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Today saw a rise in the number of UN States that raised concern for the situation in Tibet 2 at the United Nations Human Rights Council. A total of 13 countries used their interventions to shine a light on China’s human rights abuses in Tibet, with nine countries3  issuing 12 recommendations relating to lack of freedom of religion, assembly and association and movement. During China’s second UPR in 2013, seven States made Tibet-related recommendations.4

 

New Zealand put forward a strong recommendation that urged China to resume the frozen two-way dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese representatives; a recommendation previously raised in 2013 and rejected by China. In addition to the nine States that made recommendations on Tibet, Austria, UK and Japan expressed concern about Tibet in their verbal statements to China, and advanced written questions on Tibet were submitted prior to the review by Belgium, UK, Sweden, USA, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The United States of America called for the release of imprisoned Tibetan language rights defender Tashi Wangchuk5, who was arrested after advocating for Tibetan language in schools, and is currently serving a 5-year sentence.

 

Tibet campaign Group are buoyed at the number of States that used this important UN mechanism to put increasing pressure on China to address the repression and human rights abuses, but called on more States to speak out in future. A more systematic and deepening crackdown is being implemented in Tibet under the leadership of Xi Jinping, however China repeated the same denials and attempted the same obfuscation of the process as it did during its last Universal Periodic Reviews in 2009 and 2013.

 

Swiss-based Tibetan monk and ex-political prisoner Golog Jigme, who was present at the Review as part of the Tibet Advocacy Coalition6 project team, said “Today, is a critical moment for Tibetans in Tibet who have lived under China’s occupation for nearly 70 years. China would like the world to continue to ignore its violations in Tibet, but 13 countries have taken a stand for human rights in Tibet, and more will follow. Although Tibet is under lockdown,the Tibetan people’s concerns have been heard here today.”

Mandie McKeown of International Tibet Network said “The timing of these recommendations on Tibet from UN Member States could not be more urgent. Tibetans are routinely imprisoned and tortured for simply raising questions about human rights in Tibet. A number of States have today led by example, showing that the Chinese government cannot intimidate the world with its economic influence, but equally there are many governments that need to be much stronger in speaking out about these flagrant abuses.”

 

“Attempts by the Chinese delegation to present an image of a country committed to human rights largely fell on deaf ears today at the UN. The Chinese authorities must now heed calls made by world governments - particularly with regard to protecting Tibetan’s rights to freedom of religion and respecting the work of Tibetan human rights defenders, such as Tashi Wangchuk. Today’s session sends a clear message that many Council members will not let China get away with trampling on the human rights of Tibetans” said Gloria Montgomery, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns at Tibet Society UK.

 

International Tibet Network further noted that concern about the situation of Uyghurs in East Turkestan [Ch: Xinjiang] - who are currently experiencing extreme levels of persecution through China’s use of detention centres to arbitrarily subject hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions of people to “re-education” - was expressed by 17 States.

 

In response to the concerns expressed during the review session, China’s head of delegation Mr. Le Yucheng, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, attacked States that had made critical statements, saying they were not based on facts and were full of prejudice. He rejected assertions that China’s human rights situation had worsened, saying “China cannot accept this”, and members of his delegation attempted to explain how Tibetans enjoy freedom of religion and to justify the “vocational training centres” in East Turkestan, claiming that some “attendees” said they “never thought life could be so colourful and so meaningful”. “We will not accept the politically driven allegations by some countries and attempts to intervene in national affairs.”  

 

NOTES:

[1]  This includes advanced questions, statements during the review and recommendations. The States that mentioned Tibet or Tibetans were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the US.

[2] Tibet was invaded by China in 1949 and remains under military occupation by the Chinese government until today. The Chinese government has annexed Tibet into parts of five Chinese provinces: Tibet Autonomous Region, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan.

[3] Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the US all made recommendations directly concerning Tibet or the Tibetan people.

[4] This is China’s third review under the Universal Periodic Review, and whilst China has  nominally participated in the process, in reality it has failed to adhere to any of the accepted recommendations agreed in the last two Reviews (2009 and 2013), has failed to include any public consultation in the preparing of its national report, and has presented the UNHRC with false information about improvements that have been made.

