ELECTION ACTION: Contact your parliamentary candidates
Tibet Society is asking its members and supporters to question their parliamentary candidates, in the run-up to the General Election about their policies on Tibet and human rights. Tibet Society has written to all the main political parties asking for their stance on Tibet and what commitment they are willing to give to help bring about a solution.

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Action for supporters
All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet
Political party views on Tibet 
Letter sent by Tibet Society to political parties
Responses received: 

Election action for supporters
Tibet Society believes it is vital to build a relationship with your MP to better advocate for Tibet and keep the issue of Tibet on both the parliamentary and government's agendas.

The General Election brings a terrific opportunity to raise the issue of Tibet with your parliamentary candidates who all want your vote! Please grasp this opportunity and bring the issue of Tibet to your local candidates’ attention.

Ask your parliamentary candidates their views on Tibet, China and human rights
Bring up Tibet as an issue you are very concerned about when you are being canvassed, at hustings meetings or email your local candidates. Ask what they personally will do to protect and promote the rights of the Tibetan people as an MP, what their Party’s strategy and policy will be towards China and how they will bring tangible progress towards a just solution for Tibet. Also ask that, if elected, they make a personal commitment to the Tibetan people. A simple request is that they pledge to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

Ideas for questions to ask:
•    What is your/your party’s stance on the current situation in Tibet?
•    What is your policy towards human rights and specifically to promoting human rights in China?
•    What commitment can you give, if elected, to help bring about a solution to the ongoing situation in Tibet?

If the candidate does not know their party’s policy or claims not to know enough about the issue, then ask them to get back to you. Give them your email or postal address, and ask for a response ASAP. You can also provide them with some background information – download our Current Situation & 10 Facts Sheet or read online: 10 Facts | Current situation 

Where to contact your candidates:
•    contact your candidates directly, by email or post
•    attend hustings in your local area
•    ask questions of any candidates who knock on your door
 
To find the parliamentary candidates standing in your constituency and their contact details, including email addesses, go to www.yournextmp.com. There are also constituency maps and information on the BBC website and UKpollingreport.co.uk.

Ask your candidates to sign a pledge form that promises, if elected, he or she will support for Tibet in parliament and join the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.
It would be a very positive action for Tibet to ask your local parliamentary candidate to pledge to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet if elected. In this way we can develop a network of MPs who will speak out and advocate for Tibet in parliament and with the government.

Suggested pledge:
If elected to parliament, I pledge to help protect the rights and freedoms of Tibetans living in Tibet, to call on the Chinese government to find a solution to the Tibet issue by entering into meaningful negotiations with the Dalai Lama and his representatives, and to call on the British government to actively support the Dalai Lama’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in Tibet. I also pledge to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet so I can effectively give Tibet a voice in parliament.

If you successfully canvass your local candidates and they pledge their support, you can either email us details of your candidate or send the pledge form to Tibet Society. We will then contact elected candidates, provide them with further information about Tibet and make sure they are given details of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and invite them to the inaugural meeting once parliament has reconvened.

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All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet
All Party Groups exist to promote and advocate issues and areas of concern to MPs. They are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament and are usually run by and for MPs and Peers sitting in the House of Lords, although quite a number of groups involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities. There are a wide variety of Parliamentary Groups and MPs join those that reflect their own personal priorities. The work of Parliamentary Groups can vary enormously; the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet provides opportunities for MPs to learn more about Tibet and a platform to develop co-ordinated strategies for raising the issue effectively in parliament and with the government.

The objectives of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet are: To put pressure on Her Majesty's Government to encourage negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, whilst recognising that Tibet is an occupied country which had independent links with Britain.

Regular meetings are held where immediate issues of concern are discussed, briefings from NGOs are given, and parliamentary actions followed up. Special meetings are also organised where relevant films are screened or guest speakers, such as visiting representatives from the Tibetan parliament and government in exile, ex-political prisoners or Tibet experts, address the Group.

