||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (November 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
Daniel Russell, ChairEleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Director
Free Tibet is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, founded in 1987 and based in London, England. Free Tibet, according to their mission statement, advocates for “a free Tibet in which Tibetans are able to determine their own future and the human rights of all are respected.”
According to their website Free Tibet campaigns for an end to China's occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans' right to freedom. They mobilise active support for the Tibetan cause, champion human rights and challenge those whose actions sustain the occupation.
- 1 Current activity
- 2 Past campaigns
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
As a result of China’s censorship, many political dissenters are arrested and imprisoned for promoting or expressing religious, social, economic, and political principles the Communist Party of China (CPC) disapproves of. Free Tibet seeks the release of political prisoners through lobbying political leaders, circulating petitions, and organising Urgent Action Campaigns. This approach has been successful in securing the early release of prominent political prisoners such as Phuntso Nyidon, reducing Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's sentence from a death sentence to life in prison and was possibly influential in ensuring Runggye Adak's relatively low-length sentence in 2007. Free Tibet maintains a list of current prisoners, released prisoners, and those that have received death sentences.
Save Larung Gar
In June 2016, Free Tibet received reports that Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in eastern Tibet was soon to undergo a series of evictions and demolitions. An order issued by the government of Serta County stated that the population was to be reduced to a maximum of 5,000 residents over the next 15 months, down from the well over 10,000 living there at the time. The order also imposed a system of joint management on the monastery, with Chinese Communist Party officials outnumbering monastic officials three to two under the new regime. The monastery was also required to hand over financial management to Chinese authorities. The work at Larung Gar began on 20 July 2016, as residents were moved out and their residences demolished. Free Tibet was able to garner media attention for the situation at Larung Gar with stories in the BBC, The Times and [[The New York Times]] among others. Free Tibet helped to organise a series of world-wide protests at Chinese embassies and also initiated an online petition and various emailing campaigns directed at the United Front Work Department, Chinese Embassies and Foreign Ministers. Following on from these, the situation at Larung Gar was brought up by the US State Department, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission as well as various Canadian and British MPs.
InterContinental: Parasites in Paradise
In 2013 Free Tibet launched the Parasites in Paradise campaign to protest Intercontinental Hotels' opening of the Lhasa Paradise Hotel in Tibet.
Together with Students for a Free Tibet, Free Tibet called for a boycott of InterContinental Hotels, asserting that the Lhasa Paradise Hotel was little more than a "PR coup for the Chinese government" and that the marginalisation of the Tibetan people will only increase with the building of the hotel. On their website Free Tibet writes that, "Intercontinental will sell the image of a peaceful, spiritual and unspoiled land, but after more than 60 years of military occupation by the world’s largest dictatorship, Tibet is no paradise." Additionally, it has been argued that the Tibetan people themselves would not benefit from any jobs or opportunities which would be created by the hotel's opening as the hotel's staff will speak Chinese, a language most Tibetans cannot speak. Tibetan illiteracy is a major concern of many activists and scholars as Chinese is the language of economic, social, and political life in Tibet.
In addition to the boycott, Free Tibet sent a petition of over 10,500 signatures to InterContinental's chief executive Richard Solomons. The petition called for Solomons to pull InterContinental out of Lhasa because IHG's operation of a hotel in Tibet, where China's human rights violations have been especially prominent, "is in direct contradiction to Intercontinental's Corporate Social Responsibility policies." Free Tibet also organised protests in London in an effort to sway InterContinental.
Stop Torture campaign
Investigations into China's human rights situation have shown that torture is used routinely in many prisons and interrogations. In 2008 Free Tibet submitted evidence to the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva detailing the record of abuse inside Tibet. Subsequently the UN Committee concluded that torture in Tibet is "widespread and routine".
Free Tibet has also worked alongside celebrities such as Alan Rickman (now dead), David Threlfall, Juliet Stevenson, and Dominic West to record testimonies of tortured Tibetans. The organisation used the video testimonies to create more awareness and urge people to take action by writing to William Hague and Chinese political representatives to put a stop to torture in Tibet.
In 2004 Free Tibet organised a UK tour for Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan monk who was arrested during the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Gyatso spent 33 years in Chinese prisons and labor camps enduring systematic torture after being arrested for calling for Tibet's freedom. Gyatso was released in 1992 and escaped to India, he has since toured the world spreading awareness about human rights violations in Tibet. During the 2004 tour he spoke at numerous conventions, and events.
