The 89th Tibet Intergroup meeting was held on March 20, 2012 at the European Parliament and was chaired by MEP Mr. Thomas Mann, President of the Tibet Intergroup in the European Parliament. Mr. Kalsang Gyaltsen, the Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Europe, was the Key Speaker of the meeting and was attended by several MEPs, Parliamentary assistants, representatives of ICT, Brussels, five Tibetan students from UK, Poland and Ireland participating in the first Tibet Lobby Day in Brussels, Ms. Rigzin Choedon Genkhang and Mr. Karma Choeying of Office of Tibet, Brussels.
Mr. Thomas Mann welcomed Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen and the participants. Following a brief introduction by each of the participants, Mr. Kalsang Gyaltsen started speaking on several issues concerning current political situation inside Tibet and the need of a proactive EU action in the wake of self immolations taking place in Tibet since 2009. Mr. Gyaltsen informed the participants that 30 cases of self immolations have taken place in Tibet so far and that in the wake of tense situation inside Tibet and repressive measures being undertaken by the Chinese authorities, there is an urgent need of a strong message or action of solidarity by the EU and the European Parliament to send a signal to the Tibetans inside Tibet and the Chinese authorities that the world has not forgotten the Tibet issue and the plight of the Tibetan people.
He also strongly emphasized that considering the growing urgency of situation inside Tibet and establishment of the European External Action Service to oversee EU’s Foreign Affairs, it is now time for the EU to recall its past resolution calling for the appointment of an EU Special Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs and take necessary actions to transform it into action. He further said that the EU- China bilateral Human rights dialogue so far yielded no tangible results.
He said that the US special Coordinator for Tibet is a precedence which the EU can follow, and the experience of having a Special Coordinator for Tibet by the US Government has been very useful and encouraging. He also shared with the audience what the US Special Coordinator for Tibet has been doing to help the Tibetans and how useful it is for the Tibetans. Having a separate office dealing with the Tibetans and the issue of Tibet enabled a consistent US policy on Tibet. It facilitates better coordination amongst various officials of the US Government. The US special Coordinator also meets with US Government Departments and the Tibetan Officials in US to discuss and coordinate on Tibet related issues. During her nearly three years into the post of the US special coordinator for Tibet, Under Secretary Maria Ottero, met five times with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and visited Dharamsala twice to consult with the elected political leadership of the Central Tibetan Administration on a large range of issues. The Special coordinator also paid visit to several Tibetan settlements in India to explore the humanitarian needs of the refugees in the preservation of their language, culture, religion and identity. The special Coordinator also visited the Tibetan Refugee Center in Nepal to meet and interact with the new arrivals from Tibet. Considering the fact that the EU is a league of 27 member states, the need to appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs is even greater compared to the US where there is only one Central government.
He concluded by requesting members of the Intergroup to take the lead in proposing a resolution recalling EU’s past resolution on Tibet and meet concerned officials from the European External Action Service for the implementation of the resolution.
The EU Special coordinator for Tibetan Affairs should not only address the issues of human rights violations in Tibet but it should also facilitate a meaningful dialogue with the Chinese counterparts for the eventual resolution of the Tibetan issue.
Mr. Mann agreed with Mr. Gyaltsen’s suggestion and pledged to do everything possible in garnering support of other MEPs.
The participation of MEPs in the forthcoming World Parliamentarian Convention on Tibet in Ottawa, Canada, was also discussed. Mr. Gyaltsen stressed the importance of more MEPs to participate in it.
Mr. Gyaltsen commended ICT’s initiative to organize the Tibet Lobby Day and said that such activities should be conducted on regular basis to provide exposure to the Tibetan students as well as to enlighten the MEPs about Tibet Issues.