Speaker Penpa Tsering (left) and Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay addressing the press in New Delhi on January 29, 2013. (Phayul photo)
NEW DELHI, January 29: On the eve of the four-day Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign in New Delhi, the speaker of the Tibetan Parliament and the de facto
Tibetan prime minster today jointly addressed a press conference at the Press Club of India here.
Over 100 media personnel attended the conference which began with the screening of the documentary ‘What is China doing in Tibet’ released by the Dharmahsala based Central Tibetan Administration.
Speaking first, Speaker Penpa Tsering of the Tibetan Parliament warned that the situation inside Tibet is “getting more and more grim.”
“Therefore, the Tibetan cabinet and the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile have jointly decided to come to Delhi for the first time in the history of our struggle to organise a four-day programme to seek the attention of our host country as well as the international community to call upon the Chinese government to look into the causes of why Tibetans are self-immolating,” he said.
Despite repeated appeals by the exile Tibetan administration, 99 Tibetans have set themselves on fire protesting Chinese rule and demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 2009.
Introducing the solidarity campaign from January 30 – February 2, Speaker Tsering announced that India’s former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani would be among a host of top Indian leaders addressing the first day of the campaign tomorrow at the Talkatora Stadium.
Over the next four days various events such as peace marches, interfaith prayers, day-long fasting, public address by Indian leaders, lobbying efforts with foreign diplomats among others will be held.
Speaker Tsering noted that the mass prayer meeting on February 1 will be presided by Kyabje Gaden Tri Rinpoche, the first throne holder of Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism of Indian origin.
Speaking next, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people, said China’s policies of political repression, cultural assimilation, population transfer, racial discrimination, economic and education marginalisation and environmental destruction were the causes behind the self-immolations in Tibet.
The de facto
Tibetan prime minister noted that 70 per cent of economic enterprises in the so called Tibetan Autonomous Region are owned or run by Chinese, while 40 per cent Tibetan college and high school graduates are unemployed.
“Facing such repressive policies and with no freedom of speech or expression, Tibetans are resorting to the drastic way of protest by setting fire to themselves,” Sikyong Sangay said. “It reflects the desperation as well as the determination of the Tibetan people to protest with their lives.”
Speaking about the strong historical, cultural, and academic bond that Indians and Tibetans share and the security threat currently imposed by China, the Harvard law graduate noted that Tibet “ought to be one of the core issues of India vis-à-vis China.”
He ascertained that the Tibetan movement is “very much made in India,” arguing that the democracy that Tibetans practice is inspired by India and Tibet’s policy of non-violence follows Mahatma Gandhi’s notion of Ahimsa. Many of the Tibetan leaders, including Speaker Tsering and himself have been born and brought up in India, he added.
“Indian government and people have extended so much support to the Tibetans for which we are eternally grateful,” Sikyong Sangay said. “But we would like to see a little bit more given the gravity of the situation in Tibet.”
More than 5000 Tibetans have converged in the national capital from all over India, Nepal, and Bhutan to take part in the solidarity events. Over 1500 Indian supporters are also expected to take part in the campaign.
At the press club, a travelling exhibition on Tibetan history and culture titled, ‘Looking Homeward’ and a ten-panel photo exhibition on the self-immolation protests were displayed.