by Zhai Wei, Song Ying
BRUSSELS, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Although thin air forced him to inhale oxygen and made him unable to walk properly for two days, the recent trip to China's southwestern autonomous region of Tibet has left a deep impression on Nirj Deva, a senior member of the European Parliament (EP).
It is an example of how a region home to ethnic minority groups was brought to modernization, Deva told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Bathing in soft afternoon sunlight, Deva merrily recalled the visit to Tibet of the EU-China Friendship Group in the European Parliament, of which he is the chairman, terming the trip as "very interesting."
"I stopped people in the street and talked to them about their life stories. I met lots of young people whose fathers were nomads. The youths go to universities," said Deva who is also the vice chairman of the European Parliament's Development Committee.
At the invitation of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Deva's group visited Tibet in late August. They visited Norbulingka, Tibet Museum, the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Tibetan Thangka Art Academy and Tibet University.
Deva said that under the old system there were slaves in Tibet, but the people there are equal now, having the opportunity to enhance their livelihood and enjoy religious freedom.
"I was told that the life expectancy was about 30 years in 1959. Tibet had few schools, no universities, no hospitals, no clinics, but now the life expectancy is 73 years and there are many universities," said Deva.
When asked about the Tibetan culture, he said, "As I saw, the universities in Tibet have collected and got manuscripts going back to the 12th century."
Great efforts were made to collect, preserve, restore and protect Tibetan manuscripts, Buddhist writings and artifacts, the legislator said, adding "Tibet museums are displaying the magnificent history of the region."
Deva called on ethnic minorities living in other countries and regions, such as in Australia, Sri Lanka and those in Africa, to come to Tibet and have a look at the marvelous developments in the past decades.
"I am a senior adviser to the president of Sri Lanka and have briefed him about my trip to Tibet, telling him Tibet is an example of how to help the groups. So he is thinking about that," said Deva.
The experienced lawmaker has suggested local authorities in Tibet hold a conference on methods and achievements in assisting ethnic minorities.