The visits were aimed at strengthening the existing political and public support for the Tibetan issue in the region, as well as increase public awareness of the work of local TSGs and the International Campaign for Tibet. A further important goal was to explore what new avenues exist to highlight the plight of the Tibetan people in Central and Eastern Europe, since Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004. This adds important new voices to the European Commission’s and Parliament’s current and future stance on human rights in China and Tibet and on a resolution of the Tibetan issue.
Ngawang Sangdrol met numerous high level politicians and foreign ministry officials on her trip and stressed that the violent repression of Tibetans continues and that individual freedoms of speech and religion are deprived in Tibet today. She also urged politicians and officials to turn their support into a visible, concrete advancement of the situation in Tibet, in particular an advancement of the dialogue process between Beijing and representatives of the Dalai Lama to find a common ground on solving the Tibetan issue. In Poland the Speaker of the Parliament, Mr Ujazdowski, made a public statement that “In the future term of the Parliament, Polish authorities will not sacrifice the cause of Tibet for any political interests”. Mr Ujazdowski is widely tipped to become the next Foreign Minister after elections in 2006. Unfortunately in Hungary members of the ruling parties and government officials declined to meet with Ms Sangdrol, though she was received by parliamentarians from the Opposition.
The level of public support for Ms Sangdrol personally and the Tibetan cause in general was very visible at public meetings and media interest was intense. Ms Sangdrol appeared on the front page of Poland’s biggest daily, conducted a number of radio interviews and made full-length television interviews in all three countries and a live interview on the main Czech news channel. One popular women’s magazine in Poland has chosen to name Ms Sangdrol as one of its “Women Who Changed the World” in an end-of-year edition.
The organization of the numerous events was excellent and it was clear that the local TSGs had fully utilized Ms Sangdrol’s visit to achieve maximum publicity and impact. ICT Europe would like to thank the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Budapest, Mr Sonam Tenzing, Adam Koziel and the Helsinki Foundation, all the members at Lungta and the Tibet Support Association for all their hard work.
Ms Sangdrol will continue touring in Europe to speak with members of the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland, to speak on torture in the United Kingdom in cooperation with the Free Tibet Campaign and will speak at the prestigious Curso El Escorial on Torture and Terrorism in Madrid, Spain at the end of June.
Ms Sangdrol was first imprisoned by Chinese authorities at age 13 for participating in a peaceful demonstration in Lhasa, Tibet and was again arrested in 1992 at age 15. She spent 11 years of a total 23 year sentence in prison before being released in 2002 after international government and public pressure. Today she lives in Washington D.C. where she is a Human Rights Analyst at ICT.