By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, October 31: South Korea has denied visa to five Tibetan delegates from India attending the Eighth Global Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Seoul beginning tomorrow (Nov.1), which coincided with the arrival of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for the East Asia Summit today.
Speaking to Phayul, Dhardon Sharling, one of the delegates and serving MP, said, “When the conference organizers contacted the embassy, they have been told that the decision (rejection of visa) is final and cannot be recalled. The political sensitivities surrounding the timing of our conference coinciding with Li Keqiang's visit to Seoul for the tri-lateral meeting contributed to this decision.”
Expressing concern over the decision made under Chinese pressure, she said, “It is very unfortunate that such tactful restrictions on movement of exile Tibetan advocates perpetuate the silencing of Tibetan voices in the global political discourse.”
However she said that it has not deterred them. In fact it has only bolstered their efforts to be more visible and vocal in the global arena, she said.
“We will continue to pursue various other means to make ourselves heard and visible despite being banned and gagged under the garb of global diplomacy,” said the youngest member of exiled Tibetan parliament.
The assembly originally invited eight delegates, five delegates from India that include Dhardon Sharling, Speaker Penpa Tsering, former minister (Kasur) Tenpa Tsering, Tsering Tsomo, Executive Director of TCHRD and Tenzin Jigdrel, International Coordinator of the International Tibet Network.
Disappointed by the missed opportunity to speak on Tibet at the event, Jigdrel said, “It is sad to see South Korea, a democratic country, succumb to Chinese pressure and deprive us of our freedom of expression.”
He also feels that democratic governments should cease such regressive action, citing a recent example where two Tibetan women and a Chinese activist were arrested for waving the Tibetan national flag in front of President Xi Jinping’s car during his UK state visit.
Jigdrel, who was supposed to speak on ‘Online and digital security’, said, “Our messages to the delegations attending the assembly will be shown as a video message.”
Over 450 democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and donors will attend the four-day meeting of people from more than 100 countries addressing issues such as ways to prevent transitions to democracy from breaking down, getting established democracies to re-commit to support democracy and help prevent backsliding of new democracy.