Before China was putting Uighur Muslims into “re-education centres”, it was occupying Tibet and banning foreigners from visiting the mountainous region.
The Australian Tibetan community wants to remind the world of China’s 60-year occupation of the region with a new law calling for Australian journalists, diplomats and tourists to get unrestricted access to Tibet.
The Australian Tibet Council’s representatives will meet abut 50 MPs in Canberra in Tuesday as they bid to get the law put before parliament.
Executive officer Kyinzom Dhongdue said China’s growing clout in Australia means the Chinese view on Tibet goes unchallenged.
“For Tibetans inside Tibet, their homeland has turned into a prison. They can’t get out of their country,” Ms Dhongdue said.
“The international community cannot see what is happening inside this prison as Tibet has remained largely closed over the past decade.
“The few who do get in are chaperoned around in Chinese government-approved tours.”
The Chinese Communist Party views Tibet as part of China, stretching back hundreds of years.
It has restricted access from foreigners, and pressured countries who host Tibetan spiritual and political leader the Dalai Lama.
Ms Dhongdue said the Reciprocal Access to Tibet legislation would allow Australian diplomats and journalists to visit the region, just like Chinese visitors can visit Australia.
“(Tibetan-Australians) are not able to visit their ailing parents or have to wait for many months or even years to get a visa,” she said.
She said the upcoming Tibet Lobby Day will take place with the backdrop of increasing resistance by Tibetans, Uighurs and the people of Hong Kong against the Chinese Communist Party.
Pro-freedom protesters in Hong Kong have been rioting for weeks over concerns about authoritarian rule from China.
China also says the majority of Uighur Muslims held in controversial “re-education centres” in western Xinjiang have returned home.
“After hard work, those who have been educated and trained, most of them have returned to the society,” Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, told reporters recently.
The United States introduced reciprocal access legislation in 2018, while a bill has been put to the UK parliament and a motion put forward in the Canadian senate.