His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message to the 5th International Tibet Support Group conference in Belgium, from 11-14 May 2007
6 May 2007
I HAD HOPED that I would be able to join you all at this conference to
personally express my gratitude and to share my thoughts on the issue
of Tibet, which is of concern to all of us. However, the Belgian
Government shared with me their predicament on account of pressure from
the People’s Republic of China in connection with the upcoming visit of
Belgian trade delegation led by the Crown Prince. At the same time they
made it clear that they are a democratic country and if I chose to come
I would be welcomed. They further informed me of the continued
widespread interest in Tibet in Belgium. Having considered the
situation, I have decided not to visit Brussels this time.
I understand the situation of the Belgian Government. I am
aware of the strong support that the people and the Government of
Belgium have extended to the Tibetan people in the past. I do not want
to cause any inconvenience to the Government. I am aware that my
decision will disappoint many of you. I ask for your understanding.
Even though I will not be able to participate this time, Prof.
Samdhong Rinpoche, the elected head of the Central Tibetan
Administration, will be there to share with you our views. It is
important to realize that the issue is not about me or the Dalai Lama
institution. It is an issue of six million Tibetans.
As you are all aware, almost immediately after coming into
exile I gave the highest priority to establishing a system of
governance for the Tibetan people fully based on democratic principles.
I am very proud that today in exile we now have a fully functioning
Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche is the democratically elected leader of
the Tibetans living in freedom. He also enjoys my full trust and
confidence. In a way, I have already delegated much of the
administrative and political decisions to the democratically elected
leadership and consider myself as semi-retired. However, because of the
immense love and trust that the Tibetan people, particularly those
inside Tibet, have placed on me, it is my moral responsibility to act
as their free spokesperson until a mutually satisfactory solution to
the Tibet problem is found.
For the last many years I have done everything within my means
to resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue with the Chinese
leadership. The last meeting between the concerned Chinese officials
and my envoys took place in February 2006. These discussions have
provided us an opportunity to explain to the Chinese authorities the
legitimate needs of the Tibetan people and at the same time China’s
concerns about unity and stability. For the Tibetan people to be able
to fully realize their legitimate rights to maintain their distinctive
identity it is essential that all the Tibetan areas be provided the
opportunity to be governed under a single administrative unit. The
Tibetan people should be given genuine regional autonomy.
This aspiration of the Tibetan people is in accordance with the
constitution of the People’s Republic of China as well as the Law on
Regional Ethnic Autonomy. The late Panchen Lama said that the desire
for the establishment of an autonomous region for unified Tibetan
nationality was appropriate and was in accordance with the legal rules.
He also said that this demand was in line with the views of the Tibetan
Meanwhile other issues of concern to us are the continuing
trampling upon the human rights of the Tibetan people and degradation
of Tibet’s delicate environment. The large scale Chinese population
transfer on the Tibetan Plateau is leading to the socio-economic
marginalization of the Tibetan people. It is also posing a serious
threat to the preservation of our unique ancient Tibetan culture,
including our spirituality.
Despite the reestablishment of contact with the Chinese
government since 2002, we have seen no improvement inside Tibet. In
fact, repression has only increased, naturally leading to growing
frustration among many Tibetans, both inside and outside of Tibet, and
more criticism of our Middle-Way policy. I hope that this conference
will provide an opportunity for the participants to have open and frank
discussions leading to constructive suggestions.
I have said this elsewhere and I would like to say it here. The
Tibet movement has attracted worldwide support because of the universal
principles the Tibetan people have incorporated into their struggle.
These principles are non-violence, democracy, dialogue, compromise,
respect for the other party’s genuine concern, and for our common
In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to
Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung for its consistent support in empowering the
TSG movement and to thank all of you who have gathered here and also
for those who are not here, for your support for the just cause of the
Tibetan people. Your support remains a source of inspiration and
strength for the Tibetans in and outside Tibet.