In February 2015 Free Tibet joined with their research partner, Tibet Watch, to write a report on Chinese torture in Tibet. The report, "Torture in Tibet," it was submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. "Torture in Tibet" documents torture survivor testimonies from Golog Jigme, Tenzin Namgyal, and Kelsang Tsundue, Tibetan deaths in custody, deaths resulting from torture, and a number of prisoners who they believe to be at particular risk of torture.
Confucius Classrooms: Hosting a Dragon
Free Tibet launched their Confucius Classroom campaign in order to spread awareness about the negative aspects of Hanban's Confucius Institute. The Confucius Institute is a program run through the organisation Hanban which is directed by the Peoples' Republic of China Ministry of Education. Confucius Institutes are established over 500 Confucius Institutes in Universities and well over 600 Confucius Classrooms in schools overseas. Although Confucius Classrooms focus on language and culture, the Hanban employed tutors must also promote an “understanding of China" and the tutors are banned from teaching about certain aspects of Chinese history, culture, and society. The program has been labeled by some as propagandistic and has been criticised for limiting academic freedom and thought through self-censorship. This controversy was enhanced when a senior Chinese politician described the programme as “an important part of China’s "overseas propaganda set-up."
Free Tibet has been providing media updates, press releases, and news stories regarding Confucius Classrooms in the UK. The organisation has also reached out to schools operating Confucius Classrooms and provided them with teaching materials to ensure that students also learn about the humanitarian and environmental issues surrounding Tibet. Additionally, Free Tibet calls for public action through contacting local Ministry of Education officials.
Through their Jailed Musicians campaign Free Tibet works to bring awareness to the global community of China’s censorship laws. The organisation lists ten different musicians who have been arrested and imprisoned because of their artistic works, however many other unlisted Tibetan musicians have been detained. Free Tibet approached the UN and in a joint urgent appeal asked for an official inquiry into the whereabouts of each musician as many of the artists’ whereabouts are unknown. The UN responded and China was forced to provide information concerning the trials, whereabouts, and sentences of most of the jailed singers. However Chinese officials could not account for the whereabouts or conditions of two different men who had also been arrested. The charge laid against the musicians was for, "seditiously splitting the state," and the men received sentences ranging two to six years; however many of the imprisoned singers were held without a trial or legal representation for extended periods of time. Free Tibet calls for the release of the jailed singers, stating, “Music is a vital part of Tibetans' resistance to Chinese rule. Singers like these not only keep alive a culture that China is trying to erase from the world, but their songs embody the aspirations, fears and courage of a people who remain proud and defiant after 60 years of occupation.” The campaign focuses on educating the public about the censorship and oppression of art and expression in China while also advocating for the imprisoned men through a petition and through lobbying domestic and foreign politicians. But there are plenty of Tibetan musicians, just go to Youtube and see for yourselves.
Break the Silence
Free Tibet launched their Break the Silence campaign to highlight the reluctance of world leaders to publicly speak out in support of Tibet. China's foreign policy surrounding the Dalai Lama is strict and world leaders' meetings with the Dalai Lama oftentimes causes major friction with China. China is able to easily intimidate many world leaders from meeting with the Dalai Lama and from speaking out in support of Tibet.
The campaign encourages supporters to write to world leaders and ask them to speak out for Tibet. Two videos were developed by Free Tibet, one featuring David Cameron and one featuring Barack Obama.
In March 2008 Free Tibet reported extensively on the unrest in Tibet which precipitated a series of large scale protests. Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) continue to gather evidence about the protests, their suppression and repercussions.
During the process of securing an Olympics bid from the International Olympics Committee (IOC), China promised to improve its human rights record. Wang Wei, head of the bid committee was quoted saying, "We are confident that the Games coming to China not only promote our economy but also enhance all social conditions, including education, health and human rights." However, China largely failed to improve its human rights abuses and major news sources around the world criticised both the Chinese government for failing to fulfil its promise and the IOC for not being more discerning in its choice for the 2008 Olympics. Activists argued that China’s human rights violations were incompatible with the spirit of the Olympic Games.