[5] On 22 May, Tashi Wangchuk, an advocate for the Tibetan language, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “inciting separatism”. He is not due for release until January 2021 and remains at risk of torture and other ill-treatment - www.FreeTashi.org

[6] Tibet Advocacy Coalition is a project developed to coordinate strategies, monitoring tools, and reports to highlight the situation in Tibet at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Coalition core members are International Tibet Network Secretariat, Tibet Justice Center, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibetan Youth Association Europe and Tibet Initiative Deutschland.

 

Contacts:

Padma Dolma, Tibet Advocacy Coalition: +49 (0)1516 386 1199, (English, German)

Migmar Dolma, Tibet Initiative Deutschland:  +49 (0)1773366528 (English, German, French, Tibetan)

Mandie McKeown, International Tibet Network: +44 (0)7748158618 (English)

Gloria Montgomery, Tibet Society: +44 (0)7377890148

 

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The Chinese authorities have once again sought to limit Tibetan participation in an international event -  this time one specifically aimed at highlighting climate change and the need for sustainable tourism. The event, ‘Expotural 2018, the Mountain and Sustainable Trade Fair at the IFEMA’ (International Trade Fair of Madrid) is scheduled to take place from 1-4 November.

 

Organisers say Tibet’s involvement has been met with considerable opposition from the Chinese authorities. The President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr Lobsang Sangay, as well as  Thubten Wangchen, a Tibetan monk, Member of the Tibetan government-in-Exile and Director of Casa Tibet in Barcelona, have been invited to participate in the event.

 

Upon hearing, the Chinese authorities immediately raised their objections with the relevant local Spanish authorities. Tibet Society UK was informed that China had initially reserved 400 square meters of space at the event for their own exhibit - which was due to set them back roughly 50,000€.

 

Following discussions with the Mayor of Madrid, who refused to pull Tibetans from the list of participants, China withdrew from the event in protest, along with its funding.

 

China is utterly shameless in its efforts to limit the inclusion of Tibetans in any international discussions - particularly those directly affecting Tibet. Where such efforts are unsuccessful, the Chinese government will frequently withdraw and scrap their funding in an attempt to pressure foreign governments and companies to bow down to the will of Beijing. Such efforts must be rejected everywhere. Today the Spanish authorities sent a clear message to China that it will not be intimidated” said Gloria Montgomery, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns at Tibet Society UK.

 

Over the last few years, numerous companies have caved in to Chinese pressure to exclude reference to Tibet or His Holiness the Dalai Lama in their business activities - including the GAP, the Marriott International and Mercedes.

 

In recent years, China's exploitation of Tibet's natural resources has significantly increased. This, combined with with official estimates that tourists to Tibet will reach 35 million per year in 2020, means that concerns over Tibet’s environment have never been more pressing.

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In November, China will undergo its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

During the UPR process, the Chinese delegation will present what they have done to improve human rights in China. The other states present will respond by raising human rights concerns in China and making recommendations to China on addressing ongoing human rights violations.

Earlier this year, Tibet groups submitted summaries of human rights violations [j2] in Tibet to the Human Rights Council. These reports detailed cases of arbitrary detentions, torture deaths in prison, as well as widespread violations of Tibetans’ freedom of expression, movement and religion. Many of these violations have worsened since China had its last UPR in 2013.

While it has carried out these abuses, Beijing has doubled down on its attempts to close Tibet off from the world. Human rights monitors and journalists are denied free access to Tibet, Tibet’s borders are sealed to prevent refugees from reaching safety in India and a mass surveillance system has made it riskier than ever for Tibetans to discuss human rights or send details of abuses to the outside world. It is therefore crucial that international governments confront China directly about its human rights violations in Tibet, to challenge Beijing on its record and to demonstrate that the outside world is following events in Tibet and that it will not be deterred by any attempts to cover up abuses.

We need the United Kingdom and other governments to raise Tibet at the UPR. Please contact your MP or representative, urging them to contact their national government and ask that human rights in Tibet is among the topics raised at the UPR.

