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Tibet campaigners call for release of Xu Zhiyong PDF Print E-mail
[21 January 2014] Press release from International Tibet Network, a global coalition of Tibet groups, of which Tibet Society is a member.

Tibet campaigners call on governments to press China for the release of Xu Zhiyong, legal scholar, human rights defender and vocal supporter of Tibet

ITN logoA global coalition of Tibet campaigners has expressed concern about the trial of Xu Zhiyong, a Chinese rights advocate and scholar, who has worked tirelessly to change China's legal system, and has been outspoken in support of the Tibetan people. Xu Zhiyongs lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, stated that Xu will be tried on 22 January 2014 as part of a government-led crackdown on dissent, for assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place [1]. Tibet campaigners urge the Chinese government to immediately drop all politically-motivated charges and release Xu Zhiyong, and call on world governments to make urgent representations to Chinas leaders on Xus behalf.

Xu ZhiyongXu Zhiyong is a compassionate, courageous human rights defender, who has the respect and appreciation of Tibetans and supporters for his writings on Tibet, said Tenzin Jigdal, International Coordinator of International Tibet Network, a global coalition of almost 190 Tibet Groups [2]. Xu deserves the support of international governments. We welcome the concern expressed by outgoing EU ambassador Markus Ederer for Xu on 17 January [3], and urge other government leaders to follow suit.

In December 2012 an Opinion piece by Xu called Tibet Is Burning was published in the New York Times [4], which described his attempts to visit the family of a Tibetan self-immolation protestor named Nangdrol, in order to pay his respects. The piece concluded, I am sorry we Han Chinese have been silent as Nangdrol and his fellow Tibetans are dying for freedom. We are victims ourselves, living in estrangement, infighting, hatred and destruction. We share this land. Its our shared home, our shared responsibility, our shared dream - and it will be our shared deliverance.

Since December 2012, the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated, as a form of protest against Chinas rule, has risen to at least 125, most recently Tsultrim Gyatso, a 41-year old Tibetan monk from Amchok Monastery, who died after he self-immolated on 19 December 2013 [5].

Chinas new leadership under Xi Jinping is continuing to suppress dissent across the board, criminalizing the relatives of TIbetan self-immolation protesters, and detaining Uighur academic Ilham Tohti, who has criticised government policy in East Turkestan. Xu Zhiyong and five of his supporters will be facing trial this week, in a concerted crackdown on the New Citizens  Movement that Xu launched in 2012, which is campaigning for transparency over officials assets.

Xu Zhiyong is also a founder of the Beijing-based think tank, Gongmeng or Open Constitution Initiative, which conducted an independent investigation into the Uprisings on the Tibetan plateau in 2008. The resulting report, which was translated in full by International Campaign for Tibet [6], challenged the Chinese Government's position that the Dalai Lama incited the protests, and presented evidence that the protests resulted from failures in Chinese policy. At the time, Xu Zhiyong was quoted as saying, We want to help society, and help build rule of law. We want to be objective. On questions like Tibet, human rights, and so forth, the Chinese government has a standpoint, foreign governments and foreign media have a standpoint. But its also important to have an independent look at the problems [7]. The reports first recommendation was that Chinas leadership Earnestly listen to the voices of ordinary Tibetans and on the basis of respecting and protecting each of the Tibetan peoples rights and interests, adjust policy and thinking in Tibetan areas to formulate development policies which are suited to the characteristics of Tibetan areas, and which accord with the wishes of the Tibetan people.

Tenzin Jigdal, International Coordinator, [English/Tibetan] + 91 9882 255516
Alison Reynolds, Executive Director, [English] + 44 7711 843884

1. AFP, quoting Zhang Qingfang, see  'Zhang said Xu, who faces a potential five-year jail term on a charge of "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place," will remain silent during his trial, as will his lawyers, in protest at what they see as the unjust way the court has handled his case. Xu, 40, was detained in July after involvement in peaceful street-demonstrations in which activists held banners calling for asset declaration by government officials, seen by some as a reform which would combat endemic corruption in the country's political system.

2. International Tibet Network is a global coalition of Tibet-related non-governmental organisations dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and cultural status. See for more information.

3. See 1. Markus Ederer said Brussels was "concerned on the overall tightening of the human rights situation and especially about the trials of members of the New Citizens Movement, in particular Xu Zhiyong."

4. Tibet Is Burning

5. For details of each case, see

6. The Gongmeng report was translated in full by International Campaign for Tibet, May 2009

7. Time Magazine,8599,1900899,00.html

To see full list of signatories go to:

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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