Tibet Issue Raised in Australian Senate on Rights Day
Lisa Singh (R) joined with the local Tibetan communityand supporters for Tibetan people on 10 March 2013 to mark the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.Lisa Singh (R) joined with the local Tibetan communityand supporters for Tibetan people on 10 March 2013 to mark the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.
Below are excerpts from Senator Lisa Singh’s statement:
My commitment and support for human rights from work and activities before becoming a senator and my time in this place have continued my resolve to stand up for a just and humane world free of discrimination and for equality. One example of that comes from my involvement with the Australia Tibet Council. I had the privilege last year of travelling to Dharamshala in India, which is the exiled capital of Tibet. This experience gave me an undeniable insight into the desperate plight of Tibetans and to understand more fully the human rights abuses taking place in our global community. I had the pleasure this evening of joining some of the Tibetan community here in Australia in Parliament House to recognise the struggles that continue for their families and friends living in Tibet.
It was on 22 October 2013 that the UN Human Rights Council reviewed China’s human rights record as part of their universal periodic review. This was the second review for China and it allowed for a review of the recommendations and pledges made by China during the 2009 session as well as encompassing a review of the overall human rights record of China. Sadly, from all reports the overall human rights situation in China, particularly in Tibet and also against the Uygur people, has continued to deteriorate over the last four years. I take this opportunity to highlight the important region of Xinjiang in China where the native Uygurs continue to fight religious intolerance and discrimination. Labelled as terrorists, their plight has become increasingly difficult.
Repressive policies and the continuous suppression of fundamental human rights are causing immense suffering. Tibetans have peacefully struggled and held hope of obtaining freedomfreedom of religion, freedom to celebrate their culture and language, and freedom of expression. Since China’s first UPR in February 2009, Tibet witnessed its very first self-immolation by a young 20-year-old monk by the name of Tapey. This act of desperation was Tibet’s first in its 60-year continuous suppression of human rights. Tapey should never have lost his life. He should never have had to resort to such an act. In 2009 the loss of his life was already one too many, and since that time there have been many more.
I wish I could report that his life was the only one taken by self-immolation, but they have continued to increase since 2009 and a confounding 122 cases have been confirmed to date. This is no small number and it clearly shows the desperation and repression of those in Tibet. In what is another constraint to human rights, recent reports confirm friends and relatives of self-immolators are now being subject to sentencing by Chinese authorities for alleged association with the self-immolators.
Tibet’s spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has travelled the globe seeking compassion and peaceful solutions for his country in exile. This year I once again had the privilege to meet His Holiness here in Australia. His struggle for liberation of Tibet has always strongly opposed the use of violence. His Holiness understands the power of universal responsibility for all things and through his leadership he has actively pursued peaceful solutions to human rights abuses.
Today is the 24th anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness. In 1989 the Norwegian Nobel Committee declared His Holiness worthy of this prestigious prize. I believe, and I am sure many will agree, that his leadership through non-violent action and spiritual guidance to the Tibetan people is most commendable and worthy of global recognition. During his acceptance speech the Dalai Lama spoke of cultivating a universal responsibility and said: I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share.
These words are valuable and worth reflecting on, particularly today as we mark Human Rights Day and celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Today as we acknowledge Human Rights Day we should acknowledge the ongoing struggle of those living in Tibet. We should not only acknowledge but also commit to act on their behalf.