Matteo Mecacci

Did the Dalai Lama really warn about refugees and “Arab domination” in Europe?

Tibetan refugees

Tibetan refugees arrive in Nepal in 2005.

The publication of an interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the German media has led to some sensational headlines derived from an interview that included questions on the refugee crisis in Europe.

These representations, focusing on the Dalai Lama apparently warning against ‘Arab domination’ and Europe taking in ‘too many’ migrants are ultimately inconsistent with the well-known and compassionate approach of the Dalai Lama, who has been a refugee himself for more than half a century, and the longer-term perspective he seeks to convey.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate the Dalai Lama has for decades advocated tolerance, inter-religious dialogue and has rejected the concept of a clash of civilizations, calling it “false and dangerous.” It is ludicrous and clearly out of context to assert that the Dalai Lama would seriously state that Germany is at risk of becoming ‘Arab’ as a result of the refugee crisis.

Over the years, violent conflicts across the globe have forced a staggering 60 million people from their homes, many of whom, like the Dalai Lama, have little realistic prospect of returning home. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, the number of refugees and internally displaced people has reached its highest point since World War II.

The Dalai Lama has consistently called on the international community to both provide assistance to those in imminent danger and need, and at the same time, to work to solve the violent conflicts and man made disasters that are the root causes of the humanitarian crisis.

As he continues to praise the countries that act responsibly and with compassion towards refugees, including Germany, the Dalai Lama has not shied from stressing that the only long-term solutions to this crisis would be to work more effectively to solve the conflicts that are forcing people to flee from their homeland. He has consistently stressed that all of us must do everything we can to restore peace to the lands these refugees are fleeing.

Every refugee yearns for the day in which he or she can go back to his or her homeland without being in danger. Helping to achieve this goal is the primary responsibility of the international community and of responsible nations.

Acknowledging this reality means in no way endorsing the idea that refugees should not be welcomed to Europe.

The Tibetan term for compassion, ‘nying-je’, means love, affection, warm-heartedness. But also, more importantly, it denotes a feeling of connection with others. As the Dalai Lama pointed out to The Big Issue, a newspaper for the homeless: “As a refugee myself, I naturally feel a connection to those fleeing Syria and other places due to the crisis engulfing these countries.”

Why Tibet Could Be the Best Opportunity for Xi Jinping

This article written by ICT President Matteo Mecacci, co-authored by ICT Vice President Bhuchung K. Tsering, was published on September 22 by The Huffington Post.

Obama Xi

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hand with Chinese President Xi Jinping after their press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China in 2014. (Photo: AP)

On September 24 later this month, China’s President Xi Jinping will arrive in Washington to meet President Obama for an important state visit. The context is a growing alarm about China’s less than peaceful rise, and provides a rare opportunity for the president to give an important message on Tibet.

It has been noted in Washington that President Xi’s self-proclaimed “China Dream” — a vision of a peaceful and rising China on the world stage — has become a Kafka-esque nightmare for many.

China’s government has been publicly blamed for major cyber attacks suffered by US federal institutions and businesses over the last months and more sanctions seem to be in preparation to target some of its officials. US and EU business leaders are now openly expressing concern for the safety of their work in China; fears that were previously reserved for political dissidents, Tibetan religious leaders, lawyers and journalists targeted by Beijing. CEOs and others are obviously concerned about the purge and targeting of city workers in China after the recent downturn of the financial markets.

There has been an unprecedented attack on Chinese civil society, resulting in the arrests of civil rights lawyers and peaceful activists. In Tibet, writers and artists have been tortured and imprisoned for singing about the Dalai Lama or expressing their views in literary journals.

The expansion of outposts in the South China Sea has unnerved China’s neighbors and US allies in the region and revived the debate about increasing US military spending to push back against what are perceived as Beijing expansionist aspirations in the Pacific.

The domestic anti-corruption campaign — with its international ramifications to recover financial assets — has not been followed up by a reform of the judicial system that provides independence. It is now perceived more as a way to eliminate other competing factions than a genuine attempt to implement the rule of law in the public sector.

