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[10 March 2013] Text of letter delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron from a coalition of UK-based Tibet groups, including Tibet Society, on the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. The letter calls on the Prime Minister to speak up for the people of Tibet and to work with other governments to urge China to resolve the Tibet crisis.

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

10 March 2013

Dear Prime Minister

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising against Chinas rule. As can be seen from the sustained and widespread actions, protests and demonstrations by Tibetans living in Tibet it is clear that the Tibetan people do not accept Chinas occupation and rule in Tibet.

Indeed, the scale of Tibetan resistance is increasing. In our letter on the same occasion last year, there had been 25 self-immolations in Tibet since February 2009. Today, the figure stands at over 100 and includes instances where monks as young as 15 have taken this action in a bid to call attention to the untenable conditions of living under the repressive and suffocating Chinese regime.

China continues to perpetuate a false reality of Tibet, claiming Tibetans are happy, healthy and prosperous, pointing to large investments in infrastructure and development.

However, the truth is that happy, healthy, prosperous and free people do not choose to self-immolate, a form of protest that is hard to imagine anyone resorting to if there was any other way of making your voice heard. Over 85 per cent of those Tibetans who have self-immolated are under the age of 40, the very generation that China would claim to have benefitted from its policies.

The Chinese Communist Party sees no need to address the grievances that have driven Tibetans to take such actions. Instead, they have tightened security across the Tibetan plateau and increased surveillance, communications monitoring and restrictions on movement. Such measures simply intensify an already tense situation and run counter to Chinas claims of a harmonious society.

The Tibetan people suffer human rights abuses in all aspects of their daily lives and live under increasingly repressive conditions. And, unlike other societies where people can hold their governments to account, the Tibetan people cannot. Within the Peoples Republic of China Tibetans live as an ethnic minority, their voices muzzled through occupation.

Your government has put human rights at the centre of its foreign policy. Both you and your Foreign Secretary have been strong in speaking out about human rights and civil liberties and criticising governments who abuse these rights.

Today, on behalf of thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters in the UK, we call on you to speak up for the people of Tibet as you have for other oppressed people, and make a public statement of concern over the current human rights situation in Tibet.

We further ask that you strongly urge the Chinese government to stop implementing policies that have caused, and continue to exacerbate, the ongoing crisis.

Whilst we acknowledge your government issued a statement of concern on the current situation in Tibet last December, have repeated these concerns in replies to parliamentary questions. However, these responses fall short of being substantive. They also appear to have failed to take into account the changed political landscape following the Dalai Lamas resignation from any political role in 2011.

In the governments statement of 17 December, your Minister of State urged, the Chinese authorities to make every effort to resume meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives as the best way to achieve a long-term solution to underlying tensions.

Whilst this is of course laudable, on what basis would dialogue be conducted given the Dalai Lama has no political role and, as such, nor would his representatives have political authority?

In her responses to a recent oral question in the House of Lords, Baroness Warsi also seemed somewhat vague saying, We encourage all parties to work for a resumption of substantive dialogue as a means to address Tibetan concerns and to relieve tensions.

In the interests of clarification it would be useful for the government to explain exactly who it recognises as being representative of the Tibetan people and with whom it would encourage China to have meaningful dialogue. We would welcome the opportunity to be briefed by the Foreign Secretary on the governments position.

This shift in the political paradigm also brings an opportunity for international governments to work together to develop a consistent and robust approach to seeking a just solution for the Tibetan people.

Historically, Tibetans regard the United Kingdom as having a unique relationship with Tibet.

In view of this special link, today we ask that the UK government take the lead in working multilaterally with other concerned governments to urge China to peacefully resolve the grievances of the Tibetan people and bring positive progress to rule of law and human rights in Tibet.

We would welcome the opportunity to brief your office further about the current situation in Tibet and to take part in a consultative process. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Tenzin Samphel, Tibetan Community in Britain
Karma Chura-Tsang, Tibetan Youth UK
Jamphel Lhamo, Students for a Free Tibet UK                          
Stephanie Brigden, Free Tibet                     
Philippa Carrick, Tibet Society

Read Tibet Uprising Anniversary 2013: UK Report

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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