To the readers of the Tibet Rights Collective and to all Tibetans across the world, I would like to wish you Losar Tashi Delek!
Although Losar is a time of celebration for the Tibetan community, Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet continue to be persecuted for their culture and beliefs by Chinese authorities.
Tibetan Uprising Day is observed on 10 March each year and commemorates the 1959 Tibetan uprising, which ultimately resulted in a violent crackdown on Tibetan independence movements and in the flight of the Dalai Lama into exile. Since that time, it's estimated that over a million Tibetans have been killed and, with the Chinese government policy of resettlement of Chinese people to Tibet, Tibetans have become a minority in their own country.
In November last year, a group of UN special rapporteurs issued a statement noting their grave concerns. They said they had received information:
… concerning what appears to amount to a policy of acculturation and assimilation of the Tibetan culture into the dominant Han Chinese majority, through a series of oppressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious and linguistic institutions, in contradiction with the right to freedom of religion and belief, the right to education and cultural rights of the Tibetan people.
The UN human rights commissioner issued a media statement earlier this month noting their alarm at the separation of one million Tibetan children from families and forced assimilation at residential schools.
I continue to be extremely concerned about the disappearance of the Panchen Lama 28 years ago. Last year I introduced a motion to the Notice Paper calling for the Senate to recognise only a Dalai Lama appointed by Tibetan Buddhist traditions and practices without interference by the Chinese government.
The Australian Greens believe that universal human rights are fundamental and must be respected for all people in all countries. That principle informed my approach as the Greens foreign affairs spokesperson, and it continues to inform my views on foreign policy. I want to particularly note and thank Senator Jordon Steele-John, who is now the Greens foreign affairs spokesperson, for his important advocacy in this portfolio and the passion he has for justice and human rights around the world.
I am looking forward to joining other members of our All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet in April to visit Tibetans in exile in Dharamshala in India and have an audience with the Dalai Lama. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the Tibetan Information Office for extending this invitation to us.
Finally, I want you to know that I and the Greens are committed to keep working side by side with Tibetans and allies around the world until we achieve justice and freedom for Tibetan people. In the words of the Dalai Lama we, and I know you, will never give up.
Senator Janet Rice has been a Senator in the Australian parliament for eight years and a passionate campaigner for justice, people, and the planet for more than thirty years. She was a founding member of the Greens in Victoria and has also served as a councillor and mayor of the City of Maribyrnong in Melbourne's inner west. Janet was the Greens Foreign Affairs spokesperson 2020- 2022. Her work is grounded in advocating for Australia to promote peace, democracy, ecological sustainability, equity and justice, and human rights in our international relations. As a member of the Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, Janet has been a staunch advocate for Tibet in Parliament. She has used her position in Parliament to highlight the human rights violations suffered by Tibetans and supported the passage of Magnitsky-style legislation through the Australian Parliament, to enable the application of targeted sanctions against those who commit serious human rights violations.