The campaign to see streets in east London named after Tibet, Hong Kong and the Uyghur people gathered even more momentum on Tuesday with an energetic rally outside London’s Royal Mint building.
Free Tibet gathered with other campaigning and community organisations and several councillors from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to press the local council to follow up on a motion it passed in March to explore renaming streets in Tower Hamlets. The streets would be around Royal Mint Court, which is the proposed location for the new Chinese embassy. If the move is approved, it would make the site China’s UK embassy the largest in Europe.
Following several attempts by councillors, including Councillor Rabina Khan, a motion was passed by Tower Hamlets Council in March that committed the council to look into changing the names of four roads close to the site to Hong Kong Square, Tiananmen Square, Tibet Hill and Uyghur Court. Free Tibet supporters played a key role in the March vote, with hundreds of them emailing councillors before the vote, urging them to vote in favour.
The rally on Tuesday 14 September followed up on this successful vote. During the rally, members of the crowd held up replica street signs and chanted the names of the proposed streets, urging Tower Hamlets Council to give a “sign” that it cared. Finn Lau from Hong Kong Liberty, Tenzin Wangdu from Tibetan Community in Britain and Rahima Mahmut from Stop Uyghur Genocide and the World Uyghur Congress all spoke about the repression that their peoples and communities face, and what renaming the street signs would mean to them.
Rabina Khan and Peter Golds, two of the key councillors behind the motion, also spoke about what had been achieved so far and how there was still plenty of work to be done. Both earned large rounds of applause from the crowd, which showed up despite heavy rain earlier that day.
Free Tibet will continue to follow up with the council and will update supporters on any progress and any further action that they can take to support the campaign.