By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept 21: The Tibet Bureau office in Geneva on Monday testified before the Swiss parliamentarians. The hearing titled “Coherent implementation of the Swiss China Strategy: Role of Parliament in strengthening human rights” was organized by the Parliamentary group on Human Rights along with the Parliamentary group for Tibet and other support groups.
Two key speakers were Kalden Tsomo from the Tibet Bureau office in Geneva and representative Chimey Rigzen, and President of Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association Thomas Buchli, reported CTA’s website Tibet.net. The group urged the lawmakers to call on China to respect the rights to identify their own religious leaders without any state interference. The parliamentarians were asked to closely monitor China’s transnational censorship and influence operations within Switzerland, including the Swiss-Tibetan community as it has been exposed to espionage in the past.
The issue of switching from Tibetan to Mandarin in schools in Tibet was also one of the concerns of the group. “While expressing concern over China stepping up its stringent restrictions on the Tibetan language, the Tibetan language has been replaced by mandarin as a medium of instruction in schools in Tibet,” representative Kalden testified. She further urged the government of Switzerland to examine the human rights situation in China and regions under China’s control, and introduce a motion on reciprocal access to Tibet, following the footsteps of other Western countries.
The calls to the UN also included China’s repeated destruction of the Tibetan plateau’s fragile environment in the name of development. “The fundamental values and credibility of the Council is at stake,” the representative urged the UN council to make further assessment on environmental impact in Tibet.
Switzerland presented its first China strategy from 2021-2024 earlier this year. In June, the Swiss federal presented new guidelines for human rights diplomacy engagement, which are intended to strengthen its commitment to human rights in the world.