Nobel Laureates call on China to hear the Tibetan people

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Free Tibet welcomes the call from 12 Nobel Laureates, including Archbishop Tutu and Lech Walesa, for China to hear the calls for freedom coming from the Tibetan people, and the Laureates’ recognition that under Chinese occupation the Tibetan people have no recourse to express their grievances (1).

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden commented:

“We welcome this call from the Nobel Peace Laureates to President Hu Jintao – the wider international community must also break the silence and halt China’s oppression of the Tibetan people.”

Free Tibet receives news from Tibet of protests, including self-immolations, on a daily basis. Since the beginning of 2012, there have been more and more protests against Chinese policies across a widening area of the country and involving increasingly large numbers of people from diverse backgrounds.

The Nobel Laureates call for an end to the intimidation, harassment and detention of peaceful protesters. The Chinese state has responded to Tibetan protests with disproportionate force on numerous occasions, including opening fire on unarmed protesters on at least three separate instances, killing five and wounding dozens. Free Tibet has information about the disappearance and detention of hundreds of Tibetans following protests; some have been tortured and all are at risk of torture, the use of which is widespread and routine in Tibet and China.

In areas where protests and self-immolations have taken place, residents report that people are being beaten by Chinese state security personnel on the streets and in their homes for no other apparent reason other than that they are Tibetan. House-to-house searches are conducted in the middle of the night and there have been reports of state actors breaking into homes in order to conduct searches. Patriotic re-education campaigns have been enforced in monasteries and, more recently, villages suspected of harbouring protesters.

China has made every effort to conceal both Tibetan protests and its own brutal response from the eyes of the world by preventing the international media and independent observers from travelling to these areas, by blocking the internet and telephone services in areas where protests and self-immolations have taken place, and by the intimidation of both journalists and Tibetans who might spread information about the situation.

Notes to Editors

1) Full text of letter:
President Hu Jintao,
The People's Republic of China
Bejiing, China

Dear Mr. President:

The people of Tibet wish to be heard. They have long sought meaningful autonomy, and chosen negotiation and friendly help as their means of attaining it. They now turn to protest. The international community is concerned by the drastic expressions of resentment by the people of Tibet through self-immolation. The Chinese government should hear their voices, understand their grievances and find a non-violent solution.

That solution is offered by our friend and brother His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has never sought separatism, and has always chosen a peaceful path. We strongly urge the Chinese government to seize the opportunity he provides for a meaningful dialogue. Once formed, this channel should remain open, active and productive. It should address issues that are at the heart of the current tension, respecting the dignity of the Tibetan people and the integrity of China

Specifically, we are respectfully requesting that the Chinese government release all those who have been arbitrarily detained; cease the intimidation, harassment and detention of peaceful protestors; allow unrestricted access for journalists, foreign diplomats, and international organizations to Tibet; and respect religious freedom.

It is especially important to understand that the international community will be reassured if your government would allow members of the press and United Nations Human Rights investigators full access within Tibet. Without that access, progress is unlikely and an opportunity may be lost.

Desmond Tutu
Jody Williams
Rigoberta Menchu Tum
Jose Ramos Horta
Leymah Gbowee
Adolfo Perez Esquivel
Shirin Ebadi
Lech Walesa
Mairead Corrigan Maguire
Jon Hume
Betty Williams
Carlos Belo

Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.

For interviews and further information please contact Free Tibet’s Director Stephanie Brigden:

M: +44 7971 479 515
T: +44 207 324 4605
S: stephaniefreetibet