DHARAMSHALA, February 18: With the number of Tibetan self-immolations crossing the tragic milestone of 100 this month, a group of British Members of Parliament condemned China's crackdown in Tibet and called on the Chinese government to examine their policies in Tibet and urgently address the grievances of the Tibetan people.
Namlha Tsering, 49, became the 102nd known Tibetan living under China’s iron-fisted rule to self-immolate when he set himself ablaze on February 17 in Labrang region on eastern Tibet protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama.
The group of bipartisan MPs issued their public statements on February 13, a day when two Tibetans, Drugpa Khar, 26, and Drupchen Tsering (Druptse), 25 self-immolated in Amchok, eastern Tibet and Kathmandu, Nepal respectively.
Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet said China must engage with the Tibetan people and address their grievances in order to bring an end to the self-immolations.
“China must recognise that it is the failure of their policies in Tibet that have led to not only the 100 self-immolations but also widespread peaceful protests in Tibet,” the lawmaker from Leeds North East said. “China must respect the human and civil rights of the Tibetan people and allow them the freedom to express their unique cultural identity without fear of persecution.”
Lord Alton of Liverpool (Crossbench) called on China to examine its policies in Tibet and “afford the Tibetans the rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled, such as the freedom of expression and freedom of religion.”
Airing similar sentiments, Labour MP Kate Hoey pointed out that China should “urgently respond” to the grievances of the Tibetan people if it wanted to be respected as a global super-power.
“The Chinese leadership must talk to representatives of the Tibetan people, open Tibet to the rest of world and allow independent access to foreign media, humanitarian agencies and international observers. The British government must not allow China to go unchallenged about their appalling treatment of Tibetans,” she said.
Labour MP Cathy Jamieson urged Chinese leaders to “ease tensions by withdrawing its armed forces and ending its repressive policies,” instead of responding with “military aggression and 'de facto' martial law conditions” to the ongoing protests in Tibet.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton in his remarks said the “heart-rending decision to self-immolate” by over a hundred Tibetans is “indicative of the failure of China's policies in Tibet.”
Also on the same day, the Friends of British in Tibet, a group of British people with direct family ties to Tibet going back over 200 years, wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron urging the British government to take a “leadership role in addressing the grave situation in Tibet.”
The letter signed by former government employees, who served in an independent Tibet during British Raj in India, suggested that PM Cameron’s government offer assistance to the new Chinese leadership to “overcome the deadlock in their talks with the Tibetan Government in Exile.”
The letter further urged him to “review and strengthen UK policies to ensure that Her Majesty’s Government’s position on Tibet both effectively reflects our nation’s standards on human rights, and grants a commensurate value to the national historical culture of the Tibetan people.”
“The majority of the British people support the restoration of human rights in Tibet. The UK has an on-going responsibility and duty to Tibet, having signed treaties with this nation in the past,” the group said.