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Tibet Uprising Anniversary 2013: UK Report PDF Print E-mail
[15 March 2013] Tibetans and Tibet supporters gathered across the UK to mark the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. Marches were held in London and Edinburgh on 10 March in solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet, the annual Tibet Lobby took place on 13 March with lobbyists calling on MPs to take action in support of Tibetan freedom and further events were organised in Chipping Norton, Corsham, Lampeter and Northampton.

Tibet Freedom March & RallyWreath-laying ceremonyTibet LobbyLocal events

Tibet Freedom March & Rally (10 March)
Tibet Freedom MarchOn 10 March 2013, the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, approximately 600 Tibetans and Tibet supporters took to the streets in central London to call for an end to China's occupation of Tibet, for the Chinese government to respect the rights of the Tibetan people and for the UK government to stand up and take action.

Tibetans and Tibet supporters gathered opposite Downing Street on a cold and blustery day, and were soon motivated with a rendition of the Tibetan Uprising Song by members of the Tibetan community..

Downing StreetBefore the march began a letter, signed by representatives from the organising coalition, including Tibet Society, was delivered to 10 Downing Street. The letter called on the Prime Minister to publicly speak out on the Tibet issue and to work with other governments to urge China to end the repression in Tibet. (Click here to read the letter to the Prime Minister.)

Tibet Freedom March then set off, led by Lama Lobsang bearing a portrait of the Dalai Lama and Tibetans carrying a large Tibetan flag. The march wound its way along Whitehall, past Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and up Regent Street. Demonstrators carried placards and banners with messages directed at both the Chinese and UK government. They waved Tibet flags whilst chanting "Free Tibet", "Human Rights for Tibet" and "Long Live the Dalai Lama". After an hour and a half, the colourful and noisy procession reached the Chinese Embassy, where a rally was held.

Tim LoughtonMember of Parliament and long-time Tibet supporter, Tim Loughton MP, was the guest speaker at the rally. Last year Mr Loughton spoke out against the UK government's decision to refuse ministers from meeting the Dalai Lama during his summer visit.

Mr Loughton gave an inspiring speech, calling on the free world to "draw attention to the liberties that are denied to [Tibetans] by China in their own country".

During his speech Mr Loughton held up an olive branch, calling on new Chinese President Xi Jinping "to start a real dialogue" on Tibet. "We offer an olive branch to China if they really mean what it says in their constitution about respecting the autonomy of regions within the borders of China," said Mr Loughton. He added, "Start a new dialogue and if you do, if you really are serious about respecting the rights, identity, and culture of the Tibetan people inside and outside your boundaries, then the world will be behind you. We will be behind you."

Mr Loughton said that China must recognise that "free speech means that you value the precious virtues of truth and equality and respect for all of your citizens, and we ask no less for the people of Tibet." (Click here to read Tim Loughton's full speech.)

Tibet Freedom MarchMr Thubten Samdup, the Dalai Lama's Representative for Northern Europe and the UK, read out the 10 March statement from Sikyong Lobsang Sangay (the Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile. The Sikyong said, "The only way to end this brutal and grave situation [in Tibet] is for China to change its current hard line Tibet policy by respecting the aspirations of the Tibetan people."

The Sikyong called on the new Chinese leadership to recognise the Tibetan government in exile's commitment to the Middle Way Approach, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibetans. He reiterated his call for talks with China, saying the Tibetan government in exile is "ready to engage in meaningful dialogue anywhere, at any time." The Sikyong also urged "governments and the international community to take concrete actions to press the Chinese government to enter into meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan leadership." (Click here to read the full statement by the Sikyong.)

Sonam at the RallyThe final speech of the rally was given by Nawang Anjatsang, also known as Sonam, a UK-based Tibetan who produced the acclaimed film Little Tibet in 2011. Sonam urged his fellow Tibetans to take action to support Tibetans inside Tibet who resist China's brutal rule. He said, "In exile, particularly here in the UK, Tibetans enjoy universal rights, including freedom of speech, that are being denied in Tibet. Therefore, we have a greater responsibility to do something meaningful, whatever way we can, by using our knowledge and area of expertise."

Sonam thanked all Tibet supporters for their commitment to the cause and finished by looking to the future for the inevitability of a "free people, free nation, free Tibet". (Click here to read Sonam's full speech.)

Chinese EmbassyAt the end of the rally, representatives from the organisers of the march and rally (Tibet Society, Free Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet UK, Tibetan Community in Britain and Tibetan Youth UK) along with Tim Loughton MP attempted to deliver a letter to the Chinese Ambassador. As the Embassy is considered private property, the police refused representatives access to the front door, so following a photo opportunity on the (public) pavement, the letter was then posted by conventional means. (Click here to read the letter to the Chinese Ambassador.)

The letter calls on the Chinese government to review its existing policies in Tibet and take measures that give the Tibetan people the rights they are entitled to. It also asks the Chinese Ambassador for a meeting to discuss the current situation in Tibet.

