Chinese propaganda visit to European Parliament

Friday, 22 March 2002

Chinese propaganda visit to European Parliament: delegation from Tibet Autonomous Region to be pressed on Panchen Lama photographs
A delegation of Communist party officials from the Tibet Autonomous Region arrives in Brussels next week for a visit to the European Parliament, as a clear counter - response to the address to the Parliament in Strasbourg last October by the exiled Dalai Lama.

The delegation, led by the Tibet Autonomous Region's Deputy Party Secretary Ragdi (Chinese: Raidi), will meet MEPs on 26 March, during which Ragdi can expect to be pressed to provide photographs of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet. 6 year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima disappeared with his family in 1995 after he was recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnated 10th Panchen Lama. All requests by concerned western governments for access to the boy have been denied by the Chinese authorities. In 2000 Chinese officials produced two photographs they claimed were of Nyima, now aged 12, during meetings with the EU and UK, but they refused to hand them over. However, in August 2001, a delegation of Polish parliamentarians visiting Lhasa extracted a promise from Ragdi that they could have copies of the photographs. They have not to date been sent.

"This propaganda visit is a transparent attempt to hoodwink Members of the European Parliament into believing that Tibetans are happy to live under Chinese rule, but it is doomed to failure." said Alison Reynolds, Director of Free Tibet Campaign. "Until China demonstrates a willingness to take action to meet the international community's concerns about Tibet, such visits will never succeed. The continued detention of the Panchen Lama, and point-blank refusal to provide proof of his well-being shows that China is not sincere." she added.

The delegation will also be pressed to provide guarantees that Chadrel Rinpoche, the recently released former abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, is not under house arrest. Chadrel Rinpoche was released earlier this year after his arrest in 1995 and six year sentence for "conspiring to split the country" and "leaking state secrets". He had been leader of the team searching for the 11th Panchen Lama. After Gedhun Choekyi Nyima's disappearance, China installed another child in the role of Panchen Lama. This child, Gyaltsen Norbu, is being educated in Beijing. On 19 March he held a head touching ritual in Beijing, during which he "urged all the Buddhists to safeguard the interests of their motherland and countrymen" according to Xinhua.

The Dalai Lama addressed the plenary of the European Parliament in Strasbourg in October 2001, despite vigorous objections from China. "We strongly demand that the European Parliament stop interfering in China's internal affairs" said a foreign Ministry spokesman.

For more information and details of the composition of the delegation, contact: Alison Reynolds, 020 7833 9958, Mobile 07711 843884