We know that Tibet, as a strategic border area, is an important matter to China. The Party State has stepped up its rhetoric against the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, in this context — which sits uncomfortably with the White House. President Obama has met the Dalai Lama four times and the two men enjoy a warm relationship.

The Dalai Lama’s peaceful advocacy and will to find a negotiated solution with China is highly respected in Washington, and his stature in the world stage as spiritual and moral leader increases with his age.

In the interest of China, and his own, Xi Jinping, certainly needs to give different signals to a world that is skeptical about his administration. A commitment to reduce carbon emissions in view of the COP21 UN Summit in Paris on climate change later this year is in the making, and would be certainly welcomed by the Obama administration, but it won’t be a surprise, as it won’t be enough expressing a general commitment to find “peaceful” solutions to the South China issues or to “fight against cyberterrorism.”

China can show to the world that it is really changing only if it can make profound reforms, such as moving from a centralized and authoritarian political system — which leads to its embrace of nationalistic and aggressive policies — to a more democratic and decentralized one, where the rule of law and a process of genuine consultations lead to sound political decisions.

For this, the Tibetan issue represents an important opportunity for Xi Jinping. By embracing the Dalai Lama’s sincere offer for dialogue based on his Middle Way Approach, and his decision to devolve his political authority to Tibetan institutions in exile — clearly indicating that he has no interest in going back to Tibet to rule — Xi Jinping would show that he is open to find some solutions to difficult and longstanding political issues that are of concern for the international community.

President Obama, who is also a Nobel Peace Laureate, should personally tell President Xi that he has nothing to fear from the Dalai Lama. The resistance by Tibetans to the decades-long policies of cultural and ethnic assimilation has been remarkably nonviolent so far, and this is largely due to the leadership provided by the Dalai Lama. It is the 80th birthday year of the Dalai Lama and this should provide a sense of urgency for resolving the issue in his lifetime. It is absurd to believe that Xi Jinping, leader of an atheist Party state, can ensure stability in Tibet through stage-managing a reincarnation of the Nobel Peace Laureate and seeking to eviscerate a peaceful religious culture.

Rather, by embracing the Dalai Lama President Xi might be able to bring about a change in the mindset of the international community on China and its future. China and its leaders know that despite its economic influence (which seem to be shaking currently) there is much distrust by the governments about China’s intentions and ambitions. If China respects the aspirations of the Tibetans for self-rule, the Dalai Lama could be a catalyst for China’s acceptance as a responsible member of the community of nations.

China’s version of religious freedom: Tibetan monasteries should become propaganda centers

Last week, we heard once again Chinese Communist Party’s officials reiterating their concept of religious freedom in Tibet.

Chen Quanguo, the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Party chief, wrote in the People’s Daily newspaper that monks and nuns should be evaluated for their “patriotism,” a word they use to describe their allegiance to the Communist Party. In China’s one-party system the Party is institutionally more important than the State.

Also, he wrote:

“Let the monks and nuns in the temples and monasteries have a personal feeling of the party and government’s care and warmth; let them feel the party’s benevolence, listen to the party’s words and follow the party’s path.”

To complete his article he added that all Tibetan monasteries should also fly the Chinese national flag. Chen Quanguo clearly thinks of monasteries as if they were government buildings where the national flag should be displayed, and this explains very well the depth of control that the government of China wants to have over Tibetan Buddhism.

Furthermore, for years now China’s police officers (“patriotic teams”) have been permanently stationed inside or next to Tibet’s monasteries, working to ensure that their thinking is in line with the Party’s desires and that “troublemakers” are kept in check.

If it weren’t tragic, it’s ridiculous to think that an important official of the second biggest economy in the world could make such statements in 2015. But this is what is happening in China and, with the exception of some important international media coverage (many of which quoted ICT in their stories), very few international institutions and governments worldwide seem to notice that this is happening in Tibet today.

So, our duty to monitor and expose these developments, and to provide principled and balanced analysis, is even more necessary while the economic clout and influence of China on our governments and societies grows.

