Parliamentary Friendship Group for Tibet
The Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet was established in March 1994 during my visit to Parliament in Wellington at which I addressed a few members of Parliament who were gathered to hear me put the case of Tibet before them. After my speech and questions and answers I was asked to leave the room so that the members could discuss this amongst themselves. Then I was called in. I was delighted to learn that they had decided for form the Parliament Lobby Group for Tibet and Mr Ian Revell was elected as the Chairman. I was to keep in touch with him on the subject of Tibet and he would let the others know about the latest information on Tibet.
Friends of Tibet (NZ) sponsored Mr Ian Revell to attend the Second Parliamentarian Convention on Tibet in Lithuania in 1994 and again the Third Parliamentarian Convention on Tibet in Washington DC in April 1997.
During the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to New Zealand in September 1996, the PLG for Tibet hosted an afternoon tea for His Holiness, where His Holiness thanked the members present for the work they do for the plight of the Tibetan people, and also gave them up-to-date information on the situation of Tibet. He also asked them to do what ever they could to bring the Chinese government to the negotiation table with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his Representatives to find a peaceful solution to the future status of Tibet.
The Parliament Lobby Group for Tibet received a petition to the New Zealand Government from Thuten Kesang and 19,000 New Zealanders on 10th March 1999 on the 40th Anniversary of Tibetan uprising against the Chinese Occupation of their country. The petition asks the New Zealand Government to facilitate the negotiation between the Chinese Government and His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his Representatives, without any preconditions, for the future status of Tibet. The petition was duly presented to Parliament by Mr Ian Revell the Chairman of PLG for Tibet. Parliament accepted the petition and referred it to the Select Committee of Foreign Affair and Defence for consideration. Mr Ian Revell and myself appeared before the Select Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence chaired by Hon Derek Quigley in relation to the petition. Just before the election in 1999 the Committee recommended to Parliament to give this a favourable decision.
Between 29th February and 1st March 2000 I wrote to all 120 MPs inviting them to join the PLG for Tibet and I am happy to say that many of the old ones rejoined, and new ones became members of it. Hon. Dr. Nick Smith, MP for Tasman called a meeting in Parliament on 30th May 2000. I flew down to Wellington to once again address the members. The Friends of Tibet (NZ) Wellington Branch also attended the meeting. At the meeting Hon Dr. Nick Smith, MP was elected as the Chairman and Mr. Tim Barnett was elected as a Deputy Chairman. It was agreed at the meeting that there would be one representative from each party through whom the information on Tibet will be distributed.
I have appealed to them to follow up the Petition to Parliament, and help to release His Holiness the Pachen Lama who was recognised by His Holiness. Currently he is somewhere in China under house arrest. He turns 21 this year, and has been held by China since 17th May 1995. He is known to be the youngest political prisoner in the World. I also asked the MPs to support Tibet is an Occupied Country, when the subject comes up for discussion. I also asked them to speak to any visiting Chinese diplomat about the situation in Tibet and ask them to convey the message to the Chinese Government.
There have been changes in Parliament since the 2008 General Election, along with a change in Government. The PLG will need to be re-established. Its Chairman, Dr Nick Smith, is now a Minister, therefore it will be difficult for him to carry on as Chairman, and the Deputy Chair, Tim Barnett, retired at the Election.
With assistance of Mr. Ian Revell we started to set about rejuvenating the PLG for Tibet. I had invited all MP’s who were not holding government portfolios to join the PLG for Tibet, and many responded favourably. So Ian booked the room for the meeting on Wednesday 25th November 2009. Ian and I flew down to Wellington for the meeting. Unfortunately for us that day government was sitting in urgency for the emission trading debate and many MP’s couldn’t come. The meeting was set for 3.30 pm right in the middle of the debate. We were delighted that the following MP’s attended the meeting
- Catherine Delahunty Green Party
- Hon. Peter Dunne United Future
- Sue Kedgley Green Party
- Darien Fenton Labour Party
- Melissa Lee National Party
- Ross Robertson Labour Party
- David Shearer Labour Party
- Maryan Street Labour Party
- Keith Locke Green Party
We had support from the Wellington and Nelson FOT committee members who attended the meeting.
Ian Revell, former Chairman PLG for Tibet, chaired the meeting and outlined the historical activities of the PLG and the level of current international support amongst parliamentary lobby groups for Tibet. He tabled the Declaration from the Fifth World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet, meeting in Rome on the 18th and 19th of November 2009 which I had earlier supplied to him
I spoke about the current Tibetan situation in Tibet and stated that my heartfelt hope that the situation will be resolved within the lifespan of the current Dalai Lama. I asked the MPs to reconvene the PLG and keep the Tibetan situation before the House and the people of New Zealand, and invited the PLG to meet with the Dalai Lama in Auckland on December 2009 and hear first hand the current situation in Tibet.
