By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 11 May 2018
A three-member delegation from the European Parliament expressed their support for the ‘Middle-Way’ Approach adopted by the Tibetans to resolve their long-standing issue with China.
The ‘Middle-Way’ Approach seeks autonomy of Tibet as part of China, rather than independence as a separate country. China occupied Tibet in 1959 under the guise of “liberating” its people from their own rulers and culture, forcing many Tibetans into exile. Since then the Chinese government has been increasingly oppressive, while Tibetans inside and outside Tibet have been continually working peacefully for the freedom of their country.
“A big majority of the European Parliament support the ‘Middle-Way’ Approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” said member of European Parliament Thomas Mann.
“We are against the re-education programme of the Chinese government, and we protest against the suppression of the people by the Chinese government. You have to have the right to education, the right to use your language and culture.”
He added that the environment is also of a concern for them. “That’s why we support Tibet.”
Answering a question about the Tibetan issue attracting less attention from the European Union compared to conflicts in other parts of the world, Thomas Mann said the Tibetan issue is not ignored. “Not only in the European Parliament, because we are speaking in the name of many countries when we are there as European parliamentarians.”
He explained that every year there is a week-long European Union and China dialogue. Tibet is always on the agenda. “So Tibet is not ignored,” he said.
Responding to a question about undocumented Tibetan migrants who are seeking asylum in European countries, Mann said that it is not easy because Tibet is not accepted [as a country by the member states] because there is much pressure from China.
MEP Csaba Sogor said, “Europe is struggling with a refugee crisis. So it’s difficult to say for those who have no status.”
MEP Ramon Tremosa from Catalonia spoke about Federalism. He said Catalonia was given autonomy by Spain, but it was not a real autonomy. “Catalonia was not allowed to collect taxes, manage our infrastructure, and regulate the financial sector.”
“If you [Tibetans] negotiate with the Chinese, without these powers — to collect tax, manage your infrastructure, and regulate the financial sector, it will not be a level of autonomy enough to preserve your identity, and to be satisfied with the autonomy you have.”
The delegation, accompanied by their spouses and assistants, met with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday at his residence in McLeod Ganj.
“We had a wide range of discussions including freedom, justice, human rights, and the refugee crisis in Europe,” said Mann.
The delegation met with President of the Central Tibetan Administration Lobsang Sangay, and visited various Tibetan NGOs in McLeod Ganj.