November 12, 2003

Keynote Address of Mr. Pema Jungney, Chairman of the
Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, at the European Parliament Forum
on Tibet, on EU response to Sino-Tibetan Dialogue at the European
Parliament,Brussels, Belgium, 12 November 2003

Tibetan Government in Exile’s Policy Towards China

Honourable EPP-ED Chairman Mr. Hans-Gert Poeterring; Honourable
President of the European Parliament Tibet Intergroup, Mr. Thomas Mann;
Honourable Chairman of the EP committee on Foreign Affairs, Human
Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, Mr. Elmar Brok, Honourable
President of the Italian Parliamentary Group for Tibet, Mr. Gianni
Vernetti; Executive Director of Laogai Research Foundation, our Chinese
friend, Mr. Harry Wu; Former Ambassador and Secretary of the Indian
Ministry of External Affairs, Mr. Dalip Mehta; Former Education
Minister and President of SOS Tibetan Children’s Village, Mrs. Jetsun
Pema la; Envoy of His Holiness in Europe, Mr. Kalsang Gyaltsen; the
Honourable members of EP and the distinguished guests.

At the outset I would like to thank the European Parliament’s Tibet
Inter-group, European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human
Rights, Common Security and Defense Policy, European Parliament’s China
delegation for organising this timely European Parliament Forum on
Tibet: European Union’s Response to Sino-Tibetan Dialogue. On behalf of
all my colleagues and the people of Tibet, I would like to convey our
appreciation and warm wishes to the organisers and participants at this
important conference.

The European Parliament has taken several important initiatives on the
issue of Tibet, especially the 1998 resolution which calls for the
appointment of an EU Special Representative for Tibet and the 2000
resolution calling for the governments of the member states to
seriously consider the possibility of recognising the Tibetan
Government-in-Exile as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan
people if the Beijing authorities and Dharamsala have not signed an
agreement on a new statute on Tibet within three years. We have
expressed our appreciation for these important steps and I take this
opportunity to personally convey the gratitude of the Tibetan people
outside and inside Tibet.

Though these are important steps that we hope will contribute to
mitigating the appalling human rights situation in Tibet, we still feel
that especially in the field of human rights the European Union should
be more assertive and consistent in urging China to uphold the
principles of civil liberties and individual freedoms. In this
connection we express our disappointment over the failure to mention
Tibet and the ongoing human rights abuses there in the joint press
statement issued after the conclusion of the sixth EU-China Summit held
in Beijing on 30 October 2003. We appeal to the European Union through
this forum that the values that you so cherish like individual freedom,
democracy and human rights should be raised while bilaterally engaging
China.

Coming to my presentation on Tibetan Government in Exile’s Policy
Towards China, we had consistently supported His Holiness’ 5-Point
Peace Plan and the Strasbourg Proposal. His Holiness in 1994, proposed
a referendum by the Tibetan people to decide on the future course of
the Tibetan struggle. Tibetan people expressed their complete faith in
His Holiness’ leadership and decided not to have a referendum and to
follow whatever His Holiness decides on the future course of Tibet,
considering the changes and developments in the global political
scenario. Based on the overwhelming peoples’ aspirations, the
Parliament passed a unanimous decision to this effect by bestowing full
powers to His Holiness. Consequent to the Tibetan people and
parliament’s decision, His Holiness in his 1998 10th March Statement
said ” I wish to thank the people of Tibet for the tremendous trust,
confidence and hope they placed in me. I continue to believe that my
middle way approach is the most realistic and pragmatic course to
resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully. This approach meets the vital
needs of the Tibetan people while ensuring the unity and the stability
of the People’s Republic of China. I will therefore, continue to pursue
this course of approach with full commitment and make earnest efforts
to reach out to the Chinese leadership” and the same approach continues
today. With this, I hope the Tibetan government’s policy towards PRC is
crystal clear.

For this reason we have decided to seek a negotiated, peaceful,
mutually beneficial settlement with China and since we have already
rebuilt contacts with the Chinese leadership, the focus of the movement
should be on urging, pressurising, lobbying and facilitating by all
non-violent means in our common effort to expedite the process of
negotiations. We dont have much time. The very identity of the
Tibetans is at stake, leave alone their unique culture, religion and
language. If no solution is found as soon as possible, the coming
decades will turn Tibetans into something like native Indians in
America and aborigines in Australia. That will be very sad because the
Tibetans have a lot to offer to global peace and harmony.

The Tibetan Government-in-Exile has taken all measures to create
conducive atmosphere for dialogue. We do not feel that a lot of time is
needed to understand our proposal. We have climbed down from our
historical right of complete independence to genuine autonomy, the most
important part of which is to turn the whole of Tibet into a zone of
Ahimsa, where human and nature can coexist in harmony. Tibet should be
totally demilitarized and it should be the centre of learning and for
the promotion of peace throughout the world. The PRC should stop the
sinofication of Tibet. It is now the turn of the Peoples Republic of
China to reciprocate our goodwill because we are not seeking separation
from China. Many fear that PRC might use delaying tactics to avoid
international criticism. If such is the case, it will not bode well for
the future of China. It will prove to be a historic mistake for the
Chinese leadership.

