DHARAMSHALA, October 30: Following the deadliest week in the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet, Tibetans and supporters all over the world have demanded world governments to urgently form a Contact Group on Tibet and begin formulating new diplomatic strategies to address the crisis in Tibet.
Campaigners at the International Tibet Network, a group of 185 Tibet advocacy organisations, condemned China's failed policies and ongoing crackdown in Tibet, which they said “are directly responsible for this wave of self-immolation protests.”
In a release today, the group also warned that Tibetan non-violent resistance is likely to intensify with China's upcoming once-a-decade leadership transition next month, unless there are radical policy changes.
“Tibetans have been challenging China’s occupation of Tibet for more than 60 years, and the self-immolations clearly show the urgent need for an end to Chinese rule," said Tenzin Jigme of the International Tibet Network. "We demand that our governments stand together for the people of Tibet by urgently establishing a multi-lateral Contact Group and collectively holding Beijing accountable for its atrocities in Tibet."
Last month, the global rights group, Human Rights Watch urged governments concerned about the worsening human rights situation in Tibet to meet on the sidelines of the United Nation's General Assembly to discuss the formation of a Tibet contact group.
HRW said a Tibet contact group could “press the Chinese government to consider resuming meaningful negotiations with Tibetan representatives, and visibly demonstrate heightened international concern about deteriorating conditions.”
Last week alone, seven Tibetans, including two cousins, Tsepo, 20 and Tenzin, 25, set themselves on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet. 62 Tibetans; young and old, monks and nuns, farmers and nomads, students and businessmen, have set themselves on fire since 2009 protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
The group expressed “grave concern” over China's response to the self-immolations and charged them of “exacerbating tensions” in the region.
Chinese security forces have harshly cracked down on the self-immolators – knocking them down, brutally beating them with spiked batons, and in one instance even firing live rounds. Tibetans, who have been found “guilty” of aiding the protests and sending out information – images and videos – have been tortured and sentenced to lengthy jail terms without a fair trial.
Despite China’s “escalating repressive measures,” the group said Tibetan resistance is “stronger and more diverse than ever.”
“The Chinese government is discovering that a display of force is unable to prevent self-immolations, mass gatherings or other diverse forms of resistance, including displaying posters and banners, recording video messages, communicating through music, literature and expressions of national identity,” the release noted.
On the eve of China’s power transition, the group also issued the Chinese Communist Party's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping with a Tibet Challenge; to stand on the right side of history and address the Tibetan peoples' grievances and demands for freedom.
"In a matter of days Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party's 5th generation leaders will inherit extraordinary powers and major challenges, not least of which is China’s continued efforts to control Tibet. We challenge Xi Jinping to acknowledge 60 years of policy failures and to seek a just solution to Tibetans' unquenchable desire for freedom," Jigme said.