Western politicians condemn “Dalai clique” and Western media “bias” at Lhasa meeting

Friday, 15 August 2014

As Tibetan protesters shot, China state media claims participants in international forum agree Tibetans are “happy” Political representatives from Ireland, the UK, Japan and New Zealand are among those reported to have agreed to the “Lhasa consensus”, at the end of the Fourth Forum on Development of Tibet held in Lhasa, Tibet, this week (1). As the meeting took place, China’s security forces opened fire with live ammunition on peaceful protesters elsewhere in Tibet, seriously injuring at least ten (2). The forum, organised by the State Council Information Office of China and the Tibetan regional government, was attended by over 100 participants from 30 countries and issued at its conclusion the consensus (3), stating (inter alia): • Participants unanimously agree that what they have actually seen in Tibet differs radically from what the 14th Dalai and the Dalai clique have said. The Dalai clique's statements on Tibet are distorted and incorrect. Many Western media reports are biased and have led to much misunderstanding. (emphasis added) • Participants notice that Tibet enjoys sound economic growth, social harmony, deep-rooted Tibetan culture and beautiful natural scenery, and the people enjoy a happy life. • Participants notice that ordinary people in Tibet are satisfied with their well-off lives, good education, sound medical care, housing and various social securities. All ethnic groups in Tibet have full confidence and motivation for building a better future. Foreign participants identified in Chinese media as speaking at the forum included: • Pat Breen, chairman of the Joint Committee of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Irish Parliament. • Lord Neil Forbes Davidson, spokesperson for the Labour Party in the British House of Lords • Kondo Shoichi, secretary general of the Nonpartisan Sino-Japan Friendship Parliamentarians' Union and former Japanese senior vice-minister of the environment. • Peter Wittmann, a member of the Austrian National Council and Chairman of the Committee of Constitution in Austria • Bob Parker, former mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand • N. Ram, chairman and publisher of the Hindu Group of Newspapers • Kulasri Kariyawasam, secretary of Sri Lanka China Social and Cultural Cooperation (4) Not all participants are reported to have made significantly pro-China statements in the meeting. However, Mr Kariyawasam and Mr Ram are reported to have criticised the Western media’s biased reporting of Tibet (5). Lord Davidson is also reported in Chinese state media to have made comments supportive of China’s role in Tibet. According to reports (which have not been independently confirmed), he stated that the “Chinese government has done a great job in developing Tibet to the current stage, where people live happily” (6) and in an interview on Chinese TV, spoke approvingly of raised standards of living and China’s “remarkable accomplishment” in improving health. UK media have attempted to gain a comment from Lord Davidson but at the time of writing have been unable to contact him (7). The shooting took place in Kardze, southeastern Tibet on 12 August as Tibetans protested the arrest of their village leader after he had complained to officials about their harassment of female members of a community dance troupe. Communication restrictions in the county have prevented information about the conditions of the injured emerging (2). Free Tibet director, Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said: “As forum participants were enjoying China’s hospitality, peaceful Tibetan protesters were being shot by China’s security forces. Nothing could make more clear how wrong their participation was. The statement issued at the end of this event shows that the whole thing was an utterly cynical exercise in propaganda which Western participants blindly or willingly allowed themselves to become part of. It remains to be seen whether the report that they all agree with the outrageous and wholly inaccurate statements in the ‘consensus’ is true. Many may well be surprised to find themselves apparently endorsing these positions. Nevertheless, an invitation to an event on Tibet organised by the State Council Information Office of China belongs in the bin, not on the mantelpiece. We look forward to strong statements of repudiation by all the international participants but that does not alter the fact that their participation was ill-advised at best and reprehensible at worst. “Events like this constitute a key part of China’s international charm offensive on occupied-Tibet. This was a PR event, not a business meeting, which has given a propaganda gift to the Chinese regime brutally occupying and repressing Tibet.” In contrast to the picture painted of economic development in Tibet at the forum, the UN Economic, Cultural and Social Rights committee recently issued a report detailing child malnutrition in Tibet and unemployment among Tibetans as a result of Chinese immigration (8). Tibetans are economically marginalised in Tibet and much of China’s infrastructure investment in the region is designed to facilitate the extraction and export of Tibet’s natural resources, including copper, gold and lithium. -ends- Contact: Alistair Currie, campaigns and media manager, Free Tibet T: +44 (0)207 324 4605 E: alistair@freetibet.org Notes for Editors (1) Chinese media report http://www.china.org.cn/china/node_7211136.htm (2) Free Tibet press release 14/8/14 http://freetibet.org/news-media/pr/chinese-forces-fire-tibetan-protesters-10-seriously-injured-pictures (3) “Lhasa consensus” text http://china.org.cn/china/2014-08/14/content_33232144.htm (4) Chinese media reports: http://www.china.org.cn/china/2014-08/14/content_33232166.htm; http://eng.tibet.cn/2012sy/xw/201408/t20140812_2012811.html; http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-08/12/c_133550353.htm; (5) ibid (6) ibid (7) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/labours-lord-davidson-in-hot-water-over-tibet-comments-made-in-china-9669680.html and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-28782137 (8) United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding observations on the second periodic report of China, including Hong Kong, China, and Macao, China, 13 June 2014 http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/049/83/PDF/G1404983.pdf?OpenElement 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. www.freetibet.org