(TibetanReview.net, Mar19, 2015) – More than 7,000 people from 14 European countries took part in a “Europe Stands with Tibet” rally, on Mar 14 in the French Capital Paris. Those who led the rally, which was part of a day-long event to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising against Chinese occupation rule, included the head of the exile Tibetan administration at Dharamshala, India, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, as well as former French Justice Minister and prominent academic Mr Robert Batinder. Tibet Group president in the French senate Michel Raison also walked alongside them.
Also leading the rally, which included thousands of Tibetans from across Europe, were Thupten Wangchen and Tenzin Wangpo, who represent Tibetans in Europe in the exile Tibetan parliament at Dharamshala, as well as Mr Matteo Meccaci, the Director of International Campaign for Tibet, besides representatives of the various Tibetan Communities in Europe.
Shouting slogans and waving a large portrait of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, as well as carrying enormous number of Tibetan national flags and sporting banners reading “Stop cultural genocide” or “Tibet will be free”, the marchers took off from Trocadero snaked its way through the city before it ended at Mur De La Paix in Champs De Mars. French Senators Andre Gattolin and Noel Mamere, French actress Veronique Jannot and Former senator Jean Francois Humbert, and former exile Tibetan government minister Jetsun Pema, were also among those who took part in the rally.
In his speech, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay condemned China for claiming the right to select the next Dalai Lama, saying it was akin to Cuba’s former communist dictator Fidel Castro asserting the right to appoint the next Pope. He spoke about the tragedy of the situation in Chinese ruled Tibet where he said 136 Tibetans had self-immolated since Feb 2009. And he reiterated the exile Tibetan administration’s resolve to seek a settlement of the Tibet issue on the basis of its middle way policy of autonomy under Chinese rule.
Several other people also addressed the rally, including Mr Badinter.
The rally ended with the reading and adoption of a Paris Declaration for the Freedom Struggle of the Tibetan People, calling on European governments to develop a coordinated approach in addressing China’s policies in Tibet; to formally receive the Dalai Lama and Tibetan leaders at the highest level; and to publicly endorse the Dalai Lama’s proposal for autonomy for the Tibetan people.
Copies of the declaration will be circulated for the purpose of getting signatures on it from prominent European personalities until the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday on Jul 6 this year.
Among the first group of people who had signed the declaration were Mr Robert Badinter; Ms Claudia Roth, Vice President of the German Bundestag and well known for her human rights work, and Mr Karel Schwarzenberg, former Czech Foreign Minister and close collaborator with Vaclav Havel.
The day before, the Skyong addressed a joint press conference with Mr Michel Raison and Mr Jean P Gille, the President of the Tibet Group in the French National Assembly. The venue was the French parliament building.
“The non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people must be commended and is an example for other struggles to follow,” said Mr Raison. He added that the human rights of the Tibetan people were most important and that Tibet supporters in both the French National Assembly and Senate were working together for Tibet.
Mr Gille expressed happiness to be able to invite the exile Tibetan leader to the French National Assembly before the Mar 14 rally.
The Sikyong called on the international community to support the struggle for Tibet especially because it is a non-violent people’s movement. He expressed particular concern over the continuing reports of self-immolation protests in Chinese ruled Tibet and the large-scale Chinese immigration which threaten the survival of the Tibetan cultural identity. He also condemned China’s massive and large-scale development projects which threaten to irreparably destroy the fragile ecology of the Tibetan Plateau whose repercussions would be severe on countries whose water and related resources are tied to Tibet.