The International Campaign for Tibet has asked for information from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) about the destruction of the historic home of the Dalai Lama’s parents in Tibet.
In a letter addressed to Mechtild Rössler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, head of ICT’s UN Advocacy Team and Executive Director of ICT Germany Kai Mueller draws attention to ICT’s report on the demolition of Yabshi Taktser, the former residence of the Dalai Lama’s now-deceased parents.
Yabshi Taktser had been one of the most important sites in Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa, but earlier this year, the building was reportedly demolished, with a new, concrete structure rising in its place.
In ICT’s letter, Mueller asks whether China informed UNESCO about the home’s destruction and points out that Yabshi Taktser may have been a protected site under UNESCO’s World Heritage guidelines.
“How would UNESCO assess the destruction of this building vis a vis the obligations of the State Party [China] with regard to the World Heritage Convention?” Mueller asks in the letter.
Yabshi Taktser was located near the Potala Palace, where the Dalai Lama lived until he escaped to India in 1959 following China’s invasion of Tibet.
In 1994, UNESCO gave World Heritage protection to the Potala Palace and other significant buildings in Lhasa. Despite this, some historic buildings in Lhasa have been destroyed in the years since, with Yabshi Taktser being only the latest example.
In the letter, Mueller asks, “if UNESCO could take substantial measures to protect the remaining cultural heritage in Lhasa.”