Solidarity prayer vigil for Tibetan self-immolators and their families in front of the UN office in Geneva on March 5, 2013.
DHARAMSHALA, March 6: Around 200 Tibetans from all over Switzerland took part in a special solidarity prayer vigil in front of the United Nations office in Geneva yesterday.
The exiled abbot of the Kirti Monastries, Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche, led the prayer service for the 107 Tibetans who have self-immolated since 2009 protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
The UN is currently holding its Human Rights Council’s 22nd Session which began February 25 and will conclude on March 22.
Kirti Rinpoche, who is currently on a six-nation lobbying tour of Europe, said each Tibetan must shoulder the responsibility for the preservation of Tibetan religion and culture and to be the torchbearer of the Tibetan struggle based on non-violence.
“We must answer the call for help from our fellow Tibetans in Tibet,” said the former Tibetan cabinet minister. “Our aim is for immediate results but we must be prepared to continue our struggle for generations to come.”
He reiterated that the Tibetan struggle is based on non-violence as advocated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“We are not against the Chinese people,” Rinpoche said. “We are against the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet.”
He stressed that the Chinese government’s continued brutal repression in Tibet is not in the long-term interest of the Tibetan people as well as China. “We have had enough of China’s repression and oppression in Tibet,” he added.
Rinpoche also thanked the organisers of the vigil, the Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein and the participants who had travelled from different parts of Switzerland.
Kirti Rinpoche concluded his address by reading a letter addressed to the UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon. He stated that the UN must hold China accountable for its “blatant atrocities being perpetrated against the Tibetans” and called on China to honour the pledges it has made to the UN, especially towards religious freedom and human rights.
In the evening, Kirti Rinpoche attended the global rights group Human Rights Watch’s side event at the UN on “The criminalisation of human rights defenders in China.”
The ongoing session of the HRC, during the week of 4 to 8 March, will hold interactive dialogues with a number of its Special Procedures. On 4 March, it held a meet with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food, who after his visit to China in 2010, had called for the suspension of the non-voluntary resettlement of Tibetan nomadic herders from their traditional lands.
On 5 March, the Council held interactive dialogues with the Working Group on arbitrary detention, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Working Group on enforced disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.