Australian PM Urged to Support Active International Mediation on Tibet

Canberra: The Australia Tibet Council (ATC) has strongly urged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd “to take a leading role in supporting active international mediation to assist the Chinese leadership and the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a meaningful resolution of the issue of Tibet”.

Expressing concern that “His Holiness’ faith and trust is diminishing in the Chinese government”, the ATC said it “underscored the urgent need for stronger and more active international support for a meaningful pathway to the resolution of the Tibet issue.”

“The non-violent and conciliatory approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration is wholly dependent for its success upon strong support and advocacy from the international community,” the ATC’s Chair Mr Alex Butler, said in a letter to Australian premier on 30 October.

The ATC expressed concern over the “Chinese government’s attempt to reframe the dialogue process as being solely concerned with the Dalai Lama’s personal future, avoiding all questions concerning the status and wellbeing of the Tibetan people.”

While providing documents on the Chinese government’s repressive measures in Tibet after the March protests, the ATC told premier Rudd that “despite the extraordinary March uprising and heightened international scrutiny on China before and during the Beijing Olympics, 2008 has seen no progress towards a peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue.”

The ATC said, it strongly “encourages him (Kevin Rudd) to make strong representations to the Chinese government on continuing human rights concerns in Tibet during the upcoming Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue.”

The ATC strongly urged the Australian government “to take practical steps towards a more transparent, accountable and results-oriented bilateral human rights dialogue.”

It also called for an official Australian delegation to visit Tibetan areas.

Meanwhile, at the invitation of the Chinese government, Queensland Liberal MP Michael Johnson, a strongly pro-Chinese federal Liberal parliamentarian, will be visiting Tibet next week, according a report by The Canberra Times.

His trip to Lhasa comes as members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet have made a request to Lhasa on a fact-finding mission.

Labor backbencher Michael Danby, Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Liberal backbencher Peter Slipper wrote to Chinese Ambassador Zhang Junsai last month, saying they would like to visit Tibet to understand how events have progressed since the peaceful protests in March.

Mr Danby expressed surprise about Mr Jonhson’s trip to Lhasa, saying the Liberal MP had “not previously demonstrated interest or expertise on Tibet”.

Senator Brown said: “ Any foreign group to Tibet is to be welcomed, that’s the Dalai Lama’s view, but it’s a hollow exercise if it’s done to grace the Chinese Government propaganda effort.”

–Reporting by Tibet Information Office, Australia. Editing by Lobsang Choedak.