11/17/2009, 00.00
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Obama “forgets” human rights to appease Beijing, Tibetan leader says

For Urgen Tenzin, the United States and Western powers have a “moral obligation” towards democracy and human rights. He is disappointed by the US president’s visit to Asia. Too concerned about the economic crisis, the US leader did not defend democratic values. Japan has been able to reconcile development and protection of individual liberties.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – The world’s economic crisis and a desire to “appease” the Chinese government are the reasons why US President Barack Obama “did not speak about the Tibetan issue” and human rights, Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD)), told AsiaNews as he spoke about Obama’s trip to Asia. For him, the international community has a “moral obligation” to defend the rights of all peoples, including Tibetans and Chinese.

“It is unfortunate that president Barack Obama did not mention the Tibetan question,” the TCHRD chief said. He is not alone: “most world leaders are also trying to appease the Chinese.” The power of China is such that Western governments have been forced into silence.

The US president uttered but a few timid words in favour of dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, pledging US support for rapprochement between the two sides.

During the 60th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Republic of China, the authorities put on display the country’s military might, presenting China as a developed nation, Urgen Tenzin said. “Sadly, this development has very high human and environmental costs.”

Natural disasters are affecting the Tibetan plateau and future generations will suffer the drastic consequences of rampant environmental degradation,

Whilst TCHRD appreciates President Obama’s statement on human rights, it is crucial to recognise that democracy and human rights are interrelated.

When he arrived in Japan, President Obama was greeted with banners that said, “Welcome to Japan! Don't Forget Human Rights and Tibet”. For Tenzin, such a plea by the Japanese is a good sign.

“Japan is one of the most respected democratic nations in the Asian continent. It is a respected and powerful developed country and this has made it a ‘responsible nation’, urging other countries to respect human rights, religious freedom, individual liberties and democracy. “

“The TCHRD,” Urgen Tenzin said, “appreciates and welcomes this brave move to be outspoken about Tibet and human rights. Not only is Japan a developed democratic power in the Asia, but it now has moral authority and can show its concern for all peoples.” (NC)

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