Statement of Swiss Foreign Ministry on Self-Immolations in Tibet


March 13, 2012 5:56 pm

Zurich, 21 November 2011

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said that the self-immolations in Tibet and the desperation that they express are “very worrying”. The statement further stressed that the human rights situation in China and especially of the Tibetans is regularly a subject of discussions between Switzerland and the Chinese authorities.

On that day, Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay met with senior officials from the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern, capital of Switzerland.

About 40 Tibetans dressed in traditional costume welcomed the Kalon Tripa as he arrived in Bern for meeting with the Swiss Foreign Ministry officials.

He briefed the officials that the 12 self-immolations in Tibet since 16 March 2011 isn’t just a number but 12 individual human beings and Tibetans. “Human beings if given a choice would choose to live. But the very desperate situation in Tibet under the Chinese rule has lead to the tragic situation in Tibet today,” he said.

He expressed his appreciate and gratitude to the government and the people of Switzerland and the Red Cross for their support to the Tibetan people since 1960s. Switzerland was the first country outside Asia to officially accept Tibetan refugees. Today it has the largest Tibetan community in Europe. He also thanked the government of Switzerland for the continued support for human rights.

During the meeting, Kalon Tripa said that the Tibetan people have once again endorsed the Middle Way Approach by electing him. He said the he ran his election on the platform of the Middle Way policy.

Talking about his engagement with the Chinese, Dr. Lobsang Sangay said that during his 16 years at Harvard University, he had organized five conferences with Chinese scholars from China. His Holiness the Dalai Lama attended two of these conferences.

“I have a track record of dialogue with the Chinese. It requires endurance, patience and compassion while dealing with the Chinese,” he said. “Over time people change. We need to create an environment for this change.”

Dr. Lobsang Sangay said that being the new Tibetan political leader of Tibet is a difficult and challenging task. “We Tibetans have to do it. Tibetans in Tibet are sacrificing their lives for the Tibetan issue,” he said.

While speaking about the Arab Spring, the Tibetan political leader said that changes in Middle East re-enforces the universality of freedom and human rights.

Kalon Tripa had a separate meeting with Mrs. Maya Graf, the Vice President of the Tibet Group in the Swiss Parliamentary. She said China must respect basic human rights of the Tibetan people.

Mrs. Graf said that any Free Trade Agreement between the Switzerland and China must include the issue of human rights including environmental.

While addressing the media with Mrs. Graf, Kalon Tripa said countries doing business with China hasn’t benefited, instead face trade deficit. He called on the countries to speak up about human rights more forcefully.

He called on the Government of Switzerland to express their concern about the present situation in Tibet. He said that he was the voice for the voiceless Tibetans in Tibet.

He emphasized that the Tibetan people have nothing against the Chinese people or China as a nation. “We are against the hard line repressive policies by the Chinese government. Tibetan people deserve freedom ­religious, human rights and expression.”