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TIBET 1950-2010: 60 years of Occupation

March 11, 2010

Tibet Mass Lobby calls for an increase in UK’s
diplomatic presence in China and Tibet and
questions the effectiveness of British foreign policy of engagement with China.
 From a coalition of UK Tibet Support Groups (UK TSG)
March 9, 2010

London UK, 9 March -- Building on the success of
last year's inaugural Tibet Mass Lobby, where 300
lobbyists, including well over 100 from the
Tibetan community, descended on Westminster, a
coalition of Tibet support groups are calling on
their members and supporters to take part in a second Mass Lobby on 10 March.

This year, 10 March sees the 51st anniversary of
the Tibetan National Uprising in Lhasa. It is a
day when Tibetans worldwide, both inside Tibet
and in exile, mourn those who have lost their
lives in the 51 year struggle for justice. Karma
Chura-tsang from Tibetan Youth UK summed up the
depth of feeling and commitment felt by Tibetans,
saying, “Today is a day to celebrate the strength
of the Tibetan people and their perseverance and
to renew our resolve to fight for our country until Tibet is once again free."

The situation inside Tibet remains tense. Since
the outbreak of widespread protests and
demonstrations in March 2008, there have been
continued acts of Tibetan resistance and
non-compliance throughout Tibet and Tibetan
areas. A recent example being when Tibetans in
the Amdo region of Tibet (birthplace of the Dalai
Lama), defiantly flouted the Chinese authorities
with public prayer ceremonies and firework
displays to celebrate the meeting between
President Obama and the Dalai Lama. Recent
reports indicate that a new "strike hard"
campaign was launched by the Chinese government
in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) on 2 March
leading to further restrictions and clamp downs.

"There is a powerful new movement growing in
Tibet. It is being lead by the younger generation
and they are using creative, non-violent tactics
to challenge China's occupation of their
homeland", said Padma Dolma, Campaigns
Co-ordinator of Students for a Free Tibet UK. "On
March 10th, we will stand with our brothers and
sisters in Tibet and send a message to the
Chinese government that Tibetans are united in
our struggle to regain our country and win our freedom."

Pempa Lobsang, Chairman of the Tibetan Community
in Britain, which represents over 500 Tibetans
living in the UK, added, "Even after 51 years of
brutal oppression by the Chinese government, the
spirit of the Tibetan people is stronger than
ever and our support ever strengthening. There
will come a time when China must truly face up to
its responsibilities and work towards resolving
the Tibetan issue. To my fellow Tibetans and to
our supporters, I urge you to continue the fight,
to never give up for our time will come and when
it does, we must be prepared!"

Commenting on the Tibet Mass Lobby and the
British government’s position on Tibet, Philippa
Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, said, "the
government keeps affirming its support for the
Dalai Lama and his ‘Middle Way’ approach, but
despite urging China to engage with
representatives of the Dalai Lama on points of
substance, never follows up these good intentions
with any substantive actions of its own that will
bring tangible progress to the Tibetan people.
This is why a coalition of UK Tibet groups are
asking their members and supporters to join the
Mass Lobby and call on the government to show
their commitment by taking meaningful actions,
such as establishing a British consulate in
Lhasa. For the government to continue
congratulating Beijing on simply holding yet
another round of non-substantive talks is verging
on window dressing and does nothing to move the issue of Tibet forward."

This year also marks another anniversary -- one
that is to be condemned rather than celebrated --
60 years of China’s occupation of Tibet. In
drawing attention to this, Stephanie Brigden,
Director of Free Tibet, said, “World opinion
strongly opposes China’s 60 year occupation of
Tibet. A recent CNN poll showed that a majority
of Americans believed Tibet should be free. Here
in Britain we are lobbying to express our
opposition to China’s ongoing brutal occupation.
And inside Tibet Tibetans continue to use every
opportunity to courageously show their resistance
to China’s illegal occupation of their homeland.
China must stop showing contempt for world
opinion and end its brutal occupation of Tibet now!”

