Washington, DC: The 8th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet organized by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile commenced at Capitol Hill, the seat of the U.S. government, in Washington DC on 22nd June 2022 with more than 100 participants from 26 different countries. The two-day legislators’ conference on Tibet was graced with a video message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and by the presence of prominent world politicians and leaders like US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, US Congressman Jim McGovern, ICT President Richard Gere, and many others.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, and Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile along with members of Tibetan Parliament, DIIR Kalon Norzin Dolma with Secretary, Representatives of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama from the offices of Tibet were present at the conference.
The conference’s inaugural session started with a video message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, followed by welcome and introductory remarks by Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, greetings from Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and keynote addresses by Mr. Damon Wilson, the President of National Endowment for Democracy and Mr. Richard Gere, Chairman of International Campaign for Tibet.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, through a video message, extended his appreciation and gratitude to the Parliament members for supporting Tibet’s issue. He also emphasized that the cause of Tibet is about truth which is not mere politics but protection and preservation of a culture that pertains to the cultivation of peace of mind based on reasons. His Holiness further asked lawmakers present there to discuss ways to revive and advance the essence of Tibetan culture and to incorporate human values like kindness and honesty in the curriculums of the education institutes.
While US Speaker Nany Pelosi in her keynote address reaffirms the United States’ commitment to the Tibetan people and applauded all the participants at the conference for their commitment. The Speaker further spoke on the gross human rights violations happening inside Tibet including the abduction of Panchen Lama, mandatory political education, restriction of religious freedom, mass surveillance, and others.
She stressed that the world has a moral duty to speak out with one voice against Beijing’s abuses and stand up for the Tibetan people, and added, “For decades, the Chinese government has waged a dangerous assault on human rights in Tibet, clearly showing that it has no regard for Tibetan autonomy, identity or faith. This forum is crucial, bringing together leaders from all over the world to advance real autonomy for Tibet.”
There was also a screening of a documentary titled ‘Democracy: the gift of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Tibet’ and a keynote address by Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration. Likewise, chaired by French Senator André Gattolin, Australian Senator Janet Rice, Latvian Member of Parliament Uldis Budrikis, and Canadian Member of Parliament Arif Virani spoke on ‘Democracy: Relevance and Challenges in Today’s World’.
With former NED President Carl Gershman chairing one of the sessions of the conference, Congressman Jim McGovern, and other members of the U.S. Congress spoke on ‘the US Congressional Initiatives on Tibet’ with Parliamentarians raising questions and sharing ideas on initiatives towards Tibetan issues in their respective Parliaments.
Likewise, the session on ‘Sharing Experiences, Collaborations, Networking & Action Plans amongst like-minded countries’ chaired by Former Canadian Senator Consiglio Di Nino, was presented with video remarks by MEP Mikulas Peksa, President of Tibet Interest Group; MEP Dr. Samuel Cogolati, Vice-Chair Belgian Federal Parliament, Co-Chair Committee on Foreign Affairs & IPAC; Former MEP Thomas Mann, President of Tibet Intergroup; MEP Carles Puigdemont, Former President of Catalonia; MEP Lorant Vincze; Japanese Member of Parliament Shimomura Hakubun, Chairman of the Japanese Parliamentary Group for Tibet; Hungarian Member of Parliament Ference Gelencser; Italian Member of Parliament Matteo Bianchi, Member Italian Parliamentary Group for Tibet; Australian Parliament member Warren Entsch, Co-Chair of Australian All-Party Parliamentary on Tibet; and US Senator Edward John Markey.
Followed by a statement from 15 European Parliament members from the Tibet Interest Group and French Senator Jacqueline Eustache-Brinio, President of French Senate Tibet Support Group; Canadian Member of Provincial Parliament Bhutila Karpoche; Member of Parliament John Tennant Wright Sol, El Salvador; Member of Parliament Vlada Mirosevic Verdugo, Chile; and Member of Parliament Marek Hilser, Czech Republic spoke on ‘Sharing Experiences, Collaborations, Networking & Action Plans amongst like-minded countries’.
This convention, organized by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, is in continuation of the previous seven sessions of WPCT aimed to strengthen and coordinate support by parliamentarians from different countries to resolve the Tibet issue. The first WPCT was held in New Delhi (1994) honoring the foundational role India has played in the survival of the Tibetan identity after the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Subsequent conventions have been held in Vilnius, Lithuania (1995); Washington D.C.USA (1997); Edinburgh, Scotland (U.K.) (2005); Rome, Italy (2009); Ottawa, Canada (2012); and Riga, Latvia (2019).
The main objectives of holding the World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet are for parliamentarians to take a leading role in the international area on the question of survival of the Tibetan identity and its rich cultural heritage which has the potential to contribute to a more peaceful world. Likewise, parliamentarians to join the world leaders in expressing concern over human rights violations and religious repression in Tibet and consider initiatives in their respective countries to support an early resumption of dialogue between the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the People’s Republic of China, for a negotiated solution on Tibet.