In a symposium held at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies (BICCS), Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, said more than 20 people had died from self-immolation since March 2011, adding all Tibetans grieved over the losses of lives.
The Tibetan lawmaker noted there are more than 3,500 monasteries and 140,000 monks and nuns in Tibet and other Tibetan-populated regions, but none of the self-immolation incidents took place within the Tibet Autonomous Region.
“Any one with reason could tell whether (the self-immolations) were the result of a lack of religious freedom in the Tibet Autonomous Region, or that of a political scheme to internationalize the Tibet issue,” he said.
Qiangba Puncog said self-immolations run against the Tibetan tradition and Buddhist teachings, adding that “(the Dalai Lama clique) is responsible for the losses of lives.”
The former Tibet autonomous region chairman underlined that development is currently the most pressing issue for Tibet.
“The future of Tibet is in the hands of us Tibetans,” he said.
Qiangba Puncog is leading a Chinese National People’s Congress delegation to Belgium. More than 20 officials and experts from the BICCS attended the symposium.
William Frei, minister of parliamentary affairs of the Swiss mission to the European Union, said the symposium was “very comprehensive,” and the Tibet delegation had answered questions “in an open way.”
“It is good to have them (the Tibet delegation) here and answer (our questions) directly,” he said after the symposium.