On Saturday 6 March, during the Tibet Freedom
march in London, members of the coalition of
Tibet support groups delivered an open letter to
the new Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency Liu
Xiaoming, requesting a meeting to discuss the current situation in Tibet.

A letter was also handed in to 10 Downing Street
for the Prime Minister, which outlined the two
Lobby Asks: calling for a British consulate to be
established in Tibet and questioning the
effectiveness of British foreign policy of
engagement with China, saying, “These
recommendations aim to press your government to
stand by its commitment to protect and promote
the human rights of the Tibetan people and seek a
meaningful solution for Tibet."

[ends]

* * * * *
Coalition of UK Tibet groups:

Tibet Society  www.tibetsociety.com; Philippa
Carrick, philippa@tibetsociety.com; 020 7272 1414

Free Tibet  www.freetibet.org; Matt Whitticase,
matt@freetibet.org; 020 7324 4605

Students for a Free Tibet UK  www.sftuk.org;
Padma Dolma, padma@sftuk.org; 07826 079 646

Tibetan Youth UK  www.tibetanyouthuk.org; Karma
Chura-tsang, karma@tibetanyouthuk.org; 07725 501 995

Tibetan Community in
Britain  www.tibetancommunityuk.org; Pempa
Lobsang, tibetancommunityinbritain@gmail.com 07725 054 471

* * * * *
Background notes to editors
LOBBY ASKS

The two lobby asks both highlight points that can
be followed up and raised with re-elected or new
MPs after the General Election; they both give a
good basis to ask what the new government’s
strategy and policy will be on Tibet and China.

1. Call on the UK government to establish a
British Consulate in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet,
thereby increasing capacity in Tibet to monitor human rights.

The current diplomatic representation in Tibet
and China is not at the level required to
effectively monitor human rights or enable follow
up and assessment of practical initiatives in the
field. Although China is the largest country in
the world, the UK government has more consulates
in other, less-populous regions (Consulates in
USA = 10; Canada 8; Mexico 3; China 3).  A
positive step towards this would be to establish a consulate in Lhasa.

2. Sign EDM 345: "Human Rights in Tibet and
China," which 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.

This EDM repeats EDM 2133 tabled by Kate Hoey
late in the 2008/09 parliamentary session. In
total, the EDMs have now been signed by over 100
individual MPs (with some signing both). This
illustrates both the support and need for an
urgent review of the government’s policy of
engagement with China. For MPs who have already
signed the EDM, lobbyists will take the
opportunity to thank him or her and ask that he
or she follows up by writing to the Foreign
Office to ask what tangible progress the
government can point to as a result of the change
the government’s position on Tibet as per the
Ministerial Statement on Tibet issued in October
2008 (for transcript see below).

All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet
Chairman Harry Cohen MP is available for
interview, please call his office on 020 7219 2813;
Vice-Chairman Norman Baker MP (020 7219 5138 / 01273 480268).

* * * * *
Open Letter to the Prime Minister from Coalition of UK Tibet groups
(Delivered to 10 Downing Street on 6 March)

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing to you as a coalition of UK-based
Tibet support groups to draw your attention to
recommendations we are urging Parliamentarians to
support at our mass lobby of Parliament on 10
March, the 51st anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan
National Uprising against Chinese rule. These
recommendations aim to press your government to
stand by its commitment to protect and promote
the human rights of the Tibetan people and seek a
meaningful solution for Tibet.

Not only do the peoples of China and Tibet have a
fundamental entitlement to their basic human
rights, but it is in Britain’s national interest
that their fundamental rights are progressively realised.

On 1 February, in a written reply to a question
tabled by Lindsay Roy, Foreign Office Minister, Ivan Lewis, again reiterated,

"Our interest is in sustainable development and
long-term stability for Tibet, which can be
achieved only through respect for the rights of
Tibetan people and genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Substantive dialogue between Chinese authorities
and representatives of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama is the best way to achieve this."

However, this sentiment has not been matched by
any prioritisation of human rights in the
Government’s strategy with China. The current
approach of engagement has produced no benefits
for the human rights of Tibetans and the situation in Tibet has only worsened.

