Senator Marek Hilšer, a member of the Friends of Tibet group of the Czech Senate, took part in 8th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet. The international meeting in Washington in June brought the renewal of the International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet. Marek Hilšer gave the following speech.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to inform you about the support for Tibet in the Czech Republic and, particular in the Parliament, which I have the honour to represent here.
It all began in 1989, when we got rid of the Communist regime and the Soviet occupation troops, when we gained our freedom and began to build the democracy.
In 1990, that time President Václav Havel immediately after his election invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Prague. This visit marked the beginning of a friendship not only between the two leaders, but also brought our nations closer together and, finally, inspired many world statesmen to follow Havel's example.
Over the past thirty years, there has been a political consensus in the Czech Republic over the universality of human rights, to support them anywhere in the World, including Tibet. However, there was one exception the period of 2014 to 2021, when the desire to strengthen relations with Russia and China prevailed at the highest political levels. I am glad that this shameful period of kowtowing to China ended last autumn with the elections to the Chamber of Deputies and the victory of the pro-Western liberal democratic political parties. Current foreign policy is returning to the legacy of Václav Havel, and tangible evidence of this can be seen in the meeting between our Foreign Minister and the current Sikyong Penpa Tsering here in Washington in April this year.
There are many similarities and parallels between the Czech and the Tibetan nation, to mention just a few:
• We have experienced two military occupations and two dictatorships, first Nazi and later Communist,
• during the Second World War, just like Tibetans today, we had a government in exile,
• during both totalitarian regimes hundreds of thousands of people emigrated from our country,
• and sadly, like the Tibetans, we had self-immolations after the Soviet invasion in 1968.
The awareness of the Czechs about Tibet is high and there is not almost not a single person who does not know who the Tibetan Dalai Lama is or what the Tibetan flag looks like.
Every year Tibetan flags fly literally all over the Czech Republic - at the state institutions, regional offices, town halls, schools as well as in windows of private houses.
Since 2021, the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic has also joined this event. With the support of the President of the Senate and participation of the 1st Vice President, we have hoisted the flag in a place of honour on our historic building of the Senate in the centre of Prague.
This year, the Tibetan flag flew on the building of the Chamber of Deputies as well. These are symbolic, but important actions, and I am personally proud of them.
The Friends of Tibet Group in the Czech Parliament was officially established in 2007 by the initiative of the current secretary of our group, that time Member of the Czech Parliament, Kateřina Bursik Jacques.
In 2019, two separate groups were established in each chamber, however, the coordinate their activities. Our groups are quite large and include even some Government ministers, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. In the Senate, four Vice-Presidents are members of the group, including the 1st, Vice President.
In 2003, the Czech Senate hosted a global meeting of Tibet support groups attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and President Havel.
Back in 2008, a critical resolution on the situation in Tibet was adopted by the Czech Government and immediately after by the Chamber of Deputies. Both institutions demanded, in connection with brutal repression of Tibetan uprise in Lhasa in the year of the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, opening of Tibet to independent journalists, observers and Red Cross, and asking for the dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness and the Chinese Government.
The Senate adopted two resolutions, one in 1998 and the other in 2021. In Solidarity with Tibetans and Uighurs, Czech Senate Called for a Diplomatic Boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. In January this year, we welcomed Dhondup Wangchen to the Parliament with his strong campaign to boycott the Winter Olympics.
In 2020, we welcomed Sikyong Lobsang Sangay to the Senate, who received a statue of the Bohemian lion intended as a most respected gift for heads of states.
We actively campaigned and issued a statement by Senators on the 25th Year of Enforced Disappearance of the 11th Panchen Lama.
This year the Vice President of the Senate visited on 10th of March Dharamsala. I personally received Tibetan activist and poet Tenzin Tsundue in the Senate a month ago.
In less than a week's time, the Czech Republic will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European union. In this context, we would like to organise a small conference in the Senate to examine the parallels between the danger posed by Russia to the free world in connection with the war in Ukraine and the risks posed by China to liberal democracies, in particular to Europe. As the invasion of Ukraine and Russian narrative echoes to some extent Chinese military invasion and occupation of Tibet we support the plan of the Tibetan Parliament in exile to pay a visit to Europe, in particular to the Czech Republic and some central and eastern European countries to exchange views with European citizens and leaders about the importance for Europe to defend its democratic values against authoritarian regimes like Russia or China.
We will try to respond to all requests from the Tibetan side for possible activities, and both the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Tibetan Parliament can count on our support.
Thank you for your attention.
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