BRUSSELS:– With His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama just turning 85, the European Union (EU)’s Foreign Policy Chief has made the EU’s position clear on his succession, stating that the EU opposes any interference in the process by the authoritarian communist government of China.
According to Tibet Post International (TPI), Mr. Josep Borrell, the European Union (EU)’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the selection process should proceed as per the religious norms.
“The selection of religious leaders should happen without any government interference and in respect of the religious norms,” Borrell was quoted as saying by the TPI.
“In the framework of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, the European External Action Service has repeatedly stressed that China needed to respect the succession process of the Dalai Lama,” Borrell said.
Borrell was answering a parliamentary question session organized recently by a group of five members of the European Parliament, one each from Portugal, Belgium and Austria, and two from Lithuania.
“The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) welcomes the statement of EU high representative, which demonstrates the EU’s unequivocal support for the religious freedom of the Tibetans,” ICT EU Policy Director Vincent Metten said on Monday, July 20, 2020.
“What is now needed is a more formal statement on behalf of the 27 EU Member States in order to demonstrate that the EU has a unified approach to this critical issue,” Metten said.
In recent years, the Chinese government has repeatedly threatened it would appoint a new Dalai Lama on its own terms, once the incumbent Dalai Lama, who is now based in Dharmashala, India, passes away.
China has illegitimately adopted a number of laws and regulations to legalize its interference on this issue. As a part of it, China has revised its Regulation on Religious Affairs, which requires that the holy Dalai Lama be approved by the government, and not by the Tibetans.
China’s position not only ignores Tibet’s centuries old tradition of selecting the Dalai Lama without foreign interference, but also violates their fundamental right to religious freedom.
Reactions to this blatant assault on Tibetans’ religious freedom have been mounting in recent months, most notably in the US, where the House of Representatives passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act at the beginning of the year.
If signed into law, the TPSA will make it an official US policy that only the Tibetan Buddhists can decide on the Dalai Lama’s succession and will sanction Chinese officials, who ill-attempt to name their own Dalai Lama in the future.
The governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have also officially stated that it is up to the Tibetans to select their own Dalai Lama, added the TPI.
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