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Meeting -- TIBET: 1959-2009. 50 years of oppression; 50 years of resistance

November 25, 2009

The Tibet Society
November 23, 2009

FINAL MEETING REMINDER: Tuesday 24 November: 4pm,
Room N, Portcullis House, London (UK)

If you would like to attend this APPGT meeting,
please let Terry or myself know. Telephone 020
7272 1414 or email apgt@btinternet.com. Thanks.

Apologies for this late reminder, but for various
reasons the office has been hugely short-staffed.
I do hope you will be able to attend the meeting,
but in view of the short notice, we will email
briefing notes later this week covering the
points raised and suggested actions. Below are
recent PQs and a list of EDMs tabled in the
2008/09 parliamentary session for interest.

Best wishes

Philippa Carrick
Group Administrator
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet
Secretariat: The Tibet Society, Unit 9, 139 Fonthill Road, London N4 3HF
Tel: +44 (0)20 7272 1414  Fax: +44 (0)20 7272 1410
_____________

Written Answers to Questions 3 November 2009: Tibet Human Rights

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his
Department is taking to (a) (i) monitor and (ii)
witness the trial of the Tibetan film-maker
Dhondup Wangchen who has been in detention in
Tibet since March 2008 and (b) establish his medical condition.

Chris Bryant: We are aware of Dhondup Wangchen’s
case. We are concerned about his well-being
following his continued detention pending a
trial, and about the conditions of his detention.
His case was raised at the EU/China Human Rights
Dialogue in Prague on 14 May 2009, where his name
was included on an individual case list. On this
the EU side asked for clarification as to the
whereabouts and the grounds of his detention, as
well as for his release. Most recently, my hon.
Friend, Ivan Lewis, Minister of State for the
Middle East and the Far East, also raised this
case during his trip to Lhasa and Beijing in
September, reiterating our concerns for his
safety and welfare. The Chinese response was to
inform us of the nature of his arrest, that the
relevant Chinese authority raised charges against
him and that his case was under judicial
proceedings. We will continue to raise this case
at every appropriate opportunity.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek
urgent clarification from the Chinese authorities
on the whereabouts of Tibetans, Tenzin Phuntsok,
Kangtsuk and Penkyi from Sakya county who each
received a death sentence with a two year reprieve in April 2009.

Chris Bryant: We have called on China to review
urgently the cases of those who remain under
sentence of death for their alleged involvement
in last year's unrest. The fact that independent
observers were not allowed at these trials and
that restrictions remain on access to Tibetan
areas, means that we have been unable to verify
that the human rights of the defendants were
respected, or that the trials were free from
political interference. This, together with
reports we have received from non-governmental
organisations, gives us cause for real concern.
We have also raised our concerns through the European Union.

In the statement that I released on 23 October
2009 condemning the recent executions in Lhasa of
two Tibetans (Mr. Lobsang Gyaltsen and Mr.
Loyak), I made clear that while we respect
China's right to bring those responsible for the
violence in Tibet last year to justice, the UK
opposes the death penalty in all circumstances,
and we have consistently raised our concerns about lack of due process.

I expressed my deep concern about all the death
penalty cases during my visit to Tibet in
September and urged the authorities not to carry
out the death sentence. We will continue to
monitor reports on these and other individual
cases, and will request further information about
a selection of cases of concern at the next round
of the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue..

Written Answers to Questions 27 October 2009: China: Official Engagements

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place
on his Department's website the minutes of his
discussions on Tibet during his recent visit to China.

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Foreign and Commonwealth
Office has no plans to publish these minutes.
However I made a public statement about my visit
to Tibet which can be found at the following
website address:
http://ukinchina.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/?view=PressR&id=20913651
In addition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
published an article on Tibet on the Guardian
website which can be found at:
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&;id=20943204

Oral Answers to Questions (Foreign and
Commonwealth Office) 20 October 2009: Tibet

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): What the
Government's policy is on the status of Tibet;
and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (Mr. Ivan Lewis): We regard Tibet as part
of China, albeit as an autonomous region. Our
interest is in long-term stability, which can be
achieved through respect for human rights and
greater autonomy for Tibetans. We believe that
substantive dialogue between the Chinese
authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama
is the best way to achieve this.

