DHARAMSHALA: As the tragic self-immolation of Tibetans continue in Tibet, three leading political parties in South Africa yesterday made statements in the parliament calling on the Chinese government to end its repressive policies which are pushing Tibetans to set themselves on fire.
Ms G MacKenzie, a Member of Parliament from Congress of the People (COPE), tabled a motion in the House for debate on the continued oppression of the Tibetan people by the Chinese government.
In its statement in the parliament, COPE members urged all political parties to call on the Chinese government to ensure freedom of culture, religion and expression for Tibetans inside Tibet.
They urged the South African government to engage the Chinese leadership in substantive dialogue with the Central Tibetan Administration to resolve the issue of Tibet on the basis of Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan people. The government was also urged include human rights protection as an agenda item in all its bilateral and multilateral discussions with China without yielding to the latter’s Chinese economic, finance and trade power.
The members said the all freedom-loving parties and parliamentarians must act against the Chinese government’s atrocities against Tibetans inside Tibet.
The Inkatha Freedom Party, in its statement, said: “Armed only prayer beads and holy scriptures the Tibetan monks face off against the daily wrath of heavily armed Chinese security forces who are mandated to use any force necessary or unnecessary in order to quell a peaceful and passive resistance by Tibetans against the unlawful Chinese occupation of their country.”
“Monks are often brutally beaten and regularly detained without cause by Chinese security forces. The human rights abuses perpetrated by China are on a scale so large that it should shock the very conscience of all mankind. Yet, most nations including South Africa, prefer to turn a blind eye rather than risk falling into economic disfavour with China,” it said.
MPs from the Democratic Alliance lamented that the world has not acted to end the human rights violations in Tibet. “The sight and smell of a human body burning alive is becoming a common occurrence in Tibet. This is in protest of the Chinese government’s oppression of their cultural and religious beliefs. Yet we have not stood up in condemnation of the human rights violations perpetrated in Tibet by China; we carry on as if nothing has happened,” they told the House.
“Knowing our history, the actions of the Chinese government should appall us. We should condemn oppression on any grounds because we are intimately familiar with it, as not doing so means we have no right to speak against any type of violence carried out by a government on its people,” they said.
“June 16, 1976 saw students protest the use of Afrikaans as the primary language of instruction – in Tibet, students are being forced to learn in Mandarin instead of Tibetan, while teachers are fired from their posts for not enforcing China’s demands.
“Self-immolation should not be applauded; however, it is only alternative method of protest that the Tibetans seem to have left. If we do not speak against China’s actions, then we have no credibility in condemning Syria for killing its own people,” they said.