This Human Rights Day held special significance for the Tibetan people, coming amid a growing crisis in their country which the occupying Chinese regime is unable to control; a brutal occupation which foreign governments have been unwilling to effectively condemn.
But this may be changing. Condemnation of China’s policies in Tibet has grown since 10th December, with the US, UN and EU all criticising the regime. The US state department called for ‘common strategic engagement’ on Tibet.
At least 95 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire in Tibet in protest against Chinese rule since 2009, the latest 17-year-old school girl Bhenchen Kyi on 9th December. Despite China threatening that they will charge those who support self-immolators with murder (punishable by death in China), thousands of Tibetans are doing so, putting their lives on the line for the freedom of their nation.
Tibetans and Tibet supporters commemorated Human Rights Day on 10th December by holding global solidarity rallies, protests, and vigils to call on the world leaders to team up to save Tibetan lives. Leaders have avoided taking decisive action so as not to anger China, preferring to make statements in line with their electorate’s support for the Tibetan people, but this has had little impact. But the push for multilateral action for Tibet is growing, with Maria Otero of the US state department calling for ‘common strategic engagement’ and Catherine Ashton of the EU voicing support for her statement. Meanwhile Canada has also condemned China’s policies and Lithuania’s Leonidas Donskis has called on the EU to appoint a special co-ordinator for Tibet. By working together and creating a multi-lateral forum, free nations can find solutions to the crisis in Tibet without China using it’s usual tactic of threatening damage to trade ties; even China can’t afford to lose so many of its trading partners at once.
China’s oppression in Tibet is worsening as streets are flooded with military, internet and phone lines cut, foreign tourists and journalists banned and shootings, beatings and torture taking place on a daily basis, condemned by the United Nations but failing to deter an increasingly diverse non-violent Tibetan resistance. Governments like the US, which criticise China, are not seeing their trade links damaged, yet the British government continues to hide behind the defunct talks between representatives of China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the only mechanism to secure human rights and freedoms in Tibet. After the resignation of the Dalai Lama’s envoys due to China’s unwillingness to discuss the real issues inside Tibet, it’s time for the UK to keep up with the US State Department and be pro-active about co-operating on the Tibet issue.
Inaction is only giving China the green light to commit further abuses while China’s failed policies in Tibet prevent the Chinese Communist Party securing the ‘stability’ it craves in Tibet, making new leader Xi Jinping even more of a failure than his predecessor Hu Jintao.
Human Rights Day protests in London and New York
1. RECORD A 1-MIN VIDEO TO YOUR WORLD LEADER
Make a 1-min video message to your President or Prime Minister of your country asking him or her to team up with other world leaders and act for Tibet. Speak from your heart and let them know how desperately Tibetans need their help.
Make it short, 1 min or less
Be personal, genuine, natural
Address message to President or Prime Minister of your country
Main message is “Tibet needs you now”
Title your video like “XX’s message to President/Prime Minister YY: Tibet needs you now.”
Share the link with firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Deliver Video message to your World Leader
If you’re a UK citizen:
-Tweet your video message directly to David Cameron: @David_Cameron, @WilliamJHague or @number10gov
-Facebook Post your Video message on David Cameron and the Foreign Office page
-Post your video along with other messages directly to David Cameron:
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
If you’re not in the UK, here’s a list of contact details for other countries
Lobbying isn’t just for Human Rights Day…
You can still keep the pressure on world leaders by uploading a video or by writing you your MP about the situation in Tibet. You don’t have to know who your MP is, just go to and tap in your post code then write an email; they are obliged to respond. Remember to tell them about the self-immolations in Tibet and call on them to ask the Foreign Office to take part in multi-lateral action for Tibet.