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On 12 March 2011, a coalition of UK-based based Tibet support groups, including Tibet Society, sent an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. The letter was hand-delivered to Downing Street by representatives of the coalition during the Tibetan Freedom March, which marked the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising.

Rt. Hon David Cameron
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London SW1 2AA

12 March 2011

Dear Prime Minister,

The 10 March saw the 52nd anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising against Chinese rule. Today, on the occasion of the Tibet Freedom March through London that commemorates the Uprising and following the Tibet Lobby at Westminster, we are writing this open letter to urge that your government implements a more proactive and committed engagement with China both to protect the human rights of the Tibetan people and to seek a just solution for Tibet through political dialogue.

Not only do the peoples of Tibet and China have a fundamental entitlement to their basic human rights, but it is also in the UKs national interest that these fundamental rights are realised. The UK benefits from Chinese stability and, as you acknowledged, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse. However, the rights of Tibetans in Tibet continue to be denied and violated by the Chinese administration as part of its strategy to enforce stability.

Tibetans in Tibet currently face worsening human rights abuses and restrictions of fundamental freedoms. The Chinese government continues its oppressive policies in Tibet, often under the guise of development and social stability, and shows little regard for internationally accepted human rights. Freedom of expression is severely restricted, with many Tibetans detained and tortured for expressing their views.

In order to realise the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and to honour the governments manifesto commitment to seek a closer engagement with China, while standing firm on human rights, we call on you to:
  • Ensure human rights are a central and integral part of UK foreign policy with China and are not allowed to be marginalised in favour of trade considerations. The UK currently addresses human rights with China almost exclusively through the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue and through back-room diplomacy that has failed to effect improvements on the ground.
In its 2008 Human Rights Report, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee concluded that neither had China made progress towards greater respect for human rights nor had the British governments policy of constructive dialogue with China led to any significant improvements in the human rights situation.

This cannot be allowed to continue. In view of the recent robust statements that both you and the Foreign Secretary have made on the rights of the peoples of the Middle East and assertions such as universal values are the right of all people, we look forward to greater commitment and intent in acting to protect and bring positive change to human rights in Tibet and China. The effects of failing to stand firm with authoritarian regimes are increasingly evident.

Enclosed is a statement on the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue from human rights groups working in the UK, including all the members of this coalition. This statement was sent to the Foreign Secretary last week. Whilst the groups support engagement with China, it is strongly felt that it is time for a new and more robust approach. We would be very interested in your response to the statement and its recommendations.

In 1998, China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, guaranteeing fundamental rights to all people under Chinese rule; over ten years later the Chinese government has failed to ratify the covenant or to integrate its principles into law.
  • We urge your government to press China consistently to agree a timeframe for ratification and to implement and uphold its principles of freedom of expression and opinion.
Turning specifically to Tibet; we are encouraged by your governments stated concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet, interest in Tibets long-term stability and commitment to finding a solution through political dialogue. There is currently serious concern that in view of the change of Chinese leadership in 2012 and there being no agreed date for the next round of Sino-Tibetan Dialogue, the dialogue may be sidelined. We therefore urge you to:
  • Support publicly the Sino-Tibetan Dialogue, encouraging a transparent process with agreed timeframes for rounds of negotiations and with agreed agendas for each round. As with other similar negotiation processes, international facilitation is recognised as near essential to achieving progress.

  • Welcome publicly the election of the Kalon Tripa, Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, invite him to the United Kingdom to meet the government, and encourage the Chinese President to engage with the Kalon Tripa. The election is taking place on 20 March and the final result will be known by mid-April.
Yours sincerely

Philippa Carrick, Tibet Society
Stephanie Brigden, Free Tibet
Liam Allmark, Students for a Free Tibet UK
Tenzin Rangdol, Tibetan Community in Britain
Karma Chura-Tsang, Tibetan Youth UK

Read the letter sent to the Chinese Ambassador to the UK.

Read a report about Uprising 2011 events in the UK, including the Tibetan Freedom March and the Tibet mass Lobby.

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