Nearly 4,000 people from 27 Tibetan communities in Europe and their supporters came together on March 10 in Brussels to commemorate the March 10 anniversary of the 1959 Tibet Uprising and the fifth anniversary of the protests that swept across Tibet from March 2008.
Tibetans and their supporters gathered to march through the streets of Brussels, convening at a rally at Le Mont Des Arts addressed by Kirti Rinpoche; Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in exile; Kalon Dicki Chhoyang, politicians, supporters, ICT’s Tsering Jampa and Vincent Metten. The crowd was also entertained by Tibetan singers and rap stars including Swiss Tibetan Karma Emchi, known for his viral hit ‘Shapale’.
10th March Speech by Kelsang Gyaltsen at European Solidarity Rally for Tibet
Dear Friends, Dear fellow Tibetans,
For too long the international community has underestimated the gravity and urgency of the plight of the Tibetan people. To a certain extent, today’s dramatic worsening of the situation inside Tibet is clearly a consequence of the negligence of this issue by the international community.
It is against this background that today thousands of free citizens of Europe are gathered here to make clear the message: It is time for Europe to stand in solidarity with the people of Tibet and to act on Tibet with resolve and determination!
Many Western governments prefer to engage China in what is called “quiet diplomacy”. In the West there has always been a school of thought that contends that “quiet diplomacy” is the more effective way in dealing with China. The logical consequence of this has been to exercise restraints to avoid “the loss of face” of the Chinese leadership. It is, therefore, high time to point out that this restraint to avoid “the loss of face” of the Chinese leadership is resulting in the loss of lives of an increasing large number of Tibetans and the overall deterioration of the human rights situation in the PRC.
Let us, therefore, make clear today: If the international community wishes China to become a responsible stakeholder of the world community then it must stop pursuing a policy of appeasement and taking the line of the least resistance in dealing with the dictatorial regime in China: It is time to stop continuing to spoil the Chinese leaders out of political expediency and it is time to stand up for your principles and values. Do not to let the sensitivity of the Chinese leadership dictate how you deal with China on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Do not let the Chinese leadership discredit and corrupt your own principles and values through coercive diplomacy.
It is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, justice and dignity. Human rights, democracy and the rule of law have become today universal aspirations of people all over the world suffering from oppression and persecution. But unfortunately it is often those people who are deprived of their human rights who are the least able to speak up for themselves. This responsibility, therefore, rests with those of us who do enjoy such freedoms.
The world needs Europe to play a leading role in the defense, protection and promotion of human rights. At the core of Europe’s spirit is a fundamental belief in the inherent equality and dignity of all peoples and in the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Guided by this spirit Europe succeeded in defeating and eliminating tyranny and despotism on the continent of Europe.
It is, therefore, important that this spirit of Europe does not halt at the borders of Europe. The oppressed people around the world need Europe’s commitment and dedication to these values beyond the shores of Europe.
Let us, therefore, call on Europe:
Do not shirk responsibility of standing up against dictatorships of this new 21st century. It is time for Europe to stand up against Chinese bullying and to stand in solidarity with the Tibetan people who are dying for the cause of freedom. And it is time for Europe to stand in solidarity with Chinese defenders of human rights and advocates for democracy and the rule of law who are the vanguards of tomorrow’s China.
Europe is an important leading member of the international community. As such she can be as much a player as well a facilitator in the quest for a just and peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet. The signals Europe send help to determine whether the parties involved move towards dialogue and peaceful conflict resolution or towards deepening confrontation marked by increasing repression and resistance.
Today’s gathering of thousands of free citizens of Europe for a common purpose and with common message on Tibet is a powerful display of people’s power and sends a very clear and strong message to the Chinese government as well as to the leaders of the European Union.
For us Tibetans this is also an occasion to express to our friends from all over Europe our sincere and deep appreciation and gratitude for your sympathy, support and solidarity. Our friends from all over the world and we Tibetans have experienced together many twists and turns in the epic freedom struggle of the Tibetan people. The past has been a challenging time testing our endurance and commitment and the strength of our solidarity and friendship.
In our time of need you have been at our side walking alongside on the long journey of the Tibetan people to freedom. On this arduous and long march we shared with each other the joy and elation of battles won together and shared the sadness, disappointment and pain of setbacks and defeats. Our common commitment to freedom in Tibet and our shared values of non-violence and peace, truth and justice have made us to brothers and sisters in spirit despite the difference in our ethnicity, culture, religion and language. No amount of money or power can buy such friendship, solidarity and commitment. This is the true strength of the Tibetan cause and the strength of a culture of non-violence and peace.
There is no doubt in my heart that change will come to Tibet. This change will come by the power of truth and by the strength and force of the resolve and aspirations of the Tibetan people and by the power of solidarity and support from people across the world committed to human solidarity and the values of non-violence, peace and justice. The time of the cause of freedom for Tibet will come and will prevail. It is a cause on the side of truth and justice and a cause on the right side of the history.