It isn’t just Tibet that we should save; it is our faith that human values cannot be taken away from some without others speaking up on their behalf. This is what interdependence means in a global society. Nobody will stay free forever unless all human beings concretely support each other to achieve that goal.

You have an opportunity to do your part by joining the International Campaign for Tibet.
Please do it today, it will not only support our efforts to help our brothers and sisters in Tibet but, by challenging China’s authoritarian rule and political influence, it will help to build a better world for all of us.

www.savetibet.org/donate

Matteo
Matteo

Our Inspirational meeting with the Dalai Lama in Washington

Last week, I had the privilege to have an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington DC with my colleagues Bhuchung and Tencho from the International Campaign for Tibet.

ICT Audience

His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave an audience to ICT’s President Matteo Mecacci, Vice President Bhuchung K. Tsering, and Assistant Director Tencho Gyatso this morning in Washintong, DC while he is in town to attend the National Prayer Breakfast.

Meeting His Holiness on behalf of the 100,000 worldwide members of ICT was a special honor. In advance of our meeting, it was with a great sense of responsibility, that we discussed in detail the issues we should bring to his attention.

As some of you know, ICT was established in 1988 as a result of discussions between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibetan leadership in exile and supporters in the United States. We recognized the need for an organization that could help spread the Dalai Lama’s message of peace, nonviolence and reconciliation, and help bring a better future for the people of Tibet.

For ICT leadership, this is still our number one priority. We are fully committed to continue this crucial work in all the countries and regions where ICT operates. It was our responsibility and duty to convey this message to the Dalai Lama.

I am happy to say that meeting His Holiness was a great encouragement for us to continue the work and programs we are doing. We felt his sincere appreciation of our efforts.

We went into the meeting being aware and mindful that the bond between ICT members and the Dalai Lama is particularly strong. As a confirmation, a recent global opinion poll clearly shows that the love for the Dalai Lama’s wisdom, humility, and strong sense of hope is on the rise, despite the biggest challenges a man of peace can face – the occupation of his homeland – and China’s relentless and desperate attempts to tarnish his image.

You, as an ICT member and person of goodwill, have been and continue to be a pioneer in this global movement. You and I believe that Tibet is not important just for Tibetans but also for us: people who believe that the preservation of the Tibetan environment is crucial for the survival of our planet; people who believe that the preservation of the genuine and free Tibetan culture of peace and tolerance is part of a global heritage that should not be dissipated; people who believe that Tibetan land should not be used for China’s geopolitical or military calculations, but should serve as a source of stability and peace among China and India and for the entire Asian continent.

We are humbled and thankful to be able to contribute in any possible way to accomplish the vision of peace carried out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We are confident that you will continue to join us in this adventure, and become part of this global movement. Our ideas are on the right side of history; you will not regret it!

Matteo

Matteo

Pay attention: freedom of speech is the battleground chosen by extremists and authoritarian govern

The terrorist attack of last week in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is sparking a debate that goes beyond reflecting on the killings of innocent people for political or religious reasons.

Unfortunately, the killings of innocent people as a result of different extremist ideologies happen every day and in huge numbers in many parts of the world.

Sometimes, the violence comes from individuals, sometimes it comes from organized armed groups, and sometimes it comes directly from authoritarian governments.

We should all remember that the loss of innocent lives is always unacceptable and we should learn to stay away from the moral double standards that the media inevitably impose on us by choosing which events (often tragedies) should deserve our attention instead of others.

Having said this, the genuine outpour of indignation and attention that has emerged as a result of the Paris terrorist attack has an objective basis. A satirical magazine represents the essence of freedom of expression in any free society, and to violently and brutally target its employees, as it happened in Paris, has raised the concerns of every citizen who is interested in protecting this right.

What is now becoming clear is that while the “international community” generally agrees to “condemn” this kind of violence, it has not yet agreed on the central issue that is at stake here: how to advance the fundamental human right of free expression for billions of people who do not yet enjoy it.

Globally, nation states have approached this issue with too many different laws and regulations, many of which are in direct contrast with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by the UN General assembly in 1948 after a war that left millions upon millions dead after the rise of authoritarian ideologies.

