24 October 2014

Re:  Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting

Dear leaders of APEC member states [1],

The upcoming annual APEC Leaders’ Meeting will take place in Beijing while the images of unprecedented pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong remain at the forefront of our thoughts.  These images are a clear reminder that the People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian state that does not respect the basic human rights and democratic freedoms of people living under its rule.

Since 2009, at least 133 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of China’s harsh policies; most recently on 17 September, a young Tibetan student named Lhamo Tashi who set light to himself and died. These protests remind us that the situation inside Tibet has reached an intolerable level and threatens to destabilize the entire region, including sensitive border areas with India. During the past year alone, we have witnessed an escalation in the number of arbitrary arrests, new limits on the enjoyment of religious freedom, and egregious violations of the rights to free expression and opinion.  At the same time, international observers and journalists continue to be denied free access to Tibet unless on tightly-scripted government tours.

Despite the severity of the situation and the expressions of concern made by many governments, China continues to intensify its grip on Tibet and has failed to respond to proposals put forward by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan administration in exile aimed at alleviating tensions and allowing the Tibetan people to protect their cultural traditions. Far from genuinely addressing the grievances of the Tibetan people, China’s leaders have chosen instead to follow a policy of violence and intimidation in Tibet, violating many of the promises made to the international community.

Most recently, local authorities in at least two Tibetan areas have issued new regulations detailing “collective punishment”, aimed at deterring Tibetans from protesting or taking part in a wide range of religious activities including possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama. The punishments outlined place entire Tibetan communities at risk of legal and economic repercussions. This “collective punishment” approach, which is in danger of becoming a trend, is not only harsh but illegal under international law.

We the undersigned, therefore urge you to raise the Tibet issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the APEC leaders’ meeting in Beijing. We urge you to raise Tibet in your various bilateral meetings and also in any joint statement that you may issue on the margins of the APEC agenda.  In particular, we ask that you:

  • call on the Government of China to cease and revoke “collective punishment” policies in Tibetan communities, and policies that provide for the detention and sentencing of Tibetans allegedly associated with self-immolations;

  • encourage the Government of China to re-enter negotiations with the political representatives of the Tibetan people through the Central Tibetan Administration, to find a peaceful and lasting solution for the Tibetan issue.

  • discuss Tibet with other like-minded governments and consider appropriate and effective means to collectively promote such a solution for Tibet.

International trade and investment can be a force for good, but only when it takes place within an enabling environment of good governance accompanied by economic and social policies that are consistent with respect for human rights. It is in the interests of all of us to encourage such policies within China and to ensure that the Tibetan people are able to fully enjoy the basic human rights and democratic freedoms to which they are entitled.

Yours sincerely,

Ali signature smaller.jpg

Alison Reynolds
Executive Director, International Tibet Network on behalf of the following Member Groups from APEC countries:

Alaska Tibet Committee
Amigos del Tíbet
Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana
Australia Tibet Council
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
Casa Tibet México
Free Tibet-Fukuoka
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Grupo De Apoyo a Tíbet
Roof Of The World Network
Sakya Trinley Ling
Students for a Free Tibet
Super Sangha
Taiwanese Friends of Tibet
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Centre
Tibet Mx
United Nations for a Free Tibet
US Tibet Committee
Students for a Free Tibet, Japan


1. To: Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Australia), Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei), Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Canada), President Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Chief Executive CY Leung (Hong Kong), President Joko Widodo (Indonesia), Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (Japan), President Park Geun-hye (South Korea), Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak (Malaysia), President Enrique Peña Nieto (Mexico), Prime Minister John Key (New Zealand), Prime Minister Peter O’Neill (Papua New Guinea), President Ollanta Humala (Peru), President Benigno Aquino III (Philippines), President Vladimir Putin (Russia), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore), President Ma Ying-jeou (Taiwan), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (Thailand), President Barack Obama (United States), Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng (Vietnam)