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Tibet Support Group Grampian held three events over the last three months to raise funds for Gu Chu Sum, the organisation in Dharamsala, Northern India for ex political prisoners.
The first was the talk on March 29th entitled Blood on the Snows by Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Director of Free Tibet and Tibet Watch and Langyari Namgyal Dolkar Vice President of Gu Chu Sum raised £149.
This was part of a UK wide tour. Eleanor described the work of Free Tibet, which campaigns on behalf of Tibet, Tibet Watch which collects information about what is really happening in Tibet and Gu Chu Sum. Video Recordings were presented of the horrific torture suffered by political prisoners in Chinese jails in Tibet. This was followed by a passionate account by Namgyal of the oppression suffered by her compatriots living under Chinese rule.
The talk was hosted by TSGG, Aberdeen Political Economy Group, Aberdeen University Politics and International Relations Group, Aberdeen Anthropology Society and Aberdeen University Feminist Group. The talk was attended by some sixty people. Later that evening we heard that Namgyal had just learnt that she had been elected to the Central Tibetan Administration, polling in sixth place, only the first ten are elected.
A conducted tour by one of our members took place on 17th April round the West End of Aberdeen giving a fascinating insight into the history of the buildings, their the builders, architects and occupants. Donations from those taking part raised £95.
Aberdeen University students held a Bake Sale 11th/12th May which raised £70-10p.
A Collection was held in Banchory on 11th June which was also St Ternan’s Day and the day of the River Festival and this raised £210.
The Grand Total, including a generous donation was £575 for Gu Chu Sum
Presented by Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Director of Free Tibet and Tibet Watch and Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, Vice -President of Gu Chu Sum, an organisation in Dharamsala in Northern India for Tibetan ex political prisoners.
The talk was part of a UK wide tour by Namgyal organised by Free Tibet and Tibet Watch. There were over fifty in the audience, mainly students, many of whom stayed back afterwards to talk over tea and coffee and sign up for TSGG. The first part of the Talk was presented by Eleanor who described the work of Free Tibet and Tibet Watch. There followed a video of ex political prisoners describing their horrific experiences of torture in Chinese jails in Tibet. This in turn was followed by a passionate account by Namgyal of the oppression suffered by her compatriots in Tibet under Chinese rule.
On Human Rights Day, December 10th, Tibet Support Group Grampian collected signatures in Aberdeen City Centre from the public on greetings cards which have been sent to Tibetan political prisoners in Chinese jails in Tibet. Free Tibet have organised a special campaign in 2015/6 for some of the monks who have been imprisoned – a campaign for Robed Resistors. The monks have not committedd violent acts against anyone but they have protested peacefully against the occupation of their country by the Chinese communist regime. In prison they suffer extreme maltreatment from their guards and many eventually die from their injuries.
A total of 170 signatures were collected on nine cards, many adding their heartfelt messages to the prisoners.
TSGG ran a collection in Aberdeen City Centre on Saturday 26th September for the Gu Chu Sum School in Dharamsala, Northern India.
The school is run for former Tibetan political prisoners. They have often had to endure horrific treatment while in Chinese prisons and don’t have the emotional resilience or physical strength to attend regular Tibetan schools. Gu Chu Sum provides care and medical help and also provides courses in English, Tibetan and computer skills. Now the School urgently needs funds to continue to pay its teachers next year. TSGG have supported Gu Chu Sum in the past when they have been in danger of closing and contributed in a modest way to keeping it open.
The collection raised £246 and there was further donation bringing the total to £346. A significant part of the collection was raised from busking in Belmont Street with a double bass, guitar, fiddle and ukele.
Photos by Wes Gibson, report by Roger Eames.
The Chinese authorities have cremated the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche against the wishes of his family. Some members of his family were allowed to attend the cremation, which was held under tight security. Concerns remain as China continues to refuse to provide any information on the cause of his death. Report on Tibet Society site
The recent Banchory collection raised £352, which will go towards the Nepal disaster relief fund. Thanks to all who contributed.
On 11th December 2014, the Conference of the presidents of the European Parliament's political factions failed to re-establish the Tibet Intergroup. The Group has been in existence throughout the last and previous parliamentary terms and this is a severe setback to the cause of Tibet. It follows a long letter which, it is understood, the Chinese Mission sent to all MEPs on 24th November 2014 expressing the Chinese Governmnet's concern that some MEPs were attemptig to set up a Tibet Group in the new parliament.
