In the days before the EU referendum I thought about the blog I would write afterwards. I expected I would write positively about the process – expressing some disappointment over the negative way the two campaigns were run by the lead politicians but ultimately being glad that British citizens were able to express themselves through a democratic process. And then I would say how everyone at Free Tibet was looking forward to the day when Tibetans would have their own chance to vote on a potential Tibexit. After all, that is what we campaign for – not for any specific political solution but for Tibetans to have the right and the opportunity to make a choice and determine their own future.
But then we had the result and Brexit became a reality and I don’t feel quite so positive.
The surge in racist attacks was really quite troubling. I could write a whole essay on that issue alone. Equally troubling, although far more surprising, was the speed with which British politics descended into chaos. The Prime Minister resigned. The ‘Leave’ campaign leaders immediately started backtracking on core promises while stabbing each other in the back. We had a few more resignations. The Labour party decided this would be a good time to have their own crisis and the shadow cabinet had a flood of resignations. It emerged that nobody had a plan and everybody thought somebody else should have had the plan. The only thing that’s clear at the moment is that we’re going to have a tough time getting anyone in the UK government to focus on issues in Tibet during the next few years.
Fortunately, the Free Tibet team is hard-working and resilient and we will do whatever we need to do to make sure Tibet stays on the agenda and we continue building support. We launched a new campaign in June, focussing on resource extraction and environmental damage. We’ll be at the Womad festival later in July, we have our Summer Shindig event on 12 August and we’ll be heading down to the Vale Earth festival in Guernsey at the end of August.
One of the things we talk about quite often is the need to engage younger people and guarantee that Tibet has continuous support for as long as it’s required. Festivals are a key part of our strategy as they give us the opportunity to talk to people of all ages and backgrounds. We’re currently developing the campaign activities that we’ll take to Womad and looking forward to meeting lots of new people.
There was also a lot of activity in Tibet during June and the Tibet Watch team did a great job of verifying the information and passing it through quickly. We’ve also got lots of new content on the Tibet Watch website, including monthly reports from the field team, a monthly round-up from our Research Manager and summaries of Chinese news.
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.