Despite rebuilding contacts and an attitudinal change in the new
Chinese leadership, there is no visible change for the better, in the
situation of Tibetans inside Tibet. Our concern on the appalling human
rights situation in Tibet have been expressed so many times and once
again I use this forum to urge the European Parliament and the Union to
impress upon China the importance of releasing all prisoners of
conscience, including Tulku Tenzin Delek who faces a death sentence and
the young Panchen Lama who has not been seen since he and his parents
were put under house arrest in 1995.

Besides our huge concern on the continued violations by the Chinese
authorities of the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people,
including and especially their rights to freedom of speech and worship,
there are two areas of enormous concern to us. They are Beijing’s
overall Western China Development Programme and the ongoing railway
line construction to connect Lhasa and Central Tibet with China’s vast
network of rail lines. These development projects when completed will
facilitate the immigration of China’ excess population onto the Tibetan
plateau and this will further erode the ability of the Tibetan people
to hold on to their distinct cultural heritage and ethnic identity.

The Western China Development Programme is aimed to create the
infrastructure to facilitate the exploitation of the vast natural
resources and to encourage the millions of unemployed Chinese workers
to migrate to the Tibetan inhabited areas. This policy has the
advantage of solving the growing unemployment in China’s coastal areas
and other big Chinese cities and integrating the minority regions more
firmly under the control of Beijing by flooding them with Chinese
settlers.

And the signs of what the new railway line portent for Tibet are
everywhere. On 29 October this year, the Los Angeles Times published a
report from Tibet called Tibetans fear strangulation by Rail. The
report says, “Lhasa already has the look and feel of a Chinese city,
with Chinese-style buildings and Chinese billboards proliferating
across town. More than half the 200,000 residents here are believed to
be Chinese. Even the main boulevard in front of the Dalai Lama’s holy
Potala Palace is named Beijing Road. Most of the people flocking to the
palace are Chinese tourists. Officials hope the new train will bring
more of them to boost the local economy.” Roads and Railways, building
and mining policies, which work against the natural environment and the
interest of the Tibetan people are being enforced with impunity. This
would accelerate wiping out anything Tibetan in Tibet in the coming
decades, there would be nothing left to save Tibet.

I am sure the European Union and member states must certainly be tired
of our repeated attempts to dwell on human rights and the need for
China to respect these rights. But we on our part have no alternative
except to turn to the free and industrialised world to persuade China
to respect these rights. We feel that it is the responsibility of the
West, which has so much leverage on China to see that the rights of the
downtrodden are protected and safeguarded. If the free world fails to
speak up for the downtrodden, who will speak on their behalf? Who will
see that the dispossessed and the repressed people of the earth are
given back their dignity and rights? If the free and powerful do not
speak up on behalf of the oppressed, who do the weak to turn for
justice and fairness? If the West believes that its core values of
individual freedoms and human dignity are universal and the rest of the
world has the same right to enjoy these freedoms, then the West must
pursue this with uncompromising persistence.

We are forced to make this appeal because the manner and the vigour in
which China is pursuing its policies in Tibet makes it distressingly
clear that Tibet with its unique cultural heritage and civilisation
will not survive the next several decades. Along with continued
trampling upon the human rights of the Tibetan people, China is
stepping up its economic development policies that not only marginalise
the Tibetan people but will do irreversible and fundamental damage to
the heritage of the Tibetan people and the eco-system that has
sustained them.

We feel that the European Union’s consistent efforts to lighten the
burden of the Tibetan people are especially vital and much needed
because the Tibetan struggle led by His Holiness the Dalai Lam is a
non-violent one. At a time when international community is facing the
danger of terrorism, we Tibetans like to remind the international
community that the best way to tackle global terrorism to support
non-violent struggles. Successful non-violent struggles will become a
model for effective conflict resolutions.

Two concrete steps the European Union could take is to appoint a
Special EU Representative for Tibet, whose mandate would be to network
within the EU leadership and facilitate meaningful and substantive
negotiations between Dharamsala and Beijing so that the issue of Tibet
could be solved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. If the
Chinese leadership tries delaying tactics in the guise of building
contacts, then the Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies call upon
the European Union to implement its parliament resolution which calls
upon member states to recognise the Tibetan Government-in-Exile as the
legitimate representative of the Tibetan people if the Beijing
authorities and Dharamsala have not signed an agreement on a new
statute on Tibet within three years.

Here I would like to say that the issue of Tibet is not an issue
whether the Tibetans in exile can return to our homeland. The reason
why we are involved in the struggle for Tibet is to ensure that China
ends the present appalling human rights situation and improves the
condition to the satisfaction of the Tibetan people.

Once again I would like to thank the organisers and the participants
for organising and attending this conference. I sincerely hope that
this conference will enable to forge a more effective strategy that
will end the suffering of the Tibetan people.

Thank you.

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