We have included a model letter that you can either send in its present form or adapt with your own talking points. Please be polite at all times. If you receive a response from your representative, please let us know by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Full Joint UPR Submission: bit.ly/Tibet_UPR2018

Sample Letter can be found here.

Your Foreign Ministry Contact can be found here.

The contact details of your MP can be found here.

 

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Liverpool FC has caved in to pressure from Tibet campaigners, choosing not to renew its controversial sponsorship deal with Tibet Water Resources Ltd (TWRL).

Over 86,000 people had signed a petition calling on the club to drop the deal, organised by consumer watchdog SumOfUs and supported by 28 Tibetan civil society organisations from around the world, including Tibet Society UK and Free Tibet.

Campaigners called on the club to cancel the deal due to TWRL’s exploitation of the natural resources of Tibet, which is enabled through the help of the Chinese military occupation.

LFC remained silent in the face of the campaign for over a year, including when campaigners drove a mobile billboard in the streets around Anfield highlighting that Tibetans are tortured under Chinese rule.

The club failed to acknowledge any meeting requests from campaigners, led by Tibet Society UK, Free Tibet, the International Tibet Network and SumOfUs, only to quietly drop the campaign at the beginning of the new Premier League season.

Gloria Montgomery, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns at Tibet Society said: “This is a massive victory for Tibetans and the nearly 90,000 people globally who called on Liverpool FC to ditch the deal. Our duty to ensure companies and brands are not complicit in human rights violations is absolutely clear, and Liverpool FC’s directors have now been forced to listen to these demands, including from their own fans, and put the Tibetan people before profits.”

Sondhya Gupta, senior campaigner at SumOfUs, said: “This partnership revealed a dark side to the beautiful game, so – after a year of silence toward our campaign – we’re delighted that LFC executives have finally dropped their deal with Tibet Water. Liverpool fans are famous for their motto “you’ll never walk alone”, expressing solidarity that always made the Tibet Water partnership incompatible with the club’s identity. Clubs like LFC need to remember that they’re accountable to fans and the public, who expect more.”

John Jones, Campaign and Advocacy Manager at Free Tibet said: “We are thrilled to learn that Liverpool FC and Tibet Water have parted ways. A company that exploits the resources of an occupied and oppressed people is not a viable partner, something that Tibetans, Tibet supporters and Liverpool fans have made very clear over the past year. Despite the silence from the club’s directors, the solidarity between Tibetans and Liverpool fans was impossible to ignore. The correct decision has now been taken. The result is a victory for human rights, ethics and the people of Tibet.”

Mandie McKeown, Campaigns Coordinator for the International Tibet Network said: “This is just the result we were looking for. Liverpool FC is one of the largest clubs on the planet, with millions of fans around the world, many of whom have made their opposition to the deal crystal clear. We are delighted that Liverpool FC have ceased accepting sponsorship from a company that exploits the military occupation of Tibet and we hope it brings them further good luck for the 2018/19 season.”

END

View the petition here: https://actions.tibetnetwork.org/tell-liverpool-fc-drop-its-sponsorship-deal-tibet-water-0

Spokespeople are available for comment.

Tibet Society is the world’s first ever Tibet support group. The Society was founded in 1959, within weeks of the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet following the uprising against China's occupation. Today, the organisation continues to work actively for the freedom of the Tibetan people and their right to self-determination.

SumOfUs is a global consumer group that campaigns to hold big corporations accountable. Over 10 million people have taken over 50 million actions worldwide with SumOfUs since it launched.

Free Tibet is a London-based international campaign organisation. Its vision is a free Tibet in which Tibetans are able to determine their own future and the human rights of all are respected. It campaigns for an end to China’s occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans’ right to freedom.

International Tibet Network is a coalition of more than 170 Tibet organisations, campaigning for an end to human rights violations in Tibet and restoring rights to the Tibetan people.
 
Contact: Gloria Montgomery: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

tashi2

 

Tibet Groups have reacted in anger today at the news that the five year prison sentence for language rights advocate Tashi Wangchuk was upheld on 13 August. Tashi’s lawyer, Liang Xiaojun tweeted today that “both the argument from Tashi Wangchuk himself and the defending statement from the lawyers were not accepted at all.” [1] Tashi Wangchuk is due to remain in prison until 2021.

