08/08/2020

#DissentingHeroes Tenzin Sonam: Exercise #righttoprotest to stand up for truth and justice

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A man dies when he refuses to stand up for what is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is true”. 

Our dissenting hero of the week, Tenzin Sonam, quotes Martin Luther King Jr. to underscore the importance of exercising the fundamental right to protest to create a just and humane society.

Tenzin Sonam is a Tibetan human rights activist and director of TCHRD-North America. She studied human rights and gender law at American University Washington College, following which she worked as a human rights officer at the EU, UN and Human Rights Desk at Department of Information and International Relations of Central Tibetan Administration. 

As a toddler growing up in a Tibetan refugee community in India’s remote Himalayan corner in Ladakh, Tenzin used to piggyback her parents and join protests commemorating major Tibetan political anniversaries on 10 and 12 March.

To be able to protest and express one’s views fearlessly is a right she treasures. “I remember being told that I was very lucky and while growing up I realised I am because I have something that hundreds and thousands of people across the globe including people in my country Tibet do not have, that is, freedom of speech and expression including the right to protest.” 

Tenzin Sonam joins the #whyprotest campaign to call on China to immediately

· End policies and practices that are incompatible with international human rights standards on the right to peaceful assembly;

· Repeal policy of resorting to lethal force to suppress and detain peaceful protesters;

· Punish government officers responsible for arbitrary detention and torture of peaceful protesters;

· Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Convention on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance;· 

* Invite UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association to assess the current state of freedom of peaceful assembly in Tibet

The #WhyProtest campaign, launched by TCHRD on 3 May to highlight freedom of expression, shines light on the brave and inspiring stories of peaceful Tibetan protesters that will tear through the cloak of coronavirus pandemic used by China to hide escalating repression and persecution of peaceful dissent in Tibet.

During the months leading up to this year’s International Human Rights Day on 10 December, the campaign will feature messages of hope, inspiration, and defiance from 30 Tibetan activists and human rights defenders.

Join the #WhyProtest Campaign by sharing our digital campaign messages on your timeline or your stories of defending the right to protest and why the freedom to dissent matters to you. If interested, write to Ms Tenzin Dawa for further information: tenzin.dawa@tchrd.org.