It's good to talk......
Last week I met with some Chinese students living inEdinburgh, as part of a round-table discussion about China and its portrayal inthe Scottish media and in society generally.
The three students who took part were amongst those who hadrecently organised a pro-China march in the city in response to concerns overwhat they felt was an anti-China bias in the media and generally hostilemessages coming from a range of campaign groups (including, presumably,Amnesty).
The most contentious issue under discussion was that ofTibet, with several pro-Tibet campaigners also attending. There not being anAmnesty position as to whether Tibet should be part of China, independent orsomewhere in between, I didn’t have too much to add to that point.
What I did want to talk about was how our Human Rights for China campaignis coming across. This campaign is focused on certain policies of the Chineseregime (rather than “China” or the Chinese people) but sometimes its hard toget the subtleties of a campaign across. How are we doing?
The discussion was useful and positive – so all credit tothe good folk at St John’s Church who organised it and set such a positive,understanding tone.
What interested me most was the extent of the common groundshared by those around the table. Nobody was of the opinion that freedom ofexpression should be denied. Nobody supported locking up human rightscampaigners. Nobody was hostile to the Chinese people or nation.
I was left with two particular feelings:
- its good to talk. The opportunity to sit down around atable proved so much more useful than organising opposing mutually exclusive demonstrations, eachbarking our own particular message with no thought to the other perspective.
- I’m convinced our campaign is a good one which, if we areclear on our messaging, is wholeheartedly behind the Chinese people and usingthe freedom of expression which we enjoy to demand the very same for them.
If you would like to join us in this effort then come to thefoot of the Mound in Edinburgh for 1pm on June 4th – the 19thanniversary of the crackdown on Chinese protestors in Tiananmen Square. Details here.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.