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Can democratic countries allow Tibetan self-immolators to be called “terrorists”?

Since you’re reading this blog, you already know my answer.

No, this cannot be allowed and we, as citizens of the so-called “free world,” have a clear responsibility to call on our governments to expose the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet, and not to shy away from doing it.

On Wednesday, we at ICT issued a new report, which documents the actions taken by China to further militarize the Tibetan plateau, as part of an extensive counterterrorism drive undertaken by China over the last months.

Large military drills have been organized in Tibet to combat “self-immolation, vehicle collision, arson attacks, and mobs”, to make an “exercise of anti-terrorism and stability maintenance combat” and to combat “thugs”.

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China’s bullying backfires in South Africa

Last month the government of South Africa, for the third time, denied an entry visa to the Dalai Lama. This time he had planned to participate in a meeting with his fellow Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town. Previously, Reverend Desmond Tutu had invited him.

Clearly, in all cases, there was no legal basis for these decisions, as demonstrated by the ruling of a South African Court where a dear friend of Tibetans, Hon. Mario Ambrosini (who recently passed away Obituary: Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, South African MP and a strong supporter of the Tibetan People) had lodged a complaint.

Although the South African Government denies it, denying the Dalai Lama a visa was an accommodation to China and so it is an act of arrogance by Beijing implemented in Cape Town.

But while other times the decision did not backfire, this time was different. The difference was that the Nobel Peace Laureates could not remain silent in front of such outrageous injustice perpetrated against one of their own.

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Meetings with ICT members in Europe and a call to release relatives and friends of self-immolators

Dear all,

It is good to be back in DC and continue to share with you more in detail some of the activities that we at ICT relentlessly continue to carry out. From publishing reports, to issuing press releases on urgent issues, from meeting government officials and members of Parliament to reaching out to Chinese people of good will.

But let me start from the end: my visit to ICT Europe in Amsterdam.

It was a weeklong series of meetings, where I had the pleasure to work side by side with a great and very committed team. It is led by a bedrock of the Tibetan movement internationally, my dear Tibetan friend and colleague Tsering Jampa, the Executive Director of ICT Europe, to whose leadership ICT owes a lot.

The last day I was there, I had the privilege to have a public meeting and meet personally with dozens of ICT members and donors who for a long time (in many cases a lifetime!) have been supporting Tibetans. It was also a great opportunity for me to present to them how we are working to respond to the formidable challenge posed by China, not only to the preservation of a genuine and free Tibetan culture and identity in Tibet, but to the entire world due to its aggressive policies both internal and international.

(Left) ICT Europe staff and a volunteer talk to our members after the meeting. (Right) Public meeting with ICT members in Amsterdam on September 5, 2014.

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Abroad to strengthen Tibet’s international advocacy

Over the last few weeks I have been traveling out of the United States to advance the plans related to the strengthening of our international advocacy. Below you can find a brief summary and some considerations.

In mid-June, I attended the meeting of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy ( in Dakar, Senegal. The WDM is a network that includes activists belonging to organizations from all over the world committed to the promotion of democracy. Its function is to create a space where the opportunities, challenges and trends related to the development of democracy all over the world can be discussed and new ideas and projects can be developed. Democracy as a precondition for the full enjoyment of human rights is a founding principle of this movement that I share completely.

The threat posed to democracy by the rise of undemocratic states on the international stage (of course we discussed China, for example its impact on foreign policies of democratic countries), was widely discussed among other topics, as the understanding of the connection that exists between national developments of influential nations and international politics is every day more evident.

I am glad that I was able to participate to this discussion on behalf of ICT, and we are looking forward to strengthen our relationships to support Tibetans all over the world.

Meeting of the Steering Committee of the World Movement of Democracy in Dakar saw the participation
of the Minister of Justice of Senegal Mr. Sidiki Kaba.

After the visit to Senegal, I finally had the great pleasure to visit the Berlin office of ICT Germany. ICT Germany was created in 2002 and since then, it has established itself as a reliable, professional and strong voice to support the rights of Tibetans and to bring positive change to China. Tens of thousands of people in Germany support the work of ICT and, under the leadership of the Executive Director Kai Muller, Anne, Erich, Markus and Martin have been able to make a difference in the perception of the Tibetan issue in Germany, in particular by its political class, as I was able to personally experience in the meetings I had there.

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In Italy, to keep Tibet on the agenda of the European Union

Last week, I had a week-long visit to Italy with the aim to keep Tibet on the agenda of Italian and EU institutions for the coming months. The occasion was given by the fact that Italy will chair the European Union for six months starting on July 1 and also by the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Italy. He was there for a series of teachings and a public talk, in Pomaia at the Lama Thsong Khapa Institute and in Livorno, from the 13 to the 15 of June.

Benedetto Della Vedova, Mecacci, Metten
Undersecretary of State Benedetto Della Vedova, Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet
and EU Policy Director Vincent Metten.)
In the days preceding the teachings, I was joined by Vincent Metten, EU policy Director of ICT, to participate in several meetings in Rome, both with Government representatives and Members of Parliament.

Also, in those same days, the new Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, was in China for his first visit to Beijing since he assumed power. On these issues, I published an article in an Italian newspaper (English translation), and I also held a hearing before the human rights committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

This was an important occasion to renew and reinforce the call of ICT and of its supporters worldwide to EU and democratic countries to adopt a common and principled position on the issue of Tibet while dealing with China.

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