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UK government vows stronger response to China on situation in Tibet at House debate

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec16’23) – Questioned on its inadequate and disproportionate response to the gravity of the human rights situation in Chinese ruled Tibet thus far, the government of UK has told parliament on Dec 15 that it will continue to press for stronger language and use of sanctions tools to express the country’s disgust and righteous anger that Members of Parliament had expressed during the debate that day.

Answering questions on behalf of the government, Minister for the Indo-Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyn, has said: “the UK will continue to hold it [China] to account—in public, in private and in concert with our international partners. We will continue to stand up for our values, and to promote and protect human rights in Tibet and around the world.

“Members’ concerns about the forcefulness of messaging about and criticism of suppression from Chinese authorities are well heard today. We shall continue to press for stronger language and the continued use of sanctions tools to express the disgust and righteous anger that colleagues have set out so eloquently today.”

On China’s efforts to erase the name “Tibet” by replacing it with the more restrictive and Chinese name “Xizang”, the Minister has said: “absolutely we continue to use the name Tibet … and if that is a developing narrative we must pay close attention and counter it”.

The debate on the persecution of Buddhists in Tibet was secured by the Honourable Member of Parliament Jim Shannon who is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freedom of Religion and Belief and Shadow DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) Spokesperson for Human Rights, as well as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

His initiative was supported by four other MP’s – Fiona Bruce, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Kerry McCarthy and Catherine West – who all spoke during the debate.

In his opening remarks, Shannon said “the Chinese Communist Party tries to take control of all religious affairs of Tibetan Buddhists”, that “this House will not be silenced”, and that “let us be a voice of the voiceless in Tibet”.

He asked the minister to respond to a series of appeals he and his colleagues had forwarded to him on the issue of Tibet, including on protecting “the rights of the Tibetan people and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to follow their own religious tradition in the selection procedure of the 15th Dalai Lama”; on freeing the Panchen Lama; on securing the release of “all Tibetan prisoners of conscience, the majority of whom are from the monastic communities”; on “freedom to practice religious traditions without fear of state persecution”; and “freedom to learn Tibetan language which holds the key to accessing the complete Buddhist canons of Kangyur and Tengyur.”

MP Fiona Bruce, who was until recently the Chair of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, has informed the House that this international body, which has 42 member countries, had selected the 11th Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima as the prisoner of conscience for the month of December to champion.

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