Communist Party congress "can be a turning point for Tibet"
by Nirmala Carvalho
Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, spoke to AsiaNews about the many challenges posed by China's changing leadership. "They must change radically, defend rather than crush human rights."

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - The next Communist Party congress "can change many things. China is a big and powerful country, but it must change path and choose to defend rather than crush human rights. In Tibet, things can and must change," Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Indian-based Tibetan parliament-in-exile, told AsiaNews.

"China has more than a billion people," he explained. "We hope that the changes in leadership will herald a new era, one that brings freedom, transparency and respect for human rights". On 8 November, China's Communist Party will hold its 18th congress, which will mark the coming to power of its fifth generation of leaders.

"China's economic boom is notable, but regrettably, all our Chinese brothers and sisters do not enjoy the benefits of this; so many are denied rightful wages, besides being denied basic rights," Penpa Tsering said. "We are hopeful that this will change for the better, for China and the rest of the world."

For the speaker, things are clear insofar as Tibet is concerned. China's "Tibetan policy, for the past 60 years, has failed; hence so many Tibetans have taken drastic and desperate measures like self immolation."

"The lack of fundamental freedoms and human rights in Tibet, as well as official policies which seek to erase the traditional religious, cultural, and linguistic practices, we hope, will stop. We want the new leadership to stop this brutal assault on our Tibetan identity.

To do this, the new rulers "must free, immediately, political prisoners in Tibet, who have endured horrific torture [. . .], many detained during the protest of 2008, but some in prison for much longer."

"We hope the new regime will choose to defend minorities and respect international rules, first and foremost, freedom of expression and freedom of religion."