Republished from Focus on the Global South, April 3 2008
We are saddened and alarmed that the peaceful protest led by Buddhist monks in the Tibetan capital on March 10, which was followed by a wave of sympathy protests in the neighboring Tibetan areas after that day, has drawn a strong response from the Chinese authorities. We also deplore the unrest that followed, even though we understand the problems that gave rise to them.
We are concerned about the police and military build-up in response to these events not only in Lhasa but also in Tibetan areas of western China.
We believe that news blockade and censorship of the media are not helpful for the Chinese people and the international community and damage the credibility of the Chinese government.
The problems in Tibet are complex and long-standing and the demands for cultural and religious freedoms are well known. However, the more recent rapid economic development of the region has created huge inequalities and further marginalized
Tibetans. As we have seen in many other regions of the world, inequality and marginalization are the consequences of rapid economic development and globalization, all too often resulting in tensions and conflicts. These tensions and conflicts cannot be addressed through force and suppression, but rather through dialogue based on respect.
As concerned Asians, we call on the Chinese government to respect the aspirations of the Tibetan people, to listen seriously to their problems, and to engage in open and transparent talks with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan groups.
We believe that violence offers no solution and we call for restraint from both sides: the Chinese government should not arrest innocent people and should give fair trial to those who allegedly committed crimes during the unrest. We also advise Tibetans to avoid attacking or destroying properties of Han Chinese and Chinese Muslims as this could result to more militarization.
We urge the authorities to continue allowing foreign and independent press to enter the region to ensure that events are reported and for arrests of protesters to be known.
Finally, we ask the governments of India and Nepal to desist from using force to disperse demonstrations by exiled Tibetans in support of their compatriots and to allow them freedom of speech and assembly.
Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao Para sa Kapayapaan (AKMK), Philippines
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Association of War Affected Women, Sri Lanka
BRP – Bahujan Maha Sangh, India
BALAY Rehabilitation Center , Philippines
Bombay Urban Industrial League for Development (BUILD), India
Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR), Philippines
Centre for Peace Building and Reconciliation, Sri Lanka
Committee for Asian Women
Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Asia )
Demokratikong Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Lanao, Philippines
Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange , Thailand / US
EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai, India
EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka
Focus on the Global South
Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines
Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)
Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Indonesia
Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD), Philippines
International Gender and Trade Network-Asia
International Friends for Global Peace, Sri Lanka
International Women’s Rights Action Watch – Asia Pacific
KAISA – KA, Philippines
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA), Philippines
Lanao Fisherfolks Advocacy Network (LFAN), Philippines
Law & Society Trust , Sri Lanka
Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan (LMK), Philippines
LIPS / Sedane Labor Resource Center, Indonesia
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM), Philippines
Mindanao Tri-People Women Forum (MTWF), Philippines
Nonviolence International – Southeast Asia
Northern Development Foundation, Thailand
Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy, India
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Pakistan .
Peoples Media Initiative, India
Peoples Partner for Development and Democracy (PPDD), Thailand
Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, India
Ranao Tri-People Movement for Genuine Peace and Development, Philippines
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Thailand
Social Development & Research Organization, Sri Lanka
Society for Alternative Media and research, Pakistan
Solidarity Workshop (International)
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
South Asia Left Democratic Alliance – Canada
Sumpay Mindanao , Philippines
Transnationals Information Exchange Asia (TIE Asia )
World March of Women – Asian members