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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

TIBET 1950-2010: 60 years of occupation

March 12, 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
[London UK, Tuesday 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."

Coalition of UK Tibet groups: Tibet Society, Free Tibet, Students for a Free
Tibet UK, Tibetan Youth UK, Tibetan Community in Britain
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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