December 10, 2015
Speaker Penpa Tsering of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile

Speaker Penpa Tsering of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (file pic)

Today is a unique and auspicious day. This day commemorates the World Human Rights Day of 10th December, 1989 when the earth’s highest and most majestic recognition of accomplishment, the Nobel Peace Prize, was conferred on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the divinely obligated protector deity of all sentient beings of the Snowland of Tibet, the embodiment of compassion among the pantheon of enlightened beings, and the supreme Bodhisattva-lord of this earthly realm in human manifestation. With the presentation of this award, the reputation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a great champion of world peace and information underlying the justness of the Tibetan issue spread across the vast terrains of this world. On this fortunate occasion of commemorating this uniquely auspicious day, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, speaking on behalf of all Tibetans in Tibet and in exile, offer our greetings with happiness, faith and elation, and with reaffirmation of gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In his efforts to bring peace, freedom, and happiness across the world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has shouldered hundred-fold hardships, travelling repeatedly to many places in countries both in the East and West for those purposes. During those multitudes of travels, His Holiness has delivered messages of compassion, kindness, tolerance, altruism, non-violence and so on. They were given in languages marked by simplicity of words and terms adapted to affording instant comprehension by all sections of his devout listeners in keeping with the diversity of their mentalities and yet which also fully conveyed the profundity of their meanings. In this milieu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has, in particular, directed his efforts at ensuring harmony amongst the followers of the different religious traditions in this world on the basis of adhering to their own beliefs and solidarity. He has made efforts to explain and thereby spread his message of secular ethnics. Besides, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made special efforts to charter a new course in the form of a dialogue between science and religion. Because of these and other kinds of highly laudable efforts in which he has continued to be fully involved at all times, honours and awards recognizing his contributions have been presented to him in enormous numbers and without any abatement. Therefore on behalf of all the Tibetan people who flourish under the protective shelter of his compassionate deeds, we offer His Holiness the Dalai Lama words of infinite gratitude with a sense of great joy and obeisance.

The Nobel Peace Prize for this year of 2015 was awarded to and will be presented to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. The group was awarded the prize because it had, in order to bring about reconciliation between groups with mutually opposed positions, taken steps to address the causes of their differences in their thinking in a gradual manner so that a harmonious society could evolve and take root in the country in due course of time. This is what the Nobel Peace prize recognition to the group represents and it is no doubt a worthy example for others to follow. The Tibetan Parliament in Exile therefore takes this opportunity to offer its congratulations and compliment to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.

In its announcement of reasons for the conferment of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Committee said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the leader of the Tibetan people, is a person whose priority is to strive for harmonious coexistence in this world by relying solely on the approach of mutual respect, tolerance, and non-violence. It is on this basis that he has accomplished the admirable results of the preservation of the unique historical and cultural heritage of his people with all their noble qualities. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a person who strives to protect in an effective way the rights and interests of the entire humanity as well as of the world’s natural environment. In addition, he has consistently offered constructive suggestions for the resolution of all types of international conflicts in a peaceful manner.”

At that time, His Holiness said in one of his responses to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee that the conferment of the world’s most reputed peace prize on him signified recognition for those who pursue their goals by relying solely on the path of peace and non-violence and likewise as a profound attempt to fully understand all aspects of the situation in his world. He therefore called it an especially ennobling compliment. He spoke of his commitment at all times to adhere to the ideals of compassion, kindness, tolerance, and altruism with a sense of affection towards others. He said that to treat all others in this world with a sense of respect was something that everyone could practice for ensuring the happiness and well being of both oneself and others, adding that this approach was both important and a priority. Besides, His Holiness the Dalai Lama also said that he was since childhood inspired by Mahatma Gandhi of India who had renounced all kinds of violence and who had committed himself to relying solely on the method of non-violence and that he had always admired and praised him for it.

