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25 March 2013 005Dharamshala An alternative BRICS summit was held in Dharamshala, northern India, on March 25, during which campaigners for the Tibetan cause demanded action from the real summit being held in South Africa and attended by Xi Jinping, China's new head of state.

The 5th annual BRICS summit is an international relations conference attended by premiers from its five member states - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 
 
The alternative BRICS event was held at the Gu Chu Sum exhibition hall in McLeodganj (Upper Dharamshala) and was conducted jointly by Students for a Free Tibet India (SFT) and the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA). It featured a skit during which actors wearing caricature masks of the BRICS participants were petitioned by Tibetan activists. A press conference after the event highlighted the challenge Xi Jinping faces with the Tibet Issue.

President Xi Jinping will meet with government leaders from the BRICS member states in Durban on March 26 and 27. Since Xi Jinping’s elevation to leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s hard-line response to dissidence in Tibet has escalated, with increased military presence, mass detentions and a campaign to ‘criminalise’ family members of self-immolation protesters.

“Tibet is Xi Jinping’s number one challenge", said SFT's Dorjee Tseten, "and he has to address the legitimate grievances of Tibetans living in occupied Tibet and bring about an end to the tragic wave of self immolations.”

The TWA and the SFT have undertaken a lobby process in India this year, meeting elected leaders and requesting them to talk to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise the Tibet issue during the BRICS summit. Letters have been sent to the embassies of all the BRICS nations in India, asking them not to hide from the truth about China's repression of Tibet. Campaigners hope that, if the Tibet issue can be raised at the summit, the BRICS leaders will be urged to act collectively to press Xi Jinping to lift the current crackdown and revoke China’s policies in Tibet.

Campaigners for the Tibetan cause from within the BRICS nations have also released statements calling for their leaders to urge Xi Jinping to address the ongoing crisis in Tibet at the summit.

In a multi-campaign-group press release issued on March 25, Elizabeth Gaywood of the Tibet Society South Africa, stated, “As a South African I am proud that we overcame apartheid, but the actions of governments around the world played a part in our success. Now we need to do the same for Tibet - to unite and champion the Tibetan people’s right to freedom.”

In the same press release, Vijay Kranti of the Indian Core Group for the Tibetan Cause said, “I appeal to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – political leader of the world’s largest democracy - to speak out in support of the people of Tibet and to encourage presidents Zuma, Putin and Rousseff to join him in urging Xi to resolve the Tibet issue swiftly and peacefully.”

BRICS was established in 2006 and its five member states are notable as emerging national economies with a significant influence on regional and global affairs.

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