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The influx of Chinese immigrants in Tibet is a serious threat: British MP

March 12, 2008

OoT, London

London, March 9: The 49th anniversary of the 10th March 1959 Tibetan
national uprising day was marked here yesterday with a huge rally from
the Chinese Embassy to the Office of the British Prime Minister and a
remembrance Tibet day afternoon event, followed by an evening concert
to honour the reunion of some former Drapchi prisoners of conscience,
popularly know as the 'Singing nuns of Tibet' now living in freedom in
exile.

Speaking on the occasion, the Guest Speaker, Mr. Fabian Hamilton, MP
and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told the afternoon
gathering at the Westminster Cathedral Hall that the issue of Tibet is
serious and worthy of every support.

"The influx of Chinese settlers in Tibet is a serious threat and is
making the Tibetans a minority in their own land. When we were in
Lhasa (capital of Tibet) we saw Chinese everywhere and more were due
to arrive and many will have come now because of the introduction of
the railway line from China to Tibet," said Mr. Hamilton, who was one
of the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of
Commons that visited Tibet in 2006 and reported their findings in a
report.

He informed the audience how during their visit to Lhasa he and his
colleagues and the interpreter from the British Embassy in Beijing had
to dodge Chinese minders so that they could see the real situation of
the Tibetan people. He also said that at one point on seeing the
picture of the previous Panchen Lama in a temple, he asked the Chinese
interpreter where was the picture of the Dalai Lama? He said the
Chinese interpreter had no answer and was looking nervously at the
Chinese official accompanying them.

"For some reason His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a man of great peace is
considered a threat by the Chinese authorities," said Mr. Hamilton,
adding that for once he agreed with the current American President
George W. Bush, who when presenting the US Congressional Gold Medal to
His Holiness said that China should not fear because the Dalai Lama is
"a man of faith, sincerity and peace."

The British parliamentarian also urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to
meet with His Holiness during his visit to UK in May. "Our duty today
is to see to it that peaceful and non-violence means adopted to
resolve issues makes 'headlines'", said Mr. Hamilton, who accompanied
by his family also visited Dharamsala last year with five other
members of the parliament. Besides witnessing the various aspects of
the democratic set up of the Tibetans in Diaspora, they also had an
audience with His Holiness.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is visiting UK in May this year primarily
at the invitations received from the All Party Parliamentary Group for
Tibet, Tibet Society, Dharma Network (formed of various Buddhist
organisations in UK), Blackfriars Hall of Oxford University and the
Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, to give a series of public talks
and teachings in London, Oxford and Nottingham. This visit, as other
visits of His Holiness to Northern Europe, Poland and the Baltic
Countries, is being coordinated by the Office of Tibet, London. An
Early Day Motion (EDM) 984 sponsored in the House of Commons by Mr.
Norman Baker, MP, while welcoming the forthcoming visit of His
Holiness to the UK calls upon the British Prime Minister to recognise
"the strong historical connections between this country and Tibet" and
"take the opportunity to met the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his
visit" in line with how the Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate has recently
been met by "President George Bush, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the
leaders of Australia, Canada and Austria".

In his address, Mr. Tsering Tashi, Representative of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Poland and the Baltic Countries, said
Mr. Hamilton's acceptance of the invitation to the Tibetan event
despite his busy schedule demonstrates the British public's sympathy
and support for the just cause of Tibet. He also thanked everyone,
including some Tibetans and supporters who had come from different
parts of the UK and Europe, for coming to the event to mark the Tibet
Day. He said the presence, especially of the four former Drapchi
prisoners of conscience clearly proves that the global and Tibetan
efforts in exile is not in vain.

"The story of their road to freedom in exile after suffering many
years of hardship and even torture at the hands of the Chinese
authorities in occupied Tibet is a reminder to all of us that the
human sprit cannot be vanquished by force," said Mr. Tashi, who is
based at the Office of Tibet in London.

Mr. Tashi spoke about the contrasting situation of the globally
acknowledged success story of the Tibetan refugee community in exile
and the ongoing plight of the Tibetans back home in Tibet under the
Chinese rule.

He expressed concern at the increasing Chinese population in Tibet,
which is transforming the Tibetans not only into a powerless and an
insignificant minority in their own land but also posing a serious
threat to the very survival of the Tibetan culture and identity. He
said although the work that some NGOs and Western governments are
doing in Tibet aimed to help the Tibetans is much appreciated, the
outcome would be diluted when faced with the reality of the
overwhelming immigrant Chinese population force.

"The important work that now remains to be done is how to reverse this
dangerous demographic aggression of Tibet and persuade China to
discourage the settling of Chinese in Tibet," Mr. Tashi said, while
acknowledging the fact that with better awareness and information more
and more Chinese were showing respect for Tibetan Buddhist culture and
supporting His Holiness the Dalai Lama's non-violent Middle-Way
Approach to resolve the Tibet issue that takes into consideration the
long term interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.

Mr. Tashi also referred to similar concerns raised by the former
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who in her autobiography
says, "The Chinese claim to Tibet is dubious on historical grounds,"
and that "The Chinese now appear to have resolved upon a programme of
'modernisation' that involves shifting the ethnic balance in favour of
Han Chinese and away from Tibetans, as a final solution to the
continuing resistance. I hope that they do not succeed."

As in the past, the afternoon Tibet Day event was jointly organised by
the Tibetan Commemorative Committee consisting of the Office of Tibet,
the Tibetan Community in Britain and the Tibet Society. A specially
prepared drama-song presented by the Tibetan Community Dance Group
showing how Tibetan prisoners are being harshly treated by the Chinese
authorities in Tibet, generated gasps and total silence in the
capacity-filled hall and moved many people to tears. The event began
with prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
peace in world, and closed with the singing of the Tibetan national
anthem.

The former Tibetan nun political prisoners Phuntsok Nyidron, Ngawang
Sangdrol, Gyaltsen Drolkar and Namdrol Lhamo, who currently live in
Switzerland, the United States and Belgium respectively, are in London
at the invitation of the Tibetan Community in Britain as a part of its
effort to raise more awareness about the Tibet issue. With help of
Students for a Free Tibet and other supporters, they will be touring
for about four weeks giving talks and participating in concerts at
various educational and public venues in different parts of the UK.

Earlier on March 8 the Reuters while reporting on the exploits of "the
'singing nuns' of Drapchi prison," quoted Ngawang Sangdrol, who
suffered a 10 year prison sentence, as saying, "It is not very big,
what we did. We just sang songs, peacefully, for the love of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and for a free Tibet," adding, "They say we
want to destroy the government, but how can songs destroy a
government?".

When asked for a message to send to Tibetans inside Tibet, the Reuters
quoted the four women as saying, "Keep the spirit alive, know the
world is watching, and don't be disheartened."

Report by: Office of Tibet, London
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