From the international community, the most effective support for the Tibetan people’s struggle for their just cause comes due to the position or policy of Middle Way Approach which is currently the fundamental stand of the Central Tibetan Administration and which is the desire of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1956, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited India, he had expressed a desire to stay back in the country. However, at that time, the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, pointing to several of the provisions of the 17-Point Agreement, told His Holiness that on the fundamental issue of Tibet, it was for the Tibetan people inside Tibet alone to fight for it; that there was no way the major powers of the world such as the United States of America will take on China, including by engaging in a war to help the Tibetan people. Given this ground reality, he conveyed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama his opinion that it would be better if he returned to Tibet. His Holiness took this advice to heart and returned to Tibet. He then tried to work with the Chinese government in accordance with the provisions of the 17-Point Agreement imposed by China. However, the communist Chinese government itself not only gradually violated provisions of that agreement but also made the situation in Tibet so tragic and unbearable through armed aggression and various other means that His Holiness was left with no other option but to escape into exile to India.

However the issue of Tibet is such that there is no other way to ensure its resolution but only by undergoing the trials and tribulations of exposing oneself to the fires – and risking the burns – of dealing with the Chinese government. It was for this reason that since 1974 His Holiness the Dalai Lama held a series of discussions with the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and other top officials of the Central Tibetan Administration on the subject of his proposal for a Middle Way Approach to dealing with the Government of China. And in keeping with the opinions of the general Tibetan public, he explained his proposal in his speeches before the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the European Parliament at Strasbourg. The opinions of the general Tibetan public were again sought thereafter and more than 64 percent of the Tibetan people expressed their support for the proposal. Hence, it was with the highest standard of democratic support that the Middle Way Approach was adopted by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile in keeping with the democratic process. Hence the Middle Way Approach is the fundamental policy of the Central Tibetan Administration.

However, there are still a fair number of those who, failing to give in-depth consideration to the imperatives underlying the adoption of the Middle Way Approach, give all sorts of interpretations to this policy. The reality is that the Tibetan people are today faced with a dire situation marked by crippling hardship, with the dangers being obvious that it will not be long before the identity of Tibet and the Tibetan people, their precious culture and religious traditions, and their noble traditions and customs could disappear. His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his concerns about this situation in his speech during the ceremony of Long-Life Offering made to him on the Buddha’s Descend from Heaven festival day on 3 November 2015 at the Thekchen Choeling Tsuglakhang. At that time the monastic and laypeople of Sogshoe offered to him a gold medal while the monastic and laypeople of Barkham Rongpo offered to him a golden Dharma wheel. And in his speech, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “Today we have arrived into the 20th and 21st centuries. Phenomenal changes are taking place across the world. Given this reality, we should proceed on the basis of being of benefit to one another. This is what the Middle Way Approach is about. Today you have told me that you follow the Middle Way Policy with a genuine sense of commitment and belief in it and that there is no change in your stand. This had made me feel enormously happy. The Dalai Lama is a person with concern about Tibet. He will think only about what is beneficial to Tibet. He has shouldered responsibility as the temporal head and spiritual leader of Tibet for nearly 60 years. Today, when I have reached 80 years of age and am in retirement and am being told that what I had done was improper, sometimes I feel a little disappointed. I have worked with a genuine sense of commitment. If instead of being thanked I am now told that there has been a shortcoming on my part, I feel upset. Do you understand? Hence, being told that you are wholeheartedly committed to the approach that we have adopted as our fundamental stand and are working diligently for it has made me feel very happy. I want to express my thanks to you for it.” Such were the kind of saddening things His Holiness the Dalai Lama felt constrained to say in his speech. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the heart in the bosom of all Tibetans, and the eyes on their brows and we all refer to him as the “wish-fulfilling precious one”. He is our great patron and the object of gratitude for both this life and our next life as well as for all time realms. That His Holiness himself felt driven to express such a feeling of disappointment in his speech is a cause of unbearable concern in our hearts. It is of utmost importance that all Tibetans discern with clarity the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the basis of the reality of his words and deeds. Besides, we all should bear in mind at all times the gratitude we owe to His Holiness for his kindness and show concern for the greater good of the collective merits of the Tibetan public in general on the basis of the approach of “no mistakes, no regret”. The time to do that is now and we take this opportunity to reiterate our appeal accordingly.

