TWA Research and Media Officer in Finland

TWA completes week-long International Advocacy Campaign in Finland

TWA Research and Media Officer in FinlandDharamsala, October 12: TWA’s Research and Media Officer Dhardon Sharling visited Helsinki on the invitation of Finnish Human Rights NGO KIOS, and successfully completed a weeklong international advocacy campaign in Finland’s capital city from October 3 to 9.

KIOS, along with indigenous people’s rights organization Siemenpu, organization for disabled people Abilis and the support of Ministry of Foreign affairs, organized a two-day international seminar on ‘Minority and Indigenous people’s rights’ held in Helsinki on October 4 – 5 and attended by more than 100 participants from 11 different countries.

TWA’s representative was made the key facilitator for the topic ‘Women’s role in the promotion of the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples’ and spoke extensively on the role of Tibetan Women’s Association on the role of advocating for the rights of Tibetan women inside Tibet with special emphasis on their reproductive right and right to self-determination.

TWA’s officer also led an interactive workshop session on ‘How to overcome multiple discrimination’ and she gave an insight into the three forms of discrimination: multiple, compound and intersectional discrimination in the context of inequality facing women and asked the participants to provide solutions to overcoming these systematic forms of discrimination.

Whilst staying in Helsinki, Dhardon featured in the October 6 issue of leading Swedish National Newspaper HBL – Hufvudstadsbladet, where they mentioned that the ‘Dalai Lama’s transfer of power to the younger generation is heading in the right direction with younger Tibetans becoming strong voices for Tibet.’ In addition, the National News channel, YLE, aired a 2-minute short story (watch the video here) on the role of the Tibetan women in negotiating with China, and the broadcast was timed with the news of October 7 announcement of the three women winners of year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The lifestyle magazine VOI HYUIN will also publish a feature length story in December this year on the lives of Tibetan women in exile post a two-hour interview with Dhardon.

Two days of lobbying activity from October 6-7, included meeting with Ms. Heidi Hautala, the minister for International Development to the Finnish Government, Mr. Pekka Haavisto, member of Finnish parliament and Green Party 2012 presidential candidate, and Ms. Elisabeth Naucler, member of Finnish parliament and the only representative of Aland Island, the autonomous region in Finland. TWA’s representative raised the case of self immolation of young monks in Tibet and how the recent incident of five self-immolations in a time span of twelve days demonstrate the young Tibetans’ heights of desperation (who called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for freedom inside Tibet) and illustrates how it is high time for the Chinese government to pursue the aspirations of the Tibetan people. A potent presentation on the plight of the displaced nomadic women inside Tibet was made and called for the Finnish Parliament to pressure the Chinese government to respect the right to self determination of Tibetan nomads. An urgent appeal was made to the Finnish representation at the European Parliament (EU) to follow up on the July 6, 2000 EU resolution urging the “governments of the Members States to consider the possibility of recognizing the Tibetan Government in Exile as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people if, within three years, the authorities Beijing and the Tibetan Government in Exile have not signed an agreement on a new statute for Tibet through negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”

A two-day network-building program from October 8-9 included mini seminars with Human Rights NGOs such as the Ombudsman for Minorities, 1325 Network of Women for Conflict Resolution, Finnish League for Human Rights and Refugee Council.

TWA believes that advocacy at the international level including lobbying governments, engaging the media and building networks is one of the most effective ways to drawing international support, both Government and Civil bodies, in amplifying the Tibet voice and in resolving the long standing injustices facing Tibet – significantly in accomplishing the aspirations of the Tibetan martyrs and assuring justice to their sacrifices.

View photographs below or on Flickr.

Heidi Hautala, the minister for International Development to the Finnish Government

Students from Helsinki

Pekka Haavisto, the Green Party Presedential candidate for 2012 presidential elections

with Jaana Mirjam mustavuori_editor of a women's magazine VOI HYUIN

With english painter and writer jacabo

With Elizabeth Naucler Finnish Member of the parliament

With 1325 women's network for conflict resolution

Dhardon Sharling

Workshop on Overcoming Multiple Discrimination against Women

Faciltator on Minority and Indigenous rights

Interview with Finnish Newschannel

Interview with Finnish Newschannel

Conference audience

Office of ombudsmen for minorities

Office Finnish of Refugee Council

TWA’s slogan is ‘Advocacy for Home and Action in Exile.’