Mr. Gray: May I first call the House's attention
to my entry in the Register of Members'
Interests, where I record a recent visit to
Tibet? During that visit I became increasingly
convinced that the Government's change in stance
on the status of Tibet was quite correct. Tibet
needs to be an integral part of the greater
People's Republic of China, albeit an entirely
autonomous region. Does not the Minister agree
with me about two things? First, that the change
of stance should have been announced to the House
in an oral statement rather than sneaked out in a
written statement, which meant that no one could
ask any questions about it. Secondly, I do not
believe that much use was made of the leverage
that could have been achieved by the UK
Government's change in stance to press the
Chinese Government on human rights issues, both
in Tibet and across the greater People's Republic. Does he—

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Lewis: In terms of leverage, the fact that I
was the first Minister to be invited by the
Chinese Government to visit Tibet recently and
that the all-party group, of which the hon.
Gentleman is a member, was also allowed and
encouraged to visit Tibet demonstrates that that
shift in policy has enabled us to exercise
significant influence over the Chinese
Government. Let us be clear about the issues. It
is extremely important—we have made this clear to
China—that although we recognise the economic and
social progress that is evident in Tibet, there
are still major concerns about human rights. The
Chinese Government should begin immediate
negotiations with the representatives of the
Dalai Lama and encourage visits from other
politicians, and from journalists and opinion
formers around the world, to demonstrate a
greater level of openness. There must also be no
equivocation on religious freedom, which is
enshrined in the constitution of China in relation to Tibet.

Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): I welcome my
hon. Friend's visit to Tibet to get an
understanding of and a feel for what is happening
there. Does he recognise that we will not solve
the problem merely by having MPs and Ministers
visiting the country? What needs to be dealt with
is the intolerance shown towards the Tibetan
people and the lack of freedom. What pressure can
he put on the Chinese Government, as well as speaking to the Dalai Lama?

Mr. Lewis: My hon. Friend raises an extremely
important point. Subsequent to my visit, my right
hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I raised
the issue of human rights violations with Dai
Bigguo, the state councillor from China, and I
have also had a lengthy meeting with the very
able ambassador to China. Various issues need to
be addressed: we must make sure that ethnic
Tibetans benefit from the economic growth
undoubtedly now taking place in Tibet, and that
their language and culture are protected. In
addition, we must ensure that ethnic Tibetans
have access to fair justice and that there is
genuine religious freedom, particularly in the monasteries.

Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge) (LD): In 1904,
Colonel Younghusband took British troops into
Tibet. In 1947, those troops left and we
recognised the Tibetan people's right to
self-determination. Why do this Government not
allow them that self-determination? Why are we
not putting more pressure on the Chinese
Government to recognise that right? At present,
we are exerting less pressure in that regard than we did in 1947.

Mr. Lewis: When the hon. Gentleman asks why
Britain does not allow the Tibetans freedom, he
is clearly living in the past. The other
important point is that the Dalai Lama himself
does not demand independence for Tibet: what he
demands is genuine autonomy and religious
freedom, which has long been the policy of the
rest of the international community. There is no
doubt that, as a consequence of the policy change
that we made last year, we now have greater
leverage to influence China's policies in relation to Tibet.

2 EDMs tabled in the 2008/09 session

There were seven EDMs (Early Day Motions) tabled
concerning Tibet, for full texts see below or
click on the EDM names to go to the parliament website.

EDM 2150 Executions in Lhasa, Tibet, 20 October 2009 (73 signatories)
Cohen, Harry

That this House is shocked and saddened by the
news of the deplorable judicial executions of
Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak in Lhasa on 20 October
2009; fully supports the Minister of State's
condemnation of these executions and the doubts
expressed in his Statement on the lack of due
legal processes in these cases; calls on the
Government urgently to follow up its concerns
about lack of due process; further urges the
Government to state clearly what measures it will
take to ensure the Chinese government reviews the
cases of those who remain under sentence of death
for their alleged involvement in last year's
unrest; and further calls on the Government to
obtain clarification on reports that two further
Tibetans were executed at the same time and, if
the report is verified, under what legal
processes these executions were carried out since
there is no information on any other Tibetans
having received death sentences without reprieve.

EDM 2133 Human rights in Tibet and China, 21.10.2009 (83 signatories)
Hoey, Kate 21.10.2009

That this House notes the Foreign Affairs select
committee's recent statement that there is little
evidence that the Government's policy of
constructive engagement is leading to any
significant human rights improvements in Tibet
and China; further notes that the change made in
2008 by the Government to view Tibet henceforth
as part of China was made without parliamentary
oversight and has failed to lead to the human
rights gains in return that were predicted by the
Foreign Secretary at the time; recognises that
the Government's weakening commitment to protect
human rights in Tibet in recent years has
coincided with a dramatic worsening of the human
rights situation in Tibet; calls on the Foreign
Affairs select committee to conduct a formal
inquiry into the effectiveness of strategies
being employed by the Government within its
overall policy towards China, to protect and
promote the human rights of the Tibetan and Chinese people.

