Thousands of Tibet supporters from across Europe embarkarked on Brussels this Sunday 9 March to demand that the European Union develop a constructive policy on Tibet. By forming a symbolic human Chain for Change in Tibet around the EU institutions, they also commemorated the 44th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day – the day when China brutally quashed a massive Tibetan uprising and saw the Dalai Lama forced into exile.
“With the world focused on combating terrorism and a possible war with Iraq, the non-violent struggle for the freedom of six million Tibetans is too easily removed from the agenda,” said Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet Europe. “If wars are not the answer, governments must unreservedly support those peoples who strive to resolve issues without the use of violence,” Jampa continued.
The peaceful gathering questioned the effectiveness of the EU human rights dialogue process with China. This week, the first EU-China dialogue for the year will be held under the Greek Presidency in Athens, but event organizers argue that it is not politically credible and have strong doubts that it will produce tangible results.
“China’s execution of Tibetan farmer, Lobsang Dhondup, in January occurred in spite of strong EU and international condemnation and again gave a sharp signal to the international community that it must change its approach towards China,” said Ms Jampa. “Closed door dialogue with China on human rights is more than inadequate – it’s dangerous,” she added.
The massive changes in Chinese leadership this month provides the EU with the perfect opportunity to raise their public’s concerns about its policy on Tibet, observed the event organisers.
“Renewed contact between China and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGIE) and new Chinese leadership provides the EU with a golden opportunity to persuade China to establish formal dialogue,” said Michel Vanherwegen, Executive Director of Les Amis du Tibet, Belgium. “It also allows China to reassess its position on Tibet and address an issue of protracted discontent, which remains of real concern to the people of Europe,” he continued.
Impassioned speakers addressed Sunday’s crowd, including:
- 74 year-old Takna Jigme Sangpo, Tibet’s longest serving political prisoner (released in March 2002);
- Mo Liuha, Chinese democracy activist and journalist;
- Mr Yvon Harmegnies of the Belgian Parliament; and
- Senator Edvard Outrata, of the Czech Republic.
The day-long event encompassed stalls, food, live music and other activities. Participants in the human Chain for Change in Tibet gather at the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire at 1.00pm and proceedings ended at approx. 5.00pm.
Tibetan National Uprising Day is recognised annually across the world and is honoured on a large-scale in Europe every two years. This year’s Chain for Change in Tibet was organised by the Tibetan Community of Belgium, Les Amis du Tibet and Vrienden Van Tibet, Belgium, Tibet Support Groep Nederland, Les Amis du Tibet, Luxembourg and the International Campaign for Tibet Europe. It was supported by a coalition of Tibet Support Groups from around the world.
For images or further information go to the Chain for Change in Tibet website at www.tibet-info.org.
Tibetan Community of Belgium, Les Amis du Tibet and Vrienden Van Tibet, Belgium, Tibet Support Groep Nederland, Les Amis du Tibet, Luxembourg, and the International Campaign for Tibet Europe.