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Public Rally for Peace and Autonomy for Tibet

Press Release: Public Rally for Peace and Autonomy for Tibet

Friday 4th April 2008

Wellingtonians concerned about the current situation in Tibet will gather in Frank Kitts Park at noon on Saturday April 5th, to call for the Chinese government to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama and to give Tibetans their religious, civil and cultural freedom. The public rally is being organised by Wellington Friends of Tibet and the Tibetan Solidarity Network Wellington, adding to the widespread worldwide demand for the release of peaceful Tibetan protestors from prison, to push for a UN delegation and independent foreign media persons to be allowed into Tibetan areas, and for the Chinese government to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Claire Clark of Friends of Tibet says her most immediate concern is the safety and security of all Tibetans and that those in prison are treated fairly. She has called on the New Zealand Government to support any initiatives that may lead to an international monitoring group being allowed to enter Tibet to appraise the immediate situation of Tibetans and to visit those imprisoned or locked down in prisons and monasteries.

The rally is timed to draw attention to the plight of Tibet under oppressive Chinese rule, a few days before Prime Minister Helen Clark is due to sign a free trade deal with China in Beijing on the 7th of April. Tibet supporters believe that New Zealand has a unique opportunity to speak directly to the Chinese government about the situation in Tibet, and urge Ms Clark to speak up more strongly in favour of human rights and freedom for the people of Tibet.

Both Keith Locke of the Green Party and Peter Dunne, leader of United Future will address the crowd, along with Friends of Tibet speakers, and members of the Buddhist community. Musicians Sunset Mane and Fraser MacKensie will play after the speakers and several activities for people are planned such as the creation of a torch for human rights, letter writing, petition signing and face painting.

Tibet has been the scene of widespread protests, since March 10, when Tibetan Buddhist monks were arrested for peacefully protesting in Lhasa. The protests soon spread across Tibet, as Tibetan people took to the streets to call for an end to political, religious and economic oppression, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. China's response to the unrest has seen widespread arrests of Tibetan people, and a death toll estimated by Tibetan exiles at 140. Tibet supporters in New Zealand hold grave concerns for the wellbeing of those arrested, and for the Tibetan people now living under a heavy military and police presence.

‘We know that thousands of people have been arrested including monks as young as ten years old in Amdo, and that many monasteries are still completely sealed off. We are very worried that people will be starving and that they have no access to medical care. The news coming out of Tibet is very bad and we are very worried about our loved ones there.’
Said Amdo Dokpa of the Tibetan Community.


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