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tibet-africa-2012Dharamshala: - Ms Dicki Chhoyang, minister (Kalon) of the Department of Information and International Relations, concluded her visit to South Africa on 22 August with a press briefing on the current situation inside Tibet which was broadcast on nationwide South African public broadcasting network.

During her stay in the country, she met with members of parliament, different levels of government as well as members of the community. Throughout her meetings, Kalon Chhoyang reiterated the urgency of the current situation in Tibet and the Tibetan people's hope that the South Africans, through their first-hand experience with apartheid, will understand the importance of having the international community stand in solidarity with its peaceful struggle against Chinese oppression.

"Fundamentally, the Tibetan struggle is about a people's fight for its right to exist with its own distinct cultural identity and language within the provisions of the Chinese constitution. This includes the right to practice their religion openly and without hindrance from the State as permitted in all free countries. We are not seeking to secede from China" re-affirms Kalon Chhoyang.

Since 2009, 49 Tibetans have self-immolated to express their emphatic rejection of Chinese repressive policies in Tibetan areas. All have called for greater freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. "Despite Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangay's (democratically-elected political leader) appeal to not resort to such drastic actions, Tibetans inside Tibet have continued to do so because there is no conventional space for protest. Hence, we feel a moral obligation to speak on their behalf and appeal to all people of conscience to stand in solidarity with them" states Kalon Chhoyang.

South Africa has embarked on an economic partnership with China within the parameters of BRICS. We all wish this partnership to be successful for its participants and for the entire world. However, this partnership also carries the responsibility of not only sharing economic interests, but also sharing values.

Especially, those values for which South Africa has become an acknowledged world leader: human rights protection and democracy. Therefore, the people of Tibet have great expectations that the people of South Africa may exercise moral leadership. South Africa may not be the most powerful country in BRICS, but it surely is one which can lead with its values and wisdom.

"The contribution that Tibetans wish to make to the world is that of asserting the value of non-violence as a tool of political action and bringing to the fore the universal fraternity of all human beings irrespective of race and religion. In an age where we seek to resolve conflicts peacefully, the international community must stand behind these principles by supporting movements, such as the Tibetan struggle, which are firmly committed to non-violence and dialogue" states Kalon Chhoyang.

As Tibetan areas where self-immolations took place have been closed to the international press and community, the Central Tibetan Administration encourages foreign governments and international bodies to pursue efforts to send fact-finding delegations.

The Central Tibetan Administration maintains a permanent presence on the African continent through the Office of Tibet based in Pretoria.

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