Bob Parker Accused of Being Misinformed Over Tibet Fiasco
Sir Bob Parker Accused of Being “Naïve, Foolish And Misinformed” Over Tibet Fiasco
Former Christchurch mayor was ‘signed up’ to controversial statement without his knowledge and observed “happiness” in Tibet as Tibetan protesters elsewhere shot by security forces
Sir Bob Parker has joined political figures from the UK, Japan and Ireland who were reported by Chinese state media to have supported a highly controversial position statement at the end of an international meeting they attended in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, this week (1). As the meeting was taking place, China’s security forces opened fire with live ammunition on peaceful protesters elsewhere in Tibet, seriously injuring at least ten (2). Sir Bob has subsequently repudiated the document, which he did not agree to, telling the BBC that he was "not happy to be included in a document that states some very powerful political perspectives” (3).
Regarding the conference,
Sir Bob also told the BBC:
"I came here as a New Zealander with a unique opportunity to get into Tibet and see some of these unique communities with my own eyes. There seems to be a good degree of openness and happiness in the communities that I've been to.
"But I'm not a Tibet expert, I'm not a global politician, I'm just a citizen who had a chance to come to a very special part of the world to see some of these things with my own eyes." (3)
Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of Free Tibet, said:
“We welcome Sir Bob Parker’s statement repudiating the so-called consensus but as he was enjoying China’s hospitality, peaceful Tibetan protesters were being shot by China’s security forces. The statement issued at the end of this event shows that the whole thing was an exercise in propaganda which Western participants blindly or willingly allowed themselves to become part of. Sir Bob was naïve and foolish in taking at face value an invitation from the State Council Information Office of China to attend a meeting about the country it occupies and brutally oppresses: such invitations belong in the bin, not on the mantelpiece.”
Following the forum, participants were taken on a visit to Linzhi prefecture (Nyingtri, in Tibetan), a picturesque part of southern Tibet where China has invested in building “model villages” to attract tourists (4). It appears that Sir Bob’s comments to the BBC were made during that visit.
Ms Byrne-Rosengren continues:
“Events like this constitute a key part of China’s international charm offensive on occupied-Tibet. Unfortunately, Sir Bob appears to have been taken in by the slick presentation and carefully stage-managed tour around China’s Tibetan Disneyland. A politician of Sir Bob’s experience has little excuse for getting himself into this situation and apparently failing to acquaint himself with the full facts.”
The Fourth Forum on Development of Tibet, organised by the State Council Information Office of China and the Tibetan regional government, was attended by over 100 participants from 30 countries and issued at its conclusion the “Lhasa consensus” (5), which included the following points:
• Participants unanimously agree that what they have actually seen in Tibet differs radically from what the 14th Dalai and the Dalai clique have said. The Dalai clique's statements on Tibet are distorted and incorrect. Many Western media reports are biased and have led to much misunderstanding (emphasis added)
• Participants notice that Tibet enjoys sound economic growth, social harmony, deep-rooted Tibetan culture and beautiful natural scenery, and the people enjoy a happy life.
• Participants notice that ordinary people in Tibet are satisfied with their well-off lives, good education, sound medical care, housing and various social securities. All ethnic groups in Tibet have full confidence and motivation for building a better future.
In contrast to the picture painted of economic development in Tibet at the forum, the UN Economic, Cultural and Social Rights committee recently issued a report detailing child malnutrition in Tibet and unemployment among Tibetans as a result of Chinese immigration (6). Tibetans are economically marginalised in Tibet and much of China’s infrastructure investment in the region is designed to facilitate the extraction and export of Tibet’s natural resources, including copper, gold and lithium.