After some questions, members decided amongst themselves that the new Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet will be co-chaired by Sue Kedgley MP (Greens) and Darien Fenton MP (Labour).They will keep cross party members informed of any information they receive in relation to Tibet.
During the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to New Zealand from 4 – 8th December 2009. The newly formed PLG for Tibet met with His Holiness in Auckland and His Holiness briefed them on the current situation of Tibet and ask them to support his “Middle Way Approach” to the Tibetan issue with China
The new PLG for Tibet will meet in the New Year and formulate a strategy to help Tibet.
For further information of PLG for Tibet contact:
Sue Kedgley MP
Co-chair for PLG for Tibet
Darien Fenton MP
Co-chair for PLG for Tibet
The Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet with representatives from cross party committee
met and considered the resolution, MPs from the Maori, Labour and Green parties turned up and worked on a resolution which was to be tabled as a “non debatable motion” to coincide with celebration of His Holiness’ 75th Birthday on 6th July 2010.
This was to be tabled by Miss Sue Kedgley MP Co-chairperson for Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet a few days before His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 75th Birthday. 6th July 2010
Before the motion was tabled, I wrote to all 122 MPs asking them to support this motion in recognition of His Holiness constant effort in promoting Peace and Compassion in this world.
He has also worked tirelessly to find a peaceful solution for Tibet with China.
Unfortunately the ruling National Party did not give support to the motion. I am still baffled by their decision as you can see from the wording of the motion below its fairly simple and straight forward
Here is a copy of the wording of the resolution.
“That this House congratulates the Dalai Lama on celebrating his 75th birthday on 6 July 2010; recognises the Dalai Lama’s unstinting commitment to non-violence, his pragmatism in seeking a Middle Way approach in order to reach a peaceful and practical solution for the future of Tibet and its people, and his work in inter-faith areas; and acknowledges the Dalai Lama’s Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1989 and his US Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.”
On 10th March 2011, Thuten Kesang the National Chairman and 750 plus citizens presented a petition to Parliamentary Loggy Group for Tibet to be presented to the House of Representative in New Zealand Parliament. The following are the exact word of the petition.
‘We the under signed request the House of Representatives support the Middle-Way Approach proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet and bring about stability and co-existence between the Tibetan and Chinese people based on equality and mutual co-operation and that the House urge the Government to raise this issue with Chinese Government’
Miss Sue Kedgely the Chairperson of PLG for Tibet presented this to the Parliament. This was then referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. The Select committee will meet on Thursday 7th April 2011. I have been asked to supply supporting documents and the Committee would also like to invite me to attend a hearing of evidence and speak on my submission.
Here’s the recommendation made by the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee on my petiition tp Parliament on 10th march 2011.
Petition 2008/120 of Thuten Kesang and 750 others
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has considered Petition 2008/120 of Thuten Kesang and 750 others and recommends that the House take note of its report.
We have received and considered Petition 2008/120 of Thuten Kesang and 750 others requesting that
The House of Representatives support the Middle-Way Approach proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet and to bring about stability and co-existence between the Tibetan and Chinese people based on equality and mutual co-operation and that the House urge the Government to raise this issue with the Chinese Government.
We received written submissions from the petitioner, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China. We heard evidence from the petitioner and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In May 1951, China and Tibet signed the Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, which affirmed China’s sovereignty over Tibet and the Tibetan people’s right to exercise national autonomy under the unified leadership of the Chinese Government; the agreement is also known as the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (17 point agreement). Under this arrangement, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and his administration were to govern the internal affairs of Tibet.
Tibet and China came to an accommodation under the agreement up until early 1959 when an uprising between the Chinese authority and the Tibetan people took place in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. During the uprising, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India and, since then, has led a government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration, from India. The Dalai Lama announced that, as China had broken the terms of the 17 point agreement, the Central Tibetan Administration would no longer legally recognise it.
Since then, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has sought international support for the establishment of a free Tibet. In 1987, he presented to the international community a five point peace plan, which listed the following among its aims: commencing negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, respecting the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms, and the restoration and protection of Tibet’s natural environment. The plan was expanded in 1988 to include the commencement of talks between China and Tibet that would lead to the establishment of a self-governing democratic political entity for all three provinces of Tibet, and that the Chinese Government would continue to remain responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy and defence. In 1997, the Tibetan people rejected a proposal by the Dalai Lama to hold a referendum on the future status of Tibet and encouraged the Dalai Lama to continue to press for the Middle Way Approach.
We note that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has recently announced his political retirement.
