President Bush urged to deliver on promise

Wednesday, 17 October 2001

President Bush urged to deliver on promise to promote dialogue between Tibet and China during meeting with Jiang Zemin
No horse-trading of human rights for Chinese support of the global coalition against terrorism

Free Tibet Campaign is calling on the US President, George W Bush, not to forget his promise to the Dalai Lama that he will promote dialogue between Tibet and China, when he meets Jiang Zemin on Friday before the APEC meeting in Shanghai on 20 - 21 October.

"The US President has an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to pursuing peaceful resolutions to long-standing problems such as the occupation of Tibet; a message made more relevant by the current political situation," said Alison Reynolds, Director of Free Tibet Campaign. "The Tibetan people not only have a just cause, but have followed a path of non-violence: an approach surely, now more than ever, deserving of international support."

Free Tibet Campaign is also looking for assurances that the US-led coalition will neither be silenced on the subject of Tibet in return for Chinese support for the 'campaign against terrorism', nor allow China to use the current political climate to crackdown on what it calls 'separatists'. Evidence is emerging that China may attempt to capitalise on events, as reported by the BBC shortly after September 11. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said, "China, by the same token, has reason to ask the United States to give its support and understanding in the fight against terrorism and separatists." This indicates that China does not distinguish between terrorism and separatism: the Dalai Lama is regularly referred to as a 'splittist'.

Campaigners across the globe have additionally asked President Bush to press Jiang Zemin for the release of Ngawang Choephel on medical parole. Ngawang, an exiled Tibetan jailed since 1995 for 'spying', received an eighteen year prison sentence for recording traditional Tibetan music and dance. He is believed to be suffering from at least four major ailments, and is currently being held in a prison in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Notes:

1. Bush met the Dalai Lama in Washington in May 2001 where, according to the President's spokesman Ari Fleischer, he "declared his strong support for the Dalai Lama's tireless efforts to initiate a dialogue with the Chinese government." Bush also "reiterated the strong commitment of the United States to support the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity and the protection of the human rights of all Tibetans," said Fleischer.

2. "We are freedom fighters unique in our peaceful approach to liberation....should this experiment prove successful it could have a revolutionary effect on future struggles for freedom." The Dalai Lama.

For more information contact: Alison Reynolds, + 44 20 7833 9958, Mobile + 44 7711 843884