Free access for human rights investigators, journalists a key first step
(Ottawa) — A group of 12 Nobel Peace Laureates—including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jody Williams, Lech Walesa, Leymah Gbowee and Shirin Ebadi—today sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging him to “respect the dignity of the Tibetan people” and open “meaningful dialogue” with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders. The letter is in response to the recent spate of self-immolations of Tibetans—30 in the last year—protesting the ongoing repression of the Tibetan people.
The latest incident of a Tibetan committing suicide by burning occurred last week during President Jintoa’s official visit to India, home to thousands of Tibetans living in exile including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.
In their letter, the Nobel Peace Laureates called on the Chinese leader to find a non-violent solution to the decades-long conflict—and they reminded him that His Holiness The Dalia Lama has “never sought separatism”. The Laureates are asking for the Chinese government to release Tibetan political prisoners and allow unrestricted access to Tibet for journalists, human rights investigators and diplomats.
In response to the recent self-burnings and rising tensions, the Chinese government has increased its military presence in Tibet and has curtailed the already limited religious freedom of Buddhist monks. Most of the people who have staged protest self-burnings are young Buddhist monks and nuns.
Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Tutu recently visited the Tibetan community in exile in Dharamsala, India and met with his fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
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President Hu Jintao,
The People’s Republic of China
Dear Mr. President:
The people of Tibet wish to be heard. They have long sought meaningful autonomy, and chosen negotiation and friendly help as their means of attaining it. They now turn to protest. The international community is concerned by the drastic expressions of resentment by the people of Tibet through self-immolation. The Chinese government should hear their voices, understand their grievances and find a nonviolent solution.
That solution is offered by our friend and brother His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has never sought separatism, and has always chosen a peaceful path. We strongly urge the Chinese government to seize the opportunity he provides for a meaningful dialogue. Once formed, this channel should remain open, active and productive. It should address issues that are at the heart of the current tension, respecting the dignity of the Tibetan people and the integrity of China.
Specifically, we are respectfully requesting that the Chinese government release all those who have been arbitrarily detained; cease the intimidation, harassment and detention of peaceful protestors; allow unrestricted access for journalists, foreign diplomats, and international organizations to Tibet; and respect religious freedom.
It is especially important to understand that the international community will be reassured if your government would allow members of the press and United Nations Human Rights investigators full access within Tibet. Without that access, progress is unlikely and an opportunity may be lost.
Rigoberta Menchu Tum
Jose Ramos Horta
Adolfo Perez Esquivel
Mairead Corrigan Maguire