Five-member representatives of Tibetan Community of Japan and Students for a Free Tibet - Japan Tuesday, 6th December visited 13 offices of the Japanese Members of Parliament (MP) and met with six of them personally.
They briefed the members on the current dire situation inside Tibet and asked for their support for a campaign to raise international support for the tragic situation in eastern Tibet where, since March this year, twelve young Tibetans have set light to themselves in protest against China's repressive policies. At least six of these have died, including two nuns. The recent spate of self-immolations followed a monk called Tapey, who set himself on fire in 2009.
In their letter to the MPs, the visiting Tibetan delegation requested for a coordinated and swift diplomatic action that can stop the crisis, and urged parliamentarians to call on the government to make a public statement of concern about the situation in Tibet. Such a statement they believed would strengthen the impact of similar statements made by other governments, and encourage China to take those concerns seriously. It would also be a source of hope to Tibetans in Tibet, and give them reason to hope, and to live.
"Considering the situation inside Tibet and the recent spate of self-immolations, we had to do this lobbying work within very short period of time. Nevertheless, we are very happy for what we have done. We'll definitely be more strategic next time and try and meet more MPs for sure", said Lobsang Yeshi, President of the Tibetan Community of Japan after their visit to the parliament house.
Those Tibetans resorted to self-immolations are acts of desperation - often calling for the Dalai Lama's return and for freedom or independence for Tibet as they do so - as a cry for help about the current crackdown and continued oppression in Tibet. China's response to these acts of protest - to crack down even harder on these communities, disappearing monks and beating elderly Tibetans to death - is exacerbating tensions and deepening the anguish Tibetans feel. This view is shared by the US and German governments and a number of United Nations Special Rapporteurs.
Mr. Tsering Dorjee, National Director of Students For a Free Tibet - Japan said, "This is the first time Tibet groups in Japan have undertaken this pathbreaking journey which will surely not end with this visit to the parliament. We are more determined and committed to follow suit. Therefore, we have decided to continue this in the future - at least once or twice a year."
Expressing her excitement on the visit to the parliament house, Dolma Tsering, Vice-President of the Tibetan Community of Japan said, "Initially I had mixed feeling on how things would go once we will be at the parliament house, however, much to our delight, all the parliamentarians showed keen interest on Tibet issues. Some even advised us to visit the parliament house often to update them on Tibet news. I was really thrilled that we managed to pull it off!"
The team also convinced four of the MPs to sign a Pledge to Stand Up for Tibet (seewww.StandUpforTibet.org). As you will see, this pledge already has the support of Nobel Laureates and parliamentarians from around the world.
Following two ministers-cum-parliamentarians and two house of representatives also signed pledges to Stand Up For Tibet.
1. Mr. Seishu Makino, Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
2. Mr. Fumihiko Igarashi, Vice Minister of Finance
3. Mr. Hideo Yoshiizumi, A member of the House of Representatives
4. Mrs. Tomoko Abe, Representatives of Social Democratic Party