In his recent address to European Lawmakers, His Holiness the Dalai Lama praised the European Parliament for awarding the Sakharov Price to Hu Jia. The speech was delivered on 4 December 2008 at Brussels as a part of His Holiness’ European Tour. The European leaders’ warm reception of the Dalai Lama had angered the Chinese Government. As a result, China cancelled the 1 December 2008 summit with the European Union. The Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machine has also stepped up another boycott campaign against French goods.
In his speech, the Dalai Lama reaffirmed his intention to seeking genuine autonomy of Tibet within China through the “Middle-Way Approach”. He also reassured the EP of his commitment to non-violence method to achieve his goal.
However, the Dalai Lama also reminded the international community of the importance of taking a firm stand against human rights abuse in China. He said, “[The] Chinese people also want freedom of expression, free media and rule of law. If you adopt an attitude of appeasement, in the long run [it is] in no-one’s interest.” In this context, the Dalai Lama urged European countries to continue to put pressure on China to improve its human rights records:
I have no doubt that the principled and consistent engagement of the EP with China will impact the process of change that is already taking place in China. The global trend is towards more openness, freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. Sooner or later, China will have to follow the world trend. In this context, I wish to commend the EP for awarding the prestigious Sakharov Prize to the Chinese human rights defender Hu Jia. It is an important signal as we watch China rapidly moving forward. With its newfound status, China is poised to play an important leading role on the world stage. In order to fulfill this role, I believe it is vital for China to have openness, transparency, rule of law and freedom of information and thought. There is no doubt that the attitudes and policies of members of the international community towards China will impact the course of the change taking place in China as much as domestic events and developments.
The full transcript of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s speech to the European Parliament is accessible at The Tibet Post International.