Tibet Society is secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and our Chief Executive, Philippa Carrick, is the Group’s administrator. The Group’s Chair, Harry Cohen, is standing down at this election. Vice-Chair is Norman Baker and Treasurer is Tim Loughton. | Register of the APPGT | Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it |

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Political party views on Tibet
On 30 March Tibet Society sent a letter (copied below), with key background information, to Party leaders and/or spokespersons, asking for their stance on the current situation in Tibet, their policies on China and human rights, and for a commitment to help bring about a solution to the Tibet issue.

Read the official responses from the political parties regarding their policy on Tibet. Responses received will be published, in entirety, on this webpage (see below).


Parties contacted:
Labour Party
Conservative Party - response received
Liberal Democrats - response received
Green Party of England and Wales - response received
UK Independence Party - response received
Respect Coalition
British National Party
Scottish National Party - response received
Scottish Green Party
Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) - response received
Sinn Féin
Democratic Unionist Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party - response received
Ulster Unionist Party
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Progressive Unionist Party
Green Party in Northern Ireland

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Letter sent by Tibet Society to political parties
On 30 March Tibet Society sent the following letter, with key background information, to Party leaders and/or spokespersons:

Dear [Party leader/spokesperson]

In view of the forthcoming General Election, Tibet Society would like to inform its supporters of your party’s policies on Tibet, China and human rights. This is an important opportunity for UK constituents to hear from you regarding the intentions and the commitment that you and your party have in working towards realising the rights of both the Tibetan and Chinese people, which is in everyone’s interest given the increasing importance and influence of China in global political and economic issues.

I would therefore appreciate if you could respond to the following questions:

• What is your stance on the current situation in Tibet?
• What is your foreign policy towards China?
• What is your policy towards human rights and specifically to promoting human rights in China?
• What commitment can you give to help bring about a solution to the ongoing situation in Tibet?

We are asking the leaders of all political parties for their positions in this regard. Our goal is to publish the responses, or lack thereof, that we receive on our website to make them accessible to our members in order to assist them in their electoral decisions.

Thank you for your cooperation in this regard; we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Philippa Carrick, CEO Tibet Society

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Responses received

Plaid Cyrmu 
Conservative Party 
Scottish National Party 
Green Party of England and Wales 
UK Independence Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party
Liberal Democrats

1. Plaid Cymru
From Lowri Jackson, Research and Policy Officer, 31 March 2010

Dear Philippa Carrick,

Thank you for your letter dated 30th March 2010 asking for information about Plaid Cymru policy on Tibet.

While we have no specific policy relating to Tibet, I can confirm the following:

We will continue to campaign for the rights of minority nations and minority language speakers in Europe and the rest of the world. Plaid will press the UK government to honour the commitment to delivering 0.7% of GDP as international aid and we will continue to campaign for the cancellation of developing countries’ unaffordable debts.  We call for increased resources for the UN Adaptation Fund, to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change. We demand equal representation for developing countries in the decision-making process on climate change action. We also reaffirm our support for the international Fair Trade movement. We insist on essential governance reform of international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to ensure that they take into account human rights, the environment and workers’ rights.

Thank you and best wishes,

Lowri Jackson
Swyddog Ymchwil a Pholisi – Research and Policy Officer
 
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2.  Conservative Party
From Rt Hon William Hague MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, 7 April 2010

Dear Ms Carrick,

Thank you for your letter on Tibet. The answers to your questions are as follows: -

What is your stance on the current situation in Tibet?
The only way to resolve political tensions in Tibet is through dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the representatives of the Dalai Lama. The Conservative Party continues to raise the issue of human rights in China with the relevant Chinese authorities on a regular basis. We are keen to ensure that work is ongoing to improve human rights in Tibet and we will continue that dialogue with China. We also regularly raise the need to respect the Tibetan culture and language as well as ensuring economic advance there.

In September 2007, the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, David Lidington, visited China and spoke with the Chinese government in Beijing at length about a number of issues, including the autonomous status of Tibet and human rights. I travelled to Beijing in December last year and raised the situation in Tibet with the Foreign Minister and State Councillor. In April 2008, David Cameron met the Dalai Lama in London and discussed a range of issues.

What is your foreign policy towards China?

