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Urge the UK government to 'Stand Up for Tibet' on world stage - UPDATED PDF Print E-mail
[31 October 2013] Following on from China's human rights review at the UN on 22 October, there are still several major opportunities for the British government to show its support for the Tibetan people and their quest for basic human rights and freedoms. On 12 November China is seeking re-election to the UN Human Rights Council, and in early December the Prime Minister is expected to visit China. These represent key opportunities for the UK government to speak out against China's oppressive rule in Tibet. Please take action now and call on the UK government to 'Stand Up for Tibet'.

Take Action  I  Further reading & background


Take Action
Tibet Society logoCall on the UK government to continue to raise the issue of Tibet and human rights at every opportunity with the Chinese government, especially at the upcoming election of UN Human Rights Council members and during the Prime Minister's visit to China.
1. Write to Foreign Secretary William Hague
2. Write to Prime Minister David Cameron
3. Write to you MP
4. Sign Avaaz's petition
Click here if you live outside the UK

1. Write to Foreign Secretary William Hague

Write to the Foreign Secretary with the following points:

a. Thank the UK government for its strong statement on China's human rights record made during China's Universal Periodic Review at the UN on 22 October and, in particular, for noting concern over the situation in Tibet and the lack of protection of Tibetans' cultural rights and religious freedoms.

b. Ask the Foreign Secretary to ensure the UK votes against China's re-election to the UN Human Rights Council (election to be held on 12 November), backing up the message delivered at China's UPR. China should not be re-elected to the Council on the grounds of the lack of any significant improvement in the human rights of those living under the rule of the Chinese government, and the worsening conditions for Tibetans living in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan regions of Chinese provinces.

Also call on the UK to urge the UNHRC to initiate effective processes, including benchmarks, which will bring improvements in the human rights records of all countries, particularly for those countries on the Council itself.

c. To raise the issue of Tibet and human rights at every possible opportunity with the Chinese government, including high-level meetings between British and Chinese ministers. Specifically, call on China to address the grievances of the Tibetan people and end its oppressive rule over Tibetans.

In addition, feel free to add quotes about China's human rights record and its oppressive rule in Tibet from respected NGOs.
See list of quotes and reports below.

(Note: If you wrote to the Foreign Secretary prior to the UPR please send a follow-up letter thanking the UK government for its strong statement at the UPR, and reiterating points made in your previous letter, such as points b and c above.)

Foreign Secretary William Hague
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Salutation: Dear Foreign Secretary

Please also write to Minister of State Hugo Swire, whose areas of responsibility include China and Tibet.

Minister of State Hugo Swire
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Salutation: Dear Mr Swire

2. Write to Prime Minister David Cameron
Call on the Prime Minister to undertake the following:

a. To raise the issue of Tibet and human rights with Xi Jinping during his visit to China later this year. In particular, call on the Chinese President to end the oppressive policies in Tibet and to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and China's own constitution.

b. To call on Xi Jinping to enter into an earnest dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people in order to bring about a peaceful resolution to the issue.

c. To make a public statement on Tibet and human rights whilst in China. Congratulate the Prime Minister for not succumbing to pressure from China after meeting the Dalai Lama in May 2012, but now urge him to publically call on the Chinese government to adhere to international standards of rule of law and to respect universally-accepted human and civil rights.

d. To follow-up on the Foreign Secretary's statement of 3 September, and call on the Chinese government to commute the death sentence of Dolma Gyab, who was convicted of murdering his wife despite reports that she had self-immolated.

In addition, feel free to add quotes about China's human rights record and its oppressive rule in Tibet from respected NGOs. See list of quotes and reports below.

Prime Minister David Cameron
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Email: via website https://email.number10.gov.uk

Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

3. Write to your MP
Ask your MP to call on the UK government to stand up for Tibet during the UNHRC elections and the Prime Minister's visit to China. Ask you MP to raise the above points with the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister.

To find your MP's contact details go to http://findyourmp.parliament.uk or use http://www.writetothem.com to send a message to your MP.

