- Action Plan
- Keynote Address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- Welcome Address by Dr. Otto Count Lambsdorff, Chairman, Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung
- Welcome Address by Kalon Tashi Wangdi, Minister for Information & International Relations, CTA
- Address of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman, Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies
- Address of Mr. Tashi Wangdi, Kalon for Information & International Relations, CTA
- Address of Mr. Tempa Tsering, Secretary, Department of Information & International Relations, CTA
We have tried to draft an action plan keeping in mind a number of aspects. The first aspect it should give us, as well as other Tibet Support Groups, a sense of an overall common strategy or strategic objective. Second, some specific programs, which Tibet Support Groups can participate in or can be lead, and third, strengthened and improved communications for information system.
One of the messages which has been clearly brought out during the discussions is the uniqueness of the Tibetan movement, uniqueness in the fact that it is the only non-violent movement for liberation which has a State and a government of its own. This point of view was also highlighted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The uniqueness and the strength of the Tibetan movement are that it is actually a state-in -exile or a government-in-exile. We should not forget this important point especially in the light of the fact that we have all agreed to convince other governments, the UN organizations and other bodies to recognize Tibet and the Tibetan Government as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan People.
We also have to find the right road as Tibet Support Groups, between the essential elements of Tibet Support Groups being independent in the sense they are not part of the government establishment and do not represent the government, and at the same time being a part of the movement which supports the recognized leadership of the Tibetans.
The other aspect which has come out strongly not in terms of specific programs but as something we have to be aware of when we go back, is the sense of urgency and renewed determination reflected in this conference.
CONFERENCE CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLANS
From June 14 to 17, 1996 some two hundred and sixty five representatives of Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) from sixty-five countries met in the parliamentary hall of the Wasserwerk building in Bonn, Germany, to develop new strategies and action plans in support of the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom.
The conference was graced by the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who addressed its opening session.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasized the need for continued and increased international support for the non-violent struggle of the Tibetans. His Holiness reaffirmed his commitment to non-violence, and pointed out that Tibet’s struggle could serve as a model for a new way of resolving conflicts.
On the other hand, if the Tibetan effort was allowed to fail due to insufficient support, this would be a tragedy for non-violence, with repercussions well beyond Tibet.
The Dalai Lama once again affirmed that even though Tibet was an independent state and has the right to regain its independence, he continues to be willing to enter into negotiations on the basis of Deng Xiaoping’s commitment that anything except total independence could be negotiated and resolved. The Dalai Lama said that he believed if serious negotiations were to take place, he was certain that a mutually acceptable solution could be found.
In order to save Tibet and the interests of protecting the Tibetan identity and culture from destruction, the Dalai Lama stated he would be prepared to consider genuine self-government for Tibet. But China’s insistence on claiming that Tibat is a part of China makes it important for us and the TSGs to understand the true status of Tibet, and to speak out on the truth: that Tibet is a country under occupation.
COMMON STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE
The conference participants deliberated for two-and-a-half-days. On Monday, June 17, they agreed that the overall common strategic objective must be to achieve the start of substantive negotiations without preconditions between the Chinese and Tibetan Governments, so that they could find a solution which will bring an end to the suffering of the Tibetan people, in accordance with the people’s right to self-determination. The conference felt a sense of urgency in that matter.
Other Governments, individually, in regional groupings and international fora, must be persuaded to adopt the start of such negotiations without preconditions as a primary element of their policy on China and Tibet.
A solution to the Tibet issue through dialogue is essential not only for the Tibetan and Chinese peoples but also for the international community as a whole which needs to demonstrate clearly that a non-violent approach to conflict resolution will be recognizes and supported, and can achieve a positive solution.
This overall strategic objective must be kept at the forefront of all TSG activities, including the actions proposed in this action plan.
THE PANCHEN LAMA
Deep concern was expressed at the continued detention of the young Panchen Lama by the Chinese authorities. A specific compaign should be lunched on December 10, for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama.
PARLIAMENTARY AND GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES
Raising Tibet at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU): TSGs will approach members of Parliament from their own countries who are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In the short term, activity will centre around around the forthcoming 99th IPU conference in Beijing, from September 16-20 1996. TSG Denmark will take the leadership in this effort, and is preparing a briefing paper on the IPU will reference to this meeting for use of all TSGs. A long-term goal is to achieve observer status for Tibetan parliamentarians in the IPU.
MANUAL FOR PARLIAMENTARY ACTIONS
A manual for TSGs on parliamentary lobbying will wb prepared, with informations concerning previous parliamentary actions, resolutions, and advice on how to lobby. A draft manual will be prepared which will be translated where necessrary and adapted to local circumstances in the various regions of the world by a TSG in each region. The Minister for Informations and International Relations of the Government of Tibet-in-Exile has undertaken to arrange for the preparation, in India, of such a draft manual by October of this year.
The upcoming G7 meeting should be an important focus of lobbying efforts to obtain the adoption of a favourable position on Tibet by the members of the G7, given the difficulty identified by the conference in persuading individual governments to take a position on their own. The ICT will send a compaign briefing to the TSGs in G7 member countries and others that may have influence on a G7 member (e.g. EU countries).
CHINESE ADMISSION TO THE WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION (WTO)
China’s application for WTO membership provides a significant opportunity to focus attention on Tibet: Asia Watch is taking a strong position on China’s application and the International Campaign for Tibet is near to compleating a document on the issue, which will aim to link China’s membership with meaningful negotiations between Tibet and China. This can be used by TSGs to campaign against unconditional Chinese admission to the WTO.
CO-ORDINATION WITH WORLD PARLIAMENTARIANS CONVENTION ON TIBET
In undertaking parliamentary lobbying action, the decisions and resolutions wf the WPCT to be taken into account, and efforts should be undertaken in support of these decisions. One such important decision made in Vilnius at the last meeting of the WPCT was to undertake world-wide efforts to hold parliamentary hearings on Tibet, in which the status and the legitimacy of China’s claims to Tibet would be included. A number of such hearings have already been held. Building on those precedents, more such hearings should be encouraged.
OUTREACH TO THE CHINESE PEOPLE
The conference stressed the importance of reaching out to the Chinese people in China and abroad. TSGs can also paly a role in encouraging meetings of Tibetans and Chinese on a personal level, looking at common issues and not only stressing differences. There is a need to find ways for greater dissemination of information on Tibet among the Chinese, inside and outside China.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE RELATIONS WITH CHINA
Views on appropriate policy for TSGs regarding corporations doing business in China and Tibet and on trade with China ranged between boycott / sanctions on the one hand to co-opting investment and business organisations operating in China, as partners on the other. In this respect, the guidelines adopted by the Government of Tibet-in-Exile, and the study of doing business in Tibet prepared by ICT should serve as important guides in determinig individual TSG policy.
There was a greater consensus on boycotting goods which can be specifically identified as being manufactured by prison and forced labour. Colorado friends of Tibet will liaise on this issue with the Laogai Foundation. In future new initiatives may be taken. Tibetans pointed out that theu too, as a community, need to intensify their owm efforts in relation to any boycott.
The dumping by China of its cheap products in countries world-wide, particularly in the Latin American and developing countires, and the negative impact of this practice on employment in involving trade unions, professional organisations and governments on the Tibet issue.
Expert economic analysis of the Chinese economy is required, together with information on profits / losses being made by companies doind business in China. There is also a need for an analysis of the effects of Chinese investments in different (developing and Latin American) countries. The dangers of contracts not being honoured, losing investments made, and misappropriation of funds should also be researched. Some materials on this issue are to be compiled by the Colorado Friends of Tibet.
INFORMATION SHARING AND CO-ORDINATION
The importance for TSGs having access to accurate information ina timely manner is crucial. A large amount of information on developments in Tibet, gevernment and parliamentary activities, develpoment projects, and TSG activity as well as studies on various issues are available. The conference expressed the urgent need to srengthen the existing e-mail network capability of TSGs: the objective should be to get all TSGs on-line as soon as possible. To this end a number of activities will be undertaken:
The Canada Tibet Committee will distribute a one page listing of computer resources. For those TSGs who are not on the e-mail, a “buddy-system” will be established be the Canada Tibet Committee to find individuals to help those TSGs that do not have access to the Internet to amke effective use of it.
For those TSG who do not have access to e-mail, a “buddy” will assist them to get on-line, or, if that is not possible, to provide them with the necessary information via fax or snail-mail. The stting up of this system is to be also co-ordinated by the Canada Tibet Committee.