The European Parliament has been notably supportive in the past. In 2003 it passed a resolution calling on member states, interalia, to give serious consideration to the possibility of recognising the Tibetan Government in Exile as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people and deplored the continuing violation of the individual and collective rights of the Tibetan people, including the right of self determination as affimed in UN Resolution 1723 (XVI), and the ongoing repression of the Tibetan people's political and religious beliefs by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
More recently, there was the hearing afforded by the Human Rights Cmmittee on 8th March 2013 on self immolations in Tibet and Catherine Ashton's call for a dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the envoys of H.H. the Dalai Lama in her speech on 12th June 2012.
With the demise of the Tibet Intergroup, there must be serious misgivings over the future committment of the European Parliament to such support for Tibet.
Tibet Support Group Grampian sent a petition to the European Parlaiment signed by 238 peopele in Aberdeen on the centenary of the Proclamation of Independence on February 13th 1913 by the 13th Dalai Lama. The petition asked the European Parliament to urge world governments to:
*recognise the proclamation of independence
*support the Tibetan people's right to self determination
*take multi-lateral action to resolve the issue
The petition has now reached the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China and it is now even more important that the petition is brought before them.
One of our Scottish MEPs, Ian Hudghteon MEP, sent us his copy of the letter. He nevertheless showed his support for the Tibetan cause and voted for the Tibet Intergroup. Unfortunately, many other MEPs did not; they sided with the Chinese Government .
Brussels, 24 November 2014
We have learned that you will soon vote for the establishment of some unofficial and non-partisan groups in the EP. We are very concerned about some MEPs’ attempt to set up a “Tibet Group” in the new Parliament.
China attaches great importance to the EP. During his visit to the EU in spring, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Schulz in the EP. We have enjoyed good communication and cooperation with political groups, the Delegation for Relations with China and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the EP as well as many MEPs. In addition, there are institutionalized mechanisms like the annual exchanges between China’s National People’s Congress and the EP, and the China-EU High-Level Political Parties Forum. This shows that channels of communication between the two sides are open and unimpeded.
As you might know, Tibet has always been an integral part of China. Until the 1950s, Tibetan people had suffered from slavery and serfdom, with Dalai Lama at the very top of the theocratic rule. At that time, Tibet was similar to the Middle Ages in Europe, not an earthly paradise as described in some media of the West. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Tibet has experienced fast development and people there have enjoyed freedom, equality and dignity as well as rising living standard. Politically, Tibet has implemented autonomy with Tibetans serving as Chairman of the Autonomous Region. Culturally, Tibet has offered bilingual education with courses taught mainly in Tibetan language. In addition, the Tibetan language has been digitized. Freedom of region is fully respected. Tibet now has over 1,787 temples, which means one temple for 1,600 persons on average, much higher than the density of churches in Europe. The above facts have shown that today’s Tibet is at its best compared to any other period in its history.
However, the so-called “Tibetan government in exile” and some individuals are making every effort to paint a distorted picture of the Tibetan history and reality and to split Tibet from China, all to serve their own political self-interest. This is absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese Government and people. The Tibetan issue is about China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, not about religion or culture. several MEPs have all along supported the “Tibetan independence” advocates through the “Tibet Group” in their anti-China efforts, representing blatant interferences into China’s domestic affairs. What they did have tarnished the image of the EP and even the EU in the minds of the Chinese people and undermined mutual trust between China and Europe—an undesirable consequence for us. What we want least is to see the reestablishment of the so-called “Tibet Group” and the continued damage to China-EU relations.
As a Chinese saying goes, seeing is believing. Last year, Mr Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, visited Qinghai and Tibet, a trip that gave him more objective ideas of what Tibet is truly like and what the Tibetan issue is mainly about. We understand that some friends in the EP are interested in the development of China and Tibet. We are willing to do all we can to intensify our exchanges with MEPs and provide information in this regard so that our friends in the EP will have a better understanding of China and Tibet. We also welcome you to Tibet and other places in China to see by yourself its development and get to know a true Tibet.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.
The Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union
Amongst those witnessing the debate were Roger Eames from TSGG and members of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Tibet. Maureen Watt opened the Debate. Referring to the main issue, she said that 127 Tibetans were known to have self immolated since 2009. She explained that Tibetans were being driven to this extreme form of suicide by restrictions on Buddhist religious life and on the way Tibetan had been increasingly phased out as the language of instruction in Tibetan state schools. This , she said, had led to self immolation by more and more students and even school children.
Other speakers were Anne McTaggert (Labour), James McGrigor (Conservative), Alison Johnson (Green) and Roderick Campbell (SNP). Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary, responded to the debate. A full report can be viewed on Motion S4M-06980: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/06/2013