Sunday, 16 August 2009

A call for justice for Tibetans and Dhondup Wangchen was made in the heart of London

On Tuesday 11 August, Tibet supporter, Mark, flew the Tibet flag and highlighted Dhondup Wangchen's case during his one hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Mark Cordell travelled down from Saltburn in the north of England to take up his place on the Fourth Plinth as part of sculptor Anthony Gormley’s living monument “One and Other”. For 24 hours a day throughout 100 days, 2,400 people from all over the UK will occupy the Fourth Plinth and make it their own for one hour. This innovative artistic experiment has been running since 6 July, coincidentally the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Mark was the first “Plinther” to represent Tibet. When he contacted Tibet Society he said “it seems pretty scary to be on the plinth alone, but I want to do something for Tibet”. He was very disturbed by the plight of film maker, Dondup Wangchen, so decided to speak out about Dhondup’s forthcoming trial and Tibetans’ right to justice through internationally recognised standards and rule of law.

Under its policy of engagement with China, the British government works with the Chinese government to help establish internationally recognised due legal processes and rule of law in China. However, whilst engagement and working to improve conditions within China in key areas, such as rule of law, is well intentioned, questions must be raised about the effectiveness of such programmes. The British government must ensure the Chinese government does not simply use these initiatives as window dressing, but shows real commitment to implementing the basic rights of defendants to have fair and open trials and access to independent legal advice and representation.

As an insight into what little regard the Chinese government appears to hold these programmes, the licences to practice law of six well-known human rights lawyers have recently been revoked. At least 14 more are at risk of suffering the same fate as they are await the results of the annual assessment of their licences.

The Chinese authorities are also cracking down on organisations that voice any form of criticism or initiate debate on current issues. In early July the Open Constitution Initiative (OCI), a Chinese non-governmental organisation, published a report examining the unrest that took place in Tibet in March 2008. In its conclusions, the OCI had questioned the efficacy of the Chinese government’s policies in the region. Shortly after publication, its offices were raided by the authorities and all its computers were confiscated, effectively shutting down its operations.

Written by
Tibet Society

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