The TSG representatives stressed the need for better distribution of information to TSGs on such issues as developments in Tibet, the position of the Government of Tibet-in-Exile on various issues, actions and campaign initiatives of other TSGs, actions of governments or parliaments on Tibet, and documentation, (new) publications and other materials available on Tibet. Possibilities were explored of this being organised from India. The Government of Tibet-in-Exile staed it would appoint one person at DIIR with the specific task of sending such information and maintaining contacts with TSGs. Other options were also looked at.
The need for some form of improved co-ordination between TSGs on regional and international levels was felt by many participants. This would have to take place without creating new superstructures but rather by using the existing ones. Regular meetings would have to be held on regional and on international levels, preferably once every three years. In addition, the possibility of assigning the task of facilitating such co-ordination to an individual, for example, based in India, will be explored.
Specific conditions in different regions of the world require strategies adapted to thode regions. The Latin American and European regions met and determined some specific adaptations of strategies for thier regions. Some of the conclusions reached are stated elsewhere in this statement.
The importance of developing support for Tibet in countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean was recognised, and the TSGs look to the Government of Tibet-in-Exile for guidance and leadership in this regard. Emphasis at this stage should be on encouraging the creation of TSGs in some selected countries, and strengthening newly established ones. The TSGs in South Africa in particular, need to be assisted. In countires that recognise Taiwan, there may be greater possibility of developing activity.
It is essential that the specific situation and cultural and political condiations, as well as the affinities in each country to eb understood and utilised. Thus, for example, the issue of nuclear resring will ahve a resonance in the Pacific, as will coloniasm in African countries. As was true of the early interest in Europe and elsewhere, awareness will first have to be develpoed in those countries through educational activities, for example, in Tibetan culture.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN TIBET
Any economic or development projects being planned or carried out in Tibet must be assessed in terms of the benefit or harm they may bring to the Tibetan people, and, in particular, their effect on China’s population transfer policy. In order to itensify monitoring and rection to such programmes, the TSGs will look for information on projects supported by gevernments, the EU, international agencies and NGOs and analyse them. A resource directory or database about projects in Tibet should be prepared to make this information available to others. Campaigns may be organised where appropriate.
It was stressed by Tibetans who have recently worked in Tibet that there is a need to support small private initiatives in Tibet which will empower Tibetans and help them in the field of education, health and relief of poverty. On the other hand, projects that directly or indirectly benefit the Chinese authorities or colonists should be scrutinised.
ABUSE OF WOMEN
The conference expressed its strong condemnation of the treatment of women in Tibet, in particular policies of involuntary sterilisation and abortion.
It is stressed that the environmental issues, the destruction of the environment, nuclear industry and the resulting pollution, and the nuclear testing in Eastern Turkestan should be focused on in the coming years, and should be made integral parts of the work of the TSGs. The conference decided to itensify protest against nuclear testing in Eastern Turkestan.
MARCH 10, CO-ORDINATED DEMONSTRATIONS AND FLAG FLYING
In 1996, there were approximately six hundred cities and municipalities that officially flew the Tibetan National Flag on March 10. This initiative was co-ordinated by the Transnational Radical Party. There was a consensus that this campaign should be intensified by all TSGs world-wide. The goal is to get six thousand cities and municipalities fly Tibetan flags world-wide on March 10, 1997.
On the same day, TSGs should also join together to hold major regional demonstrations. Geneva for Europe (at the UN), New Delhi for Asia, etc.
PARLIAMENTARY PETITION TO THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL TO PRESS FOR NEGOTIATIONS
The initiative of the TRansnational Radical Party to obtain two thousand signatures of parliamentarians, and a meeting with the UN Secretary-General to urge to receive His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be supported by the TSGs.
GRASSROOTS PETITION / LETTER WRITING TO THE UN SECRETARY- GENERAL TO PRESS FOR NEGOTIATIONS
Letter campaign calling on the Secretary-General of the UN to implement the past resolutions on Tibet by providing his good offices to bring about negotiations between Tibet and China has been suggested.
Tibet supporters are urged to write letters to the UN Secretary-General to implement the UNGA Resolutions on Tibet. Letters are also to be send to the Governemnt Missions to the UN and Foreign Ministries. Details of this campaign are to be worked out.
On a national level, the Indo-Tibet Friendship Society and the Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet have initiated their own campaign directed at their government. Similar canpaign may be launched in other countries.
HONG KONG CAMPAIGN
The return of Hong Kong to China will be used to focus attention on Tibet. To this end a plan was developed: Tibet supporters in Hong Kong to create awareness among Chinese concerning Tibet issues; TSGs to stress the relevance of what is happening in Tibet for Hong Kong. A strategy will be developed by TSG UK & ICT to create awareness of the Tibet issue with the Hong Kong Legislature Council using the ICT report, Michael van Walt’s paper on Status of Tibet and the Amnesty International report to reach the Chinese population as part of the existing and long-term strategy of reaching out to the overseas Chinese.
SETTINGOF TIBET-FRIENDLY MUTUAL FUND
Milarepa Fund is already working on setting of a Tibet-friendky Mutual Fund and related initiative.
EU STAND UP TO CHINA CAMPAIGN
In view of the upcoming four European Presidencies which are sympathetic to the Tibetan cause, Ireland (from July), the Netherlands (January 97), Luxembourg and Belgium, a European Union Working Group met to discuss how to gain support within the EU to “insist on negotiations without preconditions” in all dealings with China.
This campaign will eb inaugurated with the co-operation of Amnesty International and East Timor Solidarity at the opening of Ireland’s presidency in Dublin next month. Lead to be taken TSG Ireland. TSG UK will provide papers on EU’s policies on China.
WORLD WOMEN’S UNION FOR TIBET
This will be launched on March 8, 1997 and co-ordinated by CSPT Paris.
ACTION ON SPECIFIC DAYS
International Wmien’s Day on March 8 World Earth day on April 22 Tibetan Democracy Day on September 2 Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday on October 2
To highlight the non-violent nature of the Tibetan struggle and to use the opportunity to undertake activities in support of the proposed Satyagraha movement.
INTERNATIONALISATION OF THE STUDENTS FOR FREE TIBET MOVEMENT
Encourage all TSGs to start chapters of Students for a Free Tibet in their camous and encourage international students to get involved in Students for a Free Tibet.
The Officials of the Friedrich-Nauman-Stiftung, the members of the parliament of Germany and other countries and friends and supporters of Tibet who have gathered here, I am very happy to see you all once again today at this big gathering. I would like to express my deep appreciation to your organisation Friedrich-Nauman-Stiftung (FNS) and other concerned organisations and individuals.
We are passing through a very difficult period. Our task is very difficult; there are many obstacles. But these factors do not discourage us Tibetans because our goal is just and based on truth. We are not against the Chinese and we are not even against the Chinese leaders- they are also our human brothers and sisters. If they have a freedom to choose, they themselves may not indulge in such destructive activities because these activities or acts bring a bad name for them. I have compassion for them.
My immediate goal is to have a meaningful negotiation. I am quite sure that through negotiation we can find a mutually acceptable solution on the basis of middle-way approach. An appropriate solution is, therefore, necessary and this will be a victory for both the Tibetans and the Chinese. For the Tibetan, this will reduce the present atrocities and cultural genocide, and for the Chinese Government, this will create a better image also install confidence in the hearts of six million Chinese in Hong Kong and more than twenty million Chinese in Taiwan. An appropriate or meaningful solution to the Tibetan issue is, therefore, necessary.
I do not consider our supporters, all of you who have gathered here, as pro-Tibet but rather as pro-justice. Therefore, if we Tibetans have bad motivation or indulge in wrongful acts you can withdraw your support. However, as long as we are committed in a sincere way with a compassionate motivation and a right kind of goal, your support is very, very valuable. Since our goal is something reasonable and beneficial to everyone, there is no reason to feel discouraged.
I would like to mention to you that right from 1959, when we first came into exile, we calculated that our struggle may take generations and we had prepared for that, with special care and emphasis on the upbringing of a new generation of Tibetans. Some Tibetans at that time, however, put forward the idea of temporarily settling all the Tibetan refugees along the boarder areas of the Himalayas so that we would be ready to return to Tibet at the first opportunity. But we (the responsible persons in the government-in-exile) decided to give priority to more permanent rehabilitation with facilities to enable all the Tibetans in exile to live in homogenous communities and provide the younger ones with good education, modern as well as our own traditional education. So that even if the struggle takes generations, new generations could replace the older ones and take on the responsibility.