Article 19 states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The technological revolution of the last decades has made the visionary aspiration of sharing information “regardless of frontiers” a concrete daily possibility. In fact, the advent of the Internet makes it possible for everyone not only to express, but most importantly, to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” But this can happen only if one fundamental condition is met: that national governments do not censor the information that citizens are entitled to receive.

There are an increasing number of countries that explicitly limit this right by censoring media content available on the Internet. This is allowed to happen without serious challenges from the UN or democratic governments.

Pay attention, freedom of speech is the battleground chosen by extremists and authoritarian governments to change the way in which democratic societies operate.

In fact, by focusing on “offensive”, “immoral” or “graphic” manifestations of freedom of expression, the goal is to intimidate and limit the right of the people to freely express themselves on sensitive political or social issues, as clearly emerged by the Chinese state news agency’s comment on the Paris attack.

The reasons are simple: the main enemy for any authoritarian government or extremist group is the people’s capacity to question or criticize its actions and motives. Imposing fear, and then silence, through violence, imprisonment, and torture are the means used to achieve this goal.

Democratic societies have ignored the importance of this issue for too long, and the future of freedom of expression cannot be left to Internet companies to negotiate or decide.

It is urgent for our countries to start publicly contrasting the measures that are taken by national governments to limit the right to access information through the Internet. China is leading this effort, having built a firewall and having set up a huge censorship machine, and putting pressure on Internet companies that want to do business in China.

And this is why, even before the Paris attack, we were worried to see Facebook, a giant and global social media enterprise, deleting the post of a video of a Tibetan monk’s self-immolation (videos that are censored in China) citing “graphic” concerns regarding a purely political action; and that is why we decided to launch a petition to restore it that has now been signed by over 17000 people.

Worryingly, earlier this week, while meeting in Paris also a number of EU Ministers of the interiors called on Internet providers to increase their surveillance capacities.

This is the wrong path to follow. It is not by increasing censorship and controls on the general public, like China does, that terrorist attack will be prevented. This will only increase abuses. Experience tells us that a society is more secure when civil liberties are respected.

We at ICT are following very closely this debate. We do not want our societies to follow China’s censorship practices on the Internet and we are working to make sure that the opposite happens and that, one day, the flow of free information will break China’s firewall and reach the Chinese and Tibetan people.

Matteo
Matteo

Facebook responded to our petition, but this is not enough…yet

“Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences, particularly when they’re connected to controversial events. Where such expression involves graphic videos, it needs to be shared responsibly, so that younger people on Facebook do not see it, and it doesn’t appear without warning in peoples’ News Feeds. While we continue to work on ways of giving people ways to share graphic expression responsibly, we will remove video content of this nature from our service. 

We took the action in question because of violations of our Community Standards. These standards apply to everyone who uses our service regardless of where there are located. Any suggestion that we took action because of politics, philosophy or theoretical business interests is completely false.”

On Tuesday, Debbie Frost, VP for International Communications and Public Affairs at Facebook posted the above response to my blog, in which I explained the reasons why ICT launched a petition to Facebook concerning the deletion of a post by Woeser that included a video of the self-immolation of Kelsang Yeshe.

First of all, let me say that I welcome the decision by Facebook to respond. I appreciate the opportunity to have a dialogue on a critical issue that has raised the concerns of Facebook users and many other citizens.

At the same time, I believe that this response misses the main point that led us to take the decision to launch this petition.

The point is that the existence of freedom of expression can be seriously assessed only when “controversial” issues, and in particular social and political events, are considered. Strong emotions can be stirred up in the political arena, and only there can the respect of freedom of expression, and its limits, can be properly evaluated.

Now, clearly, a public self-immolation is an inherently political action (whether or not one agrees with this kind of action is not the point under discussion here) and although the images can be very graphic and disturbing, the decision to ban or delete such videos from Facebook is not purely a technical choice, but rather a very serious political decision.

The International Campaign for Tibet’s petition, quickly signed by almost 8,000 people from all over the world so far, calls on Facebook to consider these videos for what they are: a tragic call for attention by people who have no freedom of expression and who are crying for the help of the outside world to end China’s repression in Tibet.