EDM 1373: Death penalty in Tibet, 24.03.2009 (128 signatories)
Hoey, Kate

That this House opposes the use of the death
penalty; condemns the recent imposition of the
death penalty by the Lhasa Intermediate People's
Court on Tibetans, Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak,
having found them guilty of arson attacks in
Lhasa in March 2008 which led to confirmed
deaths; further condemns the recent imposition of
the death penalty, each with a two year reprieve,
by the same court on Tibetans Tenzin Phuntsok,
Kangtsuk and on a 21-year-old Tibetan woman,
Penkyi, also for arson attacks in Lhasa in March
2008, which led to confirmed deaths; is concerned
that evidence against these individuals is
unsound, with one of the convicted found guilty
on the basis of a confession only months after
the UN Committee Against Torture concluded that
China regularly uses torture as a means of
extracting confessions in criminal proceedings;
is further concerned that the trials of those
named above were not conducted in accordance with
judicial standards and that the death sentences
passed are therefore unsafe; calls on the
relevant Chinese authorities to rescind the
aforementioned death sentences and to provvide
unfettered access to Tibet and all
Tibetan-populated regions, including court
proceedings, for journalists, consular staff
based in Beijing and independent observers; and
further calls on the British Government publicly
to raise its concerns regarding the cases with the Chinese government.

EDM 1172: South Africa and the Dalai Lama 24.03.2009 (48 signatories)
Loughton, Tim

That this House deeply regrets the decision by
South Africa to refuse a visa to the Dalai Lama
to attend a peace conference in Johannesburg this
week; questions the priorities of the South
African government in taking such a course of
action so as not to upset relations with China;
and calls on the South African government to
reverse its decision in the interests of
promoting free speech and pursuing a peaceful
solution to settling the longstanding dispute
over the autonomy and human rights of the people of Tibet.

EDM 1034: Political situation in Tibet, 10.03.2009 (51 signatories)
Baker, Norman

That this House condemns the state of de facto
martial law that Tibet has been subjected to by
the Chinese government on the eve of the 50th
anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising and the
flight of the Dalai Lama; recognises the severe
impact on basic human rights and freedoms the
present Chinese approach is having on the Tibetan
people; notes that Tibetans continue to be
tortured and killed and that thousands are
subject to arbitrary and heavy-handed
restrictions of movement; and calls on the
Chinese government to end the de facto martial
law and to lift the official ban on access to
Tibet for journalists and aid organisations.

EDM 998: Venerable Palden Gyatso and human rights
in Tibet, 05.03.2009 (42 signatories)
Cohen, Harry

That this House welcomes the arrival to Britain,
at the invitation of the Tibet Society, of the
former political prisoner, the Venerable Palden
Gyatso, to speak of his experiences; notes with
deep regret the suffering and torture he endured
during 33 years of imprisonment following
detainment in 1959 for peaceful protest; commends
his commitment to peacefully calling for the
rights and freedom of his people; further notes
with sadness that 50 years on the human rights
situation in Palden's homeland of Tibet remains
critical, with continuing oppressive measures
being imposed upon the Tibetan people by Chinese
government policies, such as patriotic
re-education, arbitrary arrests and torture in
detention and the use of brutal force against
Tibetans who publicly demonstrate; and offers its
support for a just and fair solution for the Tibetan people.

EDM 978: The 50th Anniversary on 10 March 2009 of
the Tibetan National Uprising, 04.03.2009 (90 signatories)
Baker, Norman

That this House notes the 50th anniversary on 10
March 2009 of the Tibetan National Uprising;
draws attention to the unique historical position
of Great Britain and Tibet whereby Great Britain
had direct diplomatic and trade links with Tibet
and maintained a permanent diplomatic mission in
Tibet between 1933 to 1947; further notes that
the Written Ministerial Statement of 29 October
2008, which changed the British Government's
long-held position on the status of Tibet, was
made without receiving any assurance from the
Chinese government that it will make genuine
progress on the issue of Tibet; in view of the
Government's strong concerns on human rights
issues inside Tibet, also expressed in the
Ministerial Statement, including the situation of
those remaining in detention, the increased
constraints on religious activity and the
limitations on free access to the Tibet
Autonomous Region by diplomats and journalists,
urgently calls on the Government to act on these
concerns and give effect to its stated commitment
to seek a solution for Tibet; and further calls
on the Government to draft a list of practical
actions that address these issues, with a clear
framework to monitor progress, that the Chinese
government can adopt in order to work to bring
about genuine justice to the Tibetan people.
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