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Govt Must Maintain Pressure on Chinese Govt

FRIENDS OF TIBET (NZ)

MEDIA RELEASE

New Zealand Government Must Maintain Pressure on Chinese Government on Tibet

Many governments and media have welcomed as a positive development the Chinese government’s recent announcement that it would meet the Dalai Lama's representative.

Friends of Tibet (NZ) - also welcomes the announcement, but emphasises that, should a meeting go ahead, this would not be the resumption of formal dialogue to resolve Tibet's political status, but the result of efforts being made by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile to meet and discuss the harsh crackdown by Chinese armed forced in all Tibetan areas since 10th March 2008.

In particular:

1 There is, to date, no more information about the terms of the invitation, i.e. who would be invited, when, who from China's side would be involved (the statement merely referred to ``the relevant department’’, which presumably means the United Front Work Department, a low-level body).

2 In the Tibetan Government-in-Exile’s view, if a meeting went ahead, it would NOT be a resumption of formal talks about the future of Tibet, but discussions about the current situation. Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) Prof Samdhong Rinpoche has said: ``We feel it will require normalcy in the situation in the Tibetan areas for the formal resumption of talks.’’

3 China has indicated some expectations, which could be interpreted as pre-conditions for talks, i.e. that the ``Dalai side would make credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks’’. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has already said (at a press conference on 18th March) that he was not in a position to tell Tibetans living under Chinese rule ``to do this or not do that’’. It is also the case that the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile are not organising any protests linked to the Olympics.

The International Tibet Support Network - a global affiliation of 250 Tibet Support Groups, including Friends of Tibet (NZ) - calls on the Chinese government to take many steps immediately to show that it is willing to move forward in a positive way (and to restore `normalcy’ in all Tibetan areas). These include, but are not limited to:

- withdrawing the Olympic torch relay from Tibet, which is likely to inflame rather than calm the situation there.
- immediately allow foreign media and UN representatives free access to all Tibetan areas, without reporting restrictions.
- stop its vilification of the Dalai Lama.
- release all those detained since 10th March 2008.
- stop its crackdown and withdraw armed security forces.
- stop its provocative ``patriotic re-education’’ campaign.

The New Zealand government must not relax its pressure on the Chinese government. If our government is genuine about wishing to see not only the resumption of formal dialogue between the Tibetan and Chinese governments, but for this to become substantive negotiations about the future of Tibet, then it must keep putting pressure on the Chinese government to take the steps listed above, in order to bring a swift end to the ``merciless repression’’ in Tibet.

ENDS

The International Tibet Support Network (ITSN) is a global coalition of Tibet-related non-governmental organisations. Its purpose is to maximise the effectiveness of the worldwide Tibet movement, which is dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people's right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and Cultural status.

ITSN pursues its goals by working to increase the capacity of individual Member Organisations, through the coordination of strategic campaigns and by increased cooperation among organizations, thereby strengthening the Tibet movement as a whole. See www.tibetnetwork.org for more information.

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