BRUSSELS, December 10 – Under the organization of the Tibetan Community in Belgium and The Representative Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Brussels, Tibetans, European Tibet supporters and international representatives gathered today on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. With an early afternoon timing, the demonstration started at the Schuman roundabout, the heart of the EU institutions. A large crowd, consisting of more than 250 Tibetans, Europeans and international friends of Tibet gathered on the square, in order to express their support for freedom and justice, for the respect of human rights in Tibet and to declare their feelings of empathy with those suffering in Tibet.
The rainy weather did not discourage the participants, but, on the contrary, eager Tibetans and internationals were holding numerous signs with slogans, posters as well as Tibetan, EU and Belgian national flags. Their symbols aimed to express solidarity with the human rights injustice happening in Tibet and to promote their appeal for a more decisive international approach towards China in the Sino-Tibetan human rights dialogue.
The demonstration was opened with the National Anthem of Tibet and with a minute of silence for the people who self-immolated. Flyers were delivered on behalf of International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), who projected an image onto the EU Council building of the Dalai Lama and Xi Jinping meeting in order to convey a strong message of the urgent need for such an event. Vincent Metten, EU Policiy Director of ICT, stated: “There has been no meeting between Chinese officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama since January 2010, the longest period since dialogue re-started between the two sides in 2002. While the Chinese government has sought to downplay the situation, the self-immolations expose a crisis in the Beijing leadership’s Tibet policy.”
The participants got to hear the Statement of the Sikyong – the speech of Dr. Lobsang Sangay, which was delivered on the occasion of the 23rd Anniversary of the Conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
On this occasion, his speech was delivered to the demonstrators, friends and supporters of Tibet by Mr. Ngodup Dorjee, The Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Office of Tibet in Brussels. In his statement, Mr. Dorjee accentuated the role of His Holiness as the ultimate and respectfully acknowledged symbol of compassion and non-violence, while he similarly expressed deep sorrow for the ongoing crisis and the self-immolations in Tibet. As he expressed by the words of Dr. Sangay, Tibetans have shown their non-acceptance of unjust and humiliating policies through various means since the 1960s, however, the self-immolations since 2008 marked the time of the largest and most intense unrest. Since then, thousands of Tibetans from all walks of life protested against hardline Chinese policies, standing for a sustained non-violent Tibetan resistance against the occupation of Tibet and the repression against Tibetans.
As Mr. Dorjee continued further, Dr. Sangay called on all Tibetans and friends to make 2012 a Tibet Lobby Year and expressed his thanks to the many Tibetans and Tibet support groups for their continuous collaboration. Thanks to their work and thanks to many Tibetans’ activism abroad, significant official statements of support were signed, resolutions in parliaments and congress in the EU, France, Italy and the United States were adopted, while several statements were proclaimed by parliamentarians in Australia, Brazil, Canada, EU, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, South Africa and others.
By thanking to the international community for all of its efforts, Mr. Ngodup Dorjee called for launching a ‘Solidarity with Tibet’ campaign for the year 2013 and called for declaring May 17th the Solidarity Day for Tibet, in line with the words of Dr. Sangay.
Following the transmission of the statement of the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Exile Government, Mr. Ngodup Dorjee thanked the participants, Tibetans as well as new and old friends of Tibet for their ongoing fundamental support and expressed continued good health for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Also Inge Hermans, President of Friends of Tibet – Tibet Support Group Belgium, addressed the people in a passionate way: “Today marks the 64th International Human Rights Day but it’s no reason for a celebration. It is more a day of deep shame. Still, we want to use this occasion to expose the destructive and dishonorable situation in China and Tibet regarding human rights. As we speak there have been 95 cases of self-immolations inside Tibet.”
After the messages, the crowd started its organized march towards the Chinese Embassy, where the end rally was held, shouting slogans like ‘UNO, Wake Up’, ‘Long live Dalai Lama’ and ‘Release Panchen Lama’.
1. text © Erika Patho,
2. photo’s © Han Vandenabeele, december 2012