“Tibetans may have lost their country but we will regain our freedom one day. This may take time but as long as we connect from the beginning to the end, you reach the end where you we succeed. However, if there is no ‘connector’ the bridge collapses in the middle and you don’t reach the end,” said Tibetan President Dr Lobsang Sangay to an audience of Tibetans and supporters on November 12 in Norway, encouraging them not to give up the struggle.
CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay embarked for a 17-day foreign trip on November 10, beginning in Denmark, where he met Danish media and Danish Parliamentarians, where he briefed the Parliamentarians on the importance of Tibet’s environment, climate change experienced in the region, water rights, self-immolations and nomadic resettlement inside Tibet.
Following the meetings with Parliamentarians, President Dr Sangay spoke to an audience of over 100 people at the event “What Now, Tibet?” jointly organized by Amnesty Denmark, the Tibet Support Committee Denmark, and Students for a Free Tibet Denmark. The event opened with a brief speech by Trine Christensen, Secretary General of Amnesty Denmark, on the human rights conditions in China followed by Dr Sangay’s speech on the situation in Tibet, and ending with a question and answer session
Arriving in Norway on November 12, he began the second leg of his Scandinavia visit speaking to an audience of Tibetans and Norwegian supporters, praising the continued activities in Norway for the Tibetan cause.
Calling the Tibetans and supporters engaged in activism for Tibet, the President said, “Tibetans may have lost their country but we will regain our freedom one day. This may take time but as long as we connect from the beginning to the end, you reach the end where you we succeed. However, if there is no ‘connector’ the bridge collapses in the middle and you don’t reach the end.”
President Dr Sangay further explained that China’s main objective in Tibet has already failed, saying “with the invasion and occupation of Tibet in some ways has been diluted because the Chinese thought that they would destroy the Tibetan Buddhist civilization and thereby assimilate Tibet into China and Tibetans into Chinese, but it did not work.
“Since 1980s, we have rebuilt the monasteries destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and revived Buddhism. Our sense of culture, civilisation and identity has also been revived in Tibet. Buddhism has revived. Tibetans in Tibet are not just embracing Buddhism but even the second and third generation of Tibetans are very much conscious of their identity,” he said.
Referring to the ongoing demolition of the Larung Gar monastery – the largest Buddhist institute in Tibet, which has over 10,000 monks and nuns, President Dr Sangay said “unfortunately what is happening is that the Chinese government is reviving something akin to cultural revolution in Tibet.”
On November 13th, President Dr Sangay, along with John Peder Egenaes, Secretary General of Amnesty International Norway, and Stein Ringen, Visiting Professor of Department of Political Economy at King’s College London spoke at a breakfast meeting on ‘Economic Interests or Human Rights: How should Liberal Democracies interact with China’.
The meeting discussed how China, while remaining undemocratic, has experienced an unprecedented economic growth and reduction in extreme poverty, and how the rise of China will influence liberal values which play a key role in contemporary international system.
President Dr Sangay spoke about how Xi Jinping’s new era aims for expansion not just through the Belt and Road Initiative but also in the international frontiers based on the so-called “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”.
“What does it mean?” Dr Sangay asked, explaining that it essentially means “no liberal democracy, no human rights, no environmental rights and no freedom of speech.”
“China’s main focus is on economic growth based on socialism and one party rule. That’s what they are bringing to the table and that’s the choice you have. You either accept the choice and be like them or push back and make them become like you,” he said.
He stated the Chinese are putting much pressure on economic interests hence when countries have to choose between money and moral interests they chose money. He said that when countries give priority to money and compromise with their morals, China would say, “we are winning”.
“Tibet is the litmus test; Liu Xiabao is the litmus test. If you don’t speak for Liu Xiabao, if you don’t speak for Tibet, next year they will tell you not to speak about yourself, don’t speak about your human rights, don’t speak about environmental rights. It’s a steep slope,” he added.
“Silence is complicit. If some tragedy is unfolding in the streets, if you don’t speak then you’re tolerating and accepting the tragedy because you allowed the tragedy to happen in front of you. Now what is happening in Tibet is something you can speak about. Should you transform China or should China transform you is the reality,” he said.
President Dr Sangay affirmed that one reason why the Tibet issue is ignored these days because people want to talk about money. He stated that the choice was very clear.
“The issue of human rights is not just about six million Tibetan people but also about you; your conscience, values, principles and constitution,” he said.
The President also stated the importance of Tibet’s environment, explaining that Tibet is the water tower of Asia and a source of water that feeds over 1.4 billion people. President Dr Sangay explained how the climatic conditions elsewhere on the earth is determined by the temperatures and the melting of glaciers on the Tibetan plateau which exacerbates global warming.
The Tibetan President will visit Stockholm, Sweden for the final leg of the Scandanavia visit.