Statement of Mr. Pema Jungney, the Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile) to the World Parliamentary Forum, Mumbai, India, 19 January 2004


January 19, 2004 12:00 am

Statement of Mr. Pema Jungney, the Chairman of the
Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile) to
the World Parliamentary Forum, Mumbai, India, 19 January 2004

Honourable Chairperson and distinguished parliamentarians from around the world,

At the outset I would like to thank you Chairperson and your
secretariat for once again considering the participation of members
from the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples Deputies (Tibetan
Parliament-in-Exile) to this important forum. I on behalf of all my
colleagues and the six million Tibetan people thank you all
parliamentarians for upholding the right to freedom of expression or
opinion of the Tibetans at this gathering. I wish to clearly state here
that we Tibetans had no intention to cause any inconvenience to your
schedule or deliberations when three of our parliamentarians applied
for participation.

Let me first of all briefly introduce to you our parliament. The
Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies is the highest legislative organ
of the Tibetan refugee community. It was instituted in 1960. The
creation of this democratically-elected body was one of the major
changes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has brought about in his
efforts to introduce a democratic system of administration. The
Assembly consists of 46 elected members. U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, the
three traditional provinces of Tibet, elect ten members each while the
four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon faith elect
two members each. Tibetans elect three deputies in the west: two from
Europe and one from North America. In addition, three members with
distinction in the fields of art, science, literature and community
service are nominated directly by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

If I may touch now on the Sino-Tibetan conflict and the way forward
towards a lasting solution to the grave problem in Tibet, on the
Tibetan Government in Exile’s policy towards China, we had consistently
supported His Holiness’ Five 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.

In 2002 and 2003, the Chinese authorities received His Holiness the
Dalai Lama’s envoys to visit China and Tibet. The re-establishment of
direct contact with the Chinese leadership has been a positive and
welcome development. The Tibetan delegates, on their return to
Dharamsala, reported of extensive exchanges of views on the Tibetan
issue in Beijing in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. His Holiness the
Dalai Lama was pleased with the delegates’ reports and instructed them
to continue the contact with the aim of leading the current process to
honest and substantive negotiations on the issue of Tibet

There is now an urgent need for the two sides to raise the level of the
current contact to achieve substantive dialogue on the future political
status of Tibet. We believe that the Chinese leadership should now
demonstrate its seriousness and sincerity to resolve the issue of Tibet
through peaceful negotiations. We also believe that the expression of
international concern over the current situation in Tibet will help
push Beijing towards substantive negotiations.

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.

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 un-employed Chinese workers
to migrate to the Tibetan inhabited areas. This policy has the
advantage of solving the growing un-employment 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.

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 supporting our participation to this distinguished forum and appeal
to you all to help us in our struggle. I sincerely hope that this
conference will enable us to forge a closure network amongst
parliamentarians to build another world, a world of peace, justice and
democratic values. A world where non-violence will become the ultimate
weapon to resolve global conflicts. A world which will support to “Make
Tibet a Zone of Peace and Non-violence.” Thank you,