It is in our strategic national interest to have an effective and strong relationship with China. Relations with China are often characterised by tensions over human rights. Our approach has always been to be consistent in raising such issues and not to shrink from debating them with Chinese leaders. At the same time, however, if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons and the urgency of dealing with climate change are the greatest threats to the future of humanity, we must acknowledge that we cannot hope to solve these problems without working closely with China’s leaders. A Conservative government will therefore promote sustained dialogue and close understanding with China and a relationship in which, even where there is a sharp disagreement, neither side will walk away.

What is your policy toward human rights and specifically to promoting human rights in China?

Our relationship with China must be based on candour and rooted in our values. We shall not shy away from raising human rights issues with China and very much hope that China’s economic opening will lead to a greater political opening. We have deep concerns about freedom of expression, of religion, about the extensive use of the death penalty, about the degree to which the media – and access for example to the internet – are curtailed. We make these arguments not because we think we are the moral majority but because out experience has taught us that in the long-term, progress – whether economic, social or environmental – is underpinned by the rule of law, good governance, pluralism and freedom.

What commitment can you give to help bring about a solution to the ongoing situation in Tibet?

We will continue to urge China engage in serious negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s representatives to build a peaceful, sustainable and legitimate solution for Tibet.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

Yours sincerely,
The Rt Hon William Hague MP
Shadow Foreign Secretary
 
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3. Scottish National Party
From Angus Robertson MP, SNP Westminster leader and Foreign Affairs Spokesman, 7 April 2010

Dear Ms Carrick,

In response to your letter of March 31, and the questions you ask I would like to refer you to the following motion that was passed at our conference:
The SNP deplores the continued repression of human, civil, and religious rights in Tibet by the Peoples Republic of China and wishes to highlight, in particular, the fact that these long-standing abuses of the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people are a blatant breach of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Beijing government was a signatory in 1998.

The SNP condemns the fifty-year old occupation of Tibet by the Beijing government and calls for immediate release of all Tibetan political and religious prisoners. SNP parliamenarians will, in their respective parliaments, raise the matter of a UN-supervised referendum on the constitutional future of the Tibetan people and an SNP government will demand that the UN Human Rights Commission compels the Peoples Republic of China to abide by its treaty obligations with regard to Tibet.

The SNP further calls on the international community as a whole to continue in comprehensive dialogue with the Beijing government, making it clear that economic investment with the Peoples Republic of China, by the international community, cannot be divorced from the speedy resolution of human rights within Tibet.

I believe it address all the questions you raised. I would also like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to House of Commons Early Motion 345 which was signed by me and other SNP MPs in December 2009:
 
That this House notes the Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent statement that there is little evidence that the Government’s policy of constructive engagement is leading to any significant human improvements in Tibet and China; further notes that the change made in 2008 by the Government to view Tibet henceforth as part of China was made without parliamentary oversight and has failed to lead to the human rights gains in return that were predicted by the Foreign Secretary at the time; recognises that the Government’s weakening commitment to the protection of human rights in Tibet in recent years has coincided with a dramatic worsening of the human rights situation in Tibet; and calls on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to conduct a formal inquiry into effectiveness of strategies being employed by the Government within its overall policy towards China, to protect and promote the human rights of the Tibetan and Chinese people.

I would like to thank you for asking for the SNP’s views on Tibet.

Yours sincerely,
Angus Robertson MP

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4. Green Party of England and Wales
From Dr Caroline Lucas, Head of party and MEP for SE England, 14 April 2010

What is your stance on the current situation in Tibet?
The Green Party is deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights situation in Tibet and problems such as China’s stranglehold on the economy. I want the UK to use every possible political and diplomatic instrument to change China's policy in Tibet. I have also called on the EU to appoint a special envoy for Tibet, just as it has for Burma, and demand that China allows for an independent investigation into human rights violations.

What is your foreign policy towards China?

Greens want human rights to be given centre stage in the West’s relations with China. Our policy also reflects an interest in helping China reduce its ecological footprint.

What is your policy towards human rights and specifically to promoting human rights in China?
We want human rights to take priority over eg economic factors when it comes to relations with China. The Green Party also wants the UK to apply real pressure on the Chinese authorities – in relation to due judicial process, death sentencing and wider human rights violations in Tibet.

What commitment can you give to help bring about a solution to the ongoing situation in Tibet?

