Dharamshala — Tibetan President, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, kicked off his three-country Europe visit in Switzerland on January 21st, addressing Tibetan communities in Switzerland and Brussels before meeting with European Parliament.
The President addressed 250 Tibetan students and their parents and teachers at the closing ceremony of the 5th Tibetan Language Competition, a yearly competition held amongst Tibetan schools in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, speaking of preservation of identity and pursuit of dignity as the crux of the Tibetan cause.
"As we witness the fourth generation of Tibetans in exile grow up, I urge the younger generation to pursue the study of what makes us true Tibetans and to make it a part of their daily life. It would be of great loss and shame if we were to lose our Identity even if we were able to achieve the genuine autonomy we sought or the independence," the President added.
The President also met with the Tibetan community in Brussels on January 22nd, briefing the community on the efforts of the government in exile and urging them to make sure their children were upholding the Tibetan language and culture.
Dr Sangay spoke of the significance of this year which marks the beginning of the 60th year of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s journey into exile followed by thousands of Tibetans, and also of 60 years of Tibet invasion of China which he said is a “tragic chapter in the Tibet’s history.” However, he added that the last sixty years of Tibetan community in exile has been a “story of success”.
While in Brussels, the Tibetan President also met with Jan Peter Peumans, the speaker of the Flemish Parliament, and Belgian parliamentarian Sabina De Bethune on January 23rd.
Dr Sangay raised concern over the present critical Human Rights situation in Tibet and also of the deteriorating environment health of Tibet and the Tibetan plateaus, which poses a great threat not just Tibet but also to Asia and the rest of the world as the Water Tower of Asia and as the Third Pole of the world for being the largest repository of the ice fields outside of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Touching upon Xi Jinping’s call for ushering a new era of "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, which essentially means no liberal democracy, no human rights, no freedom of speech and no environmental right,” he said. In dealing with China, Dr Sangay suggested that the choice the liberal democracies would have is to either accept and become more like China or to stand their ground and make China become like them.
During the meeting, Parliamentarian Sabina De Bethune expressed her support for Human Rights and her commitment to raise Tibet issue.
The President's visit also included attending the Tibet Interest Group (TIG) meeting at the European parliament held on January 24th. Chaired by Thomas Mann, Member of European Parliament and the president of the Tibet Interest Group, Dr Sangay thanked all the Members of European Parliament who voted in favor of the resolution passed recently calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Tibetan monk Choekyi and language advocate Tashi Wangchuk.
Speaking of 60 years in exile, Dr Sangay added that though 60 years have passed, as a Buddhist and believer in reincarnation, Tibetans have persisted and so has the hope for Tibet.
In light of growing presence of China in Europe, Dr Sangay highlighted how the Belt and Road initiative very much replicates the same pattern of China’s invasion of Tibet, that saw military invasion under one road disguised in the name of development, peace and prosperity.
The meeting was attended by European Parliamentarians Thomas Mann, Csaba Sogor, Laszlo Tokes, Tunne Kelam and Moly Scott along with 17 MEP staffers and Representative Tashi Phuntsok of OOT Brussels and ICT executive director Tsering Jampa.
Set up in 1989, Tibet Interest Group have since played pivotal role in raising Tibet issue and being vocal in support of the interest of the Tibetan people and for a constructive dialogue between the Central Tibetan Administration and the People’s of Republic of China. The Group had earlier called on the French President to use the opportunity of his China visit to revive the dialogue between the Representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and China.
Dr Sangay who is on his three-nation Europe visit will leave for France today.