Mr ENTSCH (Leichhardt-Chief Opposition Whip) (10:30): I rise today to add my voice in support of those who seek a peaceful resolution in the crisis in Tibet. It is very distressing to hear the human rights situation is driving a number of Tibetans to self-immolate.
On 25 February, Tsesung Kyab, a farmer, and Sangdag, a monk, became the 106th and 107th Tibetans to set themselves on fire in protest against China’s occupation of Tibet. A large majority of the self-immolations have taken place over the past six months, during the time of the leadership transition in China. Tibetans are desperate to send a strong message to China’s new leaders.
Unfortunately, China has failed to show willingness to constructively address Tibetan grievances or to hold themselves accountable for Tibetan rejection of their policies. China considers these protests as a threat and it has therefore increased its military and police presence and has closed Tibet to foreign tourists, media and diplomats.
I seek leave today in this place to table a petition from the Australia Tibet Council, which has 2518 signatures and has been approved by the Petitions Standing Committee.
The petition read as follows-
To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives
This petition of concerned Australian residents draws to the attention of the House of Representatives the deteriorating human rights conditions in Tibet. As of January 2013, 99 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in acts of protest against the Chinese government’s policies which are undermining their cultural, religious and political rights. 82 of these self-immolations took place in 2012.
The Chinese government has refused to address Tibetans’ grievances. Instead it has intensified the use of force, spread misinformation about the situation on the ground and blocked telecommunications into and out of the affected areas. Tibet remains closed to international media and China remains unwilling to allow visits by Australian diplomatic representatives.
We ask the House of Representatives to urge the Australian Government to:
· Make a strong public statement of concern over the situation facing Tibetan people
· Renew efforts to send the Ambassador In Beijing and a parliamentary delegation to areas affected by the protests and urge China to allow foreign journalists unfettered access to all Tibetan areas
· Join other concerned countries In an intergovernmental forum dedicated to building stronger International pressure on China to address the crisis in Tibet
from 2,518 citizens
Mr ENTSCH: I would also like to congratulate the ATC for their work on the Tibet Advocacy Project, which is designed to connect Australia’s Tibetans with their elected representatives. Today, on Tibet Advocacy Day, advocates from the ATC will meet with around 40 members and senators from all parties to urge stronger Australian government action on Tibet. As a member of the Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and having been honoured to meet the Dalai Lama, His Holiness, in person last year when I travelled to Ottawa, I support the ATC in their endeavour.
It must be emphasised that addressing the situation in Tibet is not an attack on the Chinese people, nor is it a matter of partisan politics. A peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue would not only ensure the long-term stability of our biggest trading partner but would be a significant step towards greater peace in our region.
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