Press contact: Dhardon Sharling, Research and Media Officer, TWA

phone: 01892-221704/ 9418791189

email: twa@tibetanwomen.org

twaresearchnmedia@gmail.com

Tibetan Women Leadership Program’s Letters to the UN

December 18, 2006: Twenty students from Bangalore, Baroda, Delhi and Dharamsala attended the five day Tibetan Women Leadership Program in Delhi. All participants were divided in four groups and each group lodged an individual complaint against the violation of human rights in Tibet to the respective United Nation’s Committee. The following are the copies of the letters that were sent.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
2 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY
10017, USA

December 14, 2006

Tibetan Women Calls Upon CEDAW to Protect Tibetan Women’s Rights in Tibet

Respected Andreas Mavroyiannis,

The Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women was established in 1979 and in the past 17 years, we are aware that CEDAW has worked diligently towards solving women’s problems around the world. We are five Tibetan women who truly appreciate your dedicated effort towards this cause. As we live in exile and enjoy all freedoms and rights that exile life in India offers, but we are very concerned about the rights of Tibetan women in Tibet. Usually, governments pay vigilant attention towards safeguarding rights of women and children, but in the case of Tibet, we are witnessing a completely opposite policy from Chinese government. Though, we are blessed with freedom in exile, we feel the pain of our sisters in Tibet.

We have many concerns regarding the rights of our women in Tibet, but we would like to bring forth the following crisis that needs urgent attention and action from your committee.

Due to displacement of nomads in Tibet, many are forced to move to urban areas where there are limited job opportunities. Those who live in the city are also affected by the increasing modernization and high unemployment rates. Due to the above two reasons, many women are forced to become prostitutes as it is the only source of livelihood for them. This also results in rampant increase of the AIDS epidemic.

Tibetans are fast approaching a minority status in our own country and it is Chinese government’s strategic planning to completely eradicate Tibetan nationality from this world. Chinese government funds mobile medical groups which travel to different areas of Tibet and conducts forced sterilization of Tibetan women. The medical groups do not even use standard and clean medical equipments while operating on Tibetan women.

Tibetan Buddhism plays a pivotal role in our culture. Religious freedom is practiced only prima facie and nuns are forced to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama. If they disregard the Chinese laws, they are tortured, punished and imprisoned. Some nun political prisoners are even tortured by sticking electronic rods in their private parts.
The above mentioned points are of deep concern to us and we hope that CEDAW will take the necessary actions to hold China accountable for the gross injustice that Chinese policies have on Tibetan women. We thank you in advance for your commitment towards solving women’s issues in the world and especially Tibetan women’s rights in Tibet.

Thank you,

Phurbu Dolma
Tenzin Nyima
Tamdin Dolma
Tashi Tsomo
Tenzin Palkyi

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

December 14, 2006

Tibetan Children in Tibet Need Your Support and Attention

Dear Jacob Egbert Doek,

We are five Tibetan students born in exile and we had fully enjoyed all the child rights in exile, but our brothers and sisters who are left in Tibet do not get even a single right. They are treated very harshly. So, we want to bring your attention to the true and sad situation through which Tibetan children are undergoing.

Tibetan children living in Tibet do not have right to education. One very strong example is of the Panchen Lama, the youngest political prisoner in the world who is a spiritual and political leader of Tibet. At a tender age of 6, he was kidnapped and he has not been heard of since. Now, he is turning 18 in a few months, and his rights as a child will end soon.

Majority of the Tibetan children are engaged in begging for their survival as they do not get basic education, and thus, they can not get good jobs when they grow up. Many Tibetan children risk their lives by trying to escape to exile over the Himalayas. Many Tibetan children’s lives are wasted into gambling and doing drugs as there are no other alternatives laid by the government to enhance their lives. Recently, there was also a case of Chinese border police shooting Tibetans escaping over the Himalayas. We want to know what happened to the children who are arrested on September 30, 2006 at Nangpa La Pass.

A very serious case of selling Tibetan children has come up in the past and we are very concerned about it. Children who are bought are then forced to do manual work and child labor for the profit of their Chinese owners. The children are treated like slaves.

Actually, there are many more points of concerns, but we pointed out the three main crisis facing children of Tibet. We hope that CRC will pay great attention towards the mentioned issues and that you will fully investigate Chinese government’s claim of upholding children rights in Tibet. We will be very grateful to all of you.

Thank you,

Jampa Lhakey
Tenzin Lhamo
Tenzin Namdak
Sangay Dolma
Tsering Yangzom

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

December 14, 2006

Tibetan Women Request Human Rights Council to Hold China Accountable for Human Rights Abuses in Tibet:

Dear Luis Alfonso de Alba,

We are five Tibet women living in exile in India and we want to request Human Rights Council members to revisit the Tibet issue and revive HRC’s interest in human rights condition in Tibet under the Chinese government. Tibetan people in Tibet are living under great difficulty due to Chinese Communist Party’s ruthless rule in Tibet. Chinese government presents bogus official papers on how human rights condition in Tibet is upheld and respected, which are all propaganda tools for the Chinese government.

