Brussels, Belgium: Today Representative Tashi Phuntsok and his colleagues Thutop Namgyal, Secretary and Genkhang Rigzin, Advocacy Officer, met with Wilfried Vandaele, President of Flemish Parliament.
After May’s election, in the unsettled Belgian political system, Vandaele is the interim President of the Flemish Parliament.
In keeping close association with the Flemish Parliament, in particular, the former Speaker, Jan Peumans, Vandaele received the Tibetan delegation with great warmth and friendship.
Vandaele met Peumans on the day before, they had a conversation about Tibet and the Office of Tibet.
Representative Phuntsok recalled the close and long association with Flemish Parliament. He also brought to Vandaele’s attention the great admiration that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s holds for the European Union. He outlined numerous occasions including the meetings and events attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the European Parliament, such as the 2016 meeting with President of European Parliament, Mr. Schulz and the address at the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Representative briefly spoke about the situation in Tibet and how Tibet continues to be under gridlock where Tibetans have no freedom of movement, religion, culture, and politics. He informed that Tibet is the second least free country after Syria.
Mr. Vandaele reciprocated with sincerity about his and his party Nieuw Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA)’s support for Tibet. He recounted the Chinese Embassies demarche whenever a Tibetan delegation visits the Parliament. He said that would not affect him or his party.
Mr. Vandaele said that his party respects all cultures and identities equally. He also mentioned about Chinese rise in Europe including at commercial venues like the harbors.
Mr. Phuntsok then responded that over the years Chinese have launched cultural, linguistic, commercial and political pressure around the world. However, in recent times, western governments have begun pushbacks. He thanked the Belgian government and western countries who supported the issue of Tibet in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, Brussels