Paris, France — 'Nothing has changed in Tibet, the situation is grim,' the Tibetan political leader Dr Lobsang Sangay Friday said, urging Tibet Support Groups to make their voice louder and magnify the issue of Tibet.
"Your support and the support of our Tibet Support Groups worldwide mean a lot to us. Together we can achieve our aspiration," Dr Lobsang Sangay expressed his appreciation to the Tibet supporters, saying he had come to thank each and everyone for their support for Tibetan cause.
Thousans of Tibetans and Tibet supporters from across Europe gathered in Paris on March 14, for the Europe Stands for Tibet Rally. The rally was organised by the Tibetan Communities and Tibet Support Groups in Europe.
'The Europe Stands for Tibet rally will send a strong message to Lhasa and Beijing. Let us work together until our dream is reached and liberty is achieved," Dr Lobsang Sangay said on the second day of a four-day visit to France.
"The situation in Tibet is grim, nothing has changed, in fact it has gotten worse," said Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay while addressing the Ivy Plus European Leaders & Harvard Club of France where over 130 alumni from Ivy League colleges based in Paris attended.
He said surveillance cameras had been installed all over major urban centres in Tibetan areas, and that Tibetans had been issued with "identity cards with second-generation high-tech chips."
"The security surveillance has been increased and the introduction of second-generation chips ID cards to monitor the movements of Tibetans by the Chinese security authorities. Every 30 meters or so, there are security check post all over the towns and cities in Tibet," he added.
"That means if you show it to any hotel or any check point, they will know exactly where you are from because all your biometrics are in that second-generation ID card."
"It's almost like a reminder of North Korea or East Germany or the apartheid regime -- the control over Tibetan people, their every movement."
Sangay said that on certain sensitive dates -- such as the March 10 anniversary of the start of the 1959 uprising -- "you will see shooters on roof tops of the Tibetan capital Lhasa looking at Tibetans with their binoculars and guns."
"If you go to any of the major monasteries, just outside the gates there is a military camp."
"The Chinese authorities are spending more on security surveillance than funding for the village schools".
Sikyong said he met a journalist the previous day who had been to Tibet several times. The journalist told him that he had visited a school at a remote Tibetan village, which was in a poor condition. But on the entrance gate to the village, there were four to five video cameras.
'Tibetans have witnessed repression in Tibet at an unprecedented level since the occupation of Tibet by China,' he stressed, adding 'Tibet is not only vital to the 6 million Tibet. Today it is also called the Third Pole as it holds the third largest reserve of glacier after Artic and Antarctica.'
10 rivers start in Tibet. Tibet is vital source of water for the region in Asia. More than 1 billion people depend on the water from Tibet. 20 per cent of the world population lives in China, which has only 8 per cent of fresh water supply.
There will be shortage of water due to the deforestation and melting of glacier in Tibet. China has been building lots of dams on rivers in Tibet. Some say dams will be even larger than the Three Gorges Dam in China.
There will be huge environmental destruction and there are fears in India that the rivers will be diverted to China. 'There are concerns amongst experts that soon there will be war over water,' he said.
As countries grow increasingly reluctant to go against economic powerhouse China. Sangay acknowledged this, but said Western countries did not need to make a choice between doing business with China and supporting greater Tibetan autonomy.
He pointed out that business between the United States and China appeared to go on as usual despite US President Barack Obama's public encounter last month with the Dalai Lama in Washington, which was slammed by Beijing.
"Money is important, so you must have business engagement with China. At the same time, you should stand up for your moral values," he said.
"Otherwise you come to France... the country of liberty, and you find that the very word French people take pride in is not supported when it's actually needed."
Sangay also reiterated his belief that the non-violent model of resistance in Tibet was preferable.
"It's a bit frightening. Marginalised groups around the world will notice that the headlines, the front page news is all about conflicts, and violence and beheadings and burning of people. That's what gets more attention and the discourse at the international level is about how many arms... and how many tanks to send," he said.
"So people might think that's the option to pursue. But we believe that's the wrong option. Non-violence in the long-run is beneficial for all sides, hence Tibet as a non-violent model is very important."
In an answers to a questions about what he would ask from Europe, Dr. Lobsang Sangay said, "Live up to the principles on which your countries were founded. The French revolution fought for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. I ask for that liberty for the Tibetan people."
He said that there was growing number of Chinese in China who are Buddhist. It is estimated that there are about 300 to 400 million Buddhists in China that is larger than the Chinese Communist Party membership. The day's last program was a meeting with Presidents of the Tibetan Communities in Europe.
Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay also thanked the Presidents of the Tibetan Communities in Europe for organizing the Europe Stands for Tibet rally.
"This rally is a show of public support. It is important for the Tibetans in Tibet to know our solidarity with them," he said. "On behalf of Kashag, I would like to thank you."