The advocacy team met with over 20 members of the Indian Parliament from both houses (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha) and from a variety of political parties, including the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, Ninong Ering.
The campaign was jointly organized by The Tibetan Women's Association (TWA) and Students for a Free Tibet, India (SFT India), and coordinated by the International Tibet Network in response to the unprecedented spate of self-immolations inside Tibet - now numbering 107. The campaign aimed to gather Government support and diplomatic intervention to address the grim situation inside Tibet.
TWA's General Secretary Nyima Lhamo said "the advocacy team engaged the Indian Parliamentarians in a strategic discussion to ensure institutional support and tangible action to assert multilateral pressure on the Chinese leadership to resolve the Tibet crisis."
"Through this campaign we have appealed to the Parliamentarians to urge Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to raise the issue of self-immolations in Tibet during his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the upcoming BRICS summit, scheduled to be held in Durban this month", said Dorjee Tseten, National Director of SFT India.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, former minister and now a member of Rajya Sabha told the team that the situation inside Tibet needs urgent intervention and therefore could potentially lead to a diplomatic expression from the Indian leadership to its Chinese counterpart.
Former minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, now a Rajya Sabha MP and
chief of Lok Janshakti party produced a copy of a letter showcasing a 'January 22 written question urging the Prime Minister to 'sympathetically look into the matter of heightened repression in Tibet', and a subsequent February 9 acknowledgement from Prime Minister Singh.'
In a swift response to the advocacy campaign, independent Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrashekar tweeted about the self-immolations in Tibet and subsequently sent a letter to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the issue. "I urge you to support the cause of Tibetan freedom by issuing a strong statement in light of current human rights violation and crisis in Tibet and raise this issue with the Chinese President at the upcoming BRICS meeting on 26 and 27 March 2013, in Durban, South Africa" wrote Rajeev.
"Within 2 days, 11 MPs signed the 'Stand up for Tibet' pledge, which has already garnered 50,000 signatories. The copies of the signed 'pledge' and an exclusive appeal letter were delivered to the Prime Minister's office today," said Tsering Choedup from the International Tibet Network.
The team also met with leaders and office holders of national political parties and delivered the pledge and appeal letter. The campaign also appealed to the Indian Parliamentarians to make possible the invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address the Indian Parliament, and to also invite Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the political leader of Tibet to present on Tibet in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Indian Parliament.
The advocacy campaign will be an on-going campaign in India with substantial follow-ups with the Indian lawmakers.