Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Thomas Mann opened the meeting and spoke about His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Germany, which had been a great success. He had visited many cities and each time several thousand people attended. There were a small number of protests, and His Holiness said, “I know that I am a trouble-maker!” His visit attracted a great deal of media attention. The world needed people who were willing to speak out for freedom and justice especially when there was a diplomatic “ice age”.
Members of all parties wanted to invite His Holiness to once again visit the European Parliament, and it should be made clear that the European Parliament themselves decide who they want to meet. The Council of Europe had issued an invitation for the Dalai Lama to speak to the June Parliamentary Assembly, but owing to an overloaded diary it had not been possible to take up the invitation at the moment. Everyone is very keen to invite His Holiness, all over the world.
There had not been any recent demonstrations by Tibetans, as a sign of solidarity with the Chinese who suffered during the recent earthquakes.
The recent meeting between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities did not provide much opportunity for enthusiasm. Pleasant things were said, but implementation will be very difficult.
The Dalai Lama also recently visited Great Britain and received an Honorary Doctorate from London Metropolitan University. He had a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, and also met the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Bill Newton-Dunne will be asked to talk at the next meeting about this visit, as will Nathalie Griesbeck after the Dalai Lama’s visit to Nantes in early August.
The next President of the EU will be Nicolas Sarkozy, and he should be asked to receive the Dalai Lama. A letter had been sent to Bernard Kouchner but so far there was no reply.
The Tibetan flag should also fly from the roof of EP buildings.
Mr. Janusz Onyszkiewicz spoke of the invitation issued to the Dalai Lama to receive an Honorary Degree from the no. 1 university in Poland, the Jagiellonian University of Kraków. No answer had yet been received, but His Holiness would be assured of a warm welcome in Poland.
Mr Onyskwiewicz also spoke of the legacy of SOLIDARNOSC. In the 60s and 70s there had been violent clashes with the authorities and it was realised that attitudes must change and that non-violence would be more acceptable. Inspiration had been taken from Jaroslav Havel, who had written about the “power of the powerless”, and from the example of India. At that time, some people knew about the Dalai Lama and appreciated his teachings – truth is the only weapon that we possess. The Polish workers realised that the only way to change the totalitarian attitude into a benevolent autocracy was to create Trade Unions, just as His Holiness the Dalai Lama asks for real autonomy in Tibet and building institutions in Tibetan society.
A very important point is to make contact with other politicians to gain practical experience and valuable pointers.
At future meetings between representatives of His Holiness and the Chinese authorities, it was probable that pragmatism would have to be combined with principles. We should insist on full negotiation. We should stop talking about the weather and talk about the real issues. It should also be remembered that the EU does not depend on China, but rather that China depends on the EU!
For the first time, the fact that the leader of the CCP was talking with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (through representatives) has been reported in the Chinese media. Kelsang Gyaltsen saw this as a symbolic action and a step forward.
Eva Lichtenberger took the floor and spoke about the very useful meeting on
6 May between the TIG and the Sub Committee on Human Rights. The conference was focussed mainly on what could happen before, during and after the Olympic Games, concerning a real autonomy for Tibet and Human Rights in China (as promised by China when it was awarded the Olympic Games). This promise included freedom of movement, freedom for the press, etc. but these promises have not been fulfilled. There was much discussion on the subject.
If this non-compliance goes on, Heads of State should not attend the Opening Ceremony. Many sportsmen and women have expressed their views very clearly on this point, including the former colleague Rheinhold Messner.
The Chinese government had been putting Olympic Games blogs on-line, but were not anxious to give any interviews, or if they did, the representative concerned would not turn up. One Austrian expert spoke about censorship but the reply was that the Chinese government found some people “disobedient”.
The Chinese are not interested in progress about Human Rights in Tibet. Methods of reducing freedom of the press are more than ever sophisticated. There is a satellite especially for the Olympic Games.
Gabriela said that it would be of help if the EU would officially invite His Holiness to visit, and that the TIG should hold one or two meetings dealing with autonomy structure, referring to examples such as the Tyrol, Scotland, etc. Specialists could be invited to speak of their experience.
In the beginning the autonomy process is discussed behind closed doors, but eventually should become open and official. Citizens should have the right to be addressed in their own language and not depend on Chinese translation.
It was unfortunate that His Holiness would not be able to accept the Council of Europe’s invitation to speak at the June Parliamentary Assembly, but he had been overwhelmed with invitations in recent weeks.
Mr. Poettering was willing to go to Dharamsala if it would be of help.
Eva added that we should discuss what could be done after the Olympic Games. Tibet should be kept on the EU Agenda.