Today, the first generation of Tibetans who fought against the Chinese occupation in the early 1950s has gone, but the issue of Tibet is still very much sensitive to the Chinese Government. Why? Because a new generation of Tibetans, who never saw the past Tibet, have shouldered the responsibility of carrying on the struggle. Outside Tibet, both in the administration and parliament, more and more young people are coming up to take up the responsibility. Some Chinese think that the entire Tibetan struggle relies on one person, the Dalai Lama, and since the Dalai Lama is getting older, if he dies, the entire Tibetan struggle will collapse. This is absolutely wrong. Our supporters should also know this. I really appreciate those organisations and individuals that are helping the Tibetans to raise the younger generation in exile. I also applaud those organisations that extend their assistance in this field in Tibet.
I was deeply touched by the speeches of the earlier speakers, because they all spoke with a strong human feeling, with a spirit of commitment and dedication. When a nation or an individual passes through a good life with prosperity, naturally one gets good many friends, whether true friend or not. But on the other hand, when a nation or an individual passes through a hard period, it is very difficult to find a true friend. But we Tibetans are fortunate. Despite our rough period and difficult situation, we found many, many reliable friends, friends who are committed, loyal and steadfast. This I really value and cherish very much. We will never forget your support, although we have nothing to offer you in return -nothing, just an empty hand. But, I can assure you that we have a good heart. As an individual, until my death, I will never forget your concern and sympathy. As a Buddhist, who believes in rebirth, I will not forget your support and help in the many coming lives.
Despite the recent developments inside Tibet marked by increased repression and harsh conditions, including the difficulties of the young Panchen Lama, I have not changed my position. I am still very much committed to the middle-way approach based on non-violence despite the fact the fact that many younger people and also older ones inside as well as outside Tibet are loosing patience. I can understand their feelings. But I strongly feel that non-violence is the only way and it is the right way. There will be no change in my commitment to non-violence until my death. There are plenty of reasons for that.
One encouraging aspect in our struggle is that because of our commitment to non-violence path, many Chinese brothers and sisters, not only outside China but also those who are inside China and Tibet, and who understand something about our struggle, express their sense of solidarity and appreciation. After all, I find that the Chinese and the Tibetans and no one else should find the right kind of solution. Therefore, the support from the Chinese brothers and sisters is valuable and important. But in the meantime, the support from the international community is very, very important. Once again, I would like to say that we need your support very much and I thank you for all you have done. I want to appeal to you all, please extend your support continuously until our goal is achieved.
In the recent time, the Chinese Government has publicised several points to reject my proposal. First, they accused me of still pursuing a struggle for the total independence of Tibet, which is complete separation from China. Regarding this point, most of you are very well aware of my position. However, I would like to clarify here one point. Whenever I discuss the issue of Tibet, I mention that Tibet was a separate nation, geographically, linguistically, culturally, racially and historically. Because of these factors, Tibet is an occupied country. This is a fact. I cannot destroy this fact. But this does not mean that I am seeking independence. I have always said that the past is past and many things change.
Look at the European States. Each member state is very much concerned about its own sovereignty, but because of economic necessity and also because of some other factors; they have now come together at a practical level, in spite of their reluctance. In Asia also, a similar situation is developing, particularly in the case of Tibet. Tibet is a land-licked country and materially backward. We need material development, though spiritually we are very well developed. Therefore, it is much more practical and beneficial if we join our big neighbour and brother. With this conviction, I am ready to work and live with the Chinese. I am seeking genuine self-rule. In the meantime, it is important that our supporters make clear the historical status of Tibet at every appropriate occasion and whenever an opportunity arises.
Some Tibetologists and specialists have suggested that Tibet’s historical and political rights according to international law should be made widely known to the outside world. I think these are good suggestions. Although I have made clear that we should forget the past and look forward to creating a good a mutually acceptable future, unfortunately the Chinese Government continuously insists that the Dalai Lama should make a categorical statement that Tibet has always been a part of China. How could this be possible? I do feel that as a simple Buddhist monk, I cannot tell such a big lie. Therefore, if the Chinese Government continues to insist that all the Tibetans must accept that Tibet has always been a part of China, we and our supporters should also make more efforts to clarify Tibet’s political and historical status.
Secondly, the Chinese Government accuses me that I have been trying to internationalise the Tibetan issue. In this regard, if we look at the past, it will become clear whether this is true or not. For example, although the seventeen-point agreement was signed under duress in 1951, we tried to solve the issue bilaterally. In 1954, I went to China and during that time I tried to develop a good relationship with the Chinese leadership, particularly with Chairman Mao. In 1956, when I came to India to take part in the Buddha Jayanti celebrations, many of my advisers urged me not to return to Tibet and instead to seek asylum in India. But I returned with a spirit of reconciliation and to find a solution through direct talks with our Chinese counterparts.
In 1959, the situation got worse and there was no alternative than to escape. Even then we never gave up our hope of finding a solution through direct dialogue with the Chinese. But the opportunities never came. Then around 1973, we had serious discussions within our small circle of Tibetan Government-in-Exile to determine what kind of proposals we should put forward if an opportunity came in the future to have direct talks with the Chinese Government. At that time we decided to choose the middle-way approach. Therefore, in late 19799, my elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, had a meeting with Deng Xiaoping. At that time Mr. Deng Xiaoping stated that except the question of independence, anything could be discussed. All the important points contained in my proposals were discussed and shared with the Chinese leaders from 1979 to 1986, but there was no response from the Chinese side. In the beginning, the Chinese Government did not even acknowledge that there was a problem to be solved. So because of this lack of response from the Chinese side, I was compelled to publicly announce my Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet. This was the result of lack of response from the Chinese side and thus there was no other alternative except to seek support from the international community.
Thirdly, in my proposals, I have made it clear that the entire Tibetan population residing in different parts of Tibet, including those areas incorporated into various Chinese provinces should constitute one entity. Some of the Chinese leaders feel that this is too ambitious and even some of our friends feel that this is a concept of greater Tibet. This is not true and this is not the case. My main concern is the preservation of the Tibetan culture. All the people living in Tibetan areas annexed to the Chinese provinces share the same Tibetan culture and they all face the same problem or the threat of extinction of their culture. Therefore, how can I neglect their concern and plight? I have also to speak on behalf of those people. Hence, I always mention six million Tibetans. If my main goal or objective were to pursue total independence then I could adopt a position of claiming independence for those areas governed by the Tibetan Government before 1950. But my main concern is the protection of Tibetan culture, because, as some speakers pointed here, the Tibetan culture has the potential to create a peaceful human society, a compassionate society at peace with nature and the environment.
The Tibetan culture is not only an ancient culture, but it is a culture which is very relevant to the 20th century and which has the potential to contribute something concrete to the next century. All the people living in the northern belt of the Himalayas, the people of Central Asia and also by many whom are living in the Russian Federation are sharing the Tibetan Buddhist culture. Besides, the Tibetan Buddhist culture can also help millions of young Chinese. Today, millions of young Chinese have lost their deeper human feelings and as a result of that there are scandals, corruption and other problems. The Tibetan Buddhist culture can contribute something to correct these unhealthy activities and attitude. It is, therefore, worthwhile to preserve it. Consequently I cannot exclude those Tibetans living in the areas incorporated in to the Chinese provinces and hence, I always mention that the entire Tibetan areas should one political and administrative entity.
Fourthly, I want to emphases that our ultimate goal is to turn Tibet into a zone of peace. Some of the Chinese leaders also treat this proposal as a hint for a complete separation. This is certainly not true. Sometime ago, when Gorbachev was the president of the Soviet Union, he also suggested demilitarising the entire boarder area between China and the Soviet Union. This concept is absolutely necessary to reduce tension and conflict and, therefore, is a very living idea. In any case, to develop genuine friendship based on mutual trust between India and China, the two most populated regions on the earth, the demilitarisation of the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan belt is absolutely essential in order to bring peace in that part of the world. Once Tibet becomes demilitarised and a zone of peace, it can contribute greatly to good relations between India and China. Besides the demilitarisation of Tibet is also very, very important for the preservation of the environment.
