On the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day on 10 March 2023, the Friends of Tibet groups in the Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate issued a statement calling on the Chinese government not to interfere in the process of the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama and to leave the selection of the successor to the current spiritual leader entirely to the Tibetan people and their traditions.
In addition, the group issued a statement calling on the Chinese government to stop the forced placement of Tibetan children in Chinese boarding schools. The Czech Minister for Science and Research Helena Langšádlová and the Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Olga Richterová, among others, added their voices to both statements.
“For over a year now, we have seen very closely how Russia is trying to rob an independent Ukraine of its freedom and territory. Tibet may be a few thousand kilometres away, but as democrats we naturally support those who are denied their freedom wherever on Earth it happens,” said Přemysl Rabas, chairman of the Czech Senate Friends of Tibet group.
“It is gratifying that after the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies has clearly returned to the tradition of strong human rights policy started by Václav Havel in the Czech Republic,” said Hayato Okamura, who leads the group in the Chamber of Deputies. “Since yesterday, the Castle also seems to be in a similar mood on the subject of human rights and religious freedoms. I know from representatives of the Tibetan government-in-exile that our support is a significant encouragement to the Tibetans in their relentless pursuit of their own identity and freedom. They will be able to continue to rely on the Czech Republic for this.”
In addition to the two statements, Tibetan flags were flown on the Senate and Chamber of Deputies buildings on 10 March. A brief meeting of lawmakers was also held at the Chamber of Deputies to express support for the Tibetans’ non-violent efforts to preserve their distinct culture and religion, together with the Speaker of the lower chamber, Marketa Pekarova Adamova.
Below is the full text of the Czech Parliament’s Tibet Support Groups’ statement.
Statement of the Tibet Support Group in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate of the Czech Parliament on the succession of the 14th Dalai Lama
Prague, 10th of March
In view of the fact that:
- According to the Tibetan Buddhist belief system, the Dalai Lama, upon his death, may choose to reincarnate to benefit humanity; 14 persons have been recognized as Dalai Lama, each selected according to the spiritual traditions and practices of Tibetan Buddhism.
- In a 2011 statement, the 14th (current) Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who will be 88 years old on 6 July 2023, affirmed his sole authority over his reincarnation, adding that if the decision is made to continue the institution of the Dalai Lama, the responsibility for doing so will be borne primarily by his office, the Gaden Phodrang Trust, based on his written instructions.
- In violation of Tibetan religious rules, the government of the People’s Republic of China has passed a series of laws and regulations to legitimise its intention to control the succession of the Dalai Lama. These include, in particular, the 2007 “Measures for Controlling Reincarnations of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism” (Regulation No. 5), according to which reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist tulkus must obtain government approval or they are illegal or invalid.
- The government of the People’s Republic of China has in the past interfered with the process of recognising reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including in 1995 abducting and still holding in an unknown location Gedhun Chokyi Nyima, a six-year-old boy who was designated by Tibetan tradition as the 11th Panchen Lama (the second most important religious figure after the Dalai Lama), and installing in his place its own Communist Party-designated candidate;
- In a communication to the Chinese government dated 2 June 2020, five UN Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups reiterated that “the freedom of religion or belief of the Tibetan Buddhist minority includes the right to determine their spiritual and religious leaders in accordance with their own religious traditions and practices, as guaranteed by Article 18 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. “
- Several governments, including the governments of the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, have officially declared that it is within the power of the Tibetan religious community to choose the future Dalai Lama; the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Josep Borrell, has also stated that “the selection of religious leaders should take place without any government interference and with respect for religious norms”.
We are issuing this statement:
- We call on the People’s Republic of China to respect the freedom of religion of the Tibetan people, including the reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism, and to stop interfering in the reincarnation process, including the Dalai Lama.
- We call on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to promote substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives on the future of Tibet and its genuine autonomy.
- We call on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to reveal the fate of Gedhun Chokyi Nyima – the 11th Panchen Lama and release him.
- We urge the Government of the People’s Republic of China, like other governments, to adopt a statement that decisions regarding the installation of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including the future Dalai Lama, are solely a spiritual matter to be made by the Tibetan Buddhist community and the current 14th Dalai Lama without interference from the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
- We recommend that the GOC consider any Chinese government official involved in the installation of a Chinese government-approved candidate for the future 15th Dalai Lama as a human rights violator and support his inclusion on the list of persons subject to sanctions under the EU’s global human rights sanctions measures.
We are forwarding this statement to the Prime Minister for consideration and to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for information.
Source: Czech Senate for Tibet – The Parliamentary group (https://senatprotibet.cz/uncategorized/pr-pro-tibetan-parliamentary-groups-condemn-forced-assimilation-of-tibetan-children/)