Reporting by David Waters and Tayo Popoola
The 56th anniversary of Tibet’s uprising against Chinese occupation has been marked with a wreath laying ceremony in central London on Tuesday March 10th.
The event was held at the Memorial to Innocent Victims outside Westminster Abbey and led by Canon of Westminster, the Reverend Jane Sinclair.
On March 10th 1959 the people of Tibet, a remote and mainly-Buddhist territory in Asia, revolted against occupation by neighbouring China.
Thousands of Tibetans died when China violently repressed the uprising.
Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, and approximately eighty thousand Tibetans were forced to flee the country following China’s aggression.
The Dalai Lama, who continues to represent the Tibetan government in exile, has released a statement to mark the occasion.
The situation in Tibet remains grim but the enduring spirit of the Tibetan people is strong and is getting stronger. Tibetans in Tibet have survived one state-sponsored disaster after another. Within Tibet, a new spiritual, cultural and intellectual renaissance reinforces Tibetan pride and unity. We urge the Chinese leadership to let Tibetans govern Tibet.
Speaking at the event in London, Tibet Society chairman Riki Hyde-Chambers said ‘It’s appropriate that at the memorial of innocent victims we should honour the countless Tibetans who over the years have lost their lives.’
The ceremony was co-organised by an all party parliamentary group for Tibet, although no MPs attended the event.
The all party parliamentary group was set up to encourage the British government in facilitating negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.
The government’s stance on Tibet is limited by its need to retain close economic and political ties with China.
Britain sold exports worth 1.2 billion pounds to China at the end of 2014 and the government sees exports to the world’s largest economy as a key area of potential growth for the UK.
In the recent past China has responded angrily to countries that hold political meetings with the Dalai Lama or take a public stance on Tibet.
On Tuesday March 2nd Chinese president Xi Jinping met Prince William in China where the issue of Tibet was not raised.Embed from Getty Images
Speaking at the event, Tibet Community in Britain campaign manager Tehor Yeshi Ngawang said ‘China uses economic pressure as a tool but we have to understand that China needs the West more that we need China.’
Representative for the Dalai Lama for the UK and Northern Europe, Chonpel Tsering said:
The Dalai Lama is committed to an approach of seeking genuine autonomy through negotiations, dialogue with the Chinese leadership. We hope that the situation will resolve to the Tibetan people inside Tibet can have their rights and there freedoms respected.
Tibetan independence groups marched in London on Saturday March 7th to draw attention to the situation in Tibet. A larger European Rally for Tibet is scheduled to take place in Paris on Saturday March 14th.
Tibet- The Chinese Government’s Position
The Chinese authorities argue that they have funded major infrastructure projects such as the railway linking Lhasa to Qinghai province, and the growth of industry in the region.
China says Tibetan areas are much more wealthy under Beijing’s rule than they would otherwise have been.
Beijing also says Tibetan communities enjoy a great deal of autonomy under a system of devolved government.
China argues that Tibet has officially been part of the Chinese nation since the mid-13th Century, so should continue to be ruled by Beijing.
See: BBC Briefing Q&A: China and the Tibetans