For Immediate Release: 20 December 2022


Dr Zoe Bedford, Executive Officer,

Australia Tibet Council: 0408 262 576

Human Rights group says to Foreign Minister Penny Wong:
DO NOT Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Australia-China Diplomatic Relationship
Don’t trade away Australia’s values!
Human Rights are more important than trade deals!

It is with great disappointment that Australia Tibet Council (ATC) understands Foreign Minister Penny Wong is travelling to China to re-engage Australia / China trade relations this week.

Senator Wong will be meeting with her counterpart Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canberra and Beijing.

However, this event is not to be celebrated. Australia Tibet Council is urging Foreign Minister Wong not to sell out Australian values for a trade deal. 

China is an occupying power in Tibet since 1950 – The Chinese Government’s human rights abuses in Tibet are so numerous that they can not be contained in a single media release, but they have led to Tibet being declared the ‘least free country in the world” by Freedom House in 2022.

Dr Zoe Bedford of Australia Tibet Council says “Earlier in 2022 – when speaking about Ukraine Prime Minister Albanese said to Russian authorities ““I’ve got a message for him which is I will always stand up for sovereign nations, for the international rule of law, for the UN Charter” – Australia should show the same enthusiasm for Tibet, a sovereign nation under occupation from China, who is violating international rule of law regarding human rights” {ref:  9 July 2022}

Tibet’s brutal occupation by China has seen Tibetans bear the brunt of numerous human rights abuses, including Tibetan political prisoners, who are imprisoned for expressing loyalty to the Dalai Lama, for calling for a Free Tibet or any other expression of freedom that is counter to Chinese policy. Many Tibetans are disappeared – arrested, imprisoned and tortured by CCP authorities while their families are not told of their whereabouts.

CCP authorities control traditional and social media in Tibet even more strictly than in Han Chinese areas of the country. Individuals who use the internet, social media, or other means to share politically sensitive news content or commentary face arrest and heavy criminal penalties. Tibetan cultural expression, which the authorities associate with separatism, is subject to especially harsh restrictions; scores of Tibetan writers, intellectuals, and musicians have been incarcerated in recent years.

The TAR is the only provincial-level region of China that requires foreigners to obtain a special permit to enter, and foreign journalists are regularly prevented from visiting. Journalists also face barriers in access to Tibetan areas of Sichuan and other provinces, though no permission is officially required to travel to those places. Tibetans who communicate with foreign media or other foreign contacts without permission face criminal prosecution and long prison sentences. 

Specifically Australia Tibet Council has asked Foreign Minister Wong to raise the following human rights concerns with the Chinese Government while in China:

1)      The disappearance of the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was disappeared by Chinese Authorities with his family in 1995 when he was only six years old. He is the 2nd highest-ranked Tibetan Lama, but he has not been seen by the world since this time. Around the world, Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhists are concerned for his safety and well-being. Australia should press China for transparency and seek to confirm if he is alive and well.

2)      Cultural Genocide: Tibetan children being removed from their parents. Tibetan children are at risk of becoming a new ‘stolen generation’ as they are being removed from their families, separated from their language, their culture and their religion:

  •         Nearly 80 % of all Tibetan Children between the ages of 6 and 18 have been systematically separated from their parents and housed in State-run boarding schools and preschools throughout jurisdictions designated by the PRC government as ‘autonomous’ for Tibetans.
  •         The schools separate Tibetan children from their families and are “colonial” in design and practice, serving the Chinese Communist Party’s goals of ‘Sinicizing” Tibetans through immersion in Mandarin Chinese instruction and a “highly politicised curriculum.” Which also does not allow children to practise Tibetan Buddhism.
  •         These actions by Chinese authorities constitute a fundamental violation of the rights of Tibetan parents and children by interfering with their rights to preserve the integrity of their family units and stripping them of their right to choose the educational direction for their children.
  •         The PRC government is violating its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child “to respect the right of the children to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised by the law without unlawful interference” and to ensure the rights of ‘ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities… to use their own language.”

The US Congress via the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, has already written to the UN demanding the removal of Tibetan children from their families into these CCP-run boarding schools are investigated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China further stated that “Our concern is driven not only by our interest in promoting human rights in the PRC as expressed by the Commission’s mandate but as representatives of a government in North America who do not want to see history repeated. In the United States and Canada, authorities set policies that separated indigenous children from their families and forced them to live in residential boarding schools, erasing anwd changing identities as a form of cultural genocide. The international community should not let this happen in Tibet.” In this area, due to Australia’s own sad history that resulted in the Stolen Generations – ATC believes that Australia must also take responsibility to ensure that CCP policies that seek to break down the Tibetan family unit, and strip children of their language, culture, and religion should be declared human rights abuses.

Dr Zoe Bedford from Australia Tibet Council says “ members of the Chinese Government should be facing Magnitsky sanctions for their human rights abuses in Tibet rather than be rewarded with trade deals with Australia.”

Dr Zoe Bedford of Australia Tibet Council says “Australia’s own colonialist history should make us more determined as a nation to take the lead against Chinese government actions to strip children of their families, language, culture and religion – we should be standing firm against the Chinese Government’s attempts at cultural genocide via the colonisation of Tibetan children and creation of a new stolen generation in Tibet.”

Australia Tibet Council urges Foreign Minister Wong to raise the human rights abuses occurring in Tibet at the hands of the Chinese Government with your Chinese Government counterparts while in China. Foreign Minister Wong needs to remember and respect Australia’s values above the resumption of trade deals with China.

For more information contact:  

Dr Zoe Bedford

Executive Officer 

Australia Tibet Council

PH:  0408 262 576