4. Sign Avaaz's petition
This international petition calls on UN member states to urge China for a commitment to end its hard-line policies in Tibet in the run-up to the UNHRC vote.
Click here to sign the petition

If you live outside the UK
Please write to your own Foreign Minister and parliamentary representative urging your government to stand up for Tibet during Chinas UNHRC elections and any forthcoming high-level official visits.

If you receive a reply
Please send copies of any replies you receive to Tibet Society - email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or post to Tibet Society, Unit 9, 139 Fonthill Road, London N4 3HF - as this helps us to monitor the government's actions.


Further Reading

2 Nov: Opinion: China hasnt earned a spot on UNHRC (Washington Post)
29 Oct: Report on China's UPR (including China's response)
22
Oct: UK states concern over Tibet at China's UPR (including full statement)
11
Oct: UK urged to raise Tibet during China's UPR

Background information
1.
Universal Periodic Review
2.
The UNHRC election
3.
The Prime Minister's visit to China

1. Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves the review of the human rights records of all UN member states. Run under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, the UPR provides an opportunity for member states to raise concerns about human rights in each country and for the reviewed state to respond and declare what actions they have taken to improve their own human rights record.

Prior to the UPR, stakeholders can make submissions for consideration of the UPR Working Group. During the UPR there is a session at which member states can raise concerns or recommendations on the reviewed state's human rights record. The reviewed state also inputs into the session with its own declarations and responses. The UPR Working Group then issues a report on the outcome of the review.

According to the UN, "The UPR is one of the key elements of the Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur."

China's Universal Periodic Review
On 22 October 2013, China will have its human rights record reviewed via the UPR process. China's last UPR took place in 2009.

Earlier this year, the International Tibet Network (of which Tibet Society is a member) submitted a report to the UPR Working Group on the current human rights situation inside Tibet. Tibet Society also delivered this report to the UK government and officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Tibet Society has also continued to lobby the Foreign Office to raise Tibet during the upcoming UPR of China. Additional lobbying by Tibet supporters now would help to get the message across that Tibet must not be forgotten in these important mechanisms.

The 2009 UPR
China's first UPR took place in 2009. Various concerns were raised about China's human rights record, including by the UK which also specifically expressed concern "about the human rights situation in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas, particularly as regards cultural rights, including religious rights, and the use and teaching of minority languages, history and culture."

China responded stating it was already working on protecting ethnic minorities religious, civil, socioeconomic and political rights and committed to improving Tibetans access to human rights as an ethnic minority group in China.

However, since 2009 the Chinese government has continued to undermine, discriminate against and violate the rights of Tibetans and other ethnic minority groups. Basic freedoms such as the freedoms of expression, religion and assembly continue to be routinely denied; arbitrary detention is commonplace in Tibet; there is a lack of due process for defendants; and, the forced resettlement of nomads and rural residents has been accelerated in the past year.

The human rights situation in Tibet is critical. The UPR provides an opportunity for these concerns to be raised and addressed in an open and transparent manner. The UK and all member states must continue to raise Tibet during the UPR as a matter of urgency.

Further reading: UPR (UN website) I International Tibet Network report (PDF)
Report on China's UPR in 2013

UNHRC logo2. The UNHRC election
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is responsible for the global promotion and protection of human rights, for addressing human rights violations and making recommendations. The Council was created in 2006 replacing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The Council is made up of 47 UN member states, each elected by a majority of the UN General Assembly through a secret ballot. The Councils membership is based on equitable geographical distribution, such that, for example, Asia-Pacific states have 13 seats and Western Europe seven seats. Council members serve a three-year term and are not eligible for immediate re-election if they have served two consecutive terms.

There are no specified criteria for membership to the Council. The only criteria refers to the election process, which states that when electing members of the Council, Member States shall take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments thereto.

China has applied for re-election to the UNHRC for the 2014-16 term, having previously been on the Council until 2012. Elections for the 18 available seats (four seats from the Asia-Pacific region) take place on 12 November 2013.