I entirely refute the current Foreign Secretary’s statement that Tibet is part of China and strongly defend the Tibetan people’s right to be the only ones to make such a decision. As all the evidence to date suggests that they still support independence that is the Green Party’s stance also and we will focus on measures that allow the Tibetan people’s wishes to be properly heard and acted upon.

Dr Caroline Lucas
Head of the Green Party of England and Wales
Green Party MEP for SE England

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5. UK Independence Party
From Tim Aker, member of UKIP's policy team, 15 April 2010

Dear Philippa Carrick,

Thank you for your email, which has been passed on to me as a member of the UKIP policy team led by David Campbell Bannerman MEP.

From our Foreign Affairs policy paper: http://www.ukip.org/media/policies/UKIPforeignaffairs.pdf

16.1 UKIP has grave concerns about the present Chinese political regime. We condemn its occupation of Tibet, and the attendant destruction of monasteries and religious artefacts. We also oppose its attempts to restrict the use of the Tibetan language, and its policy of ethnically diluting Tibet through state-sponsored Han mass immigration. UKIP applauds the conciliatory calls of Dalai Lama who wants greater autonomy for Tibet and respect for its ancient traditions.

16.2 UKIP applauds the tiny, democratic nation of Taiwan. Taiwan successfully made a seamless transition from military rule to multi-party democracy over the course of the 20th century. Whilst both China and Taiwan also became powerful economic tigers, Taiwan managed to do so without resorting to totalitarianism and mass murder. UKIP condemns China's continuous threatening remarks towards Taiwan, as well as its deeply provocative military exercises off the Taiwanese coast. UKIP makes no apology for standing with democratic Taiwan in the face of its larger, threatening, totalitarian neighbour.

Our manifesto sums up our positions as the following: http://www.ukip.org/media/pdf/UKIPManifesto2010.pdf

UKIP will "promote democracy, genuine human rights, and free determination around the world, supporting, for example, a free Tibet, a democratic Burma and an independent Taiwan"

Best wishes,

Tim Aker
 
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6. Social Democratic and Labour Party
From Margaret Ritchie, Leader of the SDLP, 27 April 2010

Dear Ms Carrick

I would like to thank you for your correspondence regarding the SDLP’s policies on Tibet, China and human rights. As you may know, the SDLP was born out of a campaign for civil rights and democracy in the north of Ireland. These beliefs remain core tenets of SDLP policy today.

The SDLP support a peaceful dialogue between the government of China and the Tibetan government-in-exile as a means of resolving the issues surrounding the political status of Tibet. The people of Ireland have long been impressed by the steadfast commitment to peaceful means displayed by Tibetan people’s campaign for autonomy, even in the face of disturbing human rights violations by China. We believe it is of the utmost importance that China responds positively to international concerns about its human rights record and attitude to democracy, and believe China’s growing economic status must not deter legitimate criticism.

The SDLP support the people of Tibet’s right to self-determination and we believe that it is vital that, if a mutually satisfactory outcome is to be achieved, all parties engage in a democratic process of compromise and dialogue.

Yours sincerely,

Margaret Ritchie MLA
Leader

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7. Liberal Democrats
From Bess Mayhew, General Election Response Team, Liberal Democrats, 10 May 2010

Dear Ms Carrick
Many thanks for your letter to Mr Clegg. I’m replying to letters and emails on his behalf.

Tibet continues to be of serious concern to the Liberal Democrats. We support the Dalai Lama’s spiritual and moral leadership of Tibet but recognise that China has an important and historical role in the region. However, we have expressed concern and regret at the Government’s decision to change its position to fully recognise China’s sovereignty over Tibet. We do not believe that the Government has extracted much diplomatically in return from China.

The only way to resolve the Tibetan dispute is through ongoing dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama (and his representatives). Despite some concrete moves in 2002 – including a meeting between the Chinese authorities and the Dalaia Lama’s representatives, there has been no recent or tangible development in this area and senior representatives of the two sides have still not met in person. The British government should put pressure on China to undertake meaningful negotiations with the Dalai Lama on a long term solution to the dispute.

Thank you once again for writing to us.

Yours sincerely

Bess Mayhew
General Elections Response Team
Liberal Democrats
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