Screen Shot 2017 10 25 at 19.51.54Andy Hughes
Chief Operating Officer
Liverpool Football Club
Anfield Road
Liverpool
L4 0TH

25 September 2017

Dear Mr Hughes,

We are following up on the letter we sent to you on 2 August 2017 concerning the recent sponsorship deal Liverpool Football Club has entered into with Tibet Water Resources Ltd (TWRL), to which we have as yet not had a response. As we raised in our previous letter, we are seriously concerned about Liverpool FC’s deal with TWRL; a company which is only able to commercially exploit Tibet's resources due to the sustained and highly repressive rule over Tibet by China.

We remain open to arranging a meeting with you, Mr Henry or any of the Directors, to be able to fully discuss our concerns, which include to what extent due diligence has been carried out by Liverpool FC in advance of signing the commercial contract with TWRL.

As stated in our previous letter, while we understand the Club’s desire to grow its China market, given the Premiership’s growing fan base in Asia, we also are keen to emphasise the global support for Tibet. The six decade long occupation of Tibet has led to dire circumstances that renowned human rights organisations class to be among the most severe in the world1, and it is as a result of this occupation that companies such as TWRL are able to operate in the country and exploit its resources, without the consent of the Tibetan people.

China’s repressive policies and a severe and worsening security crackdown have created a crisis in occupied-Tibet. Since 2008 there has been a surge in protests by Tibetans in Tibet with demonstrators calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. China’s response to such protests has been brutal, with reports of armed police attacking and beating demonstrators and, in a number of cases, opening fire, killing peaceful protesters and seriously injuring many more. A wave of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople has seen at least 150 confirmed self-immolation protests by Tibetans in Tibet. More than 100 of the protesters have died.

In late July we started receiving messages of concern from Liverpool FC supporters, many of whom flagged China's human rights track record in Tibet, and the reputation damage that the TWRL deal risks causing to their team, and we are aware that a growing number of these supporters have appealed directly to the club to raise their concerns.

We would also like to restate that we are aware of the respect accorded to Liverpool FC, both within the UK and the rest of the world, and as groups dedicated to the protection of human rights and best business practice we applaud the club’s strong commitment to  human rights2.

We would also like to take this opportunity to renew our request for a meeting with you and other members of Liverpool FC’s board of directors at a time and place of your choosing in order to discuss the human rights situation in Tibet and to outline why Tibetans, Tibet supporters and LFC fans are now urging the club to terminate its relationship with TWRL.You can respond to us by contacting Tibet Society's Head of Advocacy, Gloria Montgomery on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you once again for your consideration of this important matter.

Yours sincerely

Tibet Society

1 Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2017, available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2017/tibet; Amnesty International, Annual report 2016/2017 - The State of the World's Human Rights (Index: MDE 29/5470/2016), available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2017/02/amnesty-international-annual-report-201617/; Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017 - China and Tibet, 12 January 2017, available at: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/china-and-tibet.

2 Liverpool Football Club, Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Limited Anti-Slavery and Anti-Trafficking Statement, 30 November 2016, available at: http://www.liverpoolfc.com/corporate/anti-slavery

XiJinping FiveYearsofFailureInTibetTibet groups around the world have launched a campaign to press Liverpool FC to terminate a controversial deal with Chinese water bottling company Tibet Water Resources Limited (1). er is harmful to both Tibetans and Liverpool FC's reputation. Consumer group SumOfUs have now joined with Tibet groups to encourage as many people as possible to press Liverpool FC's ownership for an end to the deal (3).

The campaign calls on Liverpool FC's owner, John W. Henry, to terminate the deal with Tibet Water due to the ethical concerns over dealing with a company operating in occupied Tibet, the scene of some the worst and longest-running human rights abuses in the world (2).

Tibet organisations, including Free Tibet and Tibet Society have written to Liverpool FC's owner and directors to alert them to the serious situation in Tibet and how their deal with Tibet Wat

The deal, signed on 24 July, makes Tibet Water Liverpool FC's official regional water partner in China and offers the company a range of promotional and marketing rights. Reports about the deal state that Liverpool FC, one of the world’s biggest football clubs with a growing Asian fan base, will also offer Tibet Water social media support and access to current players and legendary players from the club's history.

Noticeably absent from the deal are the Tibetan people, who have been living under a harsh military occupation since the Chinese military invaded in 1950. Under China’s occupation, Tibet has become one of the most closed and repressive places on earth (3), with human rights watchdogs recording a range of abuses. Tibetans are arrested and held in detention for “crimes” as small as flying the Tibetan national flag, sharing information about the situation in Tibet to the outside world or simply displaying a picture of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (4).

Under the occupation, a new invasion of Chinese companies has taken place, with Tibet, once a remote country with a pristine environment, now crisscrossed with mines to dig up its natural resources. There has been a boom in water bottling companies arriving in Tibet (5), drawn by the fact that Tibet is the source of some of Asia's largest rivers, which flow as far as Bangladesh and Vietnam and provide water to roughly a fifth of the world's population(6). The glaciers on Tibet's mountain peaks feed into these rivers and are prized by water bottling companies for their purity.

