News of Another Self Immolation in Tibet Reaches Outside World

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March protest just confirmed due to communications clampdown in area

Sonam Tso, a mother of five, carried out a self-immolation protest on Wednesday 23 March 2016, in Dzoege County, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. News of the protest only emerged from Tibet yesterday due to communication restrictions in the area.

The protest took place around midday near Sera monastery in Dzoege County in Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Sonam Tso and her husband, Kalsang Gyaltsen, were walking around the monastery. At one point she asked him to go ahead and said she would join him later. A few minutes later one of the monks heard someone calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet. He then saw Sonam Tso on fire and calling out the slogans. He called for help then he and Sonam’s Tso’s husband tried to put out the flames. With the help of another monk named Tsultrim, who was also Sonam Tso’s uncle, they brought her body inside the monastery and arranged a vehicle to take her to hospital. However, she died before they were able to leave the monastery.

Sonam Tso was around 50 years old and the mother of five children, three daughters and two sons. She was from Dotsa village, within the same township as Sera monastery.

Tsultrim was arrested after the protest on charges of having shared information about Sonam Tso’s self-immolation. He was released after eight days in detention and was forced to delete the photograph he had taken of the protest. Kalsang Gyaltsen was also called in for questioning three times.

Sonam Tso’s is the second self-immolation to take place inside Tibet during 2016. The earlier protest was carried out by a monk named Kalsang Wangdu on 29 February 2016. To date, more than 140 Tibetans have set themselves alight protesting China’s rule in Tibet.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“The time that it has taken for this news to reach us is indicative of the repressive conditions that Tibetans inside Tibet are forced to live under. That same repression is responsible for Sonam Tso’s death. China continues to try and blame the self-immolations on outside influence or to attribute them to non-political causes. It is long past time that other governments and the world’s media were willing to acknowledge the ugly truth: every Tibetan who dies in a self-immolation protest has been killed by China.”

Information confirmed and supplied to Free Tibet by Tibet Watch.

By Alistair Currie
Tibet Watch

Brits Polled On China And Tibet

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A YouGov poll commissioned by campaign group Free Tibet on the eve of the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping has found that 69% of respondents agree with the Dalai Lama’s comment that UK policy towards China is about “money, money, money.” Just 8% disagreed with the Tibetan spiritual leader’s full statement, made in an interview in September: “Money, money, money. That’s what this is about. Where is morality?”

The poll also shows that seven in ten (69%) believe that protecting human rights in Tibet is more important than or as important as maintaining good trade relations with China. Only 14% considered human rights in Tibet to be less important than trade relations.

The poll arrives amidst widespread concern that the UK is unwilling to risk provoking Beijing’s ire with public support for Tibet or human rights. No members of the government met the Dalai Lama on his trip to the UK this September and on his recent trip to China, Chancellor George Osborne refused to be drawn on human rights in public statements, winning praise from Chinese state media for “not finding fault over the human rights issue.” Instead, Mr Osborne declared that it was Britain’s goal to be China’s “best partner in the West.”

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“Just last week in a meeting at the Foreign Office, Free Tibet was told that commercial interests do not drive UK policy on China. Our poll confirms just how few people outside Whitehall find that claim credible. The UK has sunk so low in its desperation to curry favour with Beijing that David Cameron isn’t so much rolling out the red carpet as lying under it.

“British policy on Tibet and human rights in China is shameful. Human rights defenders in Tibet and China are paying with their lives and freedom for standing up to China’s government while this government is unwilling to stand up to Beijing at all. The Dalai Lama asked ‘where is morality?’. Right now, it isn’t found in Downing St and the British people know it.”

Tibet campaigners will be staging demonstrations throughout Xi Jinping’s visit, including at Downing St on 21 October as Xi meets Mr Cameron. The will carry a large banner saying Cameron: has China bought your silence? Speak out on Tibet. A digital “advan” will also follow the president in London, carrying a Tibetan flag and a separate image of David Cameron gagged by a Chinese flag, saying Warning: Chinese president in town. Don’t mention Tibet or human rights.

By Alistair Currie

David Cameron Under Pressure To Meet The Dalai Lama Again

David Cameron
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A Tibetan rights campaign group has challenged Prime Minister David Cameron to invite the Dalai Lama to meet him during the current visit to the UK of the Tibetan spiritual leader and bête noire for the government of China. The group, Free Tibet, has submitted a 4,000 signature petition to 10 Downing St this week, calling on Mr Cameron to stand up to pressure from China’s government to shun the Nobel Peace prize winner.

The Dalai Lama’s trip is the first visit to London since 2012, when the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg provoked China’s anger by having a private meeting with the spiritual leader. After the meeting, the Chinese government threatened “serious consequences”, saying it had “seriously interfered with China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s core interests, and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

In 2013, Mr Cameron announced he had “no plans” to meet the Dalai Lama again. The statement was widely perceived to be the catalyst for warmer relations between China and the UK, with subsequent visits by the Prime Minister to China and by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the UK in 2014 . President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the UK this October – his first since assuming power in 2012.

In July 2012, two junior ministers in the Coalition government wrote to Mr Cameron to express their frustration after being banned from meeting the Dalai Lama at a private event. Tim Loughton and Norman Baker wrote that the Foreign Office’s approach to the issue was “that British foreign policy on Tibet is whatever China wants it to be.” They added that in regard to Tibet “the Chinese government does not respond positively to any conciliatory gesture by the British government, but instead interprets this as a sign of weakness and so makes further demands for concessions.”

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“No foreign government has the right to tell our political leaders who they can and can’t meet. For China, the willingness or otherwise of political leaders to meet the Dalai Lama is a convenient measure of how low they are willing to go in bending to its will. In shunning the Dalai Lama, David Cameron is sending them a message about how weak we are and that is hardly in the UK’s interests, diplomatically or financially

“Unelected leader Xi Jinping will be greeted with all the honour and respect of a state visit next month – even though he has recently overseen a clampdown on human rights and freedom of expression in China itself that hasn’t been seen for a generation. In contrast, the Dalai Lama – a globally respected leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate – is visiting Britain to talk about compassion. What sort of message does Mr Cameron imagine he is sending to the British people, China and the world by shunning the Dalai Lama and feting Xi?”

London Mayor Boris Johnson has yet to respond to a request from Free Tibet to welcome the Dalai Lama to London, even though both the Labour Group and the Green Group on the London Assembly have extended welcomes to him. The national Green Party has confirmed to Free Tibet that it will issue a welcome to the Dalai Lama. Similar requests were sent in August to Tim Farron MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats; Angus Robertson MP leader of SNP MPs in Westminster. No replies have yet been received from them. Jeremy Corbyn has been sent the request this week, following his election as Labour Party leader.

By Alistair Currie
Daily Telegraph
British monarchy website