Sometimes, when we say the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, the Chinese leaders treat this as something very negative and provocative. But, for the last three hundred years, the Dalai Lama -whether good or not I do not know- became the head of the Tibetan Government. So in 1959 when I escaped with a few cabinet ministers, the Tibetan Government, which ahs a history of three hundred years, also came into exile. The exiled Tibetan Government is not a new creation. Wherever the Dalai Lama resides, the Tibetan people consider that as the seat of the Tibetan Government.
There is one big change. Immediately after coming into exile, we started the process of democratisation of the Tibetan society. I deliberately reduced my own power. Since we adopted the Charter of Tibetans in exile to guarantee democracy while we remain in exile as a refugee community, I had a new experience. Before the adoption of this new charter, whenever I had to take a decision because of my own nature, I consult other people, including sometimes my sweeper, but the final decision was taken by me. Now since the adoption of this new charter, I have to always think what is the provision in the charter and what is the Speaker’s view in this. This is a new experience. I think this is the sign of democracy and a sign of pluralism. Also, in our small community in India, there are all sorts of criticism and we appreciate this range of views. I always think this is a sign of strength. The last three decades have brought lots of changes- all for democratisation.
Viewing from one aspect, the present century is the century of war, century of conflict and century of bloodshed and therefore, the next century, 21st century, should be a century of dialogue. Conflicts and disagreements happen because of human intelligence and differences in human interests. If we really want no more mental conflicts then the entire humanity should be eliminated. Then there could be no more problem and I also think the other species and mammals will get total liberation from human beings. But that is not possible. Whether we like or do not like, we have to exist.
By understanding this, we have to live with less conflict and less bloodshed and in order to achieve this, it is important to follow non-violence and to have dialogue. Instead of using force, we should listen to other’s views, ideas and opinions. Fortunately, as evident by the new developments in South Africa and the Middle East, a spirit of dialogue and non-violence is shining. So, we too are experimenting on a new way of approach in solving human problems. Hence, your support is not only for the six million Tibetans but also to create a new pattern or a new model for struggle. I think, if we fail in this, then it is a disaster. Conversely if our struggle through non-violence with a compassionate feeling succeeds we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.
With this, I once again thank everyone and your organisation Friedrich-Nauman-Stiftung. Your organisation FNS stood firm on principles in the face of great pressure. This kind of practice if carried out by more and more organisations, including governments, then many unnecessary problems could be solved. But if we rely more and more on the use of force, I think human conflicts will increase.
So I would like to express my deep appreciation to you on behalf of myself as a Buddhist monk, on behalf of the six million Tibetans and also on behalf of all the ancient Tibetan kings, the last thirteen Dalai Lamas and other great Tibetans.
As the Chairman of the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation I have the great honour to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I am also fortunate to welcome all the delegates to this important conference.
It is a matter of great privilege for me to be here today, amongst this distinguished gathering of people who consider themselves to be a part of the worldwide legion of admirers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and supporters of the Tibetan freedom struggle. Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama, out of his innate simplicity and humility, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk, for millions of his followers he is the king incarnate and manifestation of Buddha’s compassion.
Tibetans are very religious. The institution of Dalai Lama for them is an article of faith and his word is the law (dharma). But His Holiness is not the leader and saviour of Tibetans alone. His love and compassion are boundless, for he makes no distinction of caste, creed, religion or race, country or continent. He has thus emerged as the outstanding crusader for human rights and non-violence. Today he stands as the most popular and universally acknowledged world leader.
Since the time spent in exile, His Holiness has kept alive the hope of returning to a democratic Tibet. He has encouraged Tibetans to educate themselves and their children so that they would be of service to their country when they do return, and to develop institutions of parliamentary self-government for themselves and as a model for their homeland. Through the long years in exile, his sense of direction has been clear, his loyalty to non-violence and democracy consistent. For him, the process of empowering the people to rule in their own right has become a democratic necessity that extends into the future. A widely dispersed exiled community hailing from a conservative pre-modern background now runs its parliamentary and executive affairs in a democratic manner.
His programme of reducing his own temporal powers has induced self-confidence not only within the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, but within the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies as well, which is the highest elected legislative organ of the Tibetan refugee community.
At this juncture, do allow me the liberty of mentioning our valuable co-operation with Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of the Tibetan Assembly. Since 1991, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies has been an important project partner of the Foundation in South Asia. Our partnership with the Assembly focuses on strengthening democratic process of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, through a legislative, executive and judicial framework.
Now, I would like to quote His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “I often tell my friends that you cherish democracy and freedom very much, yet when you deal with foreign countries, nobody follows the principles of democracy, but rather you look to economic power and military force.” Sad to say, this is the reality.
His Holiness has made several attempts for a response, positive or otherwise from the Chinese. Despite his repeated attempts, which date back as early as 1979, urging the Chinese authorities for a peaceful settlement of the Tibetan question, the Chinese Government has not reciprocated. Similar attempts were made by the German Government, the US Congress and by other international parliaments and institutions as well the Tibetans-in-exile themselves, exhorting China to settle the Tibetan issue amicably and to take steps to improve the existing human rights situation. The Chinese have remained reticent.
In 1991 the Liberal International Congress expressed its grave concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet and called on the Chinese Government to recognise the fundamental freedoms of the Tibetan people as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Human Rights Conventions.
In keeping with the spirit, I quote our Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel: “Insistence on respecting human rights does not imply interference in other country’s internal affairs”. I fully endorse this statement. I am therefore, pleased that in 1995 our European Parliament passed a resolution on Tibet, re-affirming the illegal nature of invasion and occupation of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China according to the principles laid down by international laws.
Further, the German parties-CDU/CSU, SPD FDP and the Green/Bundnis 90 have drafted a joint declaration in February this year on Tibet. The draft requests the German Government to issue an even stronger denouncement of the violation of human rights in Tibet and called for the release of political prisoners in Tibet, and for the safe return of Tibetan living overseas. The draft also urges the Chinese Government to start constructive negotiations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Government of Tibet-in-Exile.
Politically motivated atrocities in Tibet continue unabated. The world was a stunned spectator of yet another atrocity beyond comprehension committed by the People’s Republic of China on the monks of Ganden and Sera Monasteries for possessing the photographs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In the clashes that followed, many monks and nuns injured and it is reported that a few even lost their lives, and over forty monks were imprisoned. Ganden and Sera monasteries have since been closed.
Orders to remove the photographs of His Holiness from all premises have been issued. Even innocent school children were forbidden to wear knotted religious cords which have been blessed by His Holiness.
The situation has worsened with the Chinese wanton violation and disrespect to ancient Tibetan religion and traditions. The Chinese have ignored the status of His Holiness as the spiritual leader ad disregarded the sentiments of the entire Tibetan population by foisting and naming their own choice of the Panchen Lama and setting aside the selection of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the choice of the Dalai Lama, with the immoral design of sealing not only the religious but also the political fate of future Tibet.
Protests in Lhasa increased with the explosion of a bomb in January 1996 in the house of Lobsang Gyaltsen, who collaborated actively with the Chinese in the selection of the Chinese Panchen Lama.
The Tibetans continue living as before under poor and unsure conditions. China’s claim of religious freedom in Tibet thus stands shattered.
Tibet International Network (TIN) stated that in 1995 there were as many as three thousand five hundred Tibetan detained in prison camps since 1987 for political offences, about ninety-nine per cent of them being for non-violent expression of their opinion. Tibetans continue living in miserable, inhuman and degrading conditions.
We are all assembled here today in the midst of this grave stirring situation where monks and nuns and Tibetan brethren are subjected to this humiliation and brutalities. View against this background it is a daunting task to strengthen the movement to regain Tibet’s lost freedom and dignity.
Since international bodies and other institutions have failed to give effect to their resolutions, compounded by the world’s silence, where economic considerations continue to override humanitarian concerns, the time has come for Non-Governmental Organisations, like the one you represent, and for Non-Governmental Organisations like the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, to shoulder greater responsibility and to channel all efforts in helping Tibetans in their legitimate political demands and to restore their right to individual freedom with dignity. Let us formulate strategies to avert any further tragedy in Tibet.
Time is running out for the Tibetans.
I, therefore, exhort all to form a strong and united front to attain justice. Our efforts will be meaningless if we are not prepared to forgo something in return for restoring dignity to people in Tibet. It is time to set examples. This is the very purpose of our meeting.
