(TibetanReview.net, Dec18, 2013) Globally popular singers such as Peter Gabriel (Genesis), Thom Yorke and Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Serj Tankian (System of a Down) and Tjinder Singh (Cornershop) are the first to sign a petition launched Dec 16 by London-based campaign group Free Tibet, urging China to release eight singers jailed in Tibet for songs celebrating Tibetan culture and calling for freedom, reported looktothestars.org Dec 16.
Singers Lolo (30), Chakdor (32), Pema Trinley (22), Kalsang Yarphel (38) and Shawo Tashi (40) were arrested or sentenced in 2013 while Ugyen Tashi (25), Achok Phulsung (33) and Choksal were jailed in 2012. Two other singers – Trinley Tsekar and Gongpo Tenzin – were arrested in Nov 2013, after the group had put together their campaign petition.
Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, the campaign group’s Director, has said, “Music is a vital part of Tibet’s resistance. Singers such as Lolo not only keep alive a culture that China is trying to erase but their songs articulate the aspirations, fears and courage of a people who remain proud and defiant after 60 years of occupation.”
Writers, artists, singers, and educators have especially been targeted by the Chinese authorities after a wave of protests against Chinese repression swept the Tibetan Plateau in Mar-Apr 2008, leading to massacres and brutal security measures by the Chinese government.
The group has cited an Apr 2013 US State Department report as saying China had implemented “severe repression of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage by, among other means, strictly curtailing [Tibetans’] civil rights”.
Free Tibet plans to get more signatures on the petition, including from musicians, from all over the world in the coming days.
The petition is addressed to China’s justice minister Wu Ailing and the group will make a decision later in the year about when would be the most effective time to hand it in
The petition says, in part: “Singing songs in your own language about the issues of concern to your own people is not a crime. China claims to protect Tibetan culture but by imprisoning these musicians it is suppressing that culture, as well as violating the human rights of these individuals . . . I urge you to ensure that all artists in Tibet and all Tibetans are free to express themselves without fear of arrest, imprisonment or any other form of punishment.”