Students for a Free Tibet - UK

Students for a Free Tibet UK is a volunteer-run campaigning group which campaigns for Tibetan freedom and independence. We are part of an international network, with chapters all over the world.

This blog is mainly run by the Chair of SFTUK. Any personal views are my own.
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This article looks amazing! Also another regular reminder of the need to address white privilege, cultural appropriation and Orientalism in the Tibet movement. If you’re White or non-Tibetan please question your involvement and role in the Tibet movement. If you’re involved mainly because Tibet is “so spiritual” and you idealise Tibetan culture, you are doing it wrong.

"This piece poses cultural appropriation as an undertheorized aspect of white privilege in White Privilege Studies. By way of narrative exploration, it asserts that a paucity of scholarship on Orientalism and anti-Asian racism has created a gap in White Privilege Studies that curbs its radical transformative potential. It argues for the value of a structural and historically focused lens for understanding the issue of cultural appropriation, and extends questions of culture and race relations beyond the borders of the United States. It also explores the complex ways that interracial and transnational relationships can influence white racial identity, and illustrates the disruptive potential that queer interracial relationships can offer to dominant historical patterns of white behavior."

"In Chinese popular culture, Tibet, a population vacation destination for ethnic (or Han) Chinese, is seen as unspoiled, and Tibetans are often portrayed as simple people at one with nature, much as Native Americans were depicted in earlier decades in the United States. Despite the booming tourism, however, visitors rarely see the reality of daily life in Tibet.

Shen Ye, a 30-year-old who works at an independent record label in Beijing, said that a few years ago she spent eight months backpacking through Tibet. But a screening of Ms. Ford’s movie at a small club’s independent movie night here proved eye-opening.

“I lived in Tibet and didn’t know about it,” Ms. Shen said. “You just see propaganda. I never knew what their real lives were like.”

Ms. Ford said she had been arranging screenings at clubs, embassies and workplaces through friends to try to gauge audience reaction and prospects for releasing the film more widely in China. Her goal, she said, is to start a discussion about race in China, something almost completely absent in the Chinese media.”

"It challenges that stereotype that is so common in the West that Tibet is just about a P.L.A. soldier cracking down on a saffron-robed monk,” Mr. Leibold said, referring to the People’s Liberation Army."

Tibetan community and youth activists in Boston demostrated last night in solidarity with Tibetans in Kardze and against China’s lethal shootings of Tibetans this week. Please organize a protest in your city if you can and share the details/photos with us! [images from SFTHQ]

"TCHRD has obtained exclusive information that provides irrefutable evidence that Chinese security forces used disproportionate force including live ammunition and machine guns to kill Tibetans during the March 2008 protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The document obtained by TCHRD contains the list of the names of Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces and whose dead bodies were kept at Lhasa’s Xishan mortuary. The official document also consists of autopsy reports of four dead Tibetans. Li Wen Zhen and Wang Zhai Shai, both heads of criminal and medical examination department of the Lhasa Public Security Bureau performed the autopsy. This internal document was prepared on 21 March 2008 and is titled “Document of the criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa.” Despite official Chinese pronouncement on the contrary, the document serves as concrete evidence that Chinese security forces killed Tibetans in different localities in Lhasa city during the initial protests in March 2008 that ignited the 2008 Uprising in large parts of the Tibetan plateau.”

Vigil outside the Chinese Embassy tonight in London in solidarity with Tibetans killed in Kardze.

Three more Tibetans have died of untreated gunshot wounds after Chinese authorities fired on peaceful protesters last week in Sichuan Province and refused to treat the dozens who were injured and detained, according to sources Tuesday. 

Two protesters had previously died at the detention center on Sunday, one committing suicide in protest against “torture” at the hands of Chinese authorities and another dying of untreated wounds, exile sources had said.

The five who died were among dozens detained after Chinese police fired into a protest by hundreds in Shukpa village in Sershul (Shiqu) county on Aug. 12.

Many of those detained who had gunshot wounds were left untreated for a week with bullets still embedded in their bodies.

They were identified as Tsewang Gonpo, 60; Yeshe, 42; and Jinpa Tharchin, 18.

“They were refused medical care and had been tortured by the Chinese authorities,” Demay Gyaltsen, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday, citing local sources.

“They succumbed to their injuries in custody, and their bodies were returned to their families on Aug. 18,” Gyaltsen said.

Gonpo, the elder of the three who died, was the uncle of Dema Wangdak, a local village leader, whose detention by police on Aug. 11 sparked the mass protest the next day.

Tibet advocacy groups  have slammed the Chinese authorities, who have been accused of blatant rights abuses in Tibet, for acting with impunity.

“This alarming news indicates that the authorities in this area are apparently acting with complete and dangerous impunity,” Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said in a statement on Monday.

“As a matter of urgency, the international community must express its abhorrence of these acts by officials and paramilitary police in Kardze and call upon the central leadership in Beijing to ensure that the wounded are allowed medical treatment and released from custody, and that the detentions of Tibetans following the protest must end.”

From International Tibet Network:

Once again, China has used lethal force against unarmed Tibetan demonstrators. Please join us today in sending China a message that its total disrespect for life and the right to free expression, cannot be tolerated.

