My name is Ngawang Sangdrol and I am a Tibetan born in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Today I live in exile, unable to return to my beloved homeland as a free person. I share my story with you now as my home, Lhasa, is under severe threat.
This magnificent city has stood on the top of the world for 1,500 years. It stands not only as the physical capital but also as the spiritual capital for Tibetan Buddhists. The old city of Lhasa has been the site of many freedom protests and is a symbol of the Tibetan resilience against China’s occupation. When I was 13 years old, I joined a peaceful protest in Lhasa calling for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for Tibetan independence. As a result, I served 11-years in prison for my political actions.
But right now, I am afraid this sacred city faces destruction, environmental risks, and forced evictions to make way for a shopping mall and parking garage.
Please help me defend my home. We must not let Lhasa, a city of immense cultural and historical importance, be destroyed.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee can help prevent China's wilful destruction of the old city of Lhasa by designating the site as “World Heritage in Danger”. Lhasa’s status as a World Heritage Site is a huge source of pride for China. If Lhasa is listed as being in danger, China must either stop the construction or face losing a World Heritage Site, which would be a major embarrassment.
Don’t let the beauty and historic significance of Lhasa be destroyed!
If this happens, thousands of years of cultural and spiritual history will be lost forever, something which was allowed to happen in 2001 when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed. This cannot be allowed to happen again.
As Director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, I urge you, along with thousands of other individuals, to condemn in the strongest possible terms China's destruction of this World Heritage Site Ensemble, and to seek an urgent monitoring mission to Lhasa.
There are also strong grounds for Lhasa's Old City to be included on the “List of World Heritage in Danger”, and I appeal to the World Heritage Committee to propose its inclusion on the list at the 37th World Heritage Committee Meeting.
cc'd Regina Durighello, Director, World Heritage Programme ICOMOS