Media release, 15 September 2022
For immediate use
China’s President Xi Jinping has been invited to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, whilst the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile have been ignored (1).
Free Tibet is dismayed that, despite overseeing the ongoing occupation of Tibet, the genocide of the Uyghurs and the crushing of democracy in Hong Kong, Chairman Xi has been invited to the funeral.
In contrast, there is currently no Tibetan representation at the funeral. Were the British government to allocate a place to Tibet, an obvious guest would be the Dalai Lama, who has been friends with the British royal family for decades, is a peer to the Queen as a major religious leader and is close to King Charles III, describing him as “the best of friends” (2). Another could be the Sikyong, Penpa Tsering, the elected leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile (3).
Sam Walton, Free Tibet’s Chief Executive, said:
“The Dalai Lama’s lifelong relationship with the British royal family has been cast aside in order to please President Xi’s fragile ego. The Foreign Office has prioritised economic ties with China over fundamental human rights and democracy.
Her Majesty’s Government is failing to live up to her legacy when organising her funeral. There is still time for the Foreign Office to rectify their grave error.”
Tibet has been under Chinese occupation since its invasion in 1950 and has seen repression tighten under Xi Jinping, who has introduced a raft of policies to lock Tibet down while eradicating Tibetans’ distinct identity and way of life. This includes recent revelations that over 900,000 Tibetan children between the ages of four and 18 have been forced into a colonial system of residential schools where they are subjected to indoctrination (4).
Furthermore, the UK parliament last year found that China’s policies against the Uyghur people amounted to genocide. And, a report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in August stated that China’s actions in the Uyghur region may amount to crimes against humanity (5).
Several senior Conservative MPs have already spoken out against the Foreign Office’s invitation to the Chinese government and have called for it to be rescinded (6). Notably, many of these MPs have been targeted with sanctions by the Chinese government after they raised its human rights record in Tibet, Hong Kong and against the Uyghur people (7).
John Jones, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager, Free Tibet
Notes for editors
- ‘Queen’s funeral: “Extraordinary” to invite China, senior Tories say’, BBC, 15 September 2022: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-62913220
- Charles embraces Dalai Lama at informal talks, BBC, 20 June 2012: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18526709 ; Offering Congratulations to His Majesty King Charles III: https://www.dalailama.com/news/2022/offering-congratulations-to-his-majesty-king-charles-iii
- The Office of Tibet in London represent both the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration and would be able to attend the funeral, if the Dalai Lama or Sikyong Penpa Tsering were unable to attend: https://tibet.net/offices-of-tibet/
- ‘Eyewitness: China Operating Mandatory Boarding Preschools Across Tibet’, Tibet Action Institute, 24 May 2022: https://tibetaction.net/2022/05/24/eyewitness-confirms-mandatory-boarding-preschools-operating-across-tibet/
- ‘UK MPs declare China is committing genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang’, The Guardian, 22 April 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/22/uk-mps-declare-china-is-committing-genocide-against-uyghurs-in-xinjiang ; ‘Xinjiang report: China must address grave human rights violations and the world must not turn a blind eye, say UN experts’, OHCHR, 7 September 2022: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/xinjiang-report-china-must-address-grave-human-rights-violations-and-world
- ‘“An insult to the Queen”: Senior Tories condemn China’s invitation to funeral’, Independent, 15 September 2022: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/queen-funeral-china-uighur-genocide-b2167744.html
- ‘Uighurs: China bans UK MPs after abuse sanctions’, BBC, 26 March 2021: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56532569