Prior to the Tibet Freedom March and Rally, and to mark the Uprising anniversary, Tibet Society issued a press release. In the statement, Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, said, "Despite Chinas intractable stance on Tibet, Tibetans are showing ever more resistance to Chinas rule through protests, demonstrations and grassroots actions to re-assert their cultural identity... They are determined to revoke Chinas rule and shape their own future in their own country. (Click here to read the full press release.)

View photos on facebook from the Tibet Freedom March & Rally
(The Tibet Freedom March & Rally was organised by a coalition of UK-based Tibet groups, including Tibet Society.)

Wreath-laying Ceremony (13 March)

Wreath ceremonyOn Wednesday 13 March, representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet (APPGT) laid a wreath at Westminster Abbey to mark the Tibetan National Uprising anniversary and remember all the victims of China's 63-year occupation.

The wreath-laying, at the Memorial to Innocent Victims of Oppression, Violence and War (located at the main entrance to Westminster Abbey), was accompanied by a short multi-faith service. The service was led by the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Canon Steward and Archdeacon.

WreathFollowing Christian prayers, Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab, Leeds North East and chair of the APPGT), gave a short address drawing particular attention to those who have died due to China's occupation of Tibet and been imprisoned for defending the freedoms and human rights of the Tibetan people.

Geshe Tashi Tsering, the Spiritual Director of Jamayang Buddhist Centre, led Buddhist prayers before the wreath was laid by Mr Hamilton and fellow APPGT members, Kate Hoey MP (Lab, Vauxhall) and Tim Loughton MP (Con, East Worthing & Shoreham). The service was also attended by Riki Hyde-Chambers, Chairman of Tibet Society, Tibetans and Tibet supporters.

View photos on facebook from the wreath-laying ceremony
(The wreath-laying ceremony was organised by Tibet Society and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.)

Tibet Lobby 2013

UPDATE: Listen to the podcast "The Unexpected Lobbyists",  about Tibet Lobby Day at Westminster (7 minutes). Broadcast on 30 May 2013 on The Tibet Connection, a US-based monthly radio program which features news and stories about Tibet.
The Tibet Connection airs on 100 stations in the Pacifica network.

Tibet Lobby 2013The fifth annual Tibet Lobby took place at the Houses of Parliament and in local constituencies around the UK on Wednesday 13 March . Overall, it is estimated at least 150 MPs have been lobbied by about 300 supporters either in face-to-face meetings or through letters.

The focus of this year's lobby was to call on MPs to ask David Cameron to make a public statement of concern on Tibet and to urge the UK government to work with other governments to find a solution to the Tibet crisis.

At Westminster, about 60 Tibetans and supporters took part in the lobby on 13 March. Lobbyists met with their MPs in Central Lobby, raised their concerns and called on them to take action for Tibet. The response was positive, with most MPs committing to take the recommended actions.

APPGT drop-in meetingFollowing the lobby a special meeting was held for lobbyists to meet and interact with MPs who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. Throughout the afternoon MPs dropped in to the informal meeting, including Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab, Leeds North East and chair of the APPGT), Cathy Jamieson MP (Lab/Co-op, Kilmarnock and Loudoun) and Nic Dakin MP (Lab, Scunthorpe).

During the meeting lobbyists asked a variety of questions of the MPs covering many topics. Of particular interest were the processes that MPs can use to raise the issue of Tibet in parliament. The MPs explained that written questions could be tabled at any time, but that there was a ballot process for questions to be raised orally during parliament sessions. Debates are another mechanism, but again though MPs can apply for specific issues to be debated there is no guarantee they will be accepted.

The MPs agreed it was time for another debate on Tibet in the House of Commons, given that the last debate was in December 2011. (Tibet Society will be following this up with MPs in the coming weeks.)

The APPGT members were also asked about the best ways for individuals to raise issues of concern with their MPs. Cathy Jamieson said that she found face-to-face meetings of most value, as individuals could not only provide information on their concerned issue but also express the stength of their feelings. She added that personally written letters were also effective and held more sway than template letters, postcards or petitions. Nic Dakin agreed, adding that by meeting an MP an individual had their MP's full attention for 5 or 10 minutes and could really make an impression, more so than by letter or email - though such forms of communication were also important.

[Note: It is not too late to participate in Tibet Lobby 2013. You can meet you MP locally or write to him/her with your concerns. Please let us know of any response you receive from your MP as this helps us to monitor parliamentary support. Click here for info on how to lobby your MP.]

View photos on facebook of the Tibet Lobby
(Tibet Lobby was organised by a coalition of UK-based Tibet groups, including Tibet Society.)

Local Group Events
Events were held around the UK to mark the Uprising anniversary. A Tibet Freedom March was held in Edinburgh on 10 March and was preceded by several talks in the week leading up to the anniversary, the Tibetan flag was raised in Northampton and public events were held in Chipping Norton (Oxfordshire), Corsham (Wiltshire) and Lampeter (Ceredigion).

Click here to read full report on local events marking the Uprising Anniversary in 2013.

Photos on this page copyright Rinzin Wangyal & Paul Golding.

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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