The Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Leonidas Donskis invited ICT to give a lecture on Tibet at the Magnus Vytautas University, in Kaunas, the second largest city and former capital of Lithuania. On September 6, I gave a presentation on “Tibet’s resistance to Chinese oppression.” Around 150 students, including from the Political Sciences Faculty, attended the conference. This event took place few days ahead of His Holiness’ visit to two Baltic countries (Lithuania and Latvia).
The presentation focused on how Tibetans inside Tibet are finding new ways to resist to Chinese assimilation policies as well as different tools and means to try to preserve their very distinct culture and identity. The acts of resistance were divided into different categories: individual attitudes or acts of protests (hidden use of banned pictures of the Dalai Lama, Lhakar… ), collective gathering and protests (2008 protests, language protests…) and art as a tool of resistance, in particular since the 2008 protests (i.e. songs, poems, paintings..).
Lithuania currently holds the six-monthly rotating Presidency of the Council (1st July-31st December 2013). ICT has released a press statement on 1st July containing key recommendations addressed to Lithuanian authorities, including the need to “ensure the alignment of national positions, stating in an EU common position that it is the right of all EU Member States to welcome and meet with the Dalai Lama and legitimate representatives of the Tibetan movement in whatever manner they deem appropriate and without interference or threats from the Chinese government.”
ICT also recommended a more robust EU stand in promoting the resumption of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue and reinforcing international cooperation on Tibet with like-minded countries, in particular by using the upcoming Universal Periodic Review on China, in October this year at the UN Human Rights Council, to press the Chinese Government on the situation in Tibet.
ICT’s submission to the Lithuanian Presidency highlighted the high responsibility of countries such as Lithuania that have themselves experienced foreign occupation. In Lithuania, self-immolations have also been carried out as political protests against Communist rule. Lithuania regained independence in 1991 following 51 years of forcible inclusion in the Soviet Union, which was not recognized by most countries in Western Europe and the United States.
Vincent Metten is EU Policy Director at ICT-Europe.