If we look at the recent shootings at Nangpa La Pass which was witnessed by the world through a mountaineer’s video camera on September 30th, we can realize how China disregards border laws and ruthlessly kills Tibetans trying to escape into exile. Chinese government has continuously refused its violations of human rights in Tibet, but this time they were caught red-handed. We ask you to hold China accountable for its actions and demand immediate release of the Nangpa La Pass prisoners.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has been kidnapped at the age of 6, still remains missing for 11 years now. The entire world has been demanding his freedom, but there has been no response from the Chinese’ side.
Tulku Tenzin Delek is also imprisoned for life, and his friend, Lobsang Dhondup, was executed without trial. Tulku Tenzin Delek was feared by the Chinese Government as he was gaining popularity among his Tibetan followers and soon he became a target for the Chinese government policies’ wrath. He was falsely blamed for planting bombs and imprisoned for life.

We have faith in the Human Rights Council and we believe that the member states will pay attention to the above mentioned points. We thank you for your initiative in solving human rights problems around the world and we appeal to you for the urgent need of action towards resolving human rights violations in Tibet.

Thank you,

Tsering Deckyi
Jampa Choedon
Sonam Yangchen
Tenzin Nganan
Tsering Dolma

 

twlp group 2006

Tibetan Women Leadership Program

twlp group 2006In 2005, TWA organized a successful Tibetan Women Leadership Program (TWLP) held in Bangalore. TWA decided to hold a second annual TWLP in 2006 due to the success of the 2005 program. Approximately twenty female students from Bangalore, Baroda, Delhi and Dharamsala joined the leadership program. The five-day workshop from Dec 9 to 13 was held at Delhi Youth Hostel. The leadership program commenced on a Saturday, and Yeshi Phuntsok Acharya, Member of Parliament, opened the program as the chief guest.

Many prominent speakers followed Acharya, and on the first day Kate Saunders, Director of Communications, International Campaign for Tibet, did a media outreach workshop. Students were divided into three groups and they were given a situation that they had to decide if they were for it or against it. After brainstorming and discussing for some time, journalists interviewed the spokesperson of the groups. This exercise taught participants how to prepare for an interview beforehand.

The next two days saw direction from two American resource persons; Stephanie Goodell and Michelle Lepore. They challenged everyone’s conventional understanding of what leadership means through different activities and discussions. A modern way of thought that explained leadership as taking initiatives and teamwork superceded the old definition. No leader can be productive without a team of workers bolstering and working hard under them. In Stephanie’s own words, “Leadership is the process of a group of people working toward a common goal.” The speakers firmly believed that leaders can be made and that we can be the leaders that we have been waiting for. Another activity, Wellness Wheel, detected how each participant spends her time on a usual day, and the wheel then confronted everyone with how well they take care of their physical, mental and spiritual health. Almost all the girls had areas of improvement in their wellness wheel and a discussion followed on how to make these improvements.

Youdon Aukatsang la, Member of Parliament, gave a morning session on The United Nations and Tibet. Though all participants had some knowledge of what the UN stands for and its basic principles, none were very familiar with how the UN functions and what role it has played so far in our freedom struggle. Many participants admired Youdon la as a role model of a female leader in the Tibetan community. She also stressed the importance of leadership, not only referring to the person with the highest post in a given organization, but everybody working in that organization can be leaders through taking self initiatives. A panel discussion on the Role of Tibetan Youth in the Movement followed in the afternoon and a heated dialogue took place under panel facilitators, B. Tsering la and Tsering Yangzom la.

Vijay Kranti, a photojournalist and an ardent Tibet supporter, shared with the participants the importance of communicating the Tibet issue with non-Tibetans, especially Indians. Through an exercise, he demonstrated how little Tibetans interact with Indians on a personal level despite living on their land. Kranti ji said the Tibet issue is not only Tibetan’s problem, but a quagmire for Indians too. Many Indians are unaware of the border issue and it is our duty to raise their awareness, stressed Kranti ji. On the last day, Penpa Tsering la, Member of Parliament, enlightened everyone on the concepts of The Middle Path Policy. Penpa la cleared away many doubts about the middle path policy and urged the participants to use their democratic rights as Tibetans in exile to either support the policy or not.

Gen. B. Tsering la introduced the participants to Tibetan Women’s Association and explained its origins and mission. After her talk, all the participants voluntarily opted to be a member of TWA. The final activity as a group was to use the UN by lodging an individual complaint against the violation of human rights in Tibet. Everyone wrote to four different committees of the UN focusing on rights of children, women, racial discrimination and human rights in Tibet. Participants left feeling proud of their effort in resolving human rights issues in Tibet.