“China’s rejection of Tashi Wangchuk’s appeal is a travesty of justice and shows a disdain for the international concern that the case has raised. Our admiration for Tashi’s courage and resilience has reached new heights and we vow to continue pushing for his immediate and unconditional release” said Tenzin Jigdal of International Tibet Network, a network of 170 campaign groups around the world.

Tashi Wangchuk was arrested in January 2016, after carrying out a peaceful campaign to urge the Chinese government to ensure that every Tibetan had access to education in their native Tibetan language. Since his arrest, he has become one of Tibet’s most high-profile prisoners, with Tibetans, Tibet campaigners, human rights organisations, United Nations experts, linguists, and governments all calling for his release.

His case was most recently raised by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in August, when experts pressed Chinese officials for an explanation for his arrest. The delegation responded by claiming that Tashi Wangchuk was arrested due to acts towards the "succession of the state".“With China having recently received criticism from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and facing its third Universal Periodic Review in November, Beijing has missed an opportunity to correct a serious injustice” said Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren of Free Tibet. “Instead they’ve made it blatantly clear that they will use the language of national security to suppress any activity they dislike. They seem to be quite comfortable bending the rule of law to suit their own purposes.”

Tashi Wangchuk is a 33-year old Tibetan shopkeeper and language advocate from Kyegundo County in the Kham region of Tibet (Ch: Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province). He became concerned over the lack of Tibetan-language education when local authorities forced local Tibetan language classes to close, leaving his two teenage nieces with no means of learning their native tongue.

He spoke with the New York Times in late 2015 about his attempts to promote the teaching of Tibetan, resulting in a news article and a video documentary on the New York Times website.[2] He insisted that his interview be on the record, despite the tight restrictions on freedom of speech in occupied Tibet.He also emphasised that his language advocacy was non-political and that he did not wish to criticise the Chinese government or call for Tibetan independence. His attempts to persuade the Chinese government to guarantee Tibetan language instruction were conducted through official channels and were focussed on ending the decline of the Tibetan language and the threat this posed to Tibetan culture. Nevertheless, in January 2016 he was arrested and held in secret. While in detention Tashi Wangchuk was isolated from his family and subjected to torture and ill-treatment.Tashi Wangchuk did not stand trial until January 2018, almost two years after his arrest. During his trial, which took place behind closed doors, the New York Times documentary was screened. On 22 May 2018 he was found guilty of “inciting separatism” and sentenced to five years in prison, which included the time he served in arbitrary detention.Tashi Wangchuk is one of a number of Tibetans who have been convicted of “inciting separatism” and other vaguely worded state security laws that the occupying Chinese authorities routinely use against Tibetans. This occurs, despite the fact that the rights for ethnic minorities are guaranteed by Chinese law, including the right to use their own language. [3]

There are an estimated 2,000 Tibetans political prisoners who remain in jail, many of them for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, their cultural and religious rights, sending information about human rights abuses to the outside world and other acts which are protected under international law. [4]

Notes 

[1]  Liang Xiaojun on Twitter - https://twitter.com/liangxiaojun/status/1032466215036284928?s=21 “The second instance of Tashi Wangchuk’s case was announced in Yushu City Detention Center on 13th August. His family is not allowed to hear the sentence. The adjudication from Qinghai High Court was received recently, and both the argument from Tashi Wangchuk himself and the defending statement from the lawyers were not accepted at all. The second instance has upheld the same sentence. After the trial, Tashi Wangchuk was allowed to meet his family.”

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000004031427/a-tibetans-journey-for-justice.html 
[3] https://www.cecc.gov/resources/legal-provisions/regional-ethnic-autonomy-law-of-the-peoples-republic-of-china-amended [4] http://www.tchrd.org/tchrd_pdb/prisoners-database/ 

Contacts

Tenzin Jigdal, International Tibet Network (Tibetan, English) | +91 9822 55516, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alison Reynolds | +44 7711 843884 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Free Tibet |+44 7387 182260 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 


Tibet Society
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Patron:
 His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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