Monday, November 7, 2011

Tibet's cry for help

Dear friends,

Days ago, Palden Choetso set herself alight and died. In the past month, nine Buddhist monks and nuns have self-immolated to protest a growing Chinese crackdown in Tibet. These tragic acts are a desperate cry for help -- and we can answer their call. China restricts access to the region, but if we can persuade six key governments with close ties to China to send diplomats to the area, it will expose this escalating repression, and save lives. Sign the urgent petition now!
Days ago, Palden Choetso walked out of her nunnery, covered herself in petrol and set herself on fire while pleading for a 'free Tibet'. Minutes later she died. In the past month, nine monks and nuns have self-immolated to protest a growing Chinese crackdown on the peaceful Tibetan people.

These tragic acts are a desperate cry for help. Machine gun-toting Chinese security forces are beating and disappearing monks, laying siege to monasteries, and even killing elderly people defending them -- all in an effort to suppress Tibetan rights. China severely restricts access to the region. But if we can get key governments to send diplomats in and expose this growing brutality, we could save lives.

We have to act fast -- this horrific situation is spiraling out of control behind a censorship curtain. Over and over we have seen that when diplomats themselves bear witness to atrocities, they are motivated to act, and increase political pressure. Let's answer Palden's tragic cry and build a massive petition to the six world leaders with the most influence in Beijing to send a mission to Tibet and speak out against the repression. Sign the urgent petition:

Tibetans are suffocating under China's stranglehold. They are unable to practice their religion freely -- just downloading a photograph of the Dalai Lama can land a Tibetan in prison. And it is getting worse as columns of Chinese troops have blockaded the largest monasteries and are abducting monks into "patriotic re-education" programmes. This horrific situation is spiraling out of control.

Since the beginning of the year, eleven monks and nuns have set themselves alight and with every protest China tightens its grip. For Tibetans, self-immolations are a very severe sacrifice that reveal their level of despair. They believe that committing suicide has a devastating impact on the cycle of re-incarnations and may even put you back 500 lifetimes. But Tibet's situation is so horrific that monks and nuns are forfeiting their positions in the cycle in exchange for the hope of international attention and freedom for their brothers and sisters.

The Chinese government won't allow journalists and human rights monitors into the region -- just days ago Sky news and AFP journalists were forced out. But diplomats can request access and get in. And, as we have recently seen in Syria, they are the best way to get firsthand reports, let China know that the world is watching and start high-level political conversations on Tibetans' human rights.

It's up to us to raise the global alarm. If we can get the US, UK, Australia, India, France and the EU to send a delegation now, they could push China to action. We have no time to lose -- sign the urgent petition:

Avaaz members have supported projects that are piercing the blackout and defending Tibetan culture and religious practice. But China's ruthless crackdown is escalating. It's time for our whole community to take a stand together with these peaceful people sacrificing their own lives for basic rights. Let's show them that the world has not forgotten them.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Iain, Dalia, Ricken, Diego, Shibayan, Giulia, and the whole Avaaz team

More information:

Tibetan nun burns to death (BBC)

Tibetan Nun Who Set Herself On Fire Dies (Sky)

Dalai Lama: 'Cultural genocide' behind self-immolations (BBC)

Study points to heavy handed repression of Tibetan area in China (The New York Times) (including HRW report)

China is fueling the fires of Tibetan resistance (Guardian)

Rare footage of Tibetan monk post-immolation in April

Video of heightened police presence days ago in Ngaba (AFP)

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