Facebook operates in the so-called free world and these individuals are taking these actions in a closed society precisely so the free world will take note and do something to intervene.

Banning such videos means first of all denying Tibetans the right to be heard.

Sadly, 136 of them have taken this tragic decision since 2009 inside Tibet.

What was also disturbing was to see this video deleted on the Facebook account of Woeser, a Tibetan who posts critical information about the situation in Tibet from China, while the same video continues to be available on other Facebook accounts. Also, although previous posts by Woeser about self-immolations were not removed, this happened for the first time a few weeks after the head of the Chinese internet censorship machine was welcomed at Facebook headquarters and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly praised a book of speeches by Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, telling his staff that “I want them to understand socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

If Facebook wants to be believed when saying that “Any suggestion that we took action because of politics, philosophy or theoretical business interests is completely false,” it has only one simply way to prove it: restore the video on Woeser’s account. If you wish, as we do, you can add a warning about the graphic images for the viewers to see, so they can make an informed choice. Deleting it is not really the way to go.

To our members and Tibet supporters around the world: please continue to sign our petition until we achieve our goal and restore freedom of expression on Facebook.

Matteo

Matteo

Facebook, don’t cover up the suffering of Tibetans

sign petition btnOver the last weeks and months, news from Tibet has reminded us of how an unrelenting lack of freedom can combine with oppressive policies to tragically become unbearable for Tibetan men and women.

From December 16 to December 23, three self-immolations took place in Tibet. Sangye Khar, a man in his mid-thirties; Tseypey, a nineteen years old woman; and Kalsang Yeshe, a man believed to be in his mid-thirties.

Overall, in 2014, there were 11 self-immolations in Tibet. These self-immolations, like the other 125 to have taken place since 2009, did not injure anyone else. No Chinese official, business or passerby has ever been hurt by these tragic sacrifices, which have sought to try to bring the attention of the outside world to the situation in Tibet and to ask for the return of the Dalai Lama.

Despite these deliberate choices to carefully avoid hurting anybody or anything, over 100 Tibetans (many of them friends or family of the self-immolators) have been sentenced to prison terms for “inciting” or “cooperating” with self-immolators, adding shades of illegal and repulsive collective punishment to these tragic losses.

Thinking about the sense of loss and of desperation suffered by the communities and families of these Tibetan men and women is deeply saddening and should be a wake-up call for all of us: we must tell China that enough is enough.

Notably, in 2014, almost all 11 self-immolations took place near either a local government office or a local police station. Clearly, these people decided to make the ultimate sacrifice of renouncing their life by leaving behind a message, and in some cases images, that could be noticed by Chinese authorities and become public.

Knowing that information in China is tightly controlled and censored, the only hope they had was that it reached and is being reported outside, through all possible means.

This is why I was shocked when I read Woeser’s account that on December 26, Facebook deleted her post about the self-immolation of the Tibetan man Kelsang Yeshe.

The purely “technical” explanation provided by Facebook does not stand to scrutiny for the simple reason that respecting freedom of expression (as clearly is in this case of a tragic political action) can never be overruled by inconsistently applied “graphic” concerns.

The whole story becomes even more worrying when we consider the way the video was removed just a few weeks after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg welcomed Lu Wei to the Facebook campus in California. Lu Wei is the Chinese internet “Czar” who oversees the immense censorship system Beijing has developed in China, a man Zuckerberg may be courting if he hopes to open Facebook operations in China.

We do not need nor want Chinese government censorship practices to be exported to Facebook or any other social network. This is now becoming a real concern, not just an idle worry.

And this is why at the International Campaign for Tibet we have launched a petition to call on Facebook to stop blocking images of Tibetan self-immolations, especially if the users are posting them (with many technical difficulties) from within China, as Woeser does.

Censorship from the free world would be the ultimate offense to these courageous people who are trying to bring justice and freedom to places where people do not now enjoy them.

As Aung San Su Skyi once said: “Please use your freedoms to promote ours”.

Now, dear friends, is the time to do it. Please sign our petition and support the International Campaign for Tibet in giving a voice to these Tibetan men and women.

