Tibetan Issue Receives Special Interest at WSSD
Johannesburg, 28 August: At the opening ceremony of the Global People’s Forum here on Friday at the Johannesburg Stadium, members of the Tibetan Delegation were faced about 50 representatives of Chinese GONGOs who looked annoyed to see a good number of big and small Tibetan national flags. "I did not expect the Chinese government would send so many of their GONGOs to the WSSD Summit. I won’t be surprised if they all come to disrupt Tibet events that we have organized during the Summit," said Norzin Dolma from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
As the Tibetan and Chinese were watching each other, one Chinese was seen taking off the flag of Palestine which was flying next to the Tibetan flag and bringing it back to a group of Chinese participants for a photograph. Earlier Tibetan participants noticed this Chinese men talking with some Palestinian participants and repeatedly pointing towards the side where the two different flags were placed. "We suspected the Chinese men telling the Palestinians to take off their flag but of course the Palestinians did not do that," said Tashi Tsering of the Tibet Justice Centre.
As the event began to be more organized at the Global People’s Forum with stands slowly filling up with participants from around the world, the Tibetan Information Stand has been receiving keen visitors to know more about the Tibetan freedom struggle in general and environmental concerns in particular. On 26 August, the Nechung monks conducted the consecration prayers to begin the creation of the Chenrezig Sand Mandala which attracted a lot of media attention with coverage by Reuters TV agency and local TV channels.
Meanwhile, members of the Tibetan delegation have been regularly interviewed by South African and foreign journalists, including broadcast stations of the National TV SABAC and Radio in South Africa. On 24 August, ETV, a popular private TV channel in South Africa, featured the dissolution ceremony of the Sand Mandala at Killarney Shopping Centre during its evening news hour.
However, wire reports by AFP and Reuters in their recent stories filed from the WSSD, particularly on the Tibetan participation, attributed several quotes to Tsering Yangkey and Ngawang Choephel, which were made during the interviews. The Tibetan delegation has already contacted the journalists to set the record straight by sending a rejoinder in print as well as by phone call and in meetings with the concerned journalists.
Despite such problems, the Tibetan participation at the WSSD continues to attract the attention of both the media and the representatives, especially from Africa. More and more participants have been visiting the Tibetan Information Stand where the Nechung monks are creating the sand Mandala’. Summit Star, one of the daily newspapers of the WSSD Summit, ran an article, Tibetans Find a Voice at Talks-NGO of the Day, said: "A delegation of Tibetans in exile came to the Summit to represent the people of Tibet and call on the international community to! act for long-term sustainable future of the land and the rivers…Tibetan activists claim that if the Chinese-driven industrial development in their homeland is not regulated immediately, the future of Asia’s entire river system could be in jeopardy."
As both the NGO Forum and the Government Meeting began their substantive work, members of the Tibetan Delegation have been attending various events where the WSSD issues facing Tibet today could be raised. Some Tibetan participants have been invited to speak at events while others have raised the attention and support required by peoples living under foreign occupation and their inalienable right to self-determination to be addressed by both the NGO Forum and the Government declarations.
The Tibetan delegation has also been attending several NGO meetings at the Government segment of the WSSD Summit to support the lobby work for the realization of good languages on human rights, governance, self-determination and foreign occupation. As of 27 August, the governments have informally agreed to this paragraph on foreign occupation and related issues: "Take further effective measures to remove obstacles to the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, in pa! rticular peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which obstacles continue to adversely affect their economic and social development and are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be combated and eliminated. People under foreign occupation must be protected in accordance with the provisions of international humanitarian law."
Members of the Tibetan Delegation at WSSD Summit are:
Ngawang Rigzin, Nechung Monastery
Norzin Dolma, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
Thubten Norbu, Student, USA
Renato Palmi, Tibetan Society of South Africa
Lisa Sock, International Campaign for Tibet
Gabriel Lafitte, Tibet Expert, Australia
Tashi Tsering, Tibet Justice Centre
Jampal Chosang, Tibetan Government in Exile
Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon