A screenshot of Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay's testimony before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Canadian Parliament on February 26, 2013. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative Lobsang Nyandak (R) is also seen.
DHARAMSHALA, February 28: Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected head of the Tibetan people, has blamed China’s occupation and repression of the Tibetan people for the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
He was testifying before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Canadian Parliament on February 26 in Ottawa.
Since 2009, as many as 107 known Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return on exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
“Tibetans are saying occupation is unacceptable and repression is unbearable,” Sikyong Sangay said describing the unprecedented numbers of self-immolations.
“There is political repression, economic marginalisation, environmental destruction, cultural assimilation, and denial of religious freedom (in Tibet) ... There is no space for any kind of protest and there is no freedom of speech for Tibetans. Hence tragically and sadly, they are resorting to self-immolation.”
The de facto
Tibetan prime minister, while noting that the exile Tibetan administration has made repeated calls to Tibetans inside Tibet not to resort to self-immolation, said that Tibetans are bound by duty to honour the sacrifices.
“As Buddhist or person of faith, we pray for all those who have died, including the self-immolators. And as a Tibetan, we support the aspiration of the Tibetan people inside Tibet including the self-immolators.”
Sikyong Sangay categorically denied China’s allegations of blaming Tibetans in exile for instigating the protests, calling them “baseless.”
“There is not even a shred of evidence as far as these allegations are concerned and we have welcomed the Chinese government to come to Dharamshala to see our files and look for evidence if there is any,” he said. “In reality, the blame and solution lies with Beijing.”
The Tibetan political leader reiterated his administration’s stance of Middle Way Approach, which seeks genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution, and renewed calls for negotiations for the peaceful resolution of the Tibetan issue.
“We will continue to subscribe and believe in these principles. So we seek the support from friends like you who believe in freedom, who believe in democracy, that the Chinese government ought to enter into dialogue to solve the issue of Tibet peacefully.”
Sikyong Sangay also thanked Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the Canadian government for allowing one thousand visas to Tibetans living in Arunachal Pradesh state of India to migrate to Canada.
He reported that the exile Tibetan administration has done the selection of around 900 Tibetans.
The Dalai Lama was presented with honourary Canadian citizenship in 2006.