ZURICH: Telo Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Kalmyk people of Russian Federation, has said what is happening in Tibet is genocide.
He said it was unfortunate that world leaders are not doing anything about the tragic situation in Tibet. Telo Rinpoche was speaking at a side-event at the UN in Geneva sponsored by five NGOs on “The People’s Republic of China: Threat to the Survival of Tibetan Buddhism”.
Rinpoche said that the survival of Tibetan Buddhism affects not only the Tibetan people but also the world. The preservation of Tibetan Buddhism is also the survival of Tibetan Buddhist science and philosophy, he said.
Telo Rinpoche said Tibetan Buddhism can be only studied through Tibetan language and the Chinese government is placing restrictions on Tibetan language.
Born to a Kalmyk Mongolian family in the US, he studied at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in South India at the age of 7 because the long tradition of Mongolians studying in Tibet was no long an option due to China’s occupation and repression in Tibet.
He said he was able to visit Tibet in 2003. Unfortunately, he said he was not allowed to travel or meet Tibetans freely.
The other speakers at the side-event were Kirti Rinpoche and Mr Adam Koziel from Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland. Ms Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch moderator.
“The present situation in Tibet is the result of 60 years of Chinese rule,” said Kirti Rinpoche, the spiritual head of Kirti monastic community in Ngaba, Tibet. Since 2008, the situation in Tibet has been worsening due to more repression.
Kirti Rinpoche welcomed and acknowledged the presence of both Chinese diplomats and individuals representing Chinese NGOs.
He said that the Chinese people are our friends and neighbours for centuries. They are many Chinese who are Buddhists, including many practicing Tibetan Buddhism. However, we are against the Chinese government policies in Tibet that undermine Tibetan religion and culture, he said.
“Tibetan monasteries and Buddhist centres are not for tourist attraction,” he said. “There are restrictions and controls on number of monks. If there is no monks in the monasteries, what hope there is for the future of Tibetan monasteries and Buddhism.”
107 Tibetans have self-immolations in Tibet and the majority of them have been in Kirti Monastery and Ngaba region. Kirti Rinpoche said that his immediate concern was for the safety of the families, relatives and friends of the Tibetan who have self-immolated. In late 2012, Beijing vowed to charge Tibetans “inciting” self-immolation with murder.
On 31 January 2013, Lobsang Kunchok, 40, of Kirti monastery and Lobsang Tsering, 31, from Ngaba, were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and 10-year imprisonment respectively for allegedly inciting Tibetans to self-immolate by a Chinese court. On the same day, six more Tibetans from Labrang, Tibet, have been pronounced equally harsh sentences.
Ms Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch, said that China hasn’t presented any clear evidence of Tibetan inciting self-immolation.
Kirti Rinpoche said that China must be held accountable for its various pledges that it had made when joining different international bodies. China cannot get away by stating different standards of human rights or democracy, he added.
On completing his first leg of European lobby visit, Rinpoche this evening left for Brussels. He will then travel to France, the Nederland, Germany and United Kingdom.