Christians urged to speak up over Tibet
By Fran Race
Christians around the world are being invited to mobilise on behalf of the Tibetan people.
The programme is an initiative of Christian Friends of Tibet, a support group currently working under the auspices of the South African Friends of Tibet.
In 1959 China invaded Tibet. Eight years later the Dalai Lama and 80,00 fellow Tibetans fled across the Himalayas into India and have lived in exile from their homeland ever since.
Throughout this time the Dalai Lama has campaigned tirelessly for the autonomy of Tibet from Chinese rule, advocating peace and non-violence and continually urges his followers to respond to the situation with compassion, a premise that has been the foundation of life in Tibet for hundreds of years.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet and also the leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile.
Following the London bombings In July he wrote to Tony Blair expressing 'a deep sense of sadness and solidarity with the people of Great Britain' while also adding cautiously 'while we condemn such acts of senseless violenceÖwe must look at the root cause of these and try to address them.'
In 1989 the Dalai Lama received was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work across the world.
For their faithfulness to the Dalai Lama Tibetans face human rights deprivations, daily persecutions at the hands of the Peoples Republic of China. Monks and nuns are imprisoned, tortured, beaten, violated. Increasingly Tibetans are unable to find work in their own country. If they try and leave they are shot.
However pleas from his government and thousands of supporters across the world asking for Western intervention for the plight of Tibet have often been ignored.
In 2001 the US presented the UN with a resolution requesting an investigation into reports of ongoing human rights abuses in China. China responded with its own proposal to veto the States' resolution. While18 countries voted against the Chinese proposal, 22 countries voted in support of China, including the UK.
Sections of the church have also been accused of inaction, with much focus and attention on persecuted Christians around the world, rather than those of other faiths.
'Perhaps the truest understanding of the need for Christian support for Tibet can be gained by considering the immeasurable loss to Tibetans if the Church were to continue to ignore their cry for justice and support and to withhold Christian support demonstrated in the power of prayer, compassionate action, spiritual example and moral authority' a statement from Christian Friends of Tibet said.
'The Body of Christ has always spoken out against needless suffering, the abuse of the weaker by the stronger and all inhumanityÖThat is why Christian Friends of Tibet feels great hope in calling all Christians and all Christian Churches and Institutions everywhere to take action in supporting Tibetans in their time of affliction.'
Fran Race is a reporter for Ekklesia and a member of All Hallows Anglican church in Leeds. She can be contacted: firstname.lastname@example.org