Prague, 22 October: Political leaders must not compromise moral values for business reasons, said Mr Martin Bursik, former Czech deputy prime minister. He said that the Czech government must act now and ask China to talk to the Tibetan people based on the Velvet Revolution’s principles.
The former Czech deputy prime minister made the above remarks at Forum2000’s Media and Democracy conference’s Tibet: A Way Forward panel discussion this afternoon in Prague. In March 1988, during his visit to Tibet he witnessed Tibetan demonstration against Chinese rule in Tibet.
Over 50 years of Chinese policy to bring Tibet into China has failed, said Ms Jarmila Ptáčková, a Tibetologist and Sinologist at Berlin’s Humboldt University. Now, China is bringing Chinese into Tibet. Without consulting Tibetans, China’s industrialisation and urbanisation policies in Tibet are marginalising the Tibetan people and affecting their daily way of life. She said, these policies enable the Chinese government to effectively control and govern Tibet.
The road constructions in Tibet help to move the Chinese troops more easily. The Tibetan people are dependent on Chinese government subsidiaries and this leads to their further marginalisation and affect stability in China. She feared Tibetans might always remain a second-class citizens in their own region.
Mr Ondřej Klimeš, a Sinologist at the Czech Academy of Sciences, said China has to fundamentally change its policy in Tibet and East Turkestan to bring stability in China.
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay said the issue of Tibet is not how development is implemented. The issue is about basic human freedom. Do people want to remain under repression?
He reiterated that the Prague Spring and Velvet revolution are inspirations for the Tibetan people. The Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela, Arab Spring, Burma clearly illustrate the universality of freedom and it is the way forward.
He said China had promised socialist paradise in Tibet but the Tibetan people are in reality are facing oppression and repression.
“Way forward for Tibetans is the Middle Way Approach policy based on democracy and non-violence – the two core principles of Tibetan struggle,” said the Tibetan political leader. “Based on the Middle Way Approach, we want to have dialogue with China to resolve the Tibetan issue.”
He said since 2002 to January 2010, there were nine rounds of dialogue with China. However, since then there has been no contacts with China.
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay was also one of the four panellists for the Media and Democracy discussion. The other speakers were Mr Gareth Evans, former Australian Foreign Minister, Ms Bay Fang, Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of State, Ms Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Austria/Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mr Grigory Yavlinsky, Russian economist and politician.
Dr Sangay said censorship by the Chinese are both inside and outside China – sending email attachments with virus to infect computers.
He highlighted the self-immolation by 56 Tibetans. He said this was due to lack of freedom of speech and media in Tibet. Peaceful protests by Tibetans lead to arrest and torture, followed by repression that results in further resentments among the Tibetan people.
China’s Great Wall was built to keep the Barbarians out. However, the Mongols invaded China. Today, there is the great Firewall for Internet. But freedom will prevail in China and Tibet, he said.
Internet censorship in China is among the most stringent in the world. He said the 3 Ts – Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen Square – cannot be found on China’s internet search engines. China spends millions of dollars to vigorously promote it official views via its newspapers, internet and TV channels both within and outside China.
Reporters Without Borders called on the Chinese authorities to end their policy of imposing a news blackout on Tibet. Even Pyongyang has foreign journalists based in the North Korean capital, said the Tibetan political leader.
Foreign journalists based in Beijing are not allowed to visit Tibet without special permit. Some take risks and have managed to visit Tibet to report the real situation on the ground. CNN and BBC were stopped and threatened with expulsion from China.
Earlier in the morning, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay was invited to the Czech Senate by Senator Petr Bratský, the Chairman of Tibet group in the Senate. He was joined by Senator Jaromír Štětina, Mr Martin Bursík, former Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Ms Kateřina Jacques, a former MP.
“Tibetan people have the right to raise their voice in Tibet where they are not allowed. We will support them in dialogue with China,” said Senator Petr Bratský.
The Tibetan political leader thanked them for their support. He said that the Tibetan people appreciate any symbolic and moral support to resolve the problem of Tibet.