By Shyamal Sinha
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 637,827 inhabitants (2018) it is also the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia’s population and one tenth of the three Baltic states’ combined population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava river.
Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga’s historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
The former President of Botswana, Ian Khama, appealed the delegates of the 7th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet (WPCT) for united efforts to support the objectives of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Tibetan people it represents.
The 7th WPCT is underway in Riga, Latvia, from 7-10 May.
In his statement issued ahead of the meet, Khama said that Tibet has had a tumultuous history, during which it has spent some periods functioning as an independent entity and others ruled by powerful Chinese and Mongolian dynasties until 1950 when China sent in thousands of troops to enforce its claim on the region.
“In 1959, after a failed anti-Chinese uprising, the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and set up a government in exile in India. Most of Tibet’s monasteries were destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s during China’s Cultural Revolution. Thousands of Tibetans are believed to have been killed during periods of repression and martial law.”
Citing the example of how the progressive world united to end apartheid in South Africa, he urged for similar efforts to support the objectives of the CTA and its people.
Khama was the chief guest at the 60th Tibetan National Uprising day commemoration in Dharamshala that took place on 10th March 2019, despite objections from both the Botswana and Chinese governments.
When the current President Masisi denied security and instructed Botswana’s High Commission in India and South Africa to not to assist the former president, South African government stepped in to facilitate Presidential Protocol and deploy its vehicles and embassy staff to Khama.
Botswana People’s Daily Newspaper reported in April that the former president wrote to Office of the President – OP and Directorate of Intelligence Services – DIS not to temper with provision for his personal security.
His visit prompted Beijing to appeal Botswana to ask its citizens to respect the One-China Policy.
Botswana has since called on its citizens to respect the way it relates with other countries, adding that it subscribes to One-China Policy and expects its citizens to toe the line as well.
WPCT seeks to reinvigorate and galvanize global support for Tibet through concerted efforts and deliberations on the parliamentary front. The 1st WPCT Tibet was held in New Delhi in 1994, and the sixth WPCT was held in Ottawa, Canada, in 2012.
Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic States. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia’s GDP as well as around half of Latvia’s exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy. Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics.