December 3, 2008
Ahead of the Dalai Lama’s visit to the European Parliament, over five hundred officials have pledged to fast in support of Dharamsala’s ‘Middle Way’ policy.
Below is an article by UNPO:
Brussels, 3 December 2008 – At a press conference held this afternoon, the Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament reiterated its support for the ‘Middle Way’ – the policy being pursued by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in its negotiations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Opening the press conference, the Tibet Intergroup President, Mr. Thomas Mann MEP, spoke of the need to maintain a spirit of dialogue. The participation of over thirty members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and five hundred officials in a fast to coincide with the visit of the Dalai Lama to the European Parliament represented a “great success”
Mr. Mann went on to express his hope that the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, would use his forthcoming meeting with the Dalai Lama in Gdansk, Poland, on 6 December 2008 to show that the European Union would not give in to Beijing.
Echoing Mr. Mann’s comments, Ms. Eva Lichtenberger told journalists that she was “delighted” by the support the fast has received and called on members of the European institutions “to be consistent and clear” in the messages they sent to the PRC.
Ms. Lichtenberger noted that following the Olympic Games in August 2008 the situation for Tibetans had got worse and that the “Tibetan people need our support more than ever before”.
Mr. Marco Cappato MEP pressed for a unified approach to the Tibet issue from the international community. Two stories were being told, Mr. Cappato stated, one of which was true and the other which was not. In such circumstances the international community could not be neutral and had to come out in support of human rights in Tibet, and China as a whole.
Before opening the conference to questions, Mr. MacMillan-Scott MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, recalled his own visit to the PRC in 1996 and the subsequent detention by the Chinese authorities of those individuals with whom he had met. He believed that the timing of the fast was therefore “very significant” and it was crucial that the European Union remained committed to maintaining pressure on the PRC.
Answering questions from the assembled press, members of the Intergroup expressed their belief that the fast was an important sign, and one of which the Chinese authorities would take note. Mr. Cappato stated that the fast “means something for the Chinese” – going on to say that Beijing’s cancellation of the EU-China summit was in itself a demonstration of the value Beijing placed upon such symbolic acts.Note: The 10 April 2008 European Parliament resolution on Tibet can be accessed here.