Australia Tibet Council

Enabling everyone in Australia to be part of change in Tibet

Australia Tibet Council (ATC) has called on Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to raise the Tibet issue with Jia Qinglin, China's fourth-ranked leader, visiting Australia from 5-11 April. As head of the United Front Work Department, Jia has direct responsibility for the stalled dialogue process with the Dalai Lama's representatives. The ATC has urged the foreign minister to encourage Jia to revive the dialogue process and to demonstrate a real commitment to reaching a resolution. Paul Bourke, ATC's Executive Officer, said, "The current harassment of Chinese writers, lawyers and activists reflects the everyday reality for Tibetans. Jia's visit offers an opportunity for the Australian government to speak up for Tibetans and encourage China to get serious about working with the Tibetans to achieve a workable outcome". Jia is a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee and the chairman of parliamentary-style People's Political Consultative Conference. As chair of the government's Tibet Work Leading Group and head of the United Front Work Department, he is a key player in Tibet affairs. The dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama, beginning in 2002, is in limbo as the Tibetans' proposal on a genuine autonomy was flatly rejected at their last meeting in January 2010. Tibet today has over 700 political prisoners and the past three years have seen a targeted crackdown on Tibetan cultural and intellectual figures. A new report by a US government delegation finds that despite massive economic investment in Tibet, the growing Chinese influx, income equalities and restrictions on religious practices are fuelling discontent and unhappiness among Tibetans. It notes the high growth boom in Tibet has come at the cost of its fragile environment, ancient culture and social ills from drugs to prostitution. The ATC wants Rudd to put the ongoing repression on political and religious freedom, environmental damage and marginalisation of culture in Tibet on the agenda for discussions with Jia. For further information and comment: Paul Bourke 02 9283 3466

On Sunday, the 20th March, Australia's Tibetans will be joining Tibetans around the world in voting for the new Kalon Tripa - Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The landmark election is a culmination of a lengthy process of democratisation under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, who recently made the decision to hand all political leadership to the new prime minister and parliament. "Today we see the realisation of the Dalai Lama's goal of establishing a modern democratic system, a vision he has held since coming into exile over fifty years ago," said Tsering Kyinzom Dhongdue, Research and Government Relations Manager for the Australia Tibet Council. "The move to democracy is one of the most important achievements of the Tibetan exile community and a notable contrast to the continuing totalitarian rule in China." Read more

10th March: Because I am Tibetan - This will be the slogan at a Tibet rally at Martin Place in Sydney today as Tibetans mark the 52nd anniversary of National Uprising Day and the 3rd anniversary of 2008 uprising (approaching on 14th March). A second rally will also be held at the Chinese consulate, Camperdown, later in the afternoon. The Chinese government this week has banned foreigners travelling to Tibet in March. Tibet could remain closed for many months as travel agents wait for permits from the authorities. Ahead of these politically-significant dates, China introduced a new "Strike Hard" campaign in Tibet last month, with over 20 young Tibetans detained for having "banned" songs on their mobile phones. Read more

Australia Tibet Council (ATC) joins Chinese democracy advocates and human rights groups to celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize award to imprisoned Chinese intellectual and activist Liu Xiaobo on Human Rights Day. "This honour for Liu Xiaobo is an honour for all prisoners of conscience, including hundreds of Tibetans, persecuted by China for exercising freedom of speech. By awarding this prize to Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Committee has illuminated the human rights of the people in China and Tibet and created a sense of hope," said Paul Bourke, Executive Officer of Australia Tibet Council. Read more

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