Amsterdam, January 12: Tibetan representative of UNPO, Mr. Ngawang Choephel addressed the Third Committee of the United Nations International Student Conference Amsterdam (UNISCA) on the plight of Tibet. Over the course of this week students from across the globe, representing countries from Australia to Zimbabwe, will simulate a session of the Third Committee, in which issues surrounding the general theme of Human Rights dominate the agenda. Specifically, this year’s agenda deals with the Ethical Dimension of Biotechnology, Gender Equality: Eliminating Violence against Women, as well as The Rights of Tibetans. In order to brief the students on the latter topic, Mr. Choephel was asked to prepare a lecture.
Having fled Tibet at the age of 2, Mr. Choephel provided the students with a witness report on how life is for a Tibetan refugee. Recalling the human tragedies that occur when families are torn up when they flee Tibet, the students were visibly moved. Mr. Choephel, as a Tibetan refugee, decided to work for the cause of his people, first in Dharamsala and later in Geneva where he currently lives. Having all this experience on the Tibetan issue, Mr. Choephel can rightfully be called an expert on the Tibetan cause and the work of the Tibetan lobby at the United Nations.
As for input on the debate the students attending the Third Committee of UNISCA will be having this week, Mr. Choephel addressed the issues of religious freedom, especially in relation to the Panchen Lama, but also the environmental degradation in Tibet and the cultural changes Tibet is undergoing due to resettlement of Tibetans out of and ethnic Han Chinese into Tibet. Furthermore, Mr. Choephel gave several examples of China’s crackdown on Tibetans, including outlining the case of a man arrested at a horse festival
in fall last year [1 August 2007].
He also stressed the fact that the Tibetans do not wish to become a state separated from China. Instead he explained how the Tibetan government in exile strives for an autonomously ruled Tibetan state within the present state of China. However, he also recalled how the current Tibetan Autonomous Region is just a small part of the entire Tibetan autonomous region as it should be.
Reactions from students and organizing staff after the lecture were extremely positive. All students in the committee had been doing mandatory background reading, as UNISCA is an officially accredited university course at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). However, as one student said, “getting a testimony from someone [from Tibet] is so much different from reading facts, you are better able to form a picture [and] sympathize. […] It has made me realize that these conflicts have been dragging on for too long and that it is up to our generation so solve it – maybe now in a simulation, but hopefully also in real life”.
For more information on the United Nations International Student Conference Amsterdam (UNISCA), please visit: www.unisca.orgMr. Ngawang Choephel is also special correspondent to Phayul.com and founder of Tibetan UN Advocacy (Geneva).