For Immediate Release, 21 January 2014

Tibet Campaigners Call on Governments to Press China for the Release of Xu Zhiyong, Legal Scholar, Human Rights Defender and Vocal Supporter of Tibet

Tenzin Jigdal, International Coordinator, [English/Tibetan] + 91 9882 255516
Alison Reynolds, Executive Director, [English] + 44 7711 843884

A global coalition of Tibet campaigners has expressed concern about the trial of Xu Zhiyong, a Chinese rights advocate and scholar, who has worked tirelessly to change China’s legal system, and has been outspoken in support of the Tibetan people. Xu Zhiyong’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, stated that Xu will be tried on 22 January 2014 as part of a government-led crackdown on dissent, for “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place”. [1] Tibet campaigners urge the Chinese government to immediately drop all politically-motivated charges and release Xu Zhiyong, and call on world governments to make urgent representations to China’s leaders on Xu’s behalf.

“Xu Zhiyong is a compassionate, courageous human rights defender, who has the respect and appreciation of Tibetans and supporters for his writings on Tibet,” said Tenzin Jigdal, International Coordinator of International Tibet Network, a global coalition of almost 190 Tibet Groups. [2] “Xu deserves the support of international governments. We welcome the concern expressed by outgoing EU ambassador Markus Ederer for Xu on 17 January, [3] and urge other government leaders to follow suit.”

In December 2012 an Opinion piece by Xu called “Tibet Is Burning” was published in the New York Times, [4] which described his attempts to visit the family of a Tibetan self-immolation protestor named Nangdrol, in order to pay his respects. The piece concluded, “I am sorry we Han Chinese have been silent as Nangdrol and his fellow Tibetans are dying for freedom. We are victims ourselves, living in estrangement, infighting, hatred and destruction. We share this land. It’s our shared home, our shared responsibility, our shared dream — and it will be our shared deliverance.” Since December 2012 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in Tibet, as a form of protest against China’s rule, has risen to at least 125, most recently Tsultrim Gyatso, a 41-year old Tibetan monk from Amchok Monastery, who died after he self-immolated on 19 December 2013. [5]

China’s new leadership under Xi Jinping is continuing to suppress dissent across the board, criminalizing the relatives of TIbetan self-immolation protesters, and detaining Uighur academic Ilham Tohti, who has criticised government policy in East Turkestan. Xu Zhiyong and five of his supporters will be facing trial this week, in a concerted crackdown on the New Citizens’  Movement that Xu launched in 2012, which is campaigning for transparency over officials’ assets.

Xu Zhiyong is also a founder of the Beijing-based think tank, “Gongmeng” or Open Constitution Initiative, which conducted an independent investigation into the Uprisings on the Tibetan plateau in 2008. The resulting report, which was translated in full by International Campaign for Tibet, [6] challenged the Chinese Government’s position that the Dalai Lama incited the protests, and presented evidence that the protests resulted from failures in Chinese policy. At the time, Xu Zhiyong was quoted as saying, “We want to help society, and help build rule of law. We want to be objective. On questions like Tibet, human rights, and so forth, the Chinese government has a standpoint, foreign governments and foreign media have a standpoint. But it’s also important to have an independent look at the problems.” [7] The report’s first recommendation was that China’s leadership ‘Earnestly listen to the voices of ordinary Tibetans and on the basis of respecting and protecting each of the Tibetan people’s rights and interests, adjust policy and thinking in Tibetan areas to formulate development policies which are suited to the characteristics of Tibetan areas, and which accord with the wishes of the Tibetan people.’


1. AFP, quoting Zhang Qingfang, see ‘Zhang said Xu, who faces a potential five-year jail term on a charge of “assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” will remain silent during his trial, as will his lawyers, in protest at what they see as the unjust way the court has handled his case…. Xu, 40, was detained in July after involvement in peaceful street-demonstrations in which activists held banners calling for asset declaration by government officials, seen by some as a reform which would combat endemic corruption in the country’s political system.’

2. International Tibet Network is a global coalition of Tibet-related non-governmental organisations dedicated to ending human rights violations in Tibet and to working actively to restore the Tibetan people’s right under international law to determine their future political, economic, social, religious and Cultural status. See for more information.

3. See 1. Markus Ederer said Brussels was “concerned on the overall tightening of the human rights situation and especially about the trials of members of the New Citizens Movement, in particular Xu Zhiyong.”