Tibet Groups around the world have expressed concerns that these water bottling, mining and extraction activities in Tibet are only able to take place due to China's military occupation. Tibetans have been given no say over how their resources are used and have expressed widespread opposition to their natural resources being taken, regularly defying police to carry out environmental protests across Tibet (7).

Since the deal was signed Tibetans and Tibet campaigners in the UK have attended Liverpool matches to hand out information to inform supporters about the implications of Liverpool FC’s links to Tibet’s occupation. Liverpool FC fans have also been in contact with Free Tibet and Tibet Society directly to express their serious concerns about the agreement signed by their club.

Gloria Montgomery, Head of Advocacy at Tibet Society, said:

“The global response to our campaign shows that when it comes to human rights violations, companies like Liverpool FC and Tibet Water cannot expect business as usual. With so many people now watching, Liverpool FC ‘s directors must decide on which side they stand. Either they follow the growing trend of businesses and brands which respect human rights or they choose to join those who put profits first, by legitimising the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the abuses that help prop it up.”

John Jones, Campaigns and Communications Manager at Free Tibet said:

“While a deal with a company based in Tibet might sound like an attractive and exotic opportunity, the reality for the Tibetan people is very different. Companies like Tibet Water that extract Tibet’s resources cannot be separated from the Chinese government’s brutal occupation and human rights abuses. Liverpool FC’s directors owe it to Tibetans and their fans to learn about the repression that Tibet’s people live under and then reverse course. Terminating this dangerous deal will send a clear signal that Liverpool FC rejects any association with human rights abuses.”

Hanna Thomas, Campaign and Culture Director at SumOfUs, said:

“Tibet Water owes its profits to the repression, torture and denial of basic political freedoms meted out by the Chinese military occupation of Tibet. Liverpool FC is normalising this brutal regime — lending it an air of legitimacy through its deal with Tibet Water. The club should be using its enormous power and wealth to promote basic freedoms and rights across the world, not help deny them.”

The full list of organisations taking part in this campaign are:

Tibet Society UK

Free Tibet

SumOfUs

Associazione Italia Tibet

Auckland Tibetan Association

Australia Tibet Committee

Boston Tibet Network

Finnish Tibet Committee

France Tibet

Friends of Tibet New Zealand

India Tibet Friendship Society

International Tibet Network Secretariat

Lungta: Tibet Support Group Belgium

Students for a Free Tibet International, UK, India and Japan

Tibetan Community in Britain

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibet Justice Center

Tibet Patria Libre, Uruguay

Tibet Support Committee Denmark

Tibet Support Group Ireland

Tibetan Women’s Association

Tibetan Youth Association Europe

US Tibet Committee

Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Eastern Turkestan and Inner Mongolia

-ends-

Contacts:

Gloria Montgomery, Tibet Society

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7923 0021

John Jones, Free Tibet

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Sondhya Gupta, SumOfUs

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: +44 (0)781 118 6937

Notes for editors

Liverpool FC's press release about the deal can be found here: http://www.liverpoolfc.com/news/announcements/269478-lfc-announces-tibet-water-resources-ltd-partnership
The US-based human rights and democracy organisation Freedom House ranks occupied Tibet as the second worst place in the world for political rights and civil liberties, behind only Syria. Their 2017 report is available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2017/tibet See also Amnesty International, Annual report 2016/2017 - The State of the World's Human Rights: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2017/02/amnesty-international-annual-report-201617 and Human Rights Watch, World Report 2017 - China and Tibet:, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/china-and-tibet
The campaign can be accessed through the websites of the participating organisations, and via the International Tibet Network’s website here: https://actions.tibetnetwork.org/tell-liverpool-fc-drop-its-sponsorship-deal-tibet-water
For example, in 20014, Tibetan monk Thardhod Gyaltsen was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being caught in possession of portraits and recordings of the Dalai lama during a raid on his monastery by security forces: http://www.thetibetpost.com/en/news/tibet/3963-china-jails-senior-monk-from-tibets-driru-county-for-18-years
TWRL is one of a number of Chinese water bottling companies operating in Tibet with the backing of the Chinese government. In 2014, under an initiative called “Sharing Tibet’s Water with the world”, the regional government of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) signed contracts with sixteen major companies to expand the water bottling industry in Tibet and, in November 2015, announced a new ten-year plan to expand the industry, with a target of 10 million tonnes of bottled water production by 2025. The expansion – a seventy-fold increase over the capacity in 2014 – is being incentivised with significant tax breaks to companies and a lower extraction fee for water than elsewhere in China.
See, for example: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-rivers-asia/melting-mountains-put-millions-at-risk-in-asia-study-idUSTRE6594TG20100610
For more information on Tibet's environmental protests, see this report by Tibet Watch: http://www.tibetwatch.org/uploads/2/4/3/4/24348968/environmental_protests_on_the_tibetan_plateau.pdf

 

Media Contacts

For more information about a current Tibet Society's campaign or to if you would like to arrange an interview, please contact our Head of Advocacy, Gloria Montgomery at

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

+44 20 7923 0021
London, UK.

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Support Tibet Society

Tibet Society, the world’s first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. Annual membership £28; Family £36; Life £500.