Free Tibet urges world leaders to take concerted action on Tibet with President Hu at G20

Monday, 30 March 2009

Free Tibet is urging G20 leaders not to miss a historic opportunity to take concerted action to address the deepening crisis inside Tibet when they gather together with President Hu Jintao of China this week in London.

The G20 meeting provides world leaders with their first opportunity to meet en masse with President Hu since last year when the Chinese government used lethal force on unarmed Tibetans in a violent crackdown following protests against Chinese rule that swept across Tibet. Protests have continued this year despite a comprehensive Chinese security clampdown inside Tibet. One year on from the protests in which at least 140 Tibetans were killed and 6000 detained, the whereabouts of more than 1000 Tibetans still remain unaccounted for and Tibet is underde facto martial law.

Free Tibet believes that this week’s meeting comes at a time when a real opportunity exists for world leaders to apply pressure on the Chinese leadership to curtail its repressive policies inside Tibet and to reopen substantive dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people: China’s heavily export-dependent economy is beginning to shrink for the first time in more than two decades. As Chinese exports drop and the economy shrinks, so does the Chinese government’s ability to generate jobs. This has created intense political difficulties for a one-part state whose legitimacy rests on its ability to keep an ever-increasing working population in jobs. China’s urgent priority to secure international trade – whatever its source - for its weakening economy means G20 governments and leaders should not succumb to China’s bluffs and threats of trade sanctions for any country whose government applies pressure on China over Tibet and human rights.

Free Tibet is therefore urging G20 leaders to recognise a changing dynamic in their relations with China by applying concerted pressure on President Hu to take immediate steps to ease the current crisis in Tibet.

A protest will be staged in London this week(1): protesters will hold the Chinese President accountable for the worsening crisis inside Tibet and will also publicise their demands for action from G20 leaders.

These demands have been echoed by a Chinese dissident and leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protesters, and by an exiled Tibetan in video messages to world leaders and President Hu recorded in advance of the G20 meeting. The video messages are available on Free Tibet’s website (2). Their demands are that G20 leaders, individually and in unison, make calls on President Hu to:

agree to the immediate resumption of substantive talks between the Chinese government and representatives of the Tibetan people.
grant permission for an independent enquiry into the reported shooting dead of at least 140 unarmed Tibetans protesters last year, and the detention of 6000 more.
supply a list of names and locations of more than 1000 Tibetans detained last year and whose whereabouts remain unaccounted for by the Chinese government.

Free Tibet spokesperson, Matt Whitticase, said:

“For more than a year now, world leaders have expressed concern over Tibet’s worsening crisis but, for reasons of expediency, have failed to apply meaningful pressure on the Chinese leadership. At this week’s G20 there can be more excuses. Leaders will have the ideal opportunity to apply concerted pressure on President Hu in person. He is directly responsible for flooding Tibetan towns recently with tens of thousands of additional troops and is the man who has the power to change the situation inside Tibet for the better. If Gordon Brown and other world leaders really want to be a friend of China, they should remember a Chinese adage: that a true friend helps another by criticising bad behaviour, rather than by remaining silent.”