As the Foundation for Liberal Policy, we believe in the principle of freedom with dignity of the individual, liberal policy for human rights, rule of law and democracy, and respect the rights of the individual, his civic and social rights, including the right to private property. We are, therefore, committed to restore to the people the right of self-determination and their own cultural identity.
In accordance with our tasks as a political foundation, the German President Roman Herzog, in his speech on March 8, 1995 at a conference of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation described I quote “The political Foundations develop long term strategies which contribute to the development of democracy. At the individual level they strengthen the idea of human rights and help to foster social justice.”
Dear Friends, let us not at any point of time be pressurised by China, but on the contrary, while respecting the Chinese Government we should not be coerced into obeying them; let us not be swayed away from the values of democracy and of the freedom of the individual which we so cherish. However, in the course of our struggle we may be divergent with the policies of our governments, but that should not hinder us. On the other hand, I am confident that there are many Chinese today who differ with their authoritarian government and of their policies concerning Tibet. We are aware that the Chinese yearn for more freedom. Clearly, we have to strengthen Chinese participation by reaching out to the Tibet-sympathetic population. The supporting voice of Chinese friends in the Tibetan struggle will lend a forceful impetus to our global movement. We are the people who can make all the difference in this movement to restore basic human rights to the Tibetan people.
The protection of human rights is not a question of being rich or being poor. Neither is it a luxury confined to the developed countries nor is the protection of human rights only a moral obligation. More importantly, protection of human rights must be viewed as a powerful contributor to the entire development process. Human rights and development are two sides of the same coin. Both treat the individual as the pivotal point. Each individual has the right to live in freedom, to be productively engaged in the economy and to have an opportunity to participate in the political and cultural life. His creativity, innovation and commitment can only be stimulated when his basic rights are protected in a free democratic society. It is our endeavour through the foundation to train and encourage the individual to take an active and a responsible part in his political, economic and social environment.
It is, therefore, understandable and thus natural, that the Friedrich Naumann Foundation shares your commitment and responsibility in putting an end to the political, religious, cultural and economic oppression that persists in Tibet today. To secure the protection of human rights requires strong support from institutions, programmes and the availability of finances, for goodwill alone cannot suffice.
I take the liberty here to emphasise that the Friedrich Naumann Foundation will continue to support the legitimate political activities towards strengthening Tibet’s political demand for a free homeland.
Despite the seemingly insurmountable difficulties, our movement has covered some distance. Our achievements speak of your support and solidarity. Our individual and collective efforts, however slowly but surely, will lead to the time-honoured premise that justice will prevail. Justice must prevail.
Thank you for your attention.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this Second International Conference of Tibet Support Groups. All of you have travelled great distances and at great personal expense to be here today to extend your support for the truth of the Tibetan people’s struggle. There is no way for us to adequately thank you for this gesture.
We are highly honoured to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurating this conference. His Holiness’ presence here is a measure of the great importance the Tibetan leadership attaches to the discussions and outcome of this conference.
I would like to emphasise at the outset that this gathering is not a conspiracy against China at the Chinese people as the Beijing Government might accuse us of. We are drawn together here by our shared commitment and values for the promotion of justice, equality, human dignity and truth. A clear indication that this is so is the presence of representatives of five pro-democracy Chinese organisations at this gathering, and we Tibetans welcome them from the core of our hearts.
Though support and sympathy for the cause of the Tibetan people increased steadily throughout the world since 1959 when the Tibetans rose against the Chinese communist military occupation of Tibet, we have been able to bring this international support under one umbrella only six years ago under the common name of the Tibet Support Group (TSG) movement during the first international Tibet support group conference held in Dharamsala in 1990. Since then the world-wide Tibet Support Group movement has grown enormously, and because of your concerted and co-ordinated efforts, we have been able to make unprecedented impact on the international community as far as the issue of Tibet is concerned.
The creation of the Tibet Support Group movement and its success in publicising Chinese communist brutality in Tibet are due to the unstinted efforts of each and every individual Tibet supporter throughout the world. You have worked voluntarily for the cause of Tibet. Your work for Tibet is a fight for truth and justice everywhere in the world. You do not gain any personal benefit from your work for Tibet, but have continued to consistently support and promote the Tibetan cause in the hope that your efforts will help the Tibetans to regain their lost freedom and rights.
To further co-ordinate our efforts, to exchange ideas and our experiences of the past years and to plan for bigger tasks ahead of us, we had always hoped to organise such conferences more frequently. Because of various constraints, including financial, we have not been able to do so.
Fortunately for us, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation stepped in. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation is unique in that it had realised that the best support it could provide the Tibetan people is political support, which it has been doing for several years now. The Foundation has also sponsored this conference and thus provided us the opportunity to strategise on what direction the world-wide Tibet movement should take in the years to come.
To both the individual Tibet supporters and to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, I on behalf of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, would like to express the heart-felt appreciation of the Tibetan people everywhere in the world, and especially those in Tibet who continue to suffer under the Chinese communist rule but whose suffering will come to an end because of the courage, devotion and selfless efforts of all of you who have gathered here.
The tasks ahead of the Tibetan movement are countless and daunting, but with your continued support and goodwill the day will come when Tibet becomes a nation in a world of nations.
Tashi Delek and thank you.
Democracy and Future Tibet
As an elected representative of the Tibetan diaspora I welcome you all to the Second International Conference of Tibet Support Groups here in Germany. I also take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the Friedrich-Naumann Foundation for hosting this conference and we are beholden to the people of Germany in particular for their love and support for our cause.
We are aware of the fact that there are numerous people all over the world, including the People’s Republic of China, whose pro-justice and pro-moral values are in support of Tibet’s genuine cause. Selfless supporters of Tibet are dispersed all over the globe. Many are organised in groups and initiatives but many are carrying the crusade as individuals.
The Tibet Support Groups present here are those who are organised in groups. But many active support groups could not be represented here owing to various limitations. We acknowledge, appreciate and express our gratefulness to all those present here and those who could not be here, equally and indiscriminately. Wherever possible, please convey our word of sincere appreciation to friends who could not come to Bonn.
I must acknowledge that I often receive two major complaints from our spirited supporters, namely:
- that the Tibet Government-in-Exile is unresponsive; it does not promptly attend to various enquiries; and
- the Government-in-Exile is discriminative towards the support groups.
May I mention here will all the emphasis at my command that we respect and value each and every group and individual supporter on equal footing and we have absolutely no bias or prejudice in this regard.
I do admit our inefficiency in maintaining prompt communication. Sometimes inconsistencies in our dealing may appear but these are inadvertent or due to lack of human and material resources. Yet, I crave your indulgence and understanding for these errors and omissions. I am overwhelmed to note that in spite of these failings on our part, you are present here in such a large number from practically every nook and corner of the globe.
The organisers have assigned me the task of speaking to you on ‘Democracy and Future Tibet’. Let me confess that I am neither a political scientist not a fortune teller. Please do not, therefore, anticipate any significant contribution from me on any of these two topics. I would, however, like to share my experiences and visions about the Tibetan model of democracy and the future vision of Tibet.
For the people of Tibet, democracy was not a new concept or system. Neither, our apparent opening up to democratic functioning was prompted by the Chinese occupation of Tibet nor our interface with the outside influence. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, since his childhood and long before taking over the temporal power, had an unmistakable will to democratise Tibet. But, unfortunately, he was given the reins of the country when half of its territory was already occupied by Chinese authorities. In spite of this, for nine long years he tried his utmost to introduce many measures and reforms towards democratisation but every time the Chinese military junta systematically frustrated these moves. It is only in exile that he got the freedom and a free hand to implement his vision.
There was but an uniqueness about this transformation so characteristic of the leader and his people. In our case, the Head of the State advocated democratisation and consequent relinquishing of his authority but the people refused to accept it. During the last thirty sever years of life in exile, His Holiness gradually persuaded and educated his people to adopt a democratic way of life and translate the ideals into implementation so that what is achieved is a genuine democracy and not mere lip service.
In June 1991, a Charter for governance of Tibetan Diaspora received the assent of His Holiness after it was duly approved by the XIth Assembly. The Charter made the people sovereign and every organ of the government-executive, legislative, judiciary and even the authority of His Holiness – derived its power through the provisions enshrined in the Charter.
