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. [caption id="attachment_5495" align="aligncenter" width="583"](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. (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.[/caption] In the previous days, we also had a strategy meeting with other ICT European colleagues to prepare our advocacy work in the next weeks and months, based on the thorough documentation that we continue to gather from Tibet every day. As you might know, at the end of July ICT published a dramatic and very important Report "Acts of Significant Evil", that documents how 98 Tibetans have been convicted, detained or disappeared over the last few years, many for allegedly encouraging other Tibetans (usually their relatives, friends or fellow monks) to self-immolate. It might sound impossible to a reasonable person, but as an ICT supporter you know that this is the reality in which Tibetans live in Tibet. Only a senseless government can convict, without any sort of evidence or a fair trial, someone like Lobsang Tsundue, a monk from the Kirti monastery, to 11 years in jail for “intentional homicide,” after his fellow monk Phuntsog self immolated on March 16, 2011. This, and other forms of collective punishment that we have documented in the report, brings us back to the dark times when dictators punished entire communities to intimidate everybody not to challenge the ruling elites. Is this the China with whom our governments want to establish stable partnership? This was an issue that I raised also with Dutch government officials. This notwithstanding, we know that the spirit of Tibetans is still strong and it gives us an even stronger sense of urgency to work hard to push the international community and our governments to raise the issue of Tibet with China, because, simply, this behavior cannot find its place among civilized nations. I concluded my remarks in Amsterdam saying that we know that no government can rule forever without the genuine support of their own people and that even those who seem to be the strongest and most powerful can suddenly collapse or be forced to change. So, let’s keep up our work, we know that we are on the right side of history and that both the Tibetan and the Chinese people deserve a better future, and I look forward to share with you more news next week. Ciao! Matteo
Matteo
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 (www.wmd.org) 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. [caption id="attachment_5454" align="aligncenter" width="520"]Steering Committee of the World Movement 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.[/caption] 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. [caption id="attachment_5461" align="alignright" width="300"]ICT Germany From left Kai, Martin, Matteo, Erich and Markus during their recent meeting at ICT Germany’s office in Berlin.[/caption]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. It is for ICT crucial to maintain and grow a strong presence in Germany, a key country in Europe where the Chinese government is constantly trying to spread blatant propaganda. So, congratulations for all you’re your achievements to ICT Germany and we look forward to a bright future! Matteo
Matteo PS: Also, congratulations also for the well deserved victory in the 2014 Soccer World Cup!
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.
[caption id="attachment_5405" align="alignright" width="300"]Undersecretary of State Benedetto Della Vedova, Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet and EU Policy Director Vincent Metten. Undersecretary of State Benedetto Della Vedova, Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet and EU Policy Director Vincent Metten.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5406" align="alignright" width="300"]ICT stand The ICT stand inside the Modigliani Forum in Livorno during His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings.[/caption]
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. Finally, in Pomaia and Livorno I had the opportunity and the privilege to spend few days with thousands of people who had gathered from all over the world to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to participate in his teachings. Elena Gaita and Joel Hirv from the ICT Brussels office joined me to distribute thousands of reports, flyers, t-shirts and other gadgets to participants. I was there for the entire duration of the teachings and I was privileged to be part of a joyous atmosphere. Finally, I also had a non-programmed chance to speak with His Holiness the Dalai Lama about our work at ICT and his kindness was once again remarkable. Grazie! Matteo
Matteo
As it happens to many governments, there is a moment in the year when the Chinese Government presents an overall picture of the human rights situation in the country, and we at ICT are naturally interested in reading it, especially about Tibet. This year it happened last week. What is peculiar about China is that while (democratic) governments present their annual human rights reports trying to be accurate and objective, China’s authorities continue to embrace propaganda starting from its title -- “White Paper: Progress in China’s human rights in 2013” -- not even contemplating that “progress” might not happen concerning the respect of human rights. What is striking is that despite the dire situations in Tibet and Xinjiang, there is not even the slightest recognition by the Chinese of the vast human rights violations that continue to happen. A blog is not the place to make a systematic analysis of the claims presented in the White Paper, but while I encourage you to read it yourself. I wish to draw your attention to a few sentences. In the chapter about the “Rights of ethnic minorities” all the paragraphs begin with celebratory remarks. A few examples:
“China has established the principle that all ethnic groups are equal and jointly participate in the management of state affairs on the constitutional, legal and systemic levels.” “The political rights of ethnic minorities are fully guaranteed.” “The socioeconomic rights of ethnic minorities are fully protected.” "The cultural legacies of Tibet are effectively protected, and the local religion and traditional customs and social mores are respected.”
For a country that aspires to be accepted as an important and reliable international power, China clearly needs to make a lot of progress and democratic governments should never accept unreliable and unconfirmed information from it. We at ICT have a solution: if China thinks that the reality of the human rights situation in Tibet is such, it can prove it by inviting UN experts and human rights NGOs to Tibet to see it for themselves. Matteo
Matteo