Middle Way Approach
The Middle Way Approach is a proposal by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to resolve the matter of autonomy for Tibet in a peaceful manner and to bring about stability and coexistence between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, based on equality and mutual cooperation. It seeks to establish a regional political entity, comprising the three traditional Tibetan provinces—Amdo, Kh.am, and U-Tsang—without seeking independence from China. (U-Tsang and the western half of Kham currently form the Tibet Autonomous Region.) Under the terms of the,proposal, the region would be governed by a democratically elected legislature and executive, and an independent judiciary would be established. The proposal also requires that the Chinese Government ceases its human rights violations and its policy of encouraging the ongoing migration of Chinese people into Tibetan areas. China would maintain a limited military presence to protect the Tibetan people until Tibet is a peaceful and non-violent region.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama considers the Middle Way Approach to be a means of achieving peace through non-violence, mutual benefit, and the unity of nationalities and social stability between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples. The proposal has been democratically adopted by the Central Tibetan Administration.
Submission from the petitioner
The petitioner submitted a range of matters pertaining to Tibet since the uprising in 1959. The petitioner told us that Tibet has been under martial law since the uprising, and that the people of Tibet have suffered Chinese repression in respect of their language, culture, ethnic identity, and religious practices. China has also been active in Tibet, developing infrastructure such as roads and schools, and encouraging the migration of other ethnic groups to the region. Tibet, which was initially isolated from the rest of the world, has been opened up to tourism.
Tibetan representatives and Chinese officials have met on numerous occasions to discuss the future status of Tibet, with little progress being made until recently. During the seventh round of talks in 2008, Tibetan representatives were asked to develop a substantive proposal outlining a framework for the future of Tibet. The petitioner told us that the Chinese Government has rejected the framework, based on the Chinese Constitution, as an attempt to seek Tibet’s independence from China. The last round of talks between Tibet and China took place in January 2010.
The petitioner believes that the Middle Way Approach would provide a peaceful solution to enable Tibetans to live semi-autonomously in a region in China, similar to that of Mongolia and Macao, and recently Hong Kong.
Submission from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China submitted that the Middle Way Approach is an attempt by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to seek independence for Tibet from China. the submitter disputed many of the claims made by the Dalai Lama, particularly relating to the historical events leading to the formation of the region, and the premise that Tibet could function under a “one country, two systems” approach with China, similar to Macao and Hong Kong. China believes that such a premise would defy its current political system and structures.
The submitter maintains that the Dalai Lama continues to refuse to recognise that Tibet is part of China, the current political system followed in Tibet, and the legal systems that support China’s Constitution. The submitter also claims that the Dalai Lama’s call for the establishment of an “enlarged Tibet autonomous region” runs counter to current law governing the development of ethnic groups in China, and distorts the meaning of an autonomous region under China’s Constitution and the Law on Regional National Autonomy.
The submitter believes that if the Dalai Lama is sincere in improving his relationship with China, he should give up his quest for an independent Tibet.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s submission
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade submitted that the New Zealand Government is aware of the interest taken by members of the New Zealand public in matters pertaining to Tibet and therefore follows closely developments in Tibet. Under New Zealand’s one China policy New Zealand recognises Tibet as a sovereign territory of China. This policy is consistent with the international community’s diplomatic recognition of China, which includes China’s sovereignty over Tibet. In official discussions between New Zealand and China, New Zealand has encouraged Tibet and China to hold meaningful discussions not only to find a lasting solution to the status of Tibet but to address Tibet’s economic and social issues. New Zealand has also raised with China its human rights record regarding minority groups.
Possible way forward
we asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade whether it would be possible for the New Zealand Government to broach the subject of the Middle Way Approach with China within existing policy settings. New Zealand, aware of Tibet’s and China’s differing views on the Middle Way Approach, has not formed its own view on the proposal and at present does not consider it is useful to raise this matter directly with the Chinese Government.
We asked the ministry whether it is feasible that New Zealand act as an advocate to encourage dialogue between Tibet and China to resolve their many issues. The ministry explained that, if New Zealand were to undertake such a role, it would need to have a good understanding of the differences and issues between Tibet and China, particularly around territorial sovereignty, autonomy, political processes, and the possible establishment of a semi-autonomous Tibetan region. Furthermore, New Zealand would need to be certain that all parties would welcome it assuming such a role.
We are encouraged to hear that China and Tibet continue to engage in negotiations over the future status of Tibet. We are also mindful of the struggle of the Tibetan people and their supporters to engage with the Chinese Government to find a resolution to their wish to establish themselves as a semi-autonomous government within China. We have taken into account the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s response to our questions on the possibility of Zealand Government broaching the subject of the Middle Way Approach with China. However, we believe that there may be some value in New Zealand raising the issue directly with the Chinese Government, if this can be done within existing policy settings, there by generating further dialogue between the parties and movement towards a peaceful resolution of the situation in Tibet.
