Hundreds of Tibetan leaders and Tibet supporters from all over the United States, Europe, and Australia are gathering in Washington, Brussels and Canberra to urge their governments and Parliaments to increase their support for Tibet and the Tibetan people. Tibet Lobby Day will take place on March 27-29.
In Washington, over a hundred and thirty Tibetan-Americans and Tibet supporters will meet for the ninth annual Tibet Lobby Day, and will ask Members of Congress to continue to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people, to continue funding of Tibet programs, advocate for the release of Tibetan political prisoners, promote access to Tibetan areas for US officials, journalists, citizens and to hold Chinese leaders accountable for their human rights violations in Tibet.
The US Congress in 2002 passed the Tibetan Policy Act (“TPA”), a core legislative measure that guides U.S. policy on Tibet. The TPA’s objective is to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity. It establishes in statute the State Department position of Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. The “central objective” of this position is to promote substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama, or his representatives. The Special Coordinator is also required, among other duties, to “coordinate United States Government policies, programs, and projects concerning Tibet”; “vigorously promote the policy of seeking to protect the distinct religious, cultural, linguistic, and national identity of Tibet”; and press for “improved respect for human rights.”
Tibetan advocates in Washington plan to meet with the offices of more than 250 US Members of Congress over the course of the two days program. The International Campaign for Tibet coordinates Tibet Lobby Day in Washington in cooperation with Students for a Free Tibet and Tibetan Associations in the US.
In Brussels, a group of Tibetan activists from Austria, Germany, Italy and Poland will participate in the Tibet Lobby Day organized in Brussels (Belgium), the capital of the European Union, between the 27th until the 29th March. The program was prepared jointly by ICT Europe offices in Amsterdam and Brussels and will start with a briefing on EU human rights mechanisms and policies, EU-China relations, new developments inside Tibet, the role and responsibility of the CTA, and advocacy and communication techniques and exercises.
ICT will bring the group of Tibetans to meet with representatives of different European Institutions and will provide them with a briefing about the situation in Tibet and suggest some concrete recommendations on a way forward, including on EU-China relations.
They will have the opportunity to meet with some European deputies and their assistants who are known as long-time supporters of Tibet, either members of the Tibet Interest group, of the Delegation in charge of the relations with the People’s Republic of China, of the Foreign Affairs Committee and/or of the Sub-committee on Human Rights.
On the 29th March, the Tibetans will meet and interact with a group of Uyghurs who are taking part to a 3-day youth training seminar organized by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) under the co-sponsorship of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organizations (UNPO) taking place from 29th to 31st March in Brussels as well.
In Canberra, the Australian Tibet Council will hold the sixth Tibet Lobby Day in Australia.
The Tibetan delegation will be in Parliament House on 27 and 28 March. Over two days, they will meet with MPs and Senators from all parties and from across the country. The participants will brief our elected representatives on the key issues facing the Tibetan people and ask them to be part of a global effort to increase pressure on China to improve the human rights situation in Tibet.
The delegates will discuss China’s intensifying crackdown on the Tibetans’ freedom of religion, as demonstrated by the recent demolitions and expulsions of monks and nuns at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, and push for a visit to Tibet by Australian parliamentarians.
Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet said: “We are excited to see the Tibet Lobby Day becoming a global initiative to raise awareness on the situation inside Tibet, and to gain momentum in cities around the world where political decisions are made. Human rights activists and all concerned citizens, starting with Tibetans in exile, have the unique opportunity to have their voice heard by their representatives on behalf of the oppressed people inside Tibet. Democracy and participation are needed now more than ever to make sure that Tibetans are not forgotten in the name of doing business with China.”