Young Tibetan nuns lead Freedom March in London

Saturday, 9 March 2002

Young Tibetan Nuns lead Freedom March in London;
call on Tony Blair to support the non-violent Tibetan cause and sponsor a resolution at the UN Commission for Human Rights
Two brave Tibetan nuns, Chuye Kunsang and Passang Lhamo, today lead a Freedom March through London to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising against the Chinese occupation. This is their first visit to the UK, where they have come to tell of their experiences in Tibet's notorious Drapchi prison as political prisoners. They will present a letter to 10 Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to give Tibet his substantive political support. "We appreciate your pledge to bring 'values of democracy and freedom to people around the world' and appeal to you to extend that promise to the people of Tibet. We believe that your political support for Tibetans, who are committed to non-violence, would signal that terrorism and violence are not the right way to generate international attention." says the letter. It goes on to ask the EU to take action on Tibet at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNCHR).

"For the sake of our friends still in prison, we sincerely hope that the European Union will table a Tibet resolution at the United Nations Commission for Human Rights." said Chuye Kunsang and Passang Lhamo. "We can think of no reason why they could refuse. In comparison to other nations, China deserves to answer to the UNCHR for its behaviour and the EU need not fear reprisals, for the United States were not punished when it tabled a resolution last year."

Chuye and Passang were jailed for shouting pro-independence slogans in the centre of Lhasa, and suffered torture and ill-treatment whilst in Drapchi prison. Passang served over five years and Chuye served four years. They escaped to India from Tibet following their release from prison as they and their families continued to endure daily harassment. Both women were in Drapchi prison with nun Ngawang Sangdrol, 25, a pro-independence demonstrator now serving a 21 year sentence, the longest jail term of any female political prisoner in Tibet. Originally sentenced to just three years, her sentence has been extended three times for further protests.

Today's march takes place just before the European Union is due to decide (11 March) whether it will sponsor a Tibet or China resolution at the UNCHR, which opens in Geneva on 18 March. China has successfully blackmailed members of the Commission not to table a resolution in the past, with the effect of eroding the objectivity and integrity of the Commission. Chuye and Passang will visit UNCHR in April. Former political prisoners have testified that their prison conditions improved at times when UNCHR was deliberating China's human rights record.

For more information call Anne Callaghan 0207 833 9958, mobile 07796 012533. The nuns' visit is hosted by Free Tibet Campaign and Amnesty International UK.

On 10 March Chuye and Passang will speak at a screening of the remarkable film Windhorse, which chronicles events very similar to those they experienced. Riverside Studios London W6. 2pm Windhorse, 3.40pm Panel discussion. 4.45pm The Cup.