By Tenzin Dharpo
A Tibetan paying his last respects to Tashi Namgyal draped in Tibetan flag/Oct. 4, 2017
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 4: Tibetans in Switzerland earlier today paid their last respects to Tashi Namgyal, a Tibetan asylum seeker who committed suicide last month reportedly calling for Tibet’s independence, Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet and asylum for Tibetans in Switzerland. The Tibetan youth’s remains was cremated as per Buddhist customs, after 28 days in Lucerne after an emotional ceremony organized by local Tibetans there.
Tashi Namgyal, 32, killed himself while laying on the railway-track between Emmenbrücke station and Olten station in Lucerne and was fatally run over by the oncoming train in the early hours of Sept. 7. The identity of the Tibetan youth could not be ascertained earlier prompting the Lucerne public prosecutor's office to issue a public notice for the identification of the deceased.
Local Tibetans from Switzerland at the memorial ceremony of the late Tashi Namgyal at Lucerne, Switzerland. Sept. 4, 2017. photo by Phayul source
The postmortem and verification process of the identity of the deceased delayed the last rites, a source told Phayul. Lobsang Palden, who first approached the Swiss police to identify the deceased, said that the authorities did not want to leave any stones unturned in verifying that the deceased was indeed Namgyal. “A lengthy procedure requiring all legal documents such as birth certificate as well as blood sample from the mother of the deceased from India for DNA matching finally confirmed the apparent,” Palden told Phayul.
The local Swiss police also released images of the suicide note left by the Tibetan youth who called for “Independence from Chinese rule in Tibet, freedom for Tibet, Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (to Tibet) and asylum for Tibetans” which was addressed to the United Nations and the Swiss government.
The letter stated that there is “no human rights, no religious freedom, no freedom of expression,” in his native Tibet which he compared to “hell” under Chinese rule and questioned why the global watch dog, UNO is stagnated with inaction when it comes to Tibet.
Namgyal also wrote in the two page letter that he “felt hopeless” after the Swiss government is planning to deport 300 Tibetans whose asylum applications were turned down. “This is my humble request to the Swiss government, we the Tibetan people really need your and world support in such difficult situation we Tibetan people are facing,” the deceased appealed in his last latter.
The last part of the letter addressed to his family read, “love you all my family member, in taking this step with my own decision with something good cause for Tibet and Tibetan people and hope you all will understand with my decision, love you all.”
Over 350 Tibetans as well as representative of the office of Tibet in Geneva attended the memorial organized by the Tibetan Community in Switzerland & Liechtenstein along with the Lucerne Tibetan community there.
TCSL President Tenzin Nyingbu said that while taking one’s life for Tibet is an act of sacrifice, they urge Tibetans there to refrain from such acts and instead contribute to the Tibetan struggle in life. “While we must honor him as a martyr, it should not encourage others to take such steps,” Nyingbu said at the ceremony. TSCL has also appealed to the Swiss Immigration office to look into the case of the 300 Tibetans whose asylum applications were deemed inadmissible.
Since June last year, Tibetans were officially recognized to be Chinese indicating a shift in the Swiss government’s foreign policy towards Tibet and deemed it to be a part of People’s Republic of China. Although the Berne administration has claimed that the change in policy have not affected Tibetan refugee’s eligibility for asylum, approval ratings for Tibetan asylum seekers have fallen drastically over the years. Only 54.8% of the Tibetan applicants qualified in 2016 compared to 71.8% in 2015 and 85.8% in 2014, Swiss media reported.
The weeks following the suicide of a Tibetan youth three weeks ago, in Lucerne Switzerland has provided fodder to many debates on the immigration situation of Tibetans there and the Berne government’s stance towards Tibet.