I am not a "thug". I am an ex-political prisoner from Tibet.

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An Australian media report this week revealed a Member of Parliament had called my friends and I “thugs” for staging a protest at the Chinese consulate in Sydney. The report - Craig Laundy and the Chinese connection - is the latest in a string of media investigations into Chinese infiltration in Australia and one that shows how China is undermining the Tibet movement.

I am not a “thug”. I am a former political prisoner from Tibet.

My name is Tsering Gyamtso. I am from Kham province of Tibet. In 2008, I took part in the nation-wide uprising against China’s occupation of my homeland and was imprisoned for two years. I was 15 years old.

Three years ago, I found safety and freedom in Australia. I am part of Sydney’s Tibetan community, many of whom are former political prisoners like myself.

In 2015, when we heard that highly-respected Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had died under mysterious circumstances in Chinese custody, I joined our community’s demonstration at the Chinese consulate. Had I done this in Tibet, the Chinese government would have imprisoned and tortured me for years.

China is today exporting not just cheap products to the free world, but also dictatorship and lies, especially on issues such as Tibet. Australia, a free and democratic country, can not let this happen on its soil. The recent media reports on China’s growing influence in Australian politics is a wake-up call for all.

As citizens, we can demand our elected representatives to do the right thing and stand up for justice.

Please join me in telling the truth about Tibet.

Thank you.

Tsering Gyamtso
Former political prisoner from Tibet & member of Sydney Tibetan community

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