Exiled Tibetan premier says Myanmar offers hope


April 3, 2012 6:24 pm

AFP, 3 April 2012

TOKYO: Exiled Tibetan leader Lobsang Sangay on Monday said Aung San Suu Kyi’s by-election victory in weekend polls gave him hope that his troubled homeland would see an end to repression.

Sangay, a 43-year-old Harvard scholar, was elected to the new post of prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile last August as exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama eases out of the political arena.

“No one thought Aung San Suu Kyi will be released [from house arrest]. Things happen. So we are absolutely certain our day will come,” Sangay told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

“It might look, some say, impossible and unrealistic … The success of every struggle is believing in oneself and believing in your movement,” he added.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate released from years of house arrest in November 2010, was elected to Myanmar’s parliament in a historic victory on Sunday, following a host of reforms by the country’s nominally civilian government

But Sangay repeated warnings that a spate of Tibetan self-immolations would continue unless China backed off its hardline policies in the vast region.

China blames the Dalai Lama for inciting the self-immolations in a bid to split Tibet from the rest of the nation, and insists Tibetans now have better lives due to Beijing’s investment in the region.

Many Tibetans complain of religious repression, as well as a gradual erosion of their culture, which they blame on a growing influx of ethnic Han Chinese.

“Tibetans inside Tibet are sending us a stronger message that this is a political act on their part,” Sangay said, days after two young Buddhist monks set themselves on fire in southwest China.

“They are giving up on their precious lives so the world and the international community can listen to them and understand that they are really suffering, that the repression inside Tibet ought to end, that occupation is unacceptable.”

A total of 32 Tibetans, many of them Buddhist monks and nuns, are now reported to have set themselves on fire to protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas since the start of last year.