We are here to add our voice to the International Tibetan Movement: Australian Parliamentary Delegation.

November 23, 2017

From left: Representative Meryl Swanson, Hon Rep Kevin Andrews, Senator Derryn Hinch and Senator Kimberley Kitching at the press conference on 23 November 2017, Norbu House, Mcleod Ganj.
Photo/Tenzin Phende.

DHARAMSHALA: A four-member Australian Parliamentary delegation that is currently on a visit to Dharamshala held a press conference today at Norbu House, Mcleod Ganj. The visit is coordinated by Representative Lhakpa Tshoko from the Office of Tibet, Australia.

The parliamentary delegation is led by Senator Derryn Hinch. Other members of the delegation include former Australian Defense minister Representative Kevin Andrews from the Liberal Party, and Senator Kimberley Kitching and Representative Meryl Swanson from the Australian Labor party.

Speaking first, Senator Derryn Hinch spoke about meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama and how he witnessed the Tibetan movement has kept itself alive under the leadership of the Central Tibetan Administration. He also expressed concern about China trying to reduce the Tibetan population into a minority in its own land by encouraging large-scale migration of ethnic Chinese nationalities into traditional Tibetan areas.

"Several of us have met His Holiness before, but to be here and meet him in his own turf so to speak have an added meaning to the visit," he said.

"In the past few days, we have been to the Tibetan children's village, Tibetan monasteries and nunneries, schools and we've seen the work that CTA has done and it has given us a much bigger appreciation of what is happening here. We also learned about White Wednesday (Lhakar) about how you preserve your culture and traditions," he added..

"I first became aware of and got involved in the Tibet issue when a footage of Chinese brutality on peaceful Tibetan protesters reached my desk in late 1980's. The footage was gruesome and we had to edit it to make it palatable to our viewers. Since then I have been sympathetic of the Tibet cause," he said.

Speaking about China's unjust policies in Tibet, he said: "Years ago, we have an expression in Australia called 'populate or perish'. That means increase your population or you will perish. But in Tibet, China is implementing a different version of the expression. They are trying to populate Tibet with Han and other ethnic Chinese nationalities in the hope that you (Tibetans) would perish. However, I am certain that your backbone, your background and your passion will see you through under the guidance of the Middle Way approach."

Hon Kevin Andrews who is a member of the Australian House of Representatives and a former minister of Defense under Prime Minister Abbott and Turnbull, said:

"For me, this has been a fact finding mission. It's an opportunity to have discussions with the various people that I have mentioned on the current predicament facing Tibetans not just in India but also in the home country of Tibet."

"The autonomy of the Tibetan people is something which has attracted the attention of world leaders. Presidents, prime ministers, chancellors and many other world leaders from various countries around the world have spoken from time to time about the need to resolve the situation inside Tibet."

"Part of the reason for us being here as members of the Australian parliament is to add our voice to those international voice. We believe the middle way approach is an appropriate solution to resolve the colonial mindset and occupation of Tibet by China. The Tibet issue needs to be continually spoken about and pressure placed on the Chinese government," he said.

"When I go back to Australia, I will continue to raise the issue of Tibet in the Australian parliament and more broadly internationally, to bring about a peaceful resolution to this ongoing problem," he assured.

Senator Kimberley Kitching from the Australian Labor Party said: "It has been an incredible few days to come here and meet various people and visit the different institutes."

"I was particularly inspired by the Tibetan people's emphasis on education of Tibetan children. We visited the Tibetan Children's village school yesterday and it was one of the happiest places I have ever visited. I was also impressed by the emphasis placed on education of Tibetan children. It reminded me of Israel and the emphasis on education that is given in that society."

Ms Meryl Swanson from the Australian House of Representatives, said: "It has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about your culture, your thinking, and about your hearts and souls. You are an erudite people and am awed by the importance that you place on the education system; the grasp of many languages is very impressive.

"You have masterfully continued your culture through great difficulty in exile. I personally feel very encouraged and feel that you are exemplars to the world of people maintaining hope and culture, and living truly as enlightened citizens of a world that is in desperate need of such wisdom."

Responding to a question on the prospects of Australian prime minister meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the future, the delegation said they would urge the prime minister to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama whenever he visits Australia. They further explained that Tibet is one of the few issues that enjoy bipartisan support in the Australian parliament.

The delegation has received an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi on 20 November 2017.

The Australian Parliamentary delegation led by Senator Derryn Hinch speaking to the press on 23 Nov, 2017.
Photo/Tenzin Phende


A member of the Tibetan press asking a question to the Australian parliamentary delegation.
Photo/Tenzin Phende.