Dharamsala: Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay on Saturday urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue.
He also demanded a Unesco fact-finding mission to visit the holiest Jokhang shrine in Lhasa in Tibet and investigate a fire incident there that destroyed hundreds of Tibetan artefactd a few weeks back.
“As President Xi Jinping sets out to begin his second term, I urge him to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the representatives of the Chinese government,” Sangay said in a message on the 59th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day.
“The tragic news of the fire on February 17 at the Jokhang, Tsuklagkhang, a Unesco world heritage site, is of great sadness. There are reports of extensive damage and loss owing to the burning of dozens of precious statues, hundreds of artifacts and ‘thangkas’ and murals,” he said.
Jokhang is still closed to the public. “I, therefore, urge Unesco to send a mission to investigate into the matter and to send journalists to Tibet for an independent investigation,” Sangay, also the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) President, said.
Blaming the Chinese government for discriminatory policies with Tibetans, he said: “Also de-linking His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Buddhism in Tibet is another root cause of resistance among Tibetans.
“To artificially say that you can practice Buddhism but not follow His Holiness the Dalai Lama is akin to saying you can be a Catholic but not follow the Pope. This is a fundamental misreading of the very foundation of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet as a nation.”
He said the rising tide of China’s economic growth and prosperity has not lifted the Tibetans as Tibet remains one of the poorest region and ethnic Chinese who have flooded into Tibet in recent years have been the prime beneficiaries.
Quoting watchdog Freedom House reports of 2017 and 2016, Sangay said the reports listed Tibet as the second least free country after Syria and worse off than North Korea, South Sudan and Eritrea.
Reporters Without Borders also stated that Tibet is harder to get access to than even North Korea.
The Tibetan administration in exile is based in the north Indian hill town of Dharamsala.