effectiveness
of such programmes. The British government must
ensure the Chinese government does not simply use
these initiatives as window dressing, but shows
real commitment to implementing the basic rights
of defendants to have fair and open trials and
access to independent legal advice and representation.

As an insight into what little regard the Chinese
government appears to hold these programmes, the
licences to practice law of six well-known human
rights lawyers have recently been revoked. At
least 14 more are at risk of suffering the same
fate as they are await the results of the annual assessment of their licences.

The Chinese authorities are also cracking down on
organisations that voice any form of criticism or
initiate debate on current issues. In early July
the Open Constitution Initiative (OCI), a Chinese
non-governmental organisation, published a report
examining the unrest that took place in Tibet in
March 2008. In its conclusions, the OCI had
questioned the efficacy of the Chinese
government’s policies in the region. Shortly
after publication, its offices were raided by the
authorities and all its computers were
confiscated, effectively shutting down its operations. [Ends]

Background

In early 2008, Dhondup Wangchen, left his wife
and young family in India and made the journey to
his homeland, Tibet, to make a documentary film.
With the Olympic Games due to be held in Beijing
in August, Dhondup wanted to record how Tibetans
living in Tibet felt about their spiritual
leader, the Dalai Lama, the Olympics and their current life in Tibet.

The Chinese authorities arrested Dhondup in March
2008. He was simply interviewing and filming
ordinary Tibetans talking of their hopes,
opinions and concerns; enabling them to
peacefully exercise their basic human right of
freedom of expression. For this, he has been held
in detention for 16 months and is now facing trial for "inciting separatism."

Dhondup has no independent legal representation;
the lawyers hired by his family have had one
brief visit but been denied any further access.
There are grave concerns about his health as he
suffers from hepatitis B and been without medical
treatment. The local authorities will not confirm
when and where the trial will take place which
gives cause for doubt that he will have a fair trial.

Tibet Society is asking its members and
supporters to write to the British Foreign
Secretary, David Miliband, and urge that he
requests an observer from the British Embassy in
Beijing attends the trial and he also obtains
assurances from the Chinese authorities that Dhondup will:

* have access to independent legal advice and representation of his choosing

* receive any medical care he requires

* will be given a fair and open trial in line
with international fair trial standards

The Society is also recommending these letters
are copied to the British Ambassador in Beijing
to highlight Dhondup’s case in Beijing.

The footage of the interviews Dhondup managed to
conduct whilst in Tibet was smuggled out of Tibet
and can be seen in the short but powerful film,
Leaving Fear Behind. For a DVD of the film,
please contact Tibet Society on 020 7272 1414 or
email staff@tibetsociety.com  It can also be
viewed on the internet: www.tinyurl.com/LeavingFearBehind  
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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