March, 2012

Ms Parke (Fremantle): I acknowledge the presence of 12 Tibetan representatives from across Australia in parliament today. They are here seeking strong cross-party support for the Tibet issue. On behalf of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Tibet and my constituents in Fremantle, may I say how concerned we are about the deepening crisis in Tibet, which has seen around 30 Tibetans setting themselves on fire in acts of protest since 2009. The latest immolation of a 38-year-old Tibetan monk in Tongren County in Qinghai province on 15 March is a grim reminder of the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet. These acts of self-immolation and a wave of fresh protests in eastern Tibet have been met by intensified military control and a media blackout by the Chinese authorities. All Tibetan areas have been closed to journalists, tourists and outside observers.

A recent report by Reporters Without Borders said: Out of sight of the world, a major crisis is unfolding. Even Pyongyang has an international media presence, which is not the case in Lhasa. A handful of Western journalists who have managed to sneak into the heavily restricted towns have revealed the extent of China’s military and armed police presence.

Tibetans around the globe marked 10 March as the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising when, in 1959, thousands took to the streets in Lhasa to protest against China’s occupation of Tibet. Fifty-three years on, the Tibetans continue to show their opposition to the repressive policies of the Chinese government in Tibet. The disturbing trend of self-immolations reflects the depth of the crisis in Tibet and the need for the Chinese government to review its policies. I hope the Australian government will continue to urge China to address the grievances of the Tibetan people through dialogue.

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