DHARAMSHALA, December 10: Tibet groups all over the world have appealed to the European Union, the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, to address the crisis in Tibet and establish a Contact Group on Tibet.
The International Tibet Network, a global coalition of 190 Tibet-related NGOs, in an open letter to the leaders of the European Union, congratulated the body and reminded them that the situation in Tibet is more acute now as compared to 1989 when Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama was honoured by the Nobel committee.
“The European Union is joining an august body of peace laureates, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” the letter reads. “Twenty three years after receiving his award, His Holiness is still waiting for the realization of his vision of peace and security in his homeland, where the situation is more acute today than it was in 1989.”
Since 2009, the ongoing wave of self-immolation protests in Tibet has witnessed 95 Tibetans set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile. With the recent escalation in protests, as many as 33 Tibetans have self-immolated in the last 40 days alone. Despite strict orders by the Chinese authorities, thousands of Tibetans, including school students have carried out mass demonstrations against China’s rule on a regular basis.
“This is a desperately urgent crisis situation which the world must respond to, and we look to the European Union, with its stated commitment to multi-lateralism in conflict prevention and crisis management, to lead the way,” the groups said.
In the letter, the International Tibet Network has appealed the EU to “establish and participate” in a Contact Group of concerned governments on Tibet in order to “devise and implement new, more robust, coordinated strategies for resolving the Tibet crisis.”
Tibet groups are also urging the EU to urgently send diplomats to affected Tibetan areas and expand its capacity to monitor the situation in Tibet by initiating efforts to establish a diplomatic presence in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
The Nobel committee, while announcing its decision to honour EU this October said that the “stabilising part played by the EU has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”
“The division between East and West has to a large extent been brought to an end; democracy has been strengthened; many ethnically based national conflicts have been settled,” the Nobel committee said.
At a ceremony in Oslo today, the honours will be shared by the heads of the EU’s three main institutions – Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council of leaders of member countries, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EU’s executive European Commission, and Martin Schulz, president of the elected European Parliament.
Coinciding with ceremony, the International Campaign for Tibet projected an image onto the EU Council building in Brussels of the Dalai Lama and Xi Jinping meeting in order to convey a “strong message of the urgent need for such a meeting.”
Vincent Metten of the ICT said the EU must apply its now bolstered authority in reconciliation and peace-building work to the crisis in Tibet.
“The EU must now strengthen its efforts to facilitate a resumption of the dialogue between the Tibetans and facilitate a meeting between the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Dalai Lama,” Metten said.