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Australian senator calls for action on Tibet

TIMES OF INDIA, Friday 12 November 1999

Dharmsala, India: An Australian senator has called for a campaign to make foreign corporations investing in China accountable for the situation in Tibet.

Bob Brown, the Greens Senator, who outraged Chinese authorities in July by going on an unofficial fact-finding tour of Tibet, met the Dalai Lama on Wednesday in Dharmsala, where he runs a government-in-exile.

Later, he lashed out at the environmental impact of a controversial World Bank-funded development project in Dulan County on the Tibetan Plateau.

"Massive numbers of people in Australia want Tibet to be free, but we've got a government that is cosying up to Beijing," Brown said after the 50-minute meeting.

"I think that no Chinese figure should be able to step foot outside their own country without being met by protests instantly, everywhere they go," he said.

"What I noticed in Lhasa were huge signs for Motorola, for Coke, for Kodak, for Volkswagen," he said. "And I think those corporations have got to be tackled right across the board, all of them. Because if you're doing business with China, you're doing business with the jailers of Tibet."

Brown also took the World Bank to task for its environmental assessment of the Dulan project, in Qinghai province, where a diversion of the Xiangride River will threaten wetlands that are nesting grounds for the black-necked crane.

"It will cause massive environmental disruption," said Brown of the project, which he visited during his tour. "And this has not been looked at. And when I came back I looked at the World Bank environmental assessment and it's outrageous. They don't mention any bird or animal by name."

He said the bank must ask an independent environmental authority to study the area because the "first assessment is so dishonest".

Brown also called on the Australian government to put pressure on the Chinese government to improve its human rights record in Tibet.

"The Australian government should be eyeballing the Chinese authorities right up and saying, `we are a free democratic nation, we cannot accept what you are doing in Tibet."'

He said Australia should ask the United Nations to review its approach to Tibet and support the Human Rights Commission to condemn Tibet. (Associated Press)

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