From the side of the leadership of the Chinese government too, there should be an actual implementation of the approach of seeking truth from facts, which is something they talk about all the time, instead of adhering stubbornly to their currently rigid hardline policy. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has offered a Middle Way Approach which does not seek “victory for oneself and defeat for the other side” but is mutually beneficial to both the Chinese and Tibetan sides and which is, in particular, fully within the framework of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. The Middle Way Policy therefore offers a basis for a solution to the problems on both the Chinese and Tibetan sides. It will enable China to see the fulfilment of its desire that Tibet should not secede from it. The desire of the Tibetan people not to see their traditional identity, religious traditions, culture, and environment disappearing or destroyed will also be fulfilled. We therefore reiterate our appeal to the leaders of China to pick up the requisite amount of substantive courage to realize in a timely manner the imperative to work for the fulfilment of these aspirations.

Today is an important day also for the reason that it commemorates the World Human Rights Day. However, in Tibet there is no end even to this day to the endless campaigns by such means as self-immolations by the Tibetan people, indicating in unmistakable terms the total absence of respect for human rights there. In addition to the extremely poor human rights situation, restrictions on the Tibetan people keep on being tightened without any limit. For example, the Chinese government of Kham Driru Dzong has implemented various kinds of numerous controls and restrictions on the local Tibetans’ religious freedom. The monasteries have been placed under controls and restrictions in all aspects of their functioning; monks and nuns have been expelled from their religious institutions, and bans and restrictions have been placed on the local laypeople’s practice of their religious faith. The monasteries have been turned into semblances of Chinese government offices while monks and nuns have been forced to act like members of the Communist Party of China. These have been highlighted by the Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in a recent report. With great concern over the urgency of the situation, the centre’s report appealed to the international media and human rights organizations to pay attention and put pressure on the government of China to end the repressive practices. The centre referred to the fact that on 19 September 2015 the Driru County government notified a Document No. 224. And the document’s title stated that it was to “deepen further than before the work to carry out rectification and purge and to make new models of the religious community”. The title referred to “Four Powers” with regard to the monasteries and called for legal means for their further enforcement with a thorough identifying of those to be entrusted with responsibilities under it. It was notified as a criminal law enforcement measure to be implemented on a temporary basis. The Document was in three Parts, had 24 Chapters and 74 Sections and was circulated among the relevant County, Township/ town-level offices, Monastery Management Committees, relevant management committees, monastic and village based permanently stationed cadres. The document called for strict control over the religious activities of the monasteries and further strengthening of measures to ensure that the monasteries adhere to the ceiling on the number of monks and nuns allowed to be enrolled in each religious institution, for the expulsion of monks and nuns not legally to register to enrol in them and so on. It is impossible to mention here all the numerous information about the repressive measures. However, in can be stated that they lead to the conclusion that the measures were designed to fundamentally destroy the traditional identity of the Tibetan people as well as their religion and culture with the sole aim to transform Tibet into a colony of China. Likewise, the campaign of investigating corruption in Tibet was ordered was to be used as a means to resolutely crackdown on officials and party members who follow the Dalai Lama. Thus party and government officials showing religious faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama, people believing in religion, those receiving religious teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and those who had sent their children to study in schools run by the “dalai clique” have been ordered to be placed under investigation. In the case of the situation in a place like Driru Dzong, the enormity of the tragedy resembles the period of the Great Cultural Revolution which had wrecked China in the past. In the Ngaba region of Tibet, China very recently tried and jailed two Tibetan Buddhist monks for over three years. Other Tibetans continue to be arrested. Besides, even today, countless numbers of innocent Tibetans, including especially the young Panchen Rinpoche reincarnation, continue to remain disappeared after they were taken away or jailed. And under the violent repression of the Chinese government, they continue to endure untold suffering, including beating and torture. We therefore also take this opportunity to make a strong appeal to the international human rights organizations and others to bring urgent pressure on the government of China to release these innocent Tibetans forthwith and also to put an immediate end to its unrestrained atrocities on the Tibetan people which are not only inhuman but in gross violation of all norms of international law.

