Background to the flag campaign in Switzerland


Tibet has been illegally occupied by the People's Republic of China since 1949/50. The political, cultural and religious right to self-determination of the Tibetan people has been disregarded and violated ever since. Long prison sentences and serious human rights violations such as torture await people who stand up for freedom and the right to self-determination. Despite several meetings with the Dalai Lama's envoys, the Chinese occupying power continues to refuse any serious dialogue, although the Dalai Lama has repeatedly made constructive offers for a peaceful, non-violent solution to the Tibet problem.

Initiatives for solving the Tibet problem

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution in autumn 1959 - more than forty years ago - condemning China's actions in Tibet and calling on the Chinese government to respect fundamental human rights, including the right to self-determination of the Tibetan people. However, this resolution, which was repeated in 1961 and 1965, brought no tangible results for the Tibetan people. A renewed initiative at the UN level, based on the 1959, 1961 and 1965 resolutions, can create the basis for solving the Tibet problem non-violently and politically with international support.

Switzerland and Tibet

To this day, Switzerland is the European country that has taken in the most Tibetan refugees: to date, around 8000! The generous humanitarian gesture has led to many Tibetans now considering Switzerland their second home. However, its long tradition of democracy and freedom obliges Switzerland to commit itself even more decisively to Tibet, so that the arbitrariness of the Chinese occupation regime comes to an end and the Tibetans can exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.

The situation in Tibet today

The Tibetan people have become a minority in their own country due to the PRC's settlement and resettlement policy. Around eight million Chinese live in Tibet today, but only six million Tibetans. According to the Tibetans concerned, the railway line from Golmud to Lhasa, which was opened in July 2006, has further accelerated Chinese immigration to Tibet. This development, described by the Dalai Lama as "cultural genocide", is pushing more and more Tibetans out of the labour force and impoverishing them.

Fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly, opinion and demonstration as well as the unhindered practice of religion are constantly being violated.
Before and during the so-called "Cultural Revolution" (1966-1975), most of the Tibetan monasteries were destroyed. Although some of them have been rebuilt, free practice of religion is not possible in them. Many religious institutions have been reduced to mere tourist attractions. The so-called "patriotic re-education campaign" in the Tibetan monasteries, which had been carried out for years, was intensified again in 2006. Nuns and monks are forced to denounce the Dalai Lama verbally and in writing. If they refuse, they are punished with expulsion from the monastery, and some of them are arrested and mistreated.
Even possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama is punished severely. All Tibetans working in government or administration are prohibited from practicing the religion. The new local secretary of the Communist Party has called for a "struggle to the death" against the Dalai Lama's influence.
Intimidation and arbitrary detention remain commonplace, as does the torture of detainees. Many Tibetan prisoners have died as a result of torture and ill-treatment.

Tibetan women are subjected to rigorous birth control programs and are often forced to undergo sterilization or abortion. Women prisoners are often victims of degrading ill-treatment by members of the security forces or prison staff.

Most Tibetan children and youth are denied a good education. The Tibetan language and culture are hardly considered in the school curricula. That is why there are more and more children and young people among the Tibetan refugees who have to leave their homeland to get a good education. Many children succumb to the hardships of fleeing. In September 2006, Chinese border guards shot and killed a 17-year-old nun trying to cross a Himalayan pass into Nepal. As video footage shows, the nun was shot at from behind in a group of refugees - many of them children - without warning and was fatally wounded.

The People's Republic of China is ruthlessly exploiting Tibet's resources, thereby destroying the ecological balance of the region. The deforestation of 60% of eastern Tibet's forests has repeatedly triggered devastating floods that threaten India, Bangladesh and China themselves.
The Swiss flag campaign is supported by:

  • Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association (STFA)
  • Non-partisan parliamentary group for Tibet in the Swiss Parliament
  • Tibetan Community Switzerland (TGS)
  • Tibetan Women's Organization Switzerland (TFOS)
  • Association of Tibetan Youth in Europe (TYAE)

You can find more about the situation in Tibet and the work of the worldwide active Tibet organizations on our website or at the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Society (GSTF), Binzstrasse 15, 8045 Zurich, Tel.: 044 451 38 38, Fax: 044 451 38 68

You can find out more about the Tibet flag campaign in Germany here.

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