Dharamshala: The four-member delegation of the Australian All Parliamentary Group for Tibet, who were visiting Dharamshala on the invitation of the Tibet Information Office in Canberra, held a press conference to express their support for the Tibetan people and their interest in preserving Tibet’s unique cultural heritages that are endangered by the Chinese Communist Party’s sinicization campaign.
DIIR Secretary Karma Choeying commended the visiting delegation for attending the press conference and introduced the MPs and Senator, namely MP Sharon Claydon (Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives), Senator Janet Rice, MP Sophie Scamps and MP Susan Templeman, to the media.
Recalling their worthwhile yet fulfilling experiences of meeting with the exiled Tibetan leadership and visitations to both governmental and non-governmental institutions in Dharamshala, one of the core leaders of the delegation, MP Susan Templeman, said, “Australia has recognized that there are real challenges for Tibetans in Tibet and there are threats to culture, education, language and your Tibetan way of life” at the press conference. She acknowledged their goal of the visit is “to get a deeper insight into those issues” and “to see what we can do as an Australian friend to be able to assist” while mentioning that they are representing the All Party Parliamentary Friendship Group for Tibet.
Following MP Susan Templeman, Senator Janet Rice, who has been advocating for the Tibetan people for an extended period in Australia, raised her and her colleagues’ collective concerns over the ongoing violation of Human Rights in Tibet, such as forced Chinese boarding schools. She said, “It has been wonderful to get a sense of hope and inspiration from the Tibetan people here in Dharamshala” through meetings. In addition, she shared her encounter with Sikyong Penpa Tsering and Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang during the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet in Washington and described meeting them again as “meeting old friends.” Before closing her remarks, the Senator ensured, “When we return to Australia, we will continue to work tirelessly to get justice for the people of Tibet.”
Deputy Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives MP Sharon Claydon, expressed her delight in seeing her Tibetan counterparts and witnessing the well-exercising Tibetan democratic polity. Lauding the Central Tibetan Administration for its extraordinary operation under an unusual situation filled with challenges, she labelled it as “the most extraordinary innovation in a democracy that I’ve seen”. She paid her tributes to the Tibetan Parliamentarians and people across the globe for their active engagement and participation in democracy despite residing sporadically in different parts of the world and said, “That is a highly successful model of democracy”. She further commended the “extraordinary spirit and resilience of the Tibetan people”.
Sharing her proud moments as MP from Sydney of witnessing the large and vibrant Tibetan community thriving in her electorate, MP Sophie Scamps assured her assistance in seeking the continued protection the Australian government has rendered to the Tibetan community. She also reiterated the shared principles of human rights, freedom, and cultural and religious rights between the two cultures.
Before concluding the press conference, the speakers answered the queries from the media, touching on the topics of the possibility of adopting a Tibetan Policy and Support Act in Australia and the installation of a Special Coordinator for Tibet, to which the delegations assured to propose the same for discussion among the members of All Party Parliamentary Friendship Group for Tibet in Australia. Similarly, they shared the key issues they discussed with His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the meeting a day before.
The delegations were accompanied by ATC’s Executive Officer Zoe Bedford and Representative Karma Singey at the press conference. It was wrapped up following a vote of thanks from DIIR Additional Secretary Tenzin Lekshey, the spokesperson of CTA.