Prague: Sikyong Penpa Tsering successfully concluded a week-long engagement in the Czech Republic where he visited the Vaclav Havel Library-a library built in the memory of the life-long commitment and legacy of the First President of Czechslovakia as well as the Czech Republic’s late Vaclav Havel.
Sikyong was accompanied by the CTA delegation including the senior advisor and member of the strategic committee Kelsang Gyaltsen, who has also served as the former Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thinlay Chukki and UN Advocacy Officer Kalden Tsomo from Tibet Bureau, Geneva.
During his visit to the library, Sikyong was briefed about the history and vision of the library by the Director of the library Michal Zantovsky. Sikyong expressed his respect for the democratic values, culture and freedom nurtured by Vaclav Havel.
While emphasizing the crucial role played by think-tanks and civil societies in shaping public opinions and government policies, Sikyong interacted with the team of Sinopsis, a China-focused Czech-based think-tank. Sikyong held a round table discussion with the Director of Sinopsis Martin Hala and his team of researchers deliberating the pervasive influence of China in Europe and in other parts of the world.
Following the meeting with Sinopsis, Sikyong met with Dean Eva Leheckova and Vice-Dean Daniel Berounsky from Charles University’s Faculty of Arts. The Tibetology Department of the University is world-renowned and also hosted the last International Association for Tibetan Studies Seminar in July 2022. During the meeting, Sikyong detailed the significance of academic engagements in Tibet and the importance of preserving and promoting the Tibetan language with the use of modern technology.
In the evening, the Vice-President of the Senate Jiri Oberfalzer and his team escorted Sikyong and the delegation on a tour around the historical places in Prague and hosted a private dinner. Sikyong and Senate Vice-President share a close bond since their first meeting in Dharamshala when the latter presided over the commemoration of the Tibetan National Uprising Day on 10 March 2022 as the chief guest.
On the following day, Sikyong Penpa Tsering was invited as a chief guest of honour for the presentation ceremony of the 223-volume Monlam dictionary to the Czech National Library. The ceremony was presided over by Czech Minister of Culture Hon’ble Martin Baxa and Vice-President of the Senate Hon’ble Jiri Oberfalzer. The author of the dictionary Geshe Lobsang Monlam was also present at the ceremony. Addressing the gathering, Sikyong stressed the independence of Tibet historically and its subsequent annexation by China since the 1950s and how China has been systematically attempting to annihilate the Tibetan language and culture. Culture Minister Martin Baxa reiterated the Czech Republic’s support for the preservation and promotion of the Tibetan language.
The highlights of the visit further included a high-level reception and a bilateral meeting at the Senate of the Czech Republic. The President, Vice-Presidents, chairpersons of the EU Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and the President of the Czech Senate Support Group for Tibet met with Sikyong and the delegation. After the lunch reception at the Senate, Sikyong Penpa Tsering was welcomed by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Hon’ble Marketa Pekarova Adamova and her delegation as well as the President of the Czech Chamber of Deputies Tibet Support Group Hayota Okamora.
Later in the evening, Sikyong and the delegation held a round table discussion with the Czech-based Tibet support groups including Czechs Support Tibet, Lungta, Most Pro Tibet, Potala and Tibet Open House. The director along with the campaign and advocacy manager of Amnesty International- Czech Republic also joined the meeting.
From 31 August to 2 September, Sikyong Penpa Tsering participated in the Forum 2000 and delivered a talk on the panel topic “China ahead of the CCP Congress: Perspective for the Human Rights?”. Sikyong was joined by Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs Rushan Abbas and Founder and President of the Campaign for Hong Kong Samuel Chu as co-panellists. The Panel was moderated by journalist Katerina Prochaykova from Sinopsis.
During his three-day engagement at the 26th edition of the Forum 2000, Sikyong Penpa Tsering interacted with several high-level dignitaries including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic.
The visit also included a one-day CTA Europe Strategy meeting which was held on 28 August 2022. The meeting, inter alia, discussed a practical approach to advancing Tibet advocacy and action at the EU level, with inputs from various expert speakers.
The maiden visit of Sikyong Penpa Tsering to the Czech Republic was very fruitful and a resounding success paving way for future engagements at both bilateral levels as well as at the European Union level.
-Report filed by Tibet Bureau, Geneva.