PR – Launch of the Friends of Tibet Group in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

A Tibetan delegation, represented by film director, prisoner of conscience and recipient of the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent Dhondup Wangchen and the Director of the European office of International Campaing for Tibet Whangpo Thetong, arrived in the Chamber of Deputies today. On this occasion, the Friends of Tibet Group in the Chamber of Deputies was established, which will be led by the MP Hayato Okamura.

We all know the tragic story of Tibetans who have been living for 60 years in very difficult conditions under the Chinese communist regime. Many of them have had to emigrate from their homeland or have become political prisoners. Dhondup Wangchen, who is here, spent more than five years in prison for making a true documentary about the conditions there. I and other legislators therefore consider it our moral and civic duty to support oppressed people in their struggle for their own identity. That is why today, on the Chamber of Deputies’ platform, we have established the Group of Friends of Tibet, which I will be honoured to lead,” said MP Hayato Okamura (KDU-ČSL), adding that the group currently has seven members, including the chair of the ODS parliamentary group Mark Benda, who also attended the press conference.

“Thank you very much for the warm welcome and support I have received here. I very much appreciate the MPs who have decided to join this group and who want to contribute to the respect of human rights everywhere. I am very happy that this support is not only in the Chamber of Deputies, but also in the Senate, and that the two groups will work together,” added Tibetan film director Dhondup Wangchen, who visited Prague at the invitation of the Czechs Support Tibet NGO and the Potala Centre.

“It is very important not to see our country as an isolated island, but also to remember what is happening in other parts of the world. For example, in Tibet. Once again, the situation there shows us how dangerous is the abuse of power by large regimes that not only crush those who resist them and fight for freedom, but also often attack their loved ones. Mr Dhondup Wangchen, for example, told me that even his wife’s relatives are under heavy police pressure. This is unacceptable. That is also why it is important not to back down and to continue to highlight the need for change so that we can move one step closer to the respect for human rights that all people in the world deserve. After all, an Olympics in a country with concentration camps is a true paradox,” said Olga Richter, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and Pirate MP.

“I reject the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the oppression of Tibetans and the decimation of Tibet. China is violating the human rights of Tibetans. That is why I became a member of the parliamentary group of friends of Tibet. Today we received Tibetan political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen in the Chamber of Deputies and expressed our support for him and the Tibetan people,” said Martin Exner, a member of the STAN movement.

At the end, Dhondup Wangchen and Whangpo Thetong presented khatags to the MPs present as a gesture of friendship and thanks.