Australia: A long-standing Tibet supporter and advocate, Senator Janet Rice who is also the co-chair of the Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group Tibet (AAPPGT) raised concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet as well as the matter concerning the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the occasion of the 12th Tibet Lobby Day marked by the cross-parliamentary group supporting Tibetan freedom on Monday.
During a question session at the Senate, Senator Rice questioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, about the measures she intends to take in her conversations with representatives of the Chinese government, to ensure that the traditional religious practices such as selection, education and veneration of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders are protected in Tibet and to ensure that the Chinese government does not have a role in the selection of the next Dalai Lama. MP Senator Wong in her response, expressed concerns over the erosion of rights and freedom in Tibet particularly the assimilation of Tibetan children into colonial boarding schools, the detention of Tibetans for peaceful expression of political views and the suppression of Tibetan religious expression.
“We have raised our concerns with counterparts, and I would say that this is the first time an Australian government has done this. Australia raised our concerns in our national statement at the Human Rights Council in March, and I again say that that is the first time an Australian government has done that,” said Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
The second question raised by Senator Rice to Minister Wong was about forced labour in Tibet and whether Australia would ban the import of goods produced by forced labour to which Foreign Minister Wong said the Australian government through its Modern Slavery Act has conducted a review based on which, she informed, the government will formulate its response.
Tibet Lobby Day is an annual event organised by the Australia Tibet Council in collaboration with the Tibetan community in Australia where Tibetans and Tibet supporters come together in Canberra to meet with the Australian parliamentarians to talk about different issues concerning Tibet.