NGOs have criticized Belgium's request to cancel the long-planned Dalai Lama's Brussels visit this week. Dalai Lama was due to have visited Brussels on May 11-12 to meet with European Parliamentarians and attend a conference of NGOs supporting Tibet but has agreed to cancel the visit.
In an interview with VOA, Chungdak Koren, Chairwoman of Norwegian Tibet Committee expressed deep shock and concern at the way in which the Belgian government sacrificed its people's freedom and dignity for short-term monetary under Chinese pressure. The Committee wrote an open letter to the Norwegian Foreign asking him to raise the matter at their official meetings. "We are hugely disappointed that Belgium, a founding member of the European Union has acquiesced to China's strong-arm tactics by silencing the Dalai Lama, one of the world's greatest advocates for peace," said Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of ICT in Europe.
The Belgian request is linked to the upcoming visit of a Belgian trade delegation to China led by the Crown Prince. The cancellation of the visit comes on the eve of the EU-China human rights dialogue on May 15-16 in Berlin. The cancellation of the Tibetan leader's Brussels visit follows the postponement under similarly controversial circumstances of an earlier visit meant to take place in June, 2005. The date had coincided with a state visit by the Belgian King Albert II to China.