UK Tibet supporters to travel to Parliament to demand British Government takes action on Tibet

Monday, 9 March 2009

Mass lobby of MPs to mark 50th anniversary Of Tibet Uprising of 1959

Tibet supporters from the length and breadth of the UK will
tomorrow stage a mass lobby (1) of their MPs in the Central Lobby
of Parliament, urging them to speak up for Tibet and to call upon
the British government to take action on the escalating human
rights crisis in the region.

Tibet supporters are due to travel from as far as Argyl in
Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed in northern England and
Montgomeryshire in Wales to meet a wide selection of MPs from
across the political spectrum. Amongst MPs that Tibet supporters
are hoping to meet are former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind,
present Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Bill Rammell and
frontbench Lib Dem spokesperson, Norman Baker.

The mass lobby is to be staged on the 50th anniversary of the
Tibetan Uprising of 1959 and against a backdrop of a deepening
crisis insideTibet where an intensive Chinese security crackdown
has led to a state of de facto martial law (2). In January official
Chinese state media announced the launch of a “strike-hard”
campaign in Lhasa in which around 3000 Tibetan homes were searched,
6000 Tibetans rounded up for interview and more than 80 detained.
Since then China has denied all media access to all Tibetan areas,
routinely blocked communications (email, telephone) in and out of
Tibet and has simultaneously deployed thousands of additional
troops and paramilitaries into Tibet (3).

Tibet supporters will specifically ask their MPs tomorrow to call
on the British government to:

Sponsor a thorough and independent enquiry into the Chinese
government’s widely reported use of excessive force against unarmed
Tibetan protesters in 2008 (4).
Appoint a UK Special Representative for Tibet.
Establish a Tibet Desk at the British Embassy in Beijing, China.

Free Tibet supporter, Vivienne Briscoe from Brighton Kemptown, said:

“I am very disappointed that the British government recently
weakened its position on Tibet (5). When it comes to Tibet the
actions of the British government do not match their words. I want
my MP to support the Tibetan people in their struggle to live
without the threat of human rights abuses and to be free to rule
their own country.”

Ends

For further information, and to see whether it is possible to speak
to a Tibet supporter travelling from your local area, please contact:

Matt Whitticase, External Communications: t +44 (0)20 7324 4605
(o) / +44 (0)7515 788456 or email: matt@freetibet.org

Stephanie Brigden, Director: t +44 (0)20 7324 4605 (o) / +44 (0)
7530 528264 or email: stephanie@freetibet.org

Notes to Editor:

(1) Tibet supporters have booked appointments in the Central Lobby
of the Houses of Parliament from about 2pm onwards on Tuesday March
10. Further information is available at: http://www.freetibet.org/
campaigns/mass-lobby-tibet-10-march-2008
(2) Following protests that swept across the Tibetan Plateau last
year more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the ensuing Chinese
crackdown, according to the Tibetan government in exile. A further
6000 were detained. One year after those protests the whereabouts
of more than 1000 Tibetans detained still remain unaccounted for by
the Chinese government. Chinese fears that next week’s anniversary
may prompt further protests in Tibet has led to an intensive
security clampdown inside Tibet: China has flooded the region with
thousands of extra troops and paramilitaries and monasteries are
surrounded. For more information on China’s clampdown in Tibet, see
Free Tibet’s report:http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/050309
(3) New images sourced by Free Tibet showing troops on the street
in the Tibetan monastery town of Labrang are available at:http://
www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/250209
(4) The UN Committee Against Torture demanded in November 2008 that
““The State party [China] should conduct a thorough and independent
inquiry into the reported excessive use of force, including against
peaceful demonstrators, and notably monks, in Kardze county, Ngaba
county, and Lhasa.” The UN’s full observations are available
at:http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/CAT.C.CHN.CO.4.pdf
and Free Tibet’s report is available at:http://www.freetibet.org/
newsmedia/un-torture-committee-issues-scathing-indictment-china%E2%
80%99s-record-torture
(5) Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, issued a Written Ministerial
Statement in October 2008, changing Britain’s position on the legal
status ofTibet. For more than 90 years, Britain had only recognised
Chinese suzerainty, or its “special position” in Tibet. In the
statement the Foreign Secretary stated that hencefort the UK
regarded Tibet “as a part of the People’s Republic of China”. Free
Tibet’s letter to the Foreign Secretary, condemning the change, is
available at: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/letter-foreign-
secretary-david-miliband

The mass Lobby is jointly organised by:

Free Tibet; The Tibet Society; Students for a Free Tibet UK; The
Tibetan Community in Britain; Tibetan Youth UK