Matteo

Matteo

Pope Francis’s first failure

Dalai Lama with Pope John Paul

The Dalai Lama with Pope John Paul II, Vatican City, June 14, 1988. (Photo: www.dalailama.com)

Last week His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in the Nobel Peace Prize Summit in Rome, which had initially been scheduled to take place in South Africa. This plan was scrapped after the South African government failed to grant His Holiness a visa under Chinese pressure.

His Holiness was very much welcomed in Rome where the audience gave him a standing ovation at the venue of the Summit.

At the same time, in what was the biggest public relations failure by Papa Bergoglio since he ascended to the seat of San Pietro in Rome in 2013, the Vatican did not grant to His Holiness a meeting. Instead he issued a public statement saying that the Pope holds the Dalai Lama “in very high regard”, in a recognition of the high opinion that hundreds of millions of Catholics all over the world have for the Tibetan spiritual leader.

So why not meet him? The answer is simple. The Chinese Government uses the “Dalai Lama card” to put pressure on all its international partners, both to put them on the defensive (typical behavior of aggressive negotiators) and most importantly because it fears that the moral authority and legitimacy that His Holiness has gained worldwide might be transformed in pressure to implement much-needed political reforms in China and Tibet.

Contrary to China’s calculations – betting that isolating him politically will resolve the Tibetan question – the Dalai Lama anticipated China’s aggressive campaign by voluntarily and willingly choosing to abdicate his political authority in 2011. This, among other long-term factors, including China’s bullying, has not undermined, but rather increased the popularity in the west of the 14th Dalai Lama.

With this decision and a step forward to dedicate himself to promote peace and interreligious dialogue, the Dalai Lama had hoped to facilitate a meaningful political dialogue between the Tibetan and the Chinese sides. Unfortunately, China continues to act aggressively, hoping that the problems in Tibet will be solved through their current policies.

Certainly, as a Tibetan, the Dalai Lama remains concerned with the deterioration of human rights and individual freedoms in Tibet, but it must also be noted that the he tries all the time to highlight potential positive developments that are taking place in China. Furthermore, in regards to the foreign leaders who have stopped meeting him in Europe, he continues to repeat that he does not want to create any inconvenience to the countries that are eager to make business or have good relations with China. The problem is, clearly, what kind of long-term relations can be established with an authoritarian country that does not apply the rule of law and whose judicial system is highly corrupt?

With this in mind, the way China continues to pressure everybody in the world not to meet His Holiness tells us a lot on how insecure Beijing is about its policies in Tibet, and shows its failure to grow as a responsible partner for democratic governments on the world scene. Getting away with bullying the Tibetans is only going to encourage the hardliners in Beijing to do this on other issues and to other peoples and countries.

For Pope Francis, who has courageously challenged the Vatican bureaucracy on many fronts (from its shadowy finances to the cover up of sexual abuses within the Church, from a renewed dialogue with Muslims and the Russian Orthodox to recommit the Church to help the poor and shelve luxury living styles), to give up on the promotion of interreligious dialogue with the Dalai Lama is a striking contradiction with what he has been preaching from the pulpit.

While tactically this move might bring some benefits to the Vatican in its dealing with China – the Vatican has been trying hard for decades to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing and the Chinese Foreign Ministry had a positive comment in response to the – this choice makes clear that the promotion of religious freedom for all in China is not a priority for this papacy. This is a stain that will not fade until urgent remedial measures are taken.

Matteo

Matteo

Meetings with ICT members in Europe and a call to release relatives and friends of self-immolators

Dear all,

It is good to be back in DC and continue to share with you more in detail some of the activities that we at ICT relentlessly continue to carry out. From publishing reports, to issuing press releases on urgent issues, from meeting government officials and members of Parliament to reaching out to Chinese people of good will.

But let me start from the end: my visit to ICT Europe in Amsterdam.

It was a weeklong series of meetings, where I had the pleasure to work side by side with a great and very committed team. It is led by a bedrock of the Tibetan movement internationally, my dear Tibetan friend and colleague Tsering Jampa, the Executive Director of ICT Europe, to whose leadership ICT owes a lot.

