Corby Council adopts Tibetan village of Rigul
Corby is to forge links with a Tibetan community after the borough council agreed to adopt the remote village of Rigul. The move means the council has become the first in Britain to formally partner a community in Tibet and it is hoped other places in the UK will follow suit.
From left, deputy leader of Corby Council Jean Addison, Margaret Richardson of the Rigul Trust, Paul Golding, of the London-based Tibet Society, and Cllr Bob Riley
A proposal for the link with Rigul, put forward by deputy leader Cllr Jean Addison and seconded by Cllr Chris Stanbra, was agreed at a full meeting of the council on Thursday (September 19). No public funding will be used but it is hoped residents and groups in the Corby area will support fundraising for Rigul’s school and health clinic, established by the charity, the Rigul Trust.
Cllr Chris Stanbra said: “This is about this council leading the way and making a stand. We should extend the hand of friendship and wouldn’t it be great if other places did the same.” Cllr Mary Butcher added: “These are a peaceful people who are losing their way of life. This is a way of showing that we care.”
The adoption of Rigul, a remote village high in the mountains of Kham (and now part part of China’s Sichuan province) was the idea of Councillor Bob Riley. Councillor Riley came across the idea in France having already been aware of the issue through the annual raising of the Tibetan flag on 10 March in nearby Northampton. The motion was proposed by the Jean Addison, Deputy Leader of Corby Council, and passed at a full council meeting on 19 September.
The adoption process is similar to twinning but requires no funding nor formal approval from the Chinese authorities. As such the council can choose to do what it wishes in terms of promoting the adoption. Members of Corby Council hope to put on cultural and fundarising events in the future, to raise funds for projects which will benefit the people of Rigul as well as promoting the issue of Tibet in general
Paul Golding, of the London-based Tibet Society, and Margaret Richardson, of the Rigul Trust, visited Corby last week to show support for the plan at a meeting organised by Cllr Bob Riley. They spoke of conditions under the Chinese regime, with Tibetans arrested and detained for printing political leaflets or even displaying a photograph of the Dalai Lama. Those arrested are tortured and many disappear without trace. The presentation included France24’s undercover video report from inside Tibet earlier this year and highlighted recent prisoner cases, including Dolma Gyab (sentenced to death for the alleged murder of his wife) and Ngawang Tobden (student imprisoned for two years for having ‘subversive’ images on his mobile phone).They are denied the right to education in their own language and possession of the Tibetan national flag is a crime.
Rigul Trusts would wish to thank the people of Corby and the Corby Council for taking this supportive initiative, and we hope that soon other city and town councils would also wish to step forward and follow their lead, to give a visible support to Tibetans living under such oppressive rule and trying to survive in very harsh conditions.