Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Human Rights in China: Tibet update and plea to join Desmond Tutu in taking action!

The past week has been extraordinary for Tibetans, and we should all be humbled and inspired by the courage and resilience of the movement inside Tibet. Despite the oppressive Chinese security presence across the Tibetan plateau, Tibetans have made their voices heard. From the quiet and determined non-celebration of this year’s Losar to those who braved arrest and detention with peaceful protests, it is evident that this movement is strong and will continue to move forward.

Throughout the free world, Tibetans and their supporters made sure that the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet were appropriately observed. In the United States, President Obama expressed his hope to the visiting Chinese foreign minister that there would be progress in the dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.

On March 11, President Obama also signed an omnibus appropriations bill that included a dozen provisions on Tibet, most notably one funding a Tibet Section in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing until the Chinese government allows a U.S. Consulate in Lhasa to be established.

Secretary Clinton also pressed Foreign Minister Yang on Tibet and for improvements in the human rights situation, and the State Department issued an official statement on the 50th anniversary urging China “to reconsider its policies in Tibet that have created tensions due to their harmful impact on Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods.”

The Tibet Lobby Days organized by ICT on March 9 and 10 were a great success. Nearly 100 Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters from 25 states fanned out over Capitol Hill, visiting 96 offices with a message of gratitude and an appeal for continued support.

ICT Board Chairman Richard Gere joined the lobbying effort and hosted a reception where Speaker Pelosi and Representatives Lowey and Ros-Lehtinen addressed hundreds of friends of Tibet, including those from the Obama Administration and Congress. Their comments were carried live on CNN.

The next day, in spite of stern warning issued by the Chinese government to “stop pushing the bill on Tibet,” the U.S. House of Representatives voted 422 to 1 in support of a resolution that calls on the Chinese government to respond to His Holiness’ initiatives to find a solution for Tibet and recognizes the Indian government and people for their generosity.

In this update you can sign a letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu in support of the Dalai Lama, read the latest Human Rights Watch report and find out how to raise funds for ATC through the Trek for Tibet. Click here to view the web version of this email.

TAKE ACTION: Add your name to Desmond Tutu's letter
Nobel Peace Prize winners, human rights activists and celebrities are urging China to "stop naming, blaming and verbally abusing" the Dalai Lama. They have signed a letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu expressing concern at the deterioration of the human rights situation in Tibet, and the apparent breakdown of talks between the Chinese government and emissaries of the Dalai Lama.

Read more and add your name to Archbishop Tutu's letter.

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