Today, Tibetan people in Tibet are living in a
climate of fear and intimidation unmatched in
many decades. Since the demonstrations in the
spring of 2008 that spontaneously took place
throughout Tibet, there has been a continued
overt military presence on the streets, an
increase in restrictive surveillance, widespread
and routine use of torture, prosecution and
sentencing of Tibetans without even basic legal
safeguards being respected, two judicial
executions (Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, two young
men in their twenties) and more than 1,000
Tibetans have disappeared and remain unaccounted for.

In order to show tangible support for its own
avowed commitment to human rights in Tibet and
towards a just and sustainable solution to the
crisis in Tibet we are calling upon the British
Government to establish a British Consulate in Lhasa.

Although China has the largest population in the
world, the British Government has more consulates
in countries of less strategic importance to the
UK and in other less populated countries. There
are three British consulates in China whilst, for
example, there are eight in Canada and three in Mexico.

In its recent Human Rights report, the Foreign
Affairs Select Committee stated, -- there remains
little evidence that the British Government's
policy of constructive dialogue with China has
led to any significant improvements in the human
rights situation." (Foreign Affairs Select
Committee, 2008 Human Rights Report, Paragraph 183)

In view of this statement, we are also calling
upon MPs to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 345 Human
Rights in Tibet and China, which critiques the
Government’s current strategy, notes the lack of
parliamentary oversight of the Government’s
change of position on Tibet and lack of gains in
return and calls on the Foreign Affairs Select
Committee to conduct a formal inquiry into the
effectiveness of the British Government’s
strategy on human rights in China and Tibet. Over
100 MPs have already supported the EDM, demonstrating cross-party support.

Yours sincerely

* * * * *

Open Letter to His Excellency Liu Xiaoming,
Ambassador for the People's Republic of China in
UK, from Coalition of UK Tibet groups
(Delivered to the Chinese embassy on 6 March)

Your Excellency

As a coalition of UK-based Tibet support groups,
we would like to congratulate you on your recent
appointment and welcome you to the post of
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern
Ireland. We hope that your appointment brings an
opportunity for Tibet support groups in the UK to
positively engage with the Embassy.

The coalition is made of five Tibet support
groups which work towards promoting and realising
human rights for the Tibetan people in Tibet. The
Tibetan Community in Britain and Tibetan Youth UK
represent over 500 Tibetans living in the UK and
the campaigning organisations, Free Tibet, Tibet
Society and Students for a Free Tibet UK,
represent more than 100,000 people in the UK who
have registered their support for the rights of the Tibetan people.

The work of the coalition groups includes
scrutinising the effectiveness of the British
government’s commitment to the promotion of human
rights and meaningful autonomy for Tibet and
supporting the government’s repeated calls on
China to engage with representatives of the Dalai
Lama on points of substance in order to negotiate
a solution that brings long-term stability to Tibet and the Tibetan people.

Today, Tibetans in Tibet are living in a climate
of fear and intimidation unmatched in many
decades. Since the demonstrations of spring 2008
that spontaneously took place throughout the
Tibetan populated regions, there has been: a
continued military presence on the streets; an
increase in restrictive surveillance; widespread
and routine use of torture - as recognised by the
UN; and prosecution and sentencing of Tibetans
without even basic legal safeguards being respected.

We would very much welcome the opportunity to
have a meeting with you so we can introduce
ourselves and discuss the current situation in Tibet.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Events in London on 10 March to commemorate the
51st Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising in Lhasa

* * * * *
Protest

Opposite Chinese Embassy, 49-51 Portland Place,
London, W1B 1JL; Time: 11.00am-12.00pm

A protest outside the Chinese Embassy to mark the
51st Anniversary of the Tibetan National
Uprising, 60 years of occupation and the
continuing repression and subjugation of Tibet.
The 10 March message from the Dalai Lama will be read out.