4. “Tibet Is Burning”

5. For details of each case, see

6. The Gongmeng report was translated in full by International Campaign for Tibet, May 2009

7. Time Magazine,8599,1900899,00.html


Signed on behalf of the following International Tibet Network Member Groups:

Western Europe:
Aide aux Refugies Tibetains
Association Dorje
Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet
Association Rencontres Tibetaines – C.S.P.T. Midi-Pyrenees
Associazione Italia-Tibet
Austrian Committee for Tibet
Briancon05 Urgence Tibet
Caisse d’Aide aux Prisonniers Tibetains
Casa del Tibet – Spain
Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)
Comite de Soutien au Peuple Tibetain (Les Lilas)
Corse – Tibet
Eco-Tibet France
EcoTibet Ireland
Groupe Non-Violent Louis Lecoin, France
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal
International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter (IGFM)
Jamtse Thundel Association
La Porte du Tibet, Geneva
Les Amis du Tibet – Belgium
Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg
Lions Des Neiges Mont Blance, France
Maison des Himalayas
Maison du Tibet – Tibet Info
Nice Tibet
Nos Amis de l’Himalaya
Objectif Tibet
Passeport Tibetain
Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara
Reseau International des Femmes pour le Tibet
Save Tibet, Austria
Society for Threatened Peoples International
Solidarite Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – France
Students for a Free Tibet – UK
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association (GSTF)
Tibet 59 / 62
Tibet Democratie
Tibet Initiative Deutschland
Tibets Kinder im Exile V.
Tibet Liberte Solidarite
Tibet Libertes, France
Tibet Society, U.K.
Tibet Support Group – Ireland
Tibet Support Group – Netherlands
Tibet Unterstutzung Liechtenstein
Tibetan Association of Germany
Tibetan Community Austria
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan Community in Ireland
Tibetan Youth Association in Europe
Tibetan Youth UK
TSG Free Tibet And You
Tsowa-Maintenir la Vie, France
Vrienden Van Tibet
Autodétermination-Tibet 09/31
Tibetan Community of Italy
Tibetaanse-Vlaamse Vriendenkring vzw
Lungta Association Belgium

Northern Europe:
Association of Free Tibet
Friends of Tibet in Finland
Swedish Tibet Committee
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
Tibet Support Committee Denmark
Tibetan Community in Denmark
Tibetan Community Sweden
SFT Denmark

Central & Eastern Europe:
Fair Society o.s.
Friends of Tibet Slovakia
Friends of Tibet Society St. Petersburg, Russia
International Youth Human Rights Group – Human Rights in Tibet
Lithuanian Tibet Culture Foundation
Polish Movement for a Free Tibet
Savet Tibet Foundation
Society for Croatia-Tibet Friendship
Students for a Free Tibet, Poland
The Foundation for Civil Society, Russia
Tibet cesky (Tibet in Czech)
Tibet Support Association – Hungary
Tibet Support Group – Krasnodar Region, Russia
Tibet Support Group – Romania
Tibet Support Group – Sochi Region, Russia
Tibetan Community in Poland
Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation
TSG – Slovenia
Union Latvija Tibetai (Latvia for Tibet )
Zida Cels, Latvia
Tibetan Association of Slovakia

North America:
Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina
Bay Area Friends of Tibet
Boston Tibet Network
Canada Tibet Committee
Colorado Friends of Tibet
Committee of 100 for Tibet
Dhokam Chushi Gangdruk
International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet
Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
San Diego Friends of Tibet
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Snow Lion Foundation
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – Canada
The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago
The World Tibet Day Foundation
Tibet Committee of Fairbanks
Tibet Justice Center
Tibetan Association of Ithaca
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Tibetan Association of Philadephia
Tibetan Association of Santa Fe
Tibetan Association of Southern California
Tibetan Cultural Association – Quebec
Tibet Oral History Project
Toronto Tibet Youth Congress
U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet
Wisconsin Tibetan Association
United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT)

Central and South America:
Amigos del Tibet, El Salvador
Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana *
Asociación Cultural Tibetano – Costarricense
Casa Tibet Mexico
Centro De Cultura Tibetana – Brazil *
Grupo De Apoyo a Tibet Chile *
Grupo Pro-Cultura Tibetana, Chile *
Le Club Francais – Paraguay
Pensando En Tibet – Mexico
Tibet Group-Panama
Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay
Fundación Pro Tibet – Argentina
Friends of Tibet in Costa Rica
World League for Freedom and Democracy

Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India
Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India
Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet
Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet
India Tibet Friendship Society
Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)
Lung-Ta Project
Mahatma Gandhi Tibet Freedom Movement
National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India
National Democratic Party of Tibet
Raise Tibetan Flag Campaign
Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia
SFT Japan
Students for a Free Tibet – Bangladesh
Taiwan Friends of Tibet
Taiwan Tibet Exchange Foundation
The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan
Tibet Lives, India
Tibet Philippines Support Network
Tibet Solidarity Forum, Bangladesh
Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan
Tibet Support Network Japan
Tibetan Student Association, Madras (TSAM)
Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre
Tibetan Rights and Freedom Committee (TRFRC)
Tibetan Women’s Association (Central)
Tibetan Youth Congress
Japan Committee of 100 for TIbet
Ns3 Rigpa Community Builder’s Foundation
Anterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog Samiti

A.C.T. Tibet Support Group
Australia Tibet Council
Friends of Tibet New Zealand
Students for a Free Tibet New Zealand
Tibet Action Group of Western Australia
Tibet Support Group Adelaide – Australia
Tibetan Community of Australia (Victoria)
Tibetan Women Association and Friends Australia (TWAFA)
Sakya Trinley Ling
Australian Tibet House Inc.

Africa and Middle East:
Friends of Tibet – Isamailia (Egypt)
Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People
Tibet Support Group Kenya
Dalai Lama Movement East Africa