I'm sitting on a train as I write this, whizzing through the channel tunnel on my way to Brussels for the International Tibet Support Group Conference. It will be great to catch up with friends and colleagues and I'm also looking forward to meeting the people who I've, so far, only known through email, Skype and Facebook.
Since my last blog, I've been to the Vale Earth Fair in Guernsey. It's a one-day music festival held in the ruins of an old castle - which certainly makes it one of the more distinctive venues I've been to. The festival, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is run by a wonderful group of people who have been supporting Free Tibet for many years. I hope we'll be working together for many more years to come.
Just last week Free Tibet partnered with the I Will Tell film festival to screen the UK premiere of Pawo. This is an incredibly moving film based on the real life story of Jamphel Yeshi, who carried out a self-immolation protest in Delhi on 26 March 2012. Self-immolation is always very difficult to talk about. Do you horrify people with graphic images or stick to dry facts and statistics? Where's the balance between paying a fitting tribute to the sacrifice and the risk of sounding like you support or encourage the loss of life?
As a film, Pawo finds a good balance and communicates the issue through the story of one individual and his family. Slightly fictionalized in order to protect the people still living in Tibet, the film takes us through the main character's childhood, his father's death after years in a Chinese prison, his journey into exile, the death of his brother at the hands of Chinese police and all of the events that ultimately lead to his decision. The final scenes are not graphic, instead focusing on the reactions of his cousin in Delhi, who tried to stop him, and his family back in Tibet, who are devastated when they hear the news. We are hoping to arrange additional screenings either later this year or early next year.
While I'm in Brussels I'll be sharing the video for our new crowd-funding initiative. This time we're raising money for an international survey of public perception of Tibet. This will be something we can share with Tibet campaigners and activists across the movement. In recent years we've seen so many advances in technology and changes in the way people communicate - as well as political and economic change around the world. It's important we stay on top of what potential new supporters actually know or think about Tibet and don't rely on old assumptions (although some of them may still be true). The data and insight we hope to gain will help us ensure that our campaigns are reaching new audiences, engaging them and building more support for Tibet.
Please visit our crowdfunding page where you can find more information on this project, and make a donation. With your help, we will be able to produce something that will help the entire Tibet movement for years to come.
Eleanor is Director of Free Tibet and also of our research partner Tibet Watch. She joined the movement professionally in April 2013, having previously been Director of Casework for legal charity Amicus, where her work focused on the death penalty in the US. With a law degree and an MA in human rights, Eleanor has worked for many other campaigns and projects, including One For Ten, PeaceBrigades International, the Burma Human Rights Documentation Unit and the British Institute of International & Comparative Law. She has been a supporter of Free Tibet since her student days and has supported the Tibetan cause for over 20 years. Read updates from her on Twitter and each month on our blog.