Banner campaign on the UNO-Building, during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China

On the 22nd October 2013, UN member states had the rare chance to ask China critical questions in relation to their domestic policies and the subsequent human rights violations, during its UPR.

Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and the TYAE took this opportunity to use this UPR as a platform to draw media attention to the plight of the Tibetans in Tibet. The collaboration was already discussed and initiated during the Summer Action Camp in Dusseldorf. After weeks of planning and preparation in the Swiss mountains, the campaign was finally realized.

A group consisting of approx. 20 people ran through the time schedule and different steps in a small apartment for three days, because the smallest mistake would have led to the failure of the campaign.  Their experiences from the action camps in Dusseldorf as well as in Hoch-Ybrig, was immensely valuable for the TYAE activists because there, they already encountered certain situations and learnt how to behave and react during mock-actions they set up. On the 22nd October 2013, three scenes were selected as the main places for their action and for media attention. The banner action at the UNO building was the main campaign while a mock-play was set up on the Palace de Wilson. At the same time, a lobbying team was inside the UNO building and spoke to member states.

At seven in the morning, the Banner action team had to be set and ready in order to make their way, unnoticed to the UNO area – past the security personnel – and get themselves positioned. The mock play group that was in touch with the media and was in charge of giving the go-ahead for the banner action, also had to be ready at seven in the morning at Palace de Wilson in order to coordinate the event with the media. Shortly before sunrise, the activists who were waiting at the UNO building got the go-ahead via walkie-talkie to unfurl the banner. For one hour, the various pressmen were able to take their photos and to record the “Free Tibet” slogans of the four activists. While the police were busy with the activists who unfurled the banner, a fifth activist was able to speak to the media unnoticed on the side of the events and gave two interviews. He then left the area via the main exit while the four activists with the banner were detained for four hours. The banner action as well as the campaign at the Place the Wilson was a great success and it was widely reported via various media outlets like the ARD News. We therefore managed to take a political stance for the Tibetans inside Tibet.