‘X Factor’ video targets new audiences for Tibet singers campaign

Thursday, 15 May 2014

After tripling Facebook followers in less than two years, campaign group aims high Free Tibet, the international campaign group, has released a provocative new video to generate support for its campaign to free jailed musicians in Tibet. The micro-budget Why do singers cry? contrasts the emotional outpourings of real TV singing competition contestants with the plight and courage of 10 singers recently imprisoned by China in Tibet. Featuring a number of high-profile recent contestants and winners, the 70-second film focusses on the ubiquitous claim that singing “means everything.” The video is the latest example of Free Tibet’s approach to Tibet campaigning, which has seen Facebook page likes increase from 10,000 to 30,000 in just eighteen months. While the London-based group still uses reportage of human rights abuses in Tibet and images of Tibetans and Tibetan culture, it is now developing less traditional content to promote its campaigns and generate deeper knowledge of Tibet’s situation. In addition to video, these include employing manipulated images, graphics and animated gifs. A current campaign against InterContinental Hotels Group features a mock hotel website and a prank video in which comedian Mark Thomas searches for Tibetan guests in one of InterContinental’s luxury London hotels. One infographic “Tibet: know the facts” has now been viewed more than 100,000 times on Facebook. Free Tibet campaigns and media manager Alistair Currie says: “Traditional and online media are saturated with images and reports of human rights abuses throughout the world. The challenge for any campaign group is to cut through the noise and both reach and engage new audiences. Tibet faces an additional challenge because China’s media lockdown makes sourcing images incredibly difficult and limits the impact we can achieve through traditional outlets. Recognising this, we have developed a communications strategy designed to address all these problems. That strategy has three aims: to reach new audiences by using original and compelling content; to engage audiences by presenting Tibet’s plight in a context they recognise; and to differentiate Tibet from other human rights issues.” Free Tibet is a highly trusted and respected source of information for the global media. Via its India-based, Tibetan-staffed research partner Tibet Watch, it sources and rigorously verifies news, images and video from Tibet, provided at great risk by Tibetans themselves. That information is distributed to the media and promoted on Free Tibet’s own website and social media. Although London-based, Free Tibet web and social media traffic is international, with most visitors coming from the US and increasing traffic from India and Australia. Currie continues: “We are a small organisation with a very limited budget for multimedia content and limited resources to develop our social media audiences. We certainly have yet to properly exploit many platforms but graphics, gifs and more non-traditional content have proved very popular with our social media audience, as our figures show. While we will always set the highest priority on bringing voices and news from inside Tibet to the world’s attention, our aim is to use more imaginative and original campaign approaches to ensure that what those voices tell us will be heard by a larger and more engaged international audience.” Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said: “It is Free Tibet’s responsibility to ensure that the world understands what is happening in Tibet: this is an occupied country, subject to domination over many decades by a national group, political system and culture which is not its own. Singers are targeted in Tibet because they celebrate and embody the very national identity that China sees as a threat. This video exemplifies our new approach to campaigning and we hope it will reach an audience who might otherwise never be exposed to this issue.” -ends- For further information or comment, contact Alistair Currie: E: alistair@freetibet.org T: +44 (0)207 324 4605 Notes for editors For further information on singers campaign, see www.freetibet.org/singers Tibet was invaded by China in 1950. According to the US State Department, repression in Tibet is “severe”, the “civil rights of [Tibetans] . . . are strictly curtailed” and other “serious human rights abuses included extrajudicial killings, torture [and] arbitrary arrests” (1). Media, international human rights NGOs and UN human rights institutions are banned from Tibet. International think tank Freedom House has given Tibet a “worst-of-the-worst” freedom rating of 7.0 (2) while the chair of the US Senate’s foreign relations committee has described it as “one of the most repressed and closed societies in the world” (3). More than 125 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule since 2011 (4). (1) US Department of State (2013) Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: China http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=204195&year=2012#wrapper (2) Freedom House, 2013 http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2013/tibet (3) Senator Robert Menendez, Congressional Record, March 18 2013 http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r113:S18MR3-0013:/ (4) Full list of self-immolations http://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/full-list-self-immolations-tibet Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected. www.freetibet.org Tibet Watch (registered charity no 1114404) was established in 2006 to promote the human rights of the Tibetan people by providing accurate information about the situation in Tibet, for the purposes of educating people and engaging in international advocacy on behalf of the Tibetan people. www.tibetwatch.org