On 12 August, following the night-time arrest of a popular village leader, Wangdak, Tibetans in the Kardze area of eastern Tibet gathered to call for his release. Chinese security forces opened fire, wounding at least 10 Tibetans. Latest reports say that two have now died; one from his injuries and another, named Lo Palsang - has apparently committed suicide in custody, “in protest against the torture by the Chinese authorities.” Many of those injured have not received proper medical treatment, and sweeping detentions are being made.

For more info see also

"Now, China has turned to interracial marriage in an apparent attempt to assimilate Tibetans and stamp out rebellious impulses.

In recent weeks, Chinese officials in charge of the Tibetan Autonomous Region have ordered a run of stories in local newspapers promoting mixed marriages. And according to newly published government reports, the government has adopted a series of policies in recent years favorable to interracial couples.

Urging officials to push mixed marriages harder, China’s highest official in the Tibetan region, Chen Quanguo, recently staged a photo op with 19 mixed families.

“As the saying goes, ‘blood is thicker than water,’ we should make our ethnic relationship like that,” Chen said at the meeting in June, according to the state-run Tibetan Daily. The government must “actively promote intermarriages.”


The government has focused on Tibetans marrying Han Chinese.

Tibet’s population is roughly 90 percent Tibetan and 8 percent Han Chinese. Demographics for China as a whole is the reverse at 92 percent Han Chinese and less than 1 percent Tibetan.

The government has sold the effort in state-run media as a way to achieve ethnic unity, but critics argue that its true aim is to further weaken Tibetan culture.

In a phone interview, Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser, an activist who has frequently clashed with authorities, likened the promotion of intermarriage to the worst practices of colonization.

There’s nothing objectionable about couples from different backgrounds coming together naturally, she said. Woeser herself is married to a Han Chinese, dissident writer Wang Lixiong. But when the authorities use it as a tool and create policies to encourage it, she said, it feels wrong.

She compared it to Japanese police being encouraged to marry local women during Japan’s occupation of Taiwan.

For weeks, government-run newspapers in Tibet have featured happy mixed couples in which the children love both cultures and equally speak Tibetan and Mandarin.

But among Tibetans, there is great fear about losing their culture and traditions.”


China’s security forces have opened fire on a peaceful protest, leaving 10 Tibetans seriously injured:
Free Tibet

China opens fire on Tibetans

Thursday, 14 August 2014
Tibetans in Kardze protesting.

Ten seriously injured; township under lockdown

Peaceful Tibetan protesters have been seriously injured by security forces in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Two Tibetans are confirmed to have been shot and others injured. Their conditions are not known and communication lines have now been shut down in the area.

Tibetans forced to celebrate

On 11 August villagers had been ordered to stage a celebration for the visit of senior Chinese officials. Wangdak, the village leader and the locals complained that the officials harassed female members of the community’s dance troupe.

They also objected to the authorities accusing a traditional horse race and a prayer festival in the area of being illegal.

Wangdak was arrested.

Tibetans shot

On 12 August, around hundred Tibetans gathered at the local government offices to protest when Chinese armed security forces from neighbouring Sertha county arrived and deployed tear gas and live ammunition on the crowd.

Wangdak’s son and brother Sangpo were both shot and other Tibetans were injured.

Injured missing

They were taken away by security forces but family members were told they were taken for medical treatment. No information is available as to where they are.

On 13 August, the neighbouring Shukpa village was surrounded by armed forces. Many of its men had left the village to avoid arrest but the security forces beat and interrogated family members including women and children.

In April a lone Tibetan protester in Kardze was arrested and his whereabouts still remain unknown.

"Renowned for its spiritual values as the home of the Dalai Lama, and for the decades-long dispute with China’s political control, Tibet is a complex land with a diaspora peppered across the globe. While many artists have relocated, an increasingly vibrant, innovative and experimental art scene is growing in Lhasa. Whether at home or abroad, Tibetan contemporary artists explore their multicultural influences, examining the tensions between traditional Tibetan and contemporary global culture."

[Ps: replace “dispute” by brutal occupation.]

If you are considering travelling to Tibet please remember it is an occupied country., Aug 05, 2014 –The initial privilege for travelling on the Lhasa-Shigatse extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, to be opened at the end of this month, will be given only to Chinese from mainland China, with the first batch being a tourist group from Shandong Province, reported Aug 4, citing Suolang Deji, an officer with Shigatse’s tourism department.While Tibet is fully open for visitors from China, it remains tightly controlled for other foreigners as well as even Tibetans whose movements are tightly restricted to their local areas due to political reasons. It was not clear when the Lhasa-Shigatse railway line will open for other travellers.The train will reduce the journey time from Lhasa to Tibet’s second city from five hours of driving over terrain ranging in altitude from 3,600 to 4,000 meters to just two hours.The new extension will enable passengers to connect by rail from Beijing all the way to Shigatse, a gateway to Everest, which lies just 240 kilometres (150 miles) away, on the border with Nepal.China’s huge investment in a railway system to and in Tibet is meant primarily to consolidate economic and political control of the occupied Himalayan territory and to gain vital strategic advantage over neighbouring countries.Work on the new $2.1 billion line began in 2010. Traversing valleys, mountains and crossing the glacier-fed Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River), the line presents breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks and majestic plateaus for tourists.