Though China is fully expected to be re-elected to the UNHRC, the process represents an important opportunity for UN member states to raise concerns about the candidate's human rights record. The UK should also vote against China re-election not only based on the continued human rights abuses in China and Tibet but also due to the Chinese governments failure to meet its commitments and pledges made during the 2009 UPR.

Further reading: UNHRC (UN website) I UNHRC (UN elections Campaign, an NGO)

3. The Prime Minister's visit to China
David Cameron is expected to make an official State Visit to China in early December. Though no official date has been announced, government sources have said that the visit will take place "by the end of the year". Tibet Society's contacts have indicated the trip will most likely take place in
early December (it was previously expected to take place in November).

According to the Guardian, the Prime Minister was invited to China by President Xi Jinping during the G20 Summit in Russia at the beginning of September. The invitation was apparently made when the two leaders met at an official G20 dinner, though no date was set. This invitation marked an end to a freeze in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Dalai Lama and David CameronThe rift between the UK and China came about in May 2012 when David Cameron and Nick Clegg met with the Dalai Lama (pictured right). The Chinese government stated the meeting was hurtful to the Chinese people, had "harmed" relations between the UK and China and called on the UK government to apologise. No apology was forthcoming and Cameron's planned visit to Beijing in 2012 had to be scrubbed as it was believed Chinese leaders were going to refuse to meet him.

In May 2013, relations began to be repaired when David Cameron re-stated the UK government's position that it recognises Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China and that it does not support independence for Tibet. (It should be noted that the UK did not change its policy on Tibet, nor did the government apologise for meeting the Dalai Lama. It is also worth noting that trade between China and the UK continued to grow during this period.) In June 2013, William Hague re-iterated the UK's stance in a conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, which apparently re-opened discussions over the possibility of Cameron visiting Beijing.

David Cameron last visited China in November 2010. Although Cameron publicly raised the issue of political reform whilst in Beijing, he failed to make any specific reference to Tibet, human rights or political prisoners. He even failed to publicly call for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose imprisonment was major news at the time.

Further reading: Tibet Society: 15 May 2012 I 9 May 2013 I 3 July 2013
TIbet Society blog 3 July 2013 I Guardian: 6 Sept 2013


NGO reports on Tibet situation
The following are brief summaries and key quotes from reports published in 2013 by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the situation in Tibet. There are also several reports issued by the US government.

Freedom House logoFreedom House, a US-based NGO, ranked Tibet amongst the worst of the worst for political rights and civil liberties alongside countries such as Eritrea, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.  Read report online
(January  2013)

The US State Department stated human rights in Tibet had deteriorated markedly during 2012. It noted the Chinese government was engaging in the severe repression of Tibet by "strictly curtailing the civil rights of Chinas ethnic Tibetan population, including the freedoms of speech, religion, association and movement. Download report
(PDF; Tibet section: pp 83-107) (April 2013)

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom reported that conditions for freely expressing religious belief in Tibet are worse now than at any time over the past decade. Download report
(PDF; China & Tibet section: pp 29-45) (April 2013)

AI logoAmnesty International noted the Chinese government have maintained a stranglehold on political activists, human rights defenders and online activists, subjecting many to harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance. The Chinese authorities continued to repress Tibetans right to enjoy and promote their own culture as well as their rights to freedom of religion, expression, peaceful association and assemblyRead report online (May 2013)

Reporters Without Borders stated that in China those involved in online news and information, such as bloggers and netizens, are forced to deal with increasingly harsh repression. Many Tibetan monks have been convicted or abducted for having sent information abroad about the disastrous state of human rights in Tibet. Read report online (May 2013)

HRW logoHuman Rights Watch reported that the Chinese government has forcibly resettled two million Tibetan nomads and rural dwellers since 2006 and plans to resettle a further one million by the end of 2014. This resettlement policy has led to extensive rights violations including "the absence of consultation" and the "failure to provide adequate compensation", both of which are required under international law. Read report online (June 2013)

Click here to read further reports


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; Family 36; Life 500).
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