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April 23, 2021

G20 draws activists for a free Tibet

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Banner raised near Story Bridge by Students for a Free Tibet. Photo Grace Jeffery-Kingston.
Banner raised near Story Bridge by Students for a Free Tibet. Photo Grace Jeffery-Kingston.

A local woman was one of a small group of Tibetans and free Tibet supporters who staged a banner hang this morning in Brisbane.

Grace Jeffery-Kingston from Lismore helped raise the sign to call to attention the human rights violations China is committing in Tibet, just one day before Chinese President Xi Jinping attends his second G20 Summit.

Four Tibet activists  deployed a 12 by 16 feet banner by way of two giant weather balloons in front of the iconic Story Bridge in Brisbane City close from Xi’s hotel. The banner read ‘China Fails Human Rights, G20: Unite for Tibet’.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and the Australian Tibet Council is using the G20 as an opportunity to urge world leaders to engage in a multilateral forum where they can discuss the occupation of Tibet and work towards a solution.

The stunt aimed to highlight what they see as China’s failed human rights record and called on world leaders for coordinated action on the humanitarian crisis in Tibet.

Ms Jeffery-Kingston who is part of the Southern Cross University chapter of SFT , says that Australia is in a unique position with the Chinese. ‘Australia is one of China’s strongest economic partners’, she says. ‘This puts us in a special position. We need to pressure our government to begin a conversation about Tibet, and call China out on its Human Rights atrocities in Tibet.’

While the summit’s focus is economic growth, the group says that the crisis in Tibet creates a moral obstacle for countries doing business with China. Activists point to global inaction on Tibet citing political intimidation by China towards world leaders in bilateral talks.

They say the G20 Summit is an opportunity for governments to engage in multi-lateral action towards China, similar to actions G8 member states took against Russia.

The G20 Summit takes place on the heels of unprecedented democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, and continuing unrest in occupied Tibet and Xinjiang. Non-violent resistance, including the self-immolations of 133 Tibetans, has continued under Xi’s presidency.

In response, China has intensified its grip on Tibet and most recently issued new regulations detailing ‘collective punishment’ placing entire Tibetan communities at risk of legal and economic repercussions.

‘Beijing is strangling the Tibetan people with one hand and silencing world governments on human rights with the other’, says Tibetan-Australian activist Yeshi Palmo. ‘World leaders need to find strength in numbers here at the G20, stand up to China’s political intimidation and act in unison for a true and just multilateral Tibet solution.’

Deputy Director of Students of Free Tibet Pema Yoko, flew in from New York f’or the G20. ‘Joint G8 government pressure on Russia forced Vladimir Putin to roll back repressive policies in Ukraine’, she said. ‘G20 leaders can apply similar multilateral pressure on China to help end the crisis in Tibet. The only way China will change its violent course in Tibet is if global leaders, like those gathered here in Brisbane stand up for human dignity and hold China accountable for its abuses in TIbet.’

Free Tibet activists and supporters will continue to put pressure on the G20 and will gather for a Unite4Tibet rally tomorrow at Redacliffe Place, 266 George St, Brisbane from 9.30am.

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