Free Tibet worked to expose Chinese human rights violations through helping to organise and participating in large scale rallies in central London during the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in which thousands of Tibet supporters filled the streets. The magnitude of the protests was such that China and the IOC were forced, in a move that was highly publicised, to reduce and re-route relays in other cities.
Following the Olympics, China analysts speculated on the possibility that the authorities would begin dealing harshly with Tibetan dissenters after world attention moved off Beijing. After the Olympics ended, Chinese authorities did initiate a state of de facto martial law in Tibet by moving troops into Tibetan areas and handing down harsh sentences for Tibetans who protested against Chinese rule or who reported on the human rights conditions in Tibet.
Again in 2012, Free Tibet started a campaign with a focus on the Olympics, the new campaign was titled Fly the Flag. In order to highlight China's illegal occupation of Tibet, Free Tibet encouraged supporters to send in pictures of themselves with the flag of Tibet at Olympic locations around London and Great Britain. Through this campaign Free Tibet also exposed the IOC's ban on the Tibetan flag at the Olympics. Fly the Flag especially highlights Chinese suppression of Tibetan freedom of expression as the Tibetan flag itself is banned in China and anyone in possession of the flag or its image is subject to official questioning and arrest.
Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan are the two cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics. If Beijing wins the bid, it will become the first city to have hosted both the summer and winter Olympics. Free Tibet has created a petition and is calling for the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to refrain from giving the bid to Beijing. In 2008 when Beijing hosted the summer Olympics, China promised to improve its human rights record before the Olympic Games. However China failed to ameliorate their human rights abuses and instead continued to oppress citizens and media outlets. As China continues to commit major human rights violations, Free Tibet argues that China cannot be considered a suitable place for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
On June 10, 2015, Free Tibet worked with the International Tibet Network to stage a protest outside of the Lausanne Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. The protest was successful in disrupting the bid process and in catching the attention of international media.
Another Perfect Day in Tibet
In 2014, a Free Tibet investigation uncovered around 100 fake online accounts Chinese authorities were using propagandistically. The accounts had fake western names and photographs taken from randomly chosen websites and personal accounts. Each fake profile circulated pro-Chinese, anti-Dalai Lama propaganda in an attempt to convince followers that Tibet was free from humanitarian and environmental strife and was in actuality an idyllic and peaceful province in China. Free Tibet wrote that, "China is highly sensitive to any signs of international support for Tibetan freedom and has declared its intention to 'win over' Western public opinion on the issue. Its message is that Tibetans have benefited hugely from Chinese investment and that the environment and culture of Tibet is protected and safe in China's hands," in its exposition of the propaganda campaign. Twitter removed the fake accounts after Free Tibet submitted an official complaint to the social media executives.
- "About Free Tibet | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "International Tibet Network – About Us". tibetnetwork.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "China: List of Political Prisoners Detained or Imprisoned as of October 10, 2014" (PDF). United States Congress. Congressional-Executive Commission on China Political Prisoner Database.
- "China's game with political prisoners | Human Rights Watch". www.hrw.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "China 'frees' nun after 15 years". BBC. 2004-02-26. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Political prisoners | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Buddhist monastery at risk of demolition | Free Tibet". www.freetibet.org. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Demolitions begin at Larung Gar | Free Tibet". www.freetibet.org. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Larung Gar: China 'destroys buildings' at Tibetan Buddhist academy". BBC News. 2016-07-22. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Thousands homeless as China destroys Tibetan Buddhist academy". Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Wong, Edward (2016-07-27). "Tibetan Groups Upset Over China's Demolition Work at Buddhist Institute". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Chinese workers dismantle Tibetan study site, evict people". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Beijing, Hannah Beech /. "Chinese Tourists Love Tibet. But Does Tibet Love Them Back?". TIME.com. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Protesters turn out for Larung Gar on Day of Action | Free Tibet". www.freetibet.org. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "US State Department criticises demolitions at Larung Gar | Free Tibet". www.freetibet.org. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- "Canadian MP expresses sadness over demolishing of Larung Gar in Tibet - The Free World". The Free World. 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Administrator. "Tibet Society". www.tibetsociety.com. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
- Beijing, Tania Branigan in. "Tibetan activists launch boycott of InterContinental over hotel plans". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- "About the hotel | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Sautman, B. (2003). "Cultural Genocide and Tibet". Texas Journal of International Law. 38 (2): 173–246.
