South African Parliament Discusses Tibet
South African MPs brought the 50th anniversary of Tibetan Democracy in exile to the attention of the parliament and issued an invitation to the Dalai Lama to visit the country. Freedom Front Plus MP Corné Mulder called on the ANC government to recognise Tibet as an autonomous region and to help find a solution to human rights abuses.
Below is an article published by the Central Tibetan Administration:
Marking 50 years of Tibetan Democracy in-exile, South African MPs from opposition parties delivered four statements on Tibet, China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama and invited debate in the Parliament on 14th September chaired by Speaker Max Sisulu and attended by government ministers. More than eighty MPs wearing Tibetan ceremonial scarves (Khatag) and about hundred supporters led by South African Friends of Tibet (SAFT) were present in the House gallery to witness the afternoon proceeding.
The IFP MP Mr Mario-Ambrosini said in his statement: “We stand as friends of Tibet and as friends of China at a time when China is leading a new scramble for Africa. ….China will not change its ways in African until it changes its way in China. China will not change its ways in China until it rights its wrongs in Tibet. Tibet has become a turning point in history. …..We must turn the Tibetan issue into a new unifying cause which can again bring together democrats from across the world, as it happened in the worldwide rejection of apartheid.”
He further said, “Tibet is asking for what all Chinese deserve - limited autonomy and all fundamental rights entrenched in the UN Universal Declaration. This is what the 5th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet not only supported Tibetan autonomy and human rights but also stressed how its aim was that of supporting rather than antagonizing China.”
Democratic Alliance MP Ms Santosh Vinita Kalyan called on the government to grant Dalai Lama a visa to visit South Africa “at a time of his choosing.” The Freedom Front+ MP Corne Mulder said, “We would like to seriously call on ANC representatives in the Parliament today to give their support to the seeking of a peaceful solution for the human rights abuses by the Chinese government in Tibet, and the recognition of Tibet’s right to self-determination.”
Shortly before the statements, IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said to the local media representatives present at a parliamentary lunch held at Marks Building of the Parliament: “The issue of Tibet is becoming quintessential to the process of democratization in China. We appreciate the ever more important role China is playing internationally and in the political, social and economic arenas. For this reason, we feel that the cause of mankind demands of it to move speedily towards its democratization.”
“The cause of Tibet is a matter of principle. It is not a vote catcher, or an advancement in any popularity contest. Throughout my life I have paid huge prices, both at a personal and political level, to stand by principle and do and say what is right, irrespective of consequences” further adding “if we cannot find within ourselves the courage to speak up against the atrocities committed against the Tibetan people and in favor of autonomy of Tibet, then we must accept that our own democratic life is seriously ailing.”