May 8, 2008

Tibet: Putting China’s “Catastrophic” Record Before The European Parliament

Sample ImageTibet’s Minister for Information and International Relations, Ms. Takla, used an invitation from the European Parliament (EP) yesterday to inform MEPs of the current situation in Tibet

Below is an article published by Human Rights Without Frontiers:

On 6 May, Ms Kesang Yangkyi Takla, the minister for information and international relations of the Tibetan government in exile was jointly invited by the Sub-committee of human rights and the Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament to expose the current situation in Tibet. More than 200 people attended the meeting, including an important number of MEPs: Hélène Flautre; chair of the Subcommittee; Thomas Mann, president of the Tibet Intergroup; Marco Cappato, Parliament’s rapporteur on Human Rights in the World; Dirk Sterckx, chair of the EP Delegation for Relations with China; Richard Howitt, Edit Bauer, Eva Lichtenberger, Marios Matzakis, Vytautas Landbergis, former president of Lithuania, and others.

“The situation is catastrophic”, she said, “as the religious and ethnic repression has led to violence and discrimination.” Tibetans have been colonized and they have become second-rank Chinese citizens. The knowledge of the Chinese language has been imposed on the local population as a pre-condition to access to employment. This explains the anger of the numerous unemployed Tibetans.

Ms Kesang Yangkyi Takla also denounced the “reeducation” of Tibetan monks carried out in Buddhist monasteries. Basically, they have to show their allegiance to the Communist regime by criticizing the Dalai Lama. However, Beijing is constantly insulting their spiritual leader and accusing him of plotting against China although the Dalai Lama has always advocating the use of non-violence to resolve conflicts. “Imagine that the Pope would be insulted in the same way. How do you think the Catholics inside and outside China would feel?”, she added.

Thomas Mann, the president of the Tibet Intergroup, stressed that the appointment of an EU Special Representative for Tibet at the Parliament is more urgent than ever. “We need a Special Representative to report regularly on the human rights situation in Tibet and to serve as a negotiation partner of the Tibetans in exile,” he said. “China should give him total access to Tibet,” he added. Ms Kesang Yangkyi Takla welcomed such an idea and considered that an EU Representative could put some pressure on China before and after the Olympics.

MEP Vytautas Landsbergis raised the issue of a genuine autonomy of Tibet inside China. Ms Kesang Yangkyi Takla answered that the Tibetans could have their autonomy in internal matters such as education, culture, religion, environment while Beijing would be competent for national defense, foreign affairs, etc.

As the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, had recently been very enthusiastic about the recent meeting between an envoy of the Dalai Lama and Beijing and had qualified it “a big step forward”, several MEPs wanted to know if this event constituted the beginning of a real negotiation or just a cosmetic process meant to calm down the international community. Ms Kesang Yangkyi Takla first recalled that since 2002 six rounds of talks with Beijing had been totally unproductive. “There has then never been any beginning of a negotiation,” she said and real negotiations had not started either at the last meeting that had been largely publicized by the international media.