TCB Report on ITN’s European Regional Meeting

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BARCELONA, 8 – 10 May 2015

The 2015 European Regional Meeting organized by International Tibet Network was held in Barcelona at the stunningly beautiful Casa Del Tibet. More than 60 participants representing 30 different Tibet organizations from across Europe took part.

After a warm welcome by the host Venerable Geshe Thupten Wangchen la, ITN Director Alison Reynolds introduced a packed schedule of presentations and workshops by CTA officials and foreign experts in diplomacy and activism, including social media. Among a dozen different campaigns, participants voted to concentrate on Europe Stands With Tibet, the Environment, Confucius Institutes and the Panchen Lama.

Particularly interesting was the Skype call by Kerry Brown, author of “What’s Wrong with Diplomacy? The Future of Diplomacy and the Case of the China and UK”. Brown is Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Studies Centre, University of Sydney.

Kerry outlined the rise and rise of Xi Jinping – including the consolidation of unprecedented political power through policies such as the popular anti-corruption drive and his proposed ‘China Dream’ (national unity & security).  Kerry believes Xi may be even more hardline than his predecessors when it comes to what Xi sees as ‘resolutely internal issues’ with regard to China’s restive regions such as Tibet. The recent White Paper on Tibet is an illustration of Xi’s non-negotiable stance on Tibet. His progressive economic reforms and foreign policy initiatives sit in contrast with his resolutely hardline domestic political views. The lack of a coordinated EU approach on Tibet, and the strong reluctance from world leaders to meet the Dalai Lama work well in China’s favour.

Kerry believes the current political system is unsustainable, as is the economic development inside Tibet which mostly benefits Han migrants who send the money back home. He believes there’s no sustainable solution on the horizon to tackle these issues. When asked what Tibet supporters could do, Kerry suggests looking at the Chinese government’s failure to deliver on policies formulated for Tibet.

Michael Buckley’s presentation on his book, ‘Meltdown in Tibet’ (highlighting the disastrous effect on the environment in Tibet and downstream countries by China’s reckless economic activities inside Tibet) is timely given the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December. Anyone who cares about Planet Earth, let alone Tibetans or South Asians, must read his book. Michael and Tenzin Zega did a joint presentation on the second day on campaigning at COP21

Rachel Collinson’s Skype address on Social Media Strategy was an eye opener for many as she gave practical advice on the effective usage of social media by NGOs and pointed out the dos and don’ts.

According to seasoned European Regional Meeting participants, 2015 had more Community representatives than any other year.

In conclusion, it was a successful meeting with concrete plans of action for participants to go back and discuss with their respective organizations.

Final thanks go to organizer ITN (Alison Reynolds and team) and Casa Del Tibet and its volunteers: everybody benefitted and enjoyed meeting each other – in ever sunny Barcelona! Gracias!



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