We received a written submission from the petitioner, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We heard evidence from the petitioner and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We met from 17 March to 12 May to consider the petition.
John Hayes (Chairperson)
Ian Lees-Galloway (from 6 April 2011)
Hone Harawira (non-voting member)
Hon Pete Hodgson
Dr Paul Hutchison
David Shearer (until 6 April 2011)
Hon Maryan Street
Following the General election in November 2011, many of the MP’s in the Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet had resigned and some were not returned to Parliament after the election.
We will be forming a new PLG for Tibet next year when the Parliament resumes, sometime in February 2012.
Thuten Kesang QSM
During the Visit Of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to New Zealand from 8th – 13th June 2013. I organised a meeting with His Holiness for 12 cross party Parliamentarians Friends of Tibet to meet His Holiness in Christchurch on Monday 10th June 2013. His Holiness briefed them on the current situation in Tibet and told them the smaller Nation like New Zealand can do lot by speaking to the visiting Chinese diplomats about the concerns they have in relation to the harsh policy carried out by the Chinese government on Tibet. If they want a harmonious society in China, then they must solve the Tibetan issue by meaningful dialogue, only then the situation can change. This was His Holiness main message to the Parliamentarians who met him on 10th June 2013.
Since then Miss Darien Fenton MP has called a meeting of interested MPs to meet and discuss the issue of Tibet and see what they can do for Tibet
Please contact Darien for further in formation : firstname.lastname@example.org
Thuten Kesanf QSM
National Chairman 22nd July 2013
The General Election was held in September 2014
As usual many MPs have resigned or lost their seat during the General Election in September 2014.
Once again we will have to re-form the Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet.
We hope this will be done during the 2015 Parliamentary session
Invitation to form a Parliamentary Friendship Group in New Zealand Parliament 3rd October 2016
I attended the Seventh International Conference of Tibet Support Groups in Brussels, Belgium from 8 -10th September 2016.
The conference was convened by Tibet Interest Groups, European Parliament and co-hosted by Belgium based International Campaign for Tibet, Light on Tibet, Les Amis Du Tibet and Tibetan Community of Belgium.
During the conference many European parliamentarians attended, such as Mr Thomas Mann, President Tibet Interest Group, European Parliament, Mr Henri Malosse, Former President of European Economic and Social Development, and Cristian Dan Preda, Vice Chair on Human Rights Sub-Committee and Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee European Parliament. They all spoke in great length about the situation inside Tibet which has rapidly deteriorated over the past few years. The only way these problems can be solved is by following the Middle Way Approach, which is promoted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama for many years. The last lot of dialogue was held 2010 between the representatives of His Holiness and the Chinese government. In the Middle Way Approach, His Holiness said, we are not seeking Independence or separation from China, but seeking genuine autonomy within the frame work of the People’s Republic of China.
In the speech given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the recent conference, he asked the Tibet Support Groups and the Parliamentarians to pursue the Chinese government to restart the dialogue process and this can only happen when politicians request the Chinese Government to open dialogue. Most of the governments support His Holiness’s Middle way Approach to solve the Tibet issue which would be mutually beneficial to both the Chinese and the Tibetans; therefore we need a concerted effort to make this happen.
The final speech was given by M/s Claudia Roth, Vice President of the German Bundestag.
She also spoke of the current crisis in Tibet and need for politicians to take action in order to bring about the dialogue process to solve the Tibet crisis.
Since the late 1980s we had about 40 or so Members of Parliament, in the Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet, under the chairmanship of following MPs:- Mr Ian Revel MP, Dr Nick Smith MP, Mr Tim Barnet MP Miss Sue Kedgley MP and Darien Fenton MP. Most of these MP have now retired, only Dr Nick Smith MP is still in Parliament today. Over the last few years there has not been any PLG for Tibet in the New Zealand Parliament.
During the 7th International Conference of Tibet Support Groups in Brussels, it was highlighted that Political Support for Tibet is essential in order to move forward with the dialogue; therefore I would like to invite you to join Parliament Friendship Group for Tibet in the New Zealand Parliament. This way New Zealand MPs would again be a part of the Global network of MPs around the world, which will help to promote a dialogue between the Chinese government and the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to find a mutually acceptable solution for the future status of Tibet.
I would be very happy to come to Wellington to address the interested MPs about the situation in Tibet and why I am seeking your help. Please bear in mind it’s not anti-China or pro-Tibet but thinking of 148 Tibetans that have self-immolated and the world is in silence about their plea for Justice in Tibet.
I hope that you all will once again join me in forming a Parliamentary Friendship Group for Tibet in the New Zealand Parliament.
I look forward to you favourable response
Best wishes and Tashi Delek
Thuten Kesang QSM
3rd October 2016