Westminster: A meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet in the UK Parliament was held on Monday in a committee room at the Portcullis House (an office building in Westminster, part of the Parliamentary Estate, housing the offices of the MPs) in honour of the four Members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, who are on a week-long visit to the UK.
Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok spoke about the importance of Tibet issue today to the world with particular emphasis on the relevance to UK. He summarised the delegation’s visit program of the past 6 days and made special reference to the meeting with the Members of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood on 6th March. He touched upon the historical relationship between Britain and Tibet; and urged the parliamentarians for more concrete support for the Tibet issue, including exploring funding possibilities for preservation and promotion of Tibetan language and culture; and more importantly to urge China to resume negotiations between the Chinese authorities and the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for resolving the Tibet issue peacefully through dialogue on the basis of the Middle Way policy.
Chaired by Rt. Hon Tim Loughton MP, Conservative Party, one of the co-chairs of the APPGT, the meeting was attended by Hon Kerry McCarthy MP and Hon Karen Lee MP both from the Labour Party; as well as members of the British public and representatives from the Tibet Support Groups in the UK. An interactive discussion and Q&A session saw remarks raised about the Tibet policy of the Indian government and the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act – which the Chair hoped to replicate the US success here in the UK.
The hour-long meeting ended with a presentation of Mementos and Khataks by the Deputy Speaker to the three MPs in attendance and to the Tibet supporters present.
Earlier on Sunday, 10th March, the Tibetan parliamentary delegation attended the commemorative event of the 60th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, organised jointly by The Tibet Society, Free Tibet, Students for Free Tibet UK and Tibetan Community in Britain. The Deputy Speaker in his address to the gathering thanked all those present at the commemorative event, especially non-Tibetans, for their solidarity with the Tibetan people. He referenced the Tenth March Statement of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and reiterated the call on the government of China to make renewed efforts to create the right environment for holding talks to resolve the Tibet issue.
Representative Mr Sonam Tsering Frasi in his speech mentioned about the repressive policies of the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet especially the systematic methods of ‘Sinicisation’ and called for a re-set and a new way forward to resolving the Tibet issue. He pointed to the Central Tibetan Administration’s new publication titled: Tibet was never a part of China but the Middle Way is a solution.
On the weekend, Saturday 9th March, the delegation had an interactive discussion with the Tibetan community here in Britain where the public had an opportunity to ask questions to the delegation members.
During the past week, the Tibetan Parliamentary delegation visited the Office of Tibet, London where the Representative and staff made presentations about their work and activities. On the invitation of Tibet Foundation, the delegation visited Samten Khyil also known as the Tibetan Peace Garden where they offered prayers. The Buddhist Society UK, founded in 1924, with the object ‘to publish and make known the principles of Buddhism and to encourage the study and practice of those principles’, hosted the delegation at their premises and explained their program and activities.
The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with government officials here.
All in all the week-long visit of the Tibetan Parliamentary delegation and their interaction with parliamentarians, supporters, academicians, officials and Tibetans helped generate more awareness and much-needed push to the Tibetan issue.
The delegation members returned to Dharamshala the next day.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, London