Supporters of the Dalai Lama are delighted that one of Britain’s top British designers, Vivienne Westwood, displayed a bag promoting the Tibetan cause on the catwalk. A bag with the slogan “Keep Tibet Alive” was used as an accessory in Westwood’s Spring 2009 ready to wear collection at the recent Paris Fashion show.
The bag has been designed by the Tibet Society and made by Tibetans in India. Philippa Carrick, chief executive of the Tibet Society, said “It is very encouraging and heartening to see such a well known fashion designer and icon such as Vivienne Westwood showing her support for Tibet by using our bag as an accessory in her collection. This year has seen much suffering inside Tibet following demonstrations in March and the country remains under lock down.
Tibetans are now living under very tight security, with widespread curfews in place and an intensifying “re-education” program in the monasteries. We are gravely concerned for the thousands of Tibetans missing since the demonstrations and for those still in detention. I urge people not to forget Tibet and follow Vivienne’s example by raising Tibet’s flag wherever they can and showing China the issue of Tibet will not be forgotten.”
Pro-Tibet groups in the UK are urging the government to take action to support the Tibetan people and their basic human rights. These include putting pressure on the Chinese government to grant immediate access to all areas of Tibet by the UN, Red Cross or another recognized independent body for an objective and true account of the situation; report on casualties and availability of medical care; verify the number of deaths; visit those in detention and confirm access to legal representation.
Tibetan activists are also demanding the re-opening of all areas of Tibet to foreign journalists. They want the British government to press China and representatives of the Dalai Lama to set a date for a meeting. Both sides have had informal talks but Tibet support groups are pressing for a meeting to be open and transparent and held in a neutral country under the auspices of an agreed objective mediator. The say the aim of meeting should be to begin substantive dialogue, without preconditions, to find a legitimate and negotiated solution for the Tibetan and Chinese people.
The Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, gave an assurance to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he would speak to the Dalai Lama if he renounces violence and does not seek independence. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly and publicly stated that he is opposed to violence and is not pushing for Tibetan independence.