The model of Tibetan democracy is fundamentally different from the modern democratic principles. Ours is based on basic principles of equality of all sentient beings on the basis of their potential of unlimited development. Such equality can be established in the day to day living only through co-operation and not through competition. Competition invariably leads to a form of confrontation or struggle. Love and equality cannot be achieved through competition. Whether it may be in political system or economic system, it prevents genuine co-operation and collaboration. Realising this phenomena of human behaviour, the Buddha had recommended a democracy free from sense of competition.
Truly speaking, awakening of human intelligence is the ultimate objective of the society. It creates a level of rationality which leads to unanimity – a state of choicelessness.
Therefore, a partyless democracy is possible in which each individual has freedom to deal with every issue according to his or her wisdom without imposition of any conditions from groups or ideologies. The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is a living example of partyless democracy. It represents all Tibetans equally. There are no group ideologies, programmes, majority or minority. Domination of majority over minority is also a kind of imposition of views against the will of the minority, which is not an ideal situation in a democracy.
Decentralisation of decision-making processes and implementation processes makes each individual responsible and sovereign to act. It enables the individual to think globally and act locally. In our view, when a few persons live at the cost of others it is totalitarianism. On the other hand, the principle of ‘live and let live’ is ordinary democracy. But, where everyone lives for the other is that model of democracy which we are trying to adopt.
An ideal democracy has to have three basic components:
- An enlightened leader
- Right philosophical ideology, and
- Enlightened people
We, Tibetans, fortunately possess the first two components and we are striving hard to meet the third criteria. Plato spoke of ‘philosophical king’ and Bertrand Russel talked about ‘common will’. Both these factors are embodied in essence in the person of the present Dalai Lama, and in the Buddhist philosophy of independent origination presenting the perfect right view. Now, the people alone need to mature to usher in the ideal democracy.
Our Charter of governance and the day-to-day functioning of the government-in-exile can be found in various documents distributed here, particularly the booklet on ‘The Democratic Vision’ brought out by the Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (TPPRC).
Today, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is a recognised institution as it finds reference in resolutions passed by the European Parliament, the World Parliamentary Convention on Tibet and various other representative bodies. A history of Tibet’s Parliament-in-Exile has also been published by TPPRC which narrates the saga of its inspired origin, growth and development over a period of thirty six years. The XIth parliament has just ended and the XIIth parliament has been duly elected and constituted.
Future Tibet is to be shaped and built up through genuine and sustained efforts of all of us. I have no readymade solutions for you, but I wish to put forth three points for your consideration:
- In today’s world, interdependence has increased to such an extent that future of any country cannot be considered in an isolated manner. It is true of Tibet as well. The future of Tibet is bound to affect the future of the world in general and the future of its immediate neighbours-China and India in particular. Tibet’s geopolitical situation is such that it is inseparable from the course of history of India and China. In political analysist’s view, civilisational conflict between these two largest populated countries of the world will always position them as tough competitors or worst enemies. There is no potential of genuine friendship amongst these two neighbours. Therefore, the status of Tibet as a buffer state between India and China will be the determining fact for establishment of peace, stability and security in Asia. Geographically as well, Tibet being the Roof of the World, from where most of the large rivers of Asia originate, will be the decisive factor for environmental and ecological balance of the world. The scientists of the world are concluding that the Tibetan plateau will always have a role in forcing global climatic changes.Today, Tibet is one of the testing grounds for the efficacy of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights. If it does not succeed in Tibet, it will not be worth the paper on which the declaration is printed. Therefore, it has to be realised that the future of Tibet is inseparably interlinked with the future of its neighbouring countries and globe as a whole. The future of Tibet is to be viewed from this perspective and in an integrated way.
- The future of Tibet could be considered in two parts: (i) immediate future and (ii) distant future, or, in other words, the question of its survival from extinction and development of it, if it survives. For an imaginary vision of the distant future, we have already articulated some vision on the lines of His Holiness’s guidelines for future Tibet as published in a book form by TPPRC. Otherwise also, there is ample time to think and discuss a vision of Tibet but in my view the immediate future i.e. how to save it from total annihilation, is much more important, and therefore, this gathering should address itself to the question.
- The political status of Tibet in terms of sovereignty or autonomy, separation or association, have been debated for more than a decade but the situation in Tibet is deteriorating day by day. Our basic concern about the immediate future is how to save this country and its unique culture from total destruction. It will only be possible if the population transfer is stopped forthwith and the Chinese civilian occupation is vacated immediately. Violation of human culture, language and religious rights must also be ended. Indiscriminate sanction of destruction of Tibet’s environment and ecosystem is to cease at once.The question of future Tibet is related with these three issues. Therefore, we should concentrate on how to realise these objectives. It is high time we evolve a clear cut policy. In my own humble way, I propose a programme for launching the ‘Satyagraha’ as a movement. The concept and plan of implementation is explained in a small booklet which will be available to those interested persons.Most of you are aware that His Holiness has already initiated a Referendum amongst the Tibetan Diaspora to decide the future course of action and we all are awaiting its result. But, I am personally not very optimistic about the outcome of this exercise. Only two options are open before us:
- Negotiations with an unwilling party or,
Negotiations have been tried for over forty years but it has led us nowhere. Precious time has been lost. There is no sign of China’s willingness to open a dialogue in spite of His Holiness’s genuine openness of middle path approach.
Let us realise the ground realities now and formulate our strategies accordingly. We have no future if we are not prepared to make supreme sacrifice for restoring the dignity and security of our people in Tibet. Posterity will never forgive us. Therefore, every plan of action has to be a well conceived and well considered one and set within a time frame. Time is running out. It never stops for anyone. It never looks back. We have to run faster to keep pace with the times. Otherwise our goal will prove to be a mirage.
China has failed to perform the functions of a state, which are:
- the protection of the people,
- the promotion of their social, economic and cultural welfare, and
- representation of their interests externally.
Instead, China lacks legal, moral, or political legitimacy to govern Tibet due to its indulgence in violent aggression and continued forcible occupation of Tibet; its persistent violations of human rights of the Tibetans; its repression of their religious freedom and its planned gradual destruction of the national identity of the Tibetan people. It is persistently pursuing a policy of misrepresentation of the Tibet’s situation and the Tibetan people’s aspirations.
This is the hard reality. Not to believe in it will be living in a fool’s paradise. Action plans, strategies, campaigns for restoring the pre 1951 status of Tibet need to be chalked out by taking into account the present grim situation.
The situation, therefore, calls for supreme sacrifice-Do and Die. Let us resolve to make one final attempt. But it requires voluntary co-operation, full and unquestioned co-ordination, tightening of loose ends at all levels, whether individual level or at the group or at the state level. Each one of us has to be clear about our objectives and also about the means to achieve our target. Every action and programmes has to be set within a time frame.
Efforts have to be persistently persuasive. We need not deter from our principled commitments but let commitment to peace and non-violence be also not taken as our weakness. There is no power stronger than moral and spiritual force. We have examples of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela to name only a few.
We are fortunate to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama as our leader. His sense of direction has been clear. His commitment to democracy and non-violence has been consistent. In spite of prolonged frustration, he has infused the exiled people with his own confidence that they will return to Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans and especially to those who are in Tibet. His guidelines about Future Tibet go into considerable detail and need not be repeated here as it is already known. We have only recall these expressions and resolve to accomplish it as fully and as early as possible.
Let us not fail our leader and our commitment to truth and non-violence. When Gandhi gave a call to ‘Do or Die’, there was no other choice. When I call my people to ‘Do and Die’, there is no other choice.
The return journey back to the homeland must commence here and now. Only then can we say, ‘Next year in Lhasa’.
The motivating force in all our actions individually and collectively is the desire to overcome suffering and to achieve a state of perfect well-being and happiness. Since time immemorial, this has been the evolutionary pattern of human history and civilisation. Tribal communities joined together to form nations, states and empires. Mighty empires which seemed indestructible at certain times decayed and disintegrated. These great historical events were in a way a result of experiments by people trying to achieve the best solution.
One can see from the past that there is obviously no one system or solution to secure the state of perfect well-being and happiness to which we all aspire to. However, what is absolutely clear in all the processes of alignments and disintegration is that the relationship based on mutual respect and benefit succeeds and any relationship based on inequality and coercion leads to conflict and disintegration.
The same is true in the case of Sino-Tibetan relations. There were times when the relations were friendly and there were times when wars were fought. Over the long period of 2000 years of our recorded history, there were many conflicts with our eastern neighbour China than with our southern neighbour, India. This is precisely because of the reasons I have just stated above.
