About 85,000 Tibetans around the world voted yesterday for a new leader and members of parliament to take up the resistance against Chinese rule over their Himalayan homeland.
Edward McMillan-Scott (LibDem, UK), Vice-President of the European Parliament for Democracy and Human Rights, and Ms Kristiina Ojuland MEP (Reform Party, Estonia), who jointly organised an ALDE conference on the future of Tibet on the eve of the poll, said that the Tibetan election was significant because the vote took place days after His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced his retirement as the political head of the Central Tibetan Administration (formerly referred to as the Tibetan government-in-exile).
McMillan-Scott, who visited Tibet in 1996 while writing a report on EU-China relations and who sent representatives to follow the elections at the weekend, praised the peaceful election and said the Chinese government could learn from this democratic process:
“Since the establishment of the Tibetan Government (Central Tibetan Administration) in Exile in September 1960 the Tibetans, unlike their Chinese counterparts, have been free to elect their parliamentarians. This benchmark of fairness and transparency is a model for a future democratic China.”
Ojuland stressed that the Tibetan issue must be raised whenever meeting the representatives of the Peoples’ Republic of China: “We need to insist that the Peoples’ Republic of China applies its own constitution, providing autonomy to national minorities.”
Kelsang Gyaltsen, Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, also participated in the ALDE seminar on “52 years since the Tibetan Uprising”, and appealed to Parliament to send a delegation to Tibet.
“Opening Tibet to parliamentarians, international observers, press etc contributes to better treatment of the Tibetans. The Chinese authorities become very careful, when there is a constant presence of international observers,” he said.
Election results are expected be announced on April 27.
Further information about the ALDE seminar can be found at the following link: