Students for a Free Tibet helped to save Voice of America Tibetan radio from BBG cuts

Victory! VOA Tibetan Radio SavedStudents for a Free Tibet (SFT), a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world that has been working to help the Tibetan people regain their freedom, played a critical role in getting the U.S. Congress to force the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to cancel its plan to terminate Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to Tibet. Many of the signatures for the petition to save VOA radio to Tibet came from the SFT Facebook page.

Students for a Free Tibet website described some of their efforts to save Voice of America Tibetan radio broadcasts from being silenced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors strategists and executives who had initially managed to persuade most of the members of their bipartisan board to agree with their plan.

Understanding the significance of VOA to Tibetans inside Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet immediately prioritized the issue. In March, working closely with the International Campaign for Tibet and other groups, we organized our annual Tibet Lobby Day. Our student activists, Tibetan members, and community leaders met with hundreds of Congressional staff and representatives, strongly urging them to oppose the BBG’s proposal. Over several weeks, SFT members phoned and emailed their Congresspersons, explaining why VOA’s Tibetan radio service matters to Tibetans amid the ongoing crisis in Tibet.

Due to protests from groups such as Students for a Free Tibet, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), and the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), BBG members eventually voted to reject the cuts recommended by their executive staff.

BBG Watch is republishing a SFT report on their actions on behalf of the VOA Tibetan Service. BBG Watch is an independent website published by a group of former and current Voice of America and Broadcasting Board of Governors employees.

THANK YOU STUDENTS FOR A FREE TIBET!

 

VICTORY! VOA TIBETAN RADIO SAVED

Victory! VOA Tibetan Radio Saved

June 1st, 2012

We are thrilled to inform you that US Congressional Committees have decided to continue supporting Voice of America’s Tibetan radio service. This is a landmark victory for the Tibetan freedom struggle, especially to all of our members who called, emailed, faxed and lobbied their Congressional Representatives to support this critical service that has often been called the lifeline of Tibet.

Thank you for taking action! You have helped to keep open one of the only windows into the outside world for Tibetans living in China’s black hole of censorship and misinformation.

In February, due to sweeping budget cuts, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) revealed its plans to eliminate the VOA Tibetan radio service. It proposed to consolidate VOA Tibetan Radio with Radio Free Asia, which would significantly cut down the total number of Tibetan broadcast hours.

Understanding the significance of VOA to Tibetans inside Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet immediately prioritized the issue. In March, working closely with the International Campaign for Tibet and other groups, we organized our annual Tibet Lobby Day. Our student activists, Tibetan members, and community leaders met with hundreds of Congressional staff and representatives, strongly urging them to oppose the BBG’s proposal. Over several weeks, SFT members phoned and emailed their Congresspersons, explaining why VOA’s Tibetan radio service matters to Tibetans amid the ongoing crisis in Tibet.

Our hard work paid off!

Recently, the BBG announced a “renewed strategy” that reversed the proposed cut. In the last two weeks, both Senate and House Appropriations Committees decided to continue supporting VOA’s Tibetan radio service.

 

 

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Members of the New York Tibet Lobby Day group with U.S. Rep.Yvette D. Clarke (D – NY).

Our combined efforts have helped make this change possible, reaffirming the power of the grassroots to influence decisions at the highest levels of government. This important victory could not have come at a more critical time for Tibet.

Just this Wednesday, Rikyo, a 33-year-old mother, set herself on fire in eastern Tibet, leaving behind three children. Last Sunday, two young Tibetans working at a restaurant in Lhasa set themselves on fire in front of the Jokhang, Tibet’s holiest temple, to protest Chinese rule. Chinese security troops – the PSB, the PAP, and plain clothes policemen, perhaps outnumbering Tibetan pilgrims in Lhasa – swept in and cleaned up the Jokhang square within minutes.

We are now receiving reports that Chinese authorities have detained 600 Tibetans in Lhasa, for no reason other than the fact that they are Tibetans, mostly from Ngaba and other eastern Tibetan towns. China’s arbitrary and sweeping arrests of Tibetans reveal a deep-seated racism that makes it impossible for Tibetans to achieve either survival or dignity in our own homeland.

As China’s apartheid-like policies turn Tibet into one of the world’s most oppressed places, we must escalate our nonviolent mobilization and raise the global pressure on Beijing to end its crackdown. While we continue to hear of the worsening repression in Tibet, we must also remember that the clock of history is ticking on dictatorships everywhere – not just in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Burma, but also in Syria, and certainly in Tibet and China.

Let today’s news of success in the US Congress be a reminder that we are making progress for Tibet, one victory at a time.

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