With a view that the aspiration of the Tibetan people in Tibet who with indomitable courage and a selfless sense of brotherhood towards fellow-Tibetans continue to protest against the government of China, as well as with the hope that their immediate suffering may be seen come to an end, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile has continued to carry out a series of campaign action. These have included carrying out various kinds of appeal actions directed at governments across the world, parliaments, prominent public figures, the news media, and the general public; and our campaigns continue without end. From the international community too there has been continuing support with showing of understanding, active displays of concern, and showing of sympathy and solidarity. We take this opportunity to thank all those in the international community who have given us support and emphatically urge them for continued support in future too.

Just recently, a delegation of members from the United States House of Representatives led by former House Speaker Ms. Nancy Pelso – who is also the current House Democratic and Minority leader – was able to visit China and Tibet and we offer them our congratulations. The members of the delegation discussed the issue of Tibet with the Chinese leaders both in Tibet and in Beijing. Again, recently, Mr. Christoph Straesser, the Human Rights Commissioner of the German government, visited China and parts of Tibet to investigate the human rights situation there and also discussed the issue of Tibet with Chinese leaders. We offer our thanks to him too. We remain hopeful that in future too, delegations like these from other countries as well as journalists will also make efforts to undertake visits to Tibet. We also call on the government of China to allow delegations, journalists, and others from other countries to undertake their visits without any orchestration or stage-management of events or concealment of the real situation in Tibet.

The Snowland of Tibet, which is known as the roof of the world, is the reserviour of the largest concentration of glacial ice after the two poles of the globe. Its environment in general and especially the fact that it is a critically important source of rivers that flow into many countries of Asia makes the situation there an area of major international concern. Nevertheless, today, under the implementation of a policy of violent repression, the government of China is ravaging the environment there in the courses of exploiting its mineral resources, damming and building of related other kinds of infrastructure over its rivers, by converting the territory’s nomadic grassland into newly built townships and so on. Information about the devastation being unleashed on the Tibetan plateau in such manners under Chinese rule have been publicized and distributed during the global climate conference which is being organized by United Nations and which opened recently in the French Capital Paris. Tibetan delegates visiting the conference have strongly drawn the attention of world leaders, especially the government of China, to the urgent need to protect the environment of the Tibetan Plateau and the issue also became a subject of discussion at the conference. We appeal that in future too, the environmental situation in Tibet and ways to protect it be discussed with the critical importance it deserves in all international and national meetings concerned with the issue of environmental protection.

Along with commemorating today as the anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an International Himalayan Festival is being held here at Dharamshala. This occasion is also being organized by the local host community to honour His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his noble deeds and to symbolize the bond of unassailable friendship between the Tibetan people and the local Indian people. These are highly laudable objectives and we take this opportunity to express our thanks to all those who are participating in the festival, including those who are taking the responsibility to organize it. The gratitude we owe for the friendship and help the government and people of India both in the centre and the state could never be forgotten. Today, we again reiterate our gratitude to them and appeal to everyone to continue to jointly contribute towards strengthening the existing fraternity between the Tibetan and Indian peoples.

Finally, we pray that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and all the great religious leaders of Tibet live a long life, that all their noble wishes spontaneously fulfilled, that peace and well being be ensured for all the sentient beings of this world, and that the just cause of the Tibetan people may be accomplished in all speediness.

The Tibetan Parliament in Exile

10th December 2015

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