Tibet group urges Queen not to meet Chinese leader

Monday, 16 June 2014

Letter urges Queen to meet Dalai Lama

Campaign group Free Tibet has written to HM The Queen to ask her not to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on his visit to the UK this week (1). The letter states that “a meeting [between the Queen and] a leader of the world’s largest authoritarian state at a time of increased repression inside its borders does not appear to be in the interests of the monarchy, the United Kingdom, or those resisting oppression across the world.”

In the letter, Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren details the current oppression inside Tibet and notes that the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has identified China as a “country of concern” for human rights abuse (2). Observing that the announcement of the meeting (reportedly at the insistence of the Chinese delegation, 3) occurred just days after the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, she goes on:

China’s abuse of human rights and continued repression of its own people and of the people of Tibet are deeply at odds with British values of tolerance, rule of law, religious freedom and respect for civil, political, economic, cultural and fundamental human rights.

In these circumstances, we believe that this meeting should never have been arranged and urge that it be cancelled it if at all possible at this stage.

The letter, sent on Friday, urges Her Majesty to extend an invitation to meet to the Dalai Lama, who she last met in 1996.

As the head of the Church of England, Your Majesty’s willingness to meet representatives and leaders of other faiths is known throughout the world – most recently in your meeting with Pope Francis in Rome. Such a meeting between Your Majesty and the Dalai Lama would be an important affirmation of his significance as a religious leader and force for good in the world, as well as of the principles of compassion, tolerance and respect for spirituality that has marked Your Majesty’s reign.

Free Tibet campaign manager Alistair Currie said:

“The government’s acquiescence to China’s demand for this meeting is very regrettable. We understand, of course, that it is very unlikely that the Queen will be in a position to cancel the meeting but we felt it was important that she be made aware of deep concerns it has raised. We hope that she and those who advise her will now give strong consideration to inviting the Dalai Lama to meet her again, to show that the values he represents are recognised and endorsed by Britain’s head of state.”

A joint demonstration by Tibet groups against Mr Li will be held outside 10 Downing St tomorrow morning, 17 June (4).

-ends-

For further information or comment, contact Alistair Currie:
E: alistair@freetibet.org
T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes for editors

(1) Copy of letter available from Free Tibet
(2) Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human rights and democracy report 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/china-country-of-concern
(3) Daily Telegraph, 12 June 2014 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10894272/Chinese-PM-demands-audience-with-Queen-on-visit-to-Britain.html
(4) http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/chinas-premier-visit-uk