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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Economics matter important but human rights come first, says Tibetan government

December 7, 2007

Commenting the Italian government’s lukewarm reception of the Dalai
Lama, a spokesperson for the International Relations Department of the
Tibetan government-in-exile, tells AsiaNews that whilst they do not want
to embarrass anyone, the cause of human rights should not come second to
trade. Popular support for the Buddhist leader shows that the Tibetan
cause is not dead.

Rome: 6 December 2007 (AsiaNews) – European governments “have every
right to think about stability and economic growth but they should not
forget that the latter are founded on human rights and freedom of
expression. The Dalai Lama is their champion; not meeting him means
shelving them,” Thubten Samphel, spokesperson for the International
Relations Department of the Tibetan government-in-exile, told AsiaNews
as he commented the way the Buddhist leader was received in Italy.

According to the Tibetan representative, “the Dalai Lama does not want
to embarrass any government or political leader if they cannot receive
him. But it [meeting him] would be a good way to learn more about the
real situation of the Tibetan people and region.”

It is never the less quite “understandable why so many governments take
this attitude of limiting or giving less importance to the presence of
the Dalai Lama on their territory. China has increased its international
economic and diplomatic clout and Beijing’s paranoid attitude towards
Tibetans is well known.”

European governments “must however remember that whilst trade and
economics are very important they are not the bases of civilization.
Respect for human rights, personal freedom and freedom of expression
shall always take first place. A stable economy is only possible if
people who run are free.”

For this reason “we must follow the example of the German government
which plays an important role in the world’s economy but which is also
unwavering on the issue of human rights, never pulling back on the Dalai
Lama and many other situations where human beings are persecuted or in
chains.”

Still “we are very happy and consider very important the fact that our
leader is welcomed with sympathy and respect by all the peoples of the
world who show their affection to him and the cause he represents.”

These feelings “allow us to go on despite exile and China’s domination
of our region. They show that there is international concern over the
Tibet question and that our struggle is not lost. They are very important.”

As for the latest controversy caused by Miss Tibet’s participation in an
international beauty pageant, Mr Samphel does not mince words.

“For starters, we do not appreciate this kind of events,” he said. “And
we believe it was inappropriate for it to be staged in Dharamsala, the
Dalai Lama’s home. I also think that the so-called Miss Tibet, whoever
she may be, is being invited around the world with the full knowledge
that her presence will provoke Beijing’s ire and thus generated
publicity for the event. Still the fact that China never allows the
affirmation of the Tibetan identity under any circumstance weighs
heavily on us.”
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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