The Free Tibet Movement began in 1987. It is a nongovernment, non-profit organization with headquarters located in London, England. The concept of the movement is for the freedom of Tibetans to be able to self-govern their lives. Having been independent since 1911 and formally taken over by China in 1950, Tibetans have not been able to live independently. The International Tibet Network is the organization to which the Free Tibet Movement is a member. The ITN consists of members from all over the world who are sympathetic to Tibet’s cause and struggle for recognized independence.
The movement realizes Tibet’s need be recognized as a free country and for Tibetans to be able to have full autonomy over their lives and be able to live as they choose. As the movement is recognized by member participation, the movement seeks to lobby other Human Rights Organizations to support the Tibetan cause. The movement also highlights nationalities as well as peoples who are in support of China’s occupation of Tibet and its policies.
Notable Areas Highlighted by the Free Tibet Movement
Political prisoners are an issue for many countries, but Tibet has a unique situation regarding this. The reports are of China’s censorship of the very way of life of Tibetans. They are not allowed to speak about or even revere the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist religious practices are not allowed, their monasteries have been destroyed and the nuns and priests, have been imprisoned. The social and economic day-to-day activities are monitored by China, and any practices even remotely related to being against China’s laws are seen as seditious.
Tibetan musicians write and sing ballads against the Chinese regime and are arrested and imprisoned for many years, unlisted musicians are also detained and never seen or heard from again. Civilians are also imprisoned or shot because they are against the occupation by China. Peaceful demonstrations are considered seditious and are classified by China as “splitting the state”. Persons are imprisoned; even children are arrested and their parents are not told where they are.
Interrogations and torture are the main means used by the Chinese regime to abuse the people of Tibet. Incidences have been brought before the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, which has determined this to be so. To bring awareness to the international public, celebrity support is very much a part of the Free Tibet Movement. Celebrities have made videos, documented known tortures, and used testimonies as leverage within the Human Rights fraternity. They have also used them to pressure William Hague and Chinese Politicians to stop these heinous acts.
Education is another area that Tibet must deal with. They are not allowed to teach or use their native language in the education system. The current generation of children have not become versed or educated in their native language. Free Tibet has implemented Confucius Classrooms in hundreds of schools across Tibet to make the children aware of the negative aspects of the Chinese culture and to promote awareness of Tibetan culture as well as social issues and language.
In 2015, the Free Tibet Movement staged a protest in Switzerland during the bidding process of the Winter Olympics for 2022. Beijing and Almaty Kazakhstan were bidding for China to host the 2022 Olympics. The protest was successful in causing awareness about the many human rights issues in China and the bidding ceremony was interrupted. The Free Tibet Movement was supported by the International Tibet Network.