By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, November 11: As the leaders of 20 countries including Chinese President Xi Jinping gather in Brisbane, Australia for the G20 Summit beginning tomorrow, four Tibet activists unfurled a banner in front of the iconic Story Bridge of Brisbane, close to Xi’s hotel.
The 12X16 feet long banner reads “China fails Human Rights, G20: Unite for Tibet”. The event was jointly organised by Australia Tibet Council and Students for a Free Tibet.
The event, Kyinzom Dhongdue, campaigns Manager with the Australia Tibet Council, said was aimed to highlight China’s failed human rights record and calling on world leaders for a coordinated action on the humanitarian crisis in Tibet and engage in a multi lateral action towards China.
“Economic growth, the key agenda at the G20 Summit, can be a force for good but only when combined with policies that are consistent with human rights. China remains an authoritarian state that continues to oppress Tibetans. Like-minded governments must stand by their shared democratic values and put collective pressure on China to end the suffering in Tibet,” said Kyinzom Dhongdue.
The organisers said that while the summit’s focus is economic growth, the crisis in Tibet creates a moral obstacle for countries doing business with China.
This is also Xi Jinping’s first visit to Australia since he became the President of China.
Pema Yoko, Deputy Director of Students of Free Tibet said, “Joint G8 government pressure on Russia forced Vladimir Putin to roll back repressive policies in Ukraine. G20 leaders can apply similar multilateral pressure on China to help end the crisis in Tibet. The only way China will change its violent course in Tibet is if global leaders, like those gathered here in Brisbane stand up for human dignity and hold China accountable for its abuses in Tibet.”
Since 2009, 133 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies.
"Beijing is strangling the Tibetan people with one hand and silencing world governments on human rights with the other. World leaders need to find strength in numbers here at the G20, stand up to China’s political intimidation and act in unison for a true and just multilateral Tibet solution,” said Yeshi Palmo, Tibetan-Australian activist.
Tomorrow, Tibetans and Tibet supporters will carry out a Unite for Tibet rally at Brisbane, venue for G20 Summit.
Started in 1999, the G20 Summit is the premier international forum for discussing international economic cooperation and decision-making. Its membership comprises 19 countries plus the European Union. Each G20 president invites several guest countries each year.