The problem of Tibet is essentially a political problem. There must necessarily be a political solution. In order to have a full understanding of the Tibetan problem one will have to take into account three important facts, a) History, b) Consequences of the Communist Chinese military invasion and occupation, c) Future solution.
We have made it clear to the Chinese Government that although we are fully prepared to discuss all these, we should not get bogged down in the past. What is important is the future and for this we are willing to discuss all possible options. This position was restated in His Holiness’ statement of March 10, 1995 when he said, “In the past I have deliberately restrained myself from emphasizing the historical and legal status of Tibet. It is my belief that it is more important to look forward to the future than dwell in the past. Theoretically speaking, it is not impossible that the six million Tibetans could benefit from joining the one billion Chinese of their own free will, if a relationship based on equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect could be established.”
This has been the consistent and principled stand of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Concrete steps to realise this objective were taken by the Tibetan leadership as soon as direct contacts with the Chinese leadership were established in Beijing in 1979. In 1979 the Chinese Government invited Mr. Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to Beijing and Mr. Deng Xiaoping told him that the new Chinese leadership was willing to discuss all the issues relating to Tibet except the question of independence. The Tibetan leadership responded to this positively by sending a number of fact-finding delegations to Tibet through Beijing. Based on the actual findings of the delegations of the prevailing appalling conditions in Tibet, specific suggestions for improvement were made to the Chinese Government. The offer of assistance, such as sending volunteer teachers from among the Tibetans-in-Exile were made all in good faith and in sincerity. The Tibetan leadership believed that these steps would not only help improve the conditions in Tibet but would also be important confidence-building measures to create a conducive atmosphere for a meaningful dialogue.
With this in mind, His Holiness wrote to Mr. Deng Xiaoping on March 23, 1981, stating, “Now taking into account the experiences of past mistakes, there is a new policy of “seeking Truth from Facts” and a policy of modernisation. With regard to the Tibetan issue, I am pleased with and applaud Comrade Hu Yaobang’s efforts to make every possible attempt to right the wrongs by frankly admitting to the past mistakes after his visit to Lhasa”.
His Holiness went on to say: “In order to do this, we must improve the relationship between China and Tibet as well as between Tibetans in Tibet and outside Tibet. With truth and equality as our foundations, we must try to develop friendship between Tibetans and Chinese through better understanding in the future. The time has come to apply, with a sense of urgency, our common wisdom in a spirit of tolerance and broad-mindedness in order to achieve genuine happiness for the Tibetans.
“On my part, I remain committed to contribute my efforts to the welfare of all human beings and in particular the poor and the weak to the best of my ability and without any distinction based on natural boundaries.”
His Holiness concluded the letter with these words, “I hope you will let me know your views on the foregoing points.”
The first disappointment in this new contact was that there was not even an acknowledgement of the receipt of His Holiness’ letter. In spite of this, His Holiness and the Tibetan leadership continued to pursue the policy of contact and dialogue. It will be useful to recall briefly at this stage the various peace initiatives undertaken by the Tibetan leadership over the last seventeen years. This is perhaps necessary since there seems to be some confusion and ambiguity in the minds of even our friends regarding the stand of the Tibetan leadership.
Although there was no response to His Holiness’ above letter to Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the following year a very high-level three member delegation was sent to Beijing to start an exploratory dialogue within the framework of His Holiness’ “middle way” approach and the assurances given by Deng Xiaoping in1979 that all questions except that of independence as a possible solution for the future was made abundantly clear to the Chinese Government.
To ensure the success of this highly sensitive and complex negotiation, it was also suggested that the substance of the discussions should be kept confidential to avoid public incrimination before any headway was made. Unfortunately, the Chinese official publication carried reports of not only distorted version of the points raised by the Tibetan delegation but outright rejection of these by the Chinese Government soon after the Tibetan delegation left Beijing.
The Tibetan Review, a Periodical-in-exile said in its editorial of July 1982:”The agreement to maintain silence, as on previous occasions, does not seen to be mutually binding. Even before Dharamsala issued its apology for a statement, Peking informed foreign correspondents that the delegation had asked for Tibet a status similar to the one promised to Taiwan, and that they flatly rejected the request…. So the question arises what did Dharamsala hope to achieve by making this extraordinary proposal. The idea of treating Tibet and Taiwan as identical cases is highly ludicrous; and when such an idea emanates from Ministers of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, no one can be blamed for doubting their sanity.”
This has understandably stirred up a great deal of criticism and debate amongst Tibetans. The Tibetan leadership was criticised by a certain section of the Tibetan community for selling out the Tibetan national rights. In the meantime, a major crackdown was imposed in Tibet in the name of anti-spiritual pollution campaign. Tibetan opposition was becoming more defiant and the situation in Tibet was getting worse. In an effort to improve the worsening relations and to discuss a possible visit by His Holiness to Tibet, the same high-level delegation of 1982 was sent again to Beijing in 1984.
The Chinese leadership showed no real interest in solving the actual problem through serious and meaningful negotiations and it narrowed down the issue to the question of the return of His Holiness and that too to Beijing and not Lhasa. The glimmer of hope for a negotiated solution through direct contact was fading away but continued efforts were made to salvage it by sending individual Tibetans as personal emissaries of His Holiness to Beijing. In each case it was becoming increasingly apparent that the leadership in Beijing was not sincere and serious and were trying to buy time to further tighten their grip on Tibet through various measures, including the transfer of Chinese population into Tibet.
The lack of any progress in direct negotiations and the fast worsening of the situation inside Tibet were fuelling the already tense situation in Tibet.
It was under these circumstances that His Holiness was compelled to appeal directly to the international community for help by making public the proposals he had been putting forward to the Chinese leadership directly since 1979 in the form of the Five-Point Peace Plan in 1987 and the Strasbourg Proposal of 1988. The broad ideas of these proposals were discussed with the Chinese Government in 1982 and 1984. Instead of responding to these initiatives positively, the Chinese authorities once again resorted to the use of force to deal with the problem by imposing martial law in Tibet in 1989.
I must therefore say here that it was very unfair on the part of the Chinese leadership to accuse His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leadership of internationalising the Tibet issue. The appeal to the world community was made when all attempts at direct contact and dialogue with the Chinese leadership failed.
The international community saw the stand taken by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as being pragmatic and reasonable. His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace in 1989.
Not only an increasing number of parliaments and governments have applauded His Holiness’ efforts but even the Chinese people living in the free world, especially intellectuals and students, have expressed their full support for His Holiness’ bold peace initiatives.
The rejection of these proposals by the Chinese Government on one pretext or the other without any reasonable and constructive counter proposal from their side made things unnecessarily difficult.
However, the first preference of the Tibetan leadership has always been direct negotiations with the Chinese Government. In October 1991 in a major speech at Yale University, His Holiness put forward another proposal to break the deadlock. He said: “The Chinese Government’s refusal to reciprocate my efforts to start negotiations has increased the impatience of many Tibetans, especially young Tibetans in Tibet, with the non-violent path we follow. Tension in my country is increasing as China encourages demographic aggression in Tibet, reducing Tibetans to a second class minority in our own country. The harsh repression and intimidation of Tibetans is increasingly polarising the situation. I am extremely anxious that, in this explosive situation, violence may break out. I want to do what I can to help prevent this.
In view of these developments, I am considering the possibility of a visit to Tibet as early as possible. I have in mind two purposes for such a visit.
First, I want to ascertain the situation in Tibet myself on the spot and communicate directly with my people. By doing so I also hope to help the Chinese leadership to understand the true feelings of Tibetans. It would be important, therefore, for senior Chinese leaders to accompany me on such a visit, and that outside observers, including the press, be present to see and report their findings.
Second, I wish to advise and persuade my people not to abandon non-violence as the appropriate form of struggle. My ability to talk to my own people can be a key factor in bringing about a peaceful solution. My visit could be a new opportunity to promote understanding and create a basis for a negotiated solution.”
Later that year His Holiness the Dalai Lama sought a meeting with the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Peng, when he was in India on a state visit.