Wreath Laying at Memorial to Innocent Victims, Westminster Abbey

Outside the Great West Door, Westminster Abbey;
Time: 1.45pm A wreath laying ceremony in
remembrance of those who have lost their lives or
suffered torture and imprisonment as a result of
China’s occupation of Tibet since 1950. The
service will be conducted by Canon Robert Wright
from Westminster Abbey and Geshe Tashi Tsering
from Jamyang Buddhist Centre. (Arranged by the
All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and Tibet Society).

Mass Lobby at House of Commons, Westminster
Central Lobby, House of Commons, Westminster; Time: from 2.30pm

Background to "strike hard" campaign in TAR:
http://www.tchrd.org/press/2010/pr20100305.html

Wednesday 29 October 2008: Written Ministerial Statements

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Tibet

The Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): A new
round of talks on Tibet between the Chinese
Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama
is likely to take place shortly. These talks are
hugely important for the future of Tibet. They
provide the only forum in which there is any
realistic possibility of progress to resolve the
differences between the parties involved.

The Chinese Government have said that they are
serious about dialogue and that they hope for a
positive outcome. They have set conditions for
dialogue that we believe the Dalai Lama has met.
The Dalai Lama has made clear that he is not
seeking separation or independence. He has said
repeatedly that he is seeking a resolution to the
situation of Tibet within the framework of the
Chinese constitution, a point he made explicitly
in an interview with the Financial Times on 24
May during his visit to the United Kingdom. He
said: he was “not seeking separation, not seeking
independence, but within the framework of the
Chinese constitution, meaningful realistic
autonomy [for Tibetans]”. He has maintained a clear opposition to violence.

The British Government have a strong interest in
the dialogue between the Chinese Government and
the Dalai Lama’s representatives, although we are
not party to it. No Government that are committed
to promoting international respect for human
rights can remain silent on the issue of Tibet,
or disinterested in a solution to its problems.

Britain has been clear under this Government
about their commitment to the people of Tibet. We
remain deeply concerned about the human rights
situation there. My right hon. Friend the Prime
Minister set out our concerns to Premier Wen
during discussions in the spring and again when
they met in Beijing during the Olympic games. I
have made the same point to Foreign Minister Yang
on a number of occasions since the unrest in
March this year in Tibet. We have consistently
made clear that we want to see the human rights
of the Tibetan people respected, including
through respect for their distinct culture,
language, traditions and religions. Our interest
is not in restoring an order that existed 60
years ago and that the Dalai Lama himself has said he does not seek to restore.

We are also concerned about more immediate issues
arising directly from the unrest of this spring,
including the situation of those who remain in
detention following the unrest, the increased
constraints on religious activity, and the
limitations on free access to the Tibetan
autonomous region by diplomats and journalists.
These issues reinforce long-held unease on the
part of the Government about the underlying human rights situation in Tibet.

Other countries have made similar points. But our
position is unusual for one reason of history
that has been imported into the present: the
anachronism of our formal position on whether
Tibet is part of China, and whether in fact we
harbour continued designs to see the break-up of China. We do not.

Our ability to get our points across has
sometimes been clouded by the position the UK
took at the start of the 20th century on the
status of Tibet, a position based on the
geopolitics of the time. Our recognition of
China’s “special position” in Tibet developed
from the outdated concept of suzerainty. Some
have used this to cast doubt on the aims we are
pursuing and to claim that we are denying Chinese
sovereignty over a large part of its own
territory. We have made clear to the Chinese
Government, and publicly, that we do not support
Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member
state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as
part of the People’s Republic of China. Our
interest is in long-term stability, which can
only be achieved through respect for human rights
and greater autonomy for the Tibetans.

We have noted recent comments by the Dalai Lama
regretting the lack of progress in the dialogue
so far. We are also aware of indications of
growing frustration among some Tibetans about the
dialogue process. We consider the position the
Dalai Lama has stated publicly, including when he
visited Britain this year, that he opposes
violence and is seeking meaningful autonomy
within the framework of the Chinese constitution,
provides a basis for a negotiated settlement. Our
strong view is that genuine progress at the next
round of talks is essential to promote progress
on such a settlement. Participation in these
talks carries a weight of responsibility for both parties.
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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