DHARAMSALA URGES FOREIGN DONORS TO MAKE SURE THAT TIBETANS ARE THE REAL BENEFICIARIES OF FOREIGN AID
Development in Tibet must not be at the expense of Tibetans and their culture
DHARAMSALA, 29 June 2002– “While we welcome the fact that a large foreign aid has been given to Tibet in the last twenty years, we urge the international community and the donor agencies to develop stricter mechanisms to ensure that the real beneficiaries are the Tibetan people themselves,” said Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala.
Professor Samdhong Rinpoche was reacting to the announcement made at the recent seminar held in Beijing this week on international cooperation in Tibet that in the past twenty years Tibet has received 90 million US dollars in grants. “There is legitimate concern among Tibetans that foreign investment and aid is being used by the Chinese authorities to increase repression and control over the Tibetan people,” Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said.
“To avoid this, we urge the donor agencies to actively consult the Tibetan people and use the grants as suggested by the Tibetans themselves. This is the recommendation made by the representative of the UN Development Programme who said that Tibetans should be allowed more say in the development of their homeland and the protection of their cultural heritage if Beijing wants increased foreign aid to Tibet. The UN Development Programme representative at the seminar also said that a major guarantee for the success of any development is the active participation and capacity building of the local population. The Central Tibetan Administration welcomes this recommendation and urge the donor agencies to follow this,” said Professor Samdhong Rinpoche.
Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said that China’s policies geared towards increasing the urbanisation of Tibet, its ongoing railway construction linking Lhasa to the major cities in China and its failed attempt to solicit World Bank funding for the resettlement of about 60,000 Chinese famers on the Tibetan region of Tulan are clear evidence that China treats the development of Tibet as a means to increase its control of Tibet and to exploit its vast resources.
“The development work in Tibet does not benefit the Tibetans,” Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said. “On the contrary, the trend and pace of the present development projects has marginalised the Tibetans economically. The Tibetans are losing out on their traditional occupations, thus resulting in increasing un-employment and widespread poverty. The development work in Tibet is designed to benefit the influx of Chinese settlers in Tibet.”
In fact, the compulsions that drive China to speed up the development process in Tibet are political. The development of Tibet is one component of China’s overall project called the western China development programme. This programme is driven more by China’s strategic fears than genuine concern for the poverty of this vast region inhabited by what China calls its minorities.
“For these reasons,” Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said, “the donor agencies must be extremely careful in financing large-scale projects that undermine Tibetan culture and serve Chinese strategic purpose. For the donor agencies the Central Tibetan Administration has circulated a guideline for international development projects and sustainable development in Tibet,” Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said.
The Tibetan guide recommends that every project must be geared towards increasing the Tibetan people’s ability to maintain their culture and must be based on respect for the Tibetan people’s traditional wisdom regarding their landscape and their survival techniques. The guideline can be obtained by visiting www.tibet.net or www.tibet.com.
Contacts: Thubten Samphel
Sonam N. Dagpo
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