The last day I was there, I had the privilege to have a public meeting and meet personally with dozens of ICT members and donors who for a long time (in many cases a lifetime!) have been supporting Tibetans. It was also a great opportunity for me to present to them how we are working to respond to the formidable challenge posed by China, not only to the preservation of a genuine and free Tibetan culture and identity in Tibet, but to the entire world due to its aggressive policies both internal and international.

ICT-Europe meeting

(Left) ICT-Europe staff and a volunteer talk to members after the meeting. (Right) Public meeting with ICT members in Amsterdam on September 5, 2014.

In the previous days, we also had a strategy meeting with other ICT European colleagues to prepare our advocacy work in the next weeks and months, based on the thorough documentation that we continue to gather from Tibet every day.

As you might know, at the end of July ICT published a dramatic and very important Report “Acts of Significant Evil“, that documents how 98 Tibetans have been convicted, detained or disappeared over the last few years, many for allegedly encouraging other Tibetans (usually their relatives, friends or fellow monks) to self-immolate.

It might sound impossible to a reasonable person, but as an ICT supporter you know that this is the reality in which Tibetans live in Tibet. Only a senseless government can convict, without any sort of evidence or a fair trial, someone like Lobsang Tsundue, a monk from the Kirti monastery, to 11 years in jail for “intentional homicide,” after his fellow monk Phuntsog self immolated on March 16, 2011. This, and other forms of collective punishment that we have documented in the report, brings us back to the dark times when dictators punished entire communities to intimidate everybody not to challenge the ruling elites. Is this the China with whom our governments want to establish stable partnership? This was an issue that I raised also with Dutch government officials.

This notwithstanding, we know that the spirit of Tibetans is still strong and it gives us an even stronger sense of urgency to work hard to push the international community and our governments to raise the issue of Tibet with China, because, simply, this behavior cannot find its place among civilized nations.

I concluded my remarks in Amsterdam saying that we know that no government can rule forever without the genuine support of their own people and that even those who seem to be the strongest and most powerful can suddenly collapse or be forced to change.

So, let’s keep up our work, we know that we are on the right side of history and that both the Tibetan and the Chinese people deserve a better future, and I look forward to share with you more news next week.

Ciao!

Matteo

Matteo

In Italy, to keep Tibet on the agenda of the European Union

ICT stand

The ICT stand inside the Modigliani Forum in Livorno during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings.



Benedetto Della Vedova, Matteo Mecacci, Vincent Metten

Undersecretary of State Benedetto Della Vedova, Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet and EU Policy Director Vincent Metten.

Last week, I had a week-long visit to Italy with the aim to keep Tibet on the agenda of Italian and EU institutions for the coming months. The occasion was given by the fact that Italy will chair the European Union for six months starting on July 1 and also by the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Italy. He was there for a series of teachings and a public talk, in Pomaia at the Lama Thsong Khapa Institute and in Livorno, from the 13 to the 15 of June.

In the days preceding the teachings, I was joined by Vincent Metten, EU policy Director of ICT, to participate in several meetings in Rome, both with Government representatives and Members of Parliament. Also, in those same days, the new Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, was in China for his first visit to Beijing since he assumed power. On these issues, I published an article in an Italian newspaper (English translation), and I also held a hearing before the human rights committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

This was an important occasion to renew and reinforce the call of ICT and of its supporters worldwide to EU and democratic countries to adopt a common and principled position on the issue of Tibet while dealing with China.

Finally, in Pomaia and Livorno I had the opportunity and the privilege to spend few days with thousands of people who had gathered from all over the world to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to participate in his teachings. Elena Gaita and Joel Hirv from the ICT Brussels office joined me to distribute thousands of reports, flyers, t-shirts and other gadgets to participants.

I was there for the entire duration of the teachings and I was privileged to be part of a joyous atmosphere. Finally, I also had a non-programmed chance to speak with His Holiness the Dalai Lama about our work at ICT and his kindness was once again remarkable.

Grazie!

Matteo
Matteo