Exiled Tibet political leader to attend Europe rally in France

11th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

The leader of Tibet's exiled government will travel to Paris in March to attend a European rally marking a failed 1959 uprising against China that forced the Dalai Lama to flee, a French group said Wednesday.

Lobsang Sangay, who took over as political leader of the Tibetan cause in 2011 when the Dalai Lama pared back his roles, is also due to meet parliamentarians and politicians on a visit that could irk China.

It is as yet unclear who exactly the Harvard-educated scholar will meet on his trip to Paris as Western leaders are increasingly reluctant to deal with Tibet under pressure from economic powerhouse China, which has governed the Himalayan region since 1951.

Beijing says the region has prospered under its rule, but the India-based government-in-exile accuses China of severe repression it says has sparked an unprecedented wave of self-immolations.

The rally will take place on March 14 near the Eiffel Tower, said Thupten Gyatso, who heads up a group representing the Tibetan community in France, and people from 15 European countries are due to take part in a gathering he hopes will attract thousands of supporters.

Sangay will address the crowds at a rally that also aims to "call on the international community to help us restart dialogue between Tibetans and the Chinese at a governmental level," Gyatso said.

His trip to Paris was also confirmed by Tsering Wangchuk, spokesman for the government-in-exile.

Beijing is resisting calls by Western leaders to resume talks with Tibetan officials that broke down in 2010 on providing greater autonomy for the Himalayan region and securing political and cultural freedoms.

Sangay said last year there was "total repression and total discrimination" in China's Tibetan regions, where more than 130 ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 in protest at Beijing's rule, most of them dying.

"All this repression is making Tibetans more resentful of the Chinese government's policies and towards the Chinese government and various forms of protests are taking place," the Tibetan government-in-exile's prime minister said in June.

Beijing, however, has accused exiled Tibetan leaders -- and particularly the Dalai Lama -- of being engaged in "anti-China separatist activities."

© 2015 AFP

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