- "Illiteracy in Tibet 'horrendous' says UN expert - International Campaign for Tibet". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- "Protests against InterContinental hotel plan for Lhasa, Tibet". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- "Lhasa Faces 'Disneyfication' Specter With Hotel Plan". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- "Tiger Chairs and Cell Bosses: Police Torture of Criminal Suspects in China". www.hrw.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/CAT.C.CHN.CO.4.pdf" (PDF). www2.ohchr.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04. External link in
- Rosenthal, A. M. (1995-04-11). "On My Mind; You Are Palden Gyatso". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "Palden Gyatso". www.rangzen.com. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "Tibetan tells of Chinese torture". Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "HH Dalai Lama visit to Glasgow in Scotland UK, May 2004". www.lobsangrampa.net. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "Report submitted to UN highlights shocking use of torture in Tibet". thetibetpost.com. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "UNPO: Tibet: Report Highlights Use of Torture against Prisoners". unpo.org. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/torture_in_tibet_-_february_2015.pdf" (PDF). www.tibetwatch.org. Retrieved 2015-06-11. External link in
- "HanBan-Confucius Institute/ClassRoom-About Confucius Institute/ClassRoom". english.hanban.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- News, John Sudworth BBC. "Confucius institute: The hard side of China's soft power". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Confucius says". The Economist. September 13, 2014. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "A message from Confucius". The Economist. October 22, 2009. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Countering China's Influence | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Han, Si (October 2012). "All that is Banned is Desired" (PDF).
- "Another Singer Arrested in China for Praising Tibetan Identity and Culture". Global Voices. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "The joint urgent appeal (UAG/SO 218/2 Cultural Rights (2009) G/SO 217/1 G/SO 214 (67-17) Assembly & Association (56-23) Minorities (2005-4) CHN 1/2014 ) sent on the 3rd of February" (PDF). Joint Urgent Appeal Response. United Nations. 30 April 2014.
- "Unsung heroes | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Jailed musicians | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "No apology from Downing Street over Dalai Lama meeting". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "China media criticise Dalai Lama-Obama meeting". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Baggini, Julian. "Why it's not the Dalai Lama's job to break the silence on Tibet | Julian Baggini". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "FreeTibetUK". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Uprising in Tibet" (PDF). Tibet Protests 2008. UN, EU & Human Rights Desk Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). 2008.
- Longman, Jere (2001-07-14). "OLYMPICS; Beijing Wins Bid for 2008 Olympic Games". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Beijing, By. "Beijing Olympics; Human rights abuses getting worse". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- "China falls short on Olympic promises, critics say - CNN.com". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Beijing, By. "Beijing Olympics 2008: Tibet policy angers IOC chiefs". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Lewis, Paul; Kelso, Paul. "Thousands protest as Olympic flame carried through London". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Allison, Kevin (April 10, 2008). "US Olympic torch relay rerouted". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Burns, John F. (2008-04-07). "Protests of China Make Olympic Torch Relay an Obstacle Course". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Wall Street Journal report: 'The crackdown to come'
- "Fly The Flag". Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- "Olympic organisers ban Tibetan flag". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Sautman, Barry (2005). Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region. London: Routledge. pp. 77–78.
- "Evaluation Commission Report for 2022 published". www.olympic.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Beijing, By. "Beijing Olympics; Human rights abuses getting worse". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Athens, Paul Kelso in. "Human rights shadow over Beijing games". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Urgent: Stop China winning the Olympics again | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Tibetan Protesters Disrupt Beijing Bid at Lausanne Hotel". The New York Times. 2015-06-10. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- News, ABC. "Tibetan Protesters Disrupt Beijing Bid at Lausanne Hotel". Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "Tibetan protesters disrupt Beijing bid at Lausanne hotel". Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "#ChinaSpam on Twitter". Flickr - Photo Sharing!. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Demick, Barbara. "Dozens of pro-China Twitter accounts outed by Free Tibet as fakes". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Jacobs, Andrew (2014-07-21). "It's Another Perfect Day in Tibet!". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "SUCCESS! Twitter removes all fake propaganda accounts | Free Tibet". freetibet.org. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- "Evidence of abuse of Twitter for Tibet propaganda" (PDF). Free Tibet. 21 July 2014.