Honourable Chief Guest Claudia Roth, Vice President of the German Parliament, Guest of Honour, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Honourable Mr. Csaba Sogor, member of the European Parliament from Romania, distinguished guests and participants of the 7th International Conference of the Tibet Support Groups (TSG), it is my pleasure and duty to acknowledge and thank all those who are involved in making this conference successful. On behalf of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) and the Organizing Committee of the conference, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Honourable Claudia Roth for accepting our request to be the Chief Guest for this conference and for your very inspiring speech, and to Mr. Csaba Sogor for showing your solidarity with the Tibet movement. I would like to thank Honourable Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel for accepting to be the Guest of Honour and giving his first speech in English.
The success of this Seventh International Tibet Support Group Conference can be gauged from the fact that 250 TSG delegates from 50 Countries and 29 Chinese delegates from around the world participated in this conference. The credit for the success of this conference goes to you all and we will always remain grateful to you.
Many of you may be wondering why Brussels was chosen as the venue for the conference again despite many difficulties. The reason we held the conference in Brussels is that not only it is the head quarters of the European Union, but the conference coincided with the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to this city. We are grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for gracing the inaugural session and uplifting our spirits.
We were able to overcome all initial unforeseen difficulties during the preparation of this conference with the help and support of our friends. We are grateful to the Tibet Interest Group of the European Parliament headed by Mr. Thomas Mann for being the conference convener and the Belgium-based International Campaign for Tibet, Lights on Tibet, Les Amis du Tibet, and the Tibetan community for co-hosting the conference.
I would like to thank the members of the International Tibet Network’s Steering Committee for facilitating the working groups, which resulted in a comprehensive action plan. I would also thank Michael Van Walt and members of the drafting committee for coming out with a political statement and action plan based on the recommendations of the working groups.
I would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Chen Guangcheng, Chinese human rights activists from the US, for accepting our invitation and speaking for the rights of the Tibetan people, Prof. Lau Hon-Shiang for his presentation on the historical status of Tibet based on Chinese historical records and Venerable Golok Jigme for sharing his prison experience in Tibet.
We take this opportunity to thank the University of Saint-Louis for the use of their hall and other meeting places. We also thank Crowne Plaza and Bedford hotels, Sleep Well and Van Gogh hostels for their hospitality in accommodating our delegates.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the Tibetan community of Belgium for not only co-hosting the conference but also presenting Tibetan cultural program at the welcome dinner and for their selfless voluntary work during the conference.
I would like to specially mention and thank Vincent and Tsering Jampa from ICT and Rigzin Choedon from the Office of Tibet, Brussels, who played a vital role in resolving many difficulties we faced during the organization of the conference.
I would also like to thank our offices in Delhi, Brussels and Geneva, especially for helping to resolve the visa issues of IC holders.
I would like to express our gratitude to Sikyong, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, who is also the Kalon for DIIR for his leadership in organizing this conference.
DIIR has been involved in organizing all the International Conferences of the Tibet Support Groups since 1990. This time also, we have facilitated the conference with an organizing committee. I would especially like to thank two of my colleagues from Dharamsala, Sonam Sangmo and Kalden Tsomo for their patience, hard work and dedication in organizing this conference.
In the end we would like to sincerely apologize for any short comings and inconveniences caused during the course of the conference.
I would like to request all of you to send your feedback about the the conference by e-mail to [email protected] Ms. Sonam Sangmo, TSG Liaison Officer, will compile the suggestions and feedbacks which will guide us in organizing a better and smoother conference next time. We will be able to give you the hard copy of the political statement and Action Plan of the conference during the lunch break. Please don’t forget to take one for your TSG.
Before I request our Representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to present you scarves as a token of our gratitude, I would like to request Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay to offer scarves to Honourable Claudia Roth and guests on the dias in appreciation of their support for the cause of Tibet.
Thank you all and wish you a safe journey home.