The negative response from the Chinese did not help break the ice. Leaving no stone unturned in the search for a peaceful solution, His Holiness took two more important steps, firstly, by suggesting the start of negotiations without pre-conditions and secondly, by sending a very high-level delegation to Beijing in 1993 with a personal letter and a detailed memorandum to Mr. Deng Xiaoping and to President Jiang Zemin. In the memorandum, His Holiness restated most clearly his willingness to negotiate a compromise solution and I quote, “If China wants Tibet to stay with China, then it must create the necessary conditions for this. The time has come now for the Chinese to show the way for Tibet and Chinese to live together in friendship. If we Tibetans obtain our basic rights to our satisfaction, then we are not incapable of seeing the possible advantages of living with the Chinese.”
However when this last attempt by His Holiness to re-establish contact was spurned by the Chinese Government, His Holiness said in his annual statement of March 10, 1994: “I must now recognise that my approach has failed to produce any progress either for substantive negotiations to in contributing to the overall improvement of the situation in Tibet…..I have left no stone unturned in my attempts to reach an understanding with the Chinese. We have had to place our hopes on international support and help in bringing about meaningful negotiations, to which I still remain committed. If this fails, then I will no longer be able to pursue this policy with a clear conscience. I feel strongly that it would then be my responsibility, as I have stated many times in the past, to consult my people on the future course of our freedom struggle….. I continue to remain committed to finding a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the issue of Tibet with the Chinese Government directly.”
The preparations for the referendum, as indicated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has started in all earnestness. However, it will be important to point out here that there will be no change in the present “middle way” policy until the final verdict of the Tibetan people on the future policy direction is made clear.
An early solution to the Tibetan problem would be in the interest of both China and Tibet. If there is peace and friendship between Chinese and Tibetans on the basis of mutual respect and benefit, it will not only be in the long-term interest of both, but also for peace and stability of the whole region and the world. If the Chinese Government policy is to achieve sustained economic development, the pre-condition for this is political stability and genuine peace. The surest guarantee for a lasting peace and stability is genuine respect for human rights.
On the other hand, if the current stalemate continues and the situation in Tibet becomes increasingly desperate, the Tibetan people will be pushed further into a corner from where they will be forced to take equally desperate steps both in and outside Tibet.
The decision by Tibetans to undertake a mass peace march into Tibet, fast unto death in front of the UN headquarters in New York persistent reports of widespread protest in Tibet and increasing incidents of small bomb explosions are clear symptoms of the underlying source of frustration and desperation in the minds of the Tibetan people.
It is clear from the above that there is a common ground and shared interests for the representatives of the Chinese and Tibetan leadership to come to the negotiating table to resolve the problem peacefully. The Tibetan side has made its consistent and unambiguous stand clear on numerous occasions. But the present Chinese leadership in Beijing has taken a rigid position.
The Chinese Government wants the Tibetan leadership to declare that Tibet has always been a part of China and that Tibetans will never demand independence as a pre-condition before any negotiations can start.
No Tibetan leader can honestly and truthfully make such a statement on the historical status of Tibet now or in the future. Tibetans have never considered themselves as a part of China. The fact that Tibet was not a part of China in 1950 and that Tibet was invaded is obvious from the following three cases.
- The Indian Foreign Ministry’s letter to the Chinese Government on October 26, 1950 states, “Now that the invasion of Tibet has been ordered by the Chinese Government, peaceful negotiations can hardly be synchronised with it and there naturally will be fear on the part of the Tibetans that negotiations will be under duress. In the present context of world events, invasion by Chinese troops of Tibet cannot but be regarded as deplorable and in the considered judgement of the Government of India, not in the interest of China or peace.”
- The Irish representative, Frank Aiken, speaking in the UN General Assembly when debating on the Tibet resolution, stated, “For thousands of years, or for a couple of thousand years at any rate, Tibet was as free and as fully in control of its own affairs as any nation in this Assembly, and a thousand times more free to look after its own affairs than many of the nations here.”
- In 1949, when Nepal applied for UN membership, it citied its diplomatic relations with Tibet to prove that it was a sovereign nation. The UN accepted this argument and thus effectively recognised Tibet’s status as a sovereign nation.In the light of these facts the Tibetan leadership’s position has been that we should not remain fossified in history, although the Tibetan people have a strong historical case for complete independence. Both sides should have the courage and wisdom to consider various options for an amicable and mutually acceptable solution for the future. To enable both sides to do this, the Tibetan proposal has been to start negotiations without any restrictive pre-conditions.Meaningful negotiations can begin by discussing the most immediate problems relating to education, socio-economic development, the environment, and the most serious problem of Chinese population influx into Tibet. If satisfactory solution to these problem can be found the larger political questions can be addressed in an atmosphere of trust and friendship.Until the Tibetan leadership has a viable alternative to offer to the Tibetan people, it will have no moral and political justification to persuade them to abandon their independence movement. We cannot ignore the fact that there is also a very strong opinion for complete independence within the Tibetan national movement. However, it will be true to say that the start of any serious negotiation itself will help reduce the current heightened tension and create a more relaxed atmosphere.Mr. Deng Xiapong said one must seek truth from facts. Our seeking support for the cause of Tibet from the International community is neither anti-China nor pro-Tibet. It is simply pro-truth and pro-justice. In order to draw a fair and objective conclusion from the claims and counter-claims of the Chinese and Tibetans one must address the following questions:
- Was Tibet not an Independent nation before the 1949 invasion?
- From whom did the Chinese Communist forces liberate Tibet?
- Is Chinese rule in Tibet legally justifiable?
- Is the Tibetan Government-in-Exile the legitimate representation of the Tibetan peoples?
- Do Tibetans have the right to self-determination?
- Have the liberators brought more benefits or sufferings and destructions?
- Are there not serious violations of human rights in Tibet?
- Are there not serious long-term consequences of the ongoing environment destructions and nuclear pollution?
- Which party is responsible for the deadlock in finding an amicable solution over the past seventeen years?
The International community has the moral and political responsibility to stand up for truth and justice. It must support the voices of reason and non-violence if we want to make the world a more peaceful and happy place to live in. If these fundamental questions are raised, the very raison d’etre of the Chinese claim will be exposed and it will have no grounds to accuse others of interference in their internal affairs. We have no doubt that if the international community takes a strong and principled stand it will have a very positive influence on Chinese attitude and policy as China becomes more open and more democratic, Tashi Delek!
Tibet Support groups its Achievements and Expansion
It is my great pleasure to speak to you. This gathering of more than two hundred and fifty six Tibet supporters from fifty-six countries symbolises the international concern for Tibet. On Behalf of Tibetans around the world may I therefore extend my warmest greetings to you all.
Expansion of Tibet Support Groups (TSGs):
Today the support for Tibet has reached a critical stage. The ever-expanding Tibet movement has brought more countries under its influence. In the first TSG meeting in Dharamsala in 1990, we had delegates from twenty-five countries compared to fifty six at this meeting. I six years the network has doubled. There are over three hundred and fifty TSGs all over the world. However, due to financial and logistical reasons, we are compelled to limit the number of delegates at this conference.
Since the first TSG meeting there have been many regional conferences too. The North American and the European networks have been having their regular meetings. In India too there have been meetings of the Indo-Tibetan Friendship Society, and the Himalayan Committee for Action on Tibet. EcoTibet conference and two world parliamentarian conventions on Tibet have also been held successfully. A lawyers’ conference on Tibet produced an authoritative legal document on Tibet.
TSGs have brought together many men and women of talent and skill to the Tibet movement. Their lobbying skills, media expertise, their knowledge of the inner workings of the various bureaucracies and parliamentary procedures, their easy access to various NGOs and the UN have empowered our movement and made it more vibrant and dynamic.
The network of TSGs, Buddhist Centres, and individuals across the world working for the cause of Tibet have given our movement greater effectiveness, influence and reach. The Tibetan voice is now heard loud and clear in the various international fora. More and more NGOs are making statements on behalf of Tibet at the UN. There are increasing number of official statements from governments and resolutions by parliaments on issues relating to Tibet.
The combined efforts of the TSG movement worldwide have posed a direct challenge to the credibility and Chinese monopoly of news about Tibet. The World Tibet News (WTN) has brought about an efficient sharing of news and views on Tibet. Independent reports and reviews by various TSGs on human rights, environment, nuclear missiles and waste dumping in Tibet and the Chinese population transfer policy into Tibet have done a great deal to erode the credibility of Chinese publicity on these issues.
The demonstrations and vigils organised by the TSGs either to commemorate the 1959 Tibet National Uprising or to protest the visits by various Chinese leaders have brought about a great deal of media coverage on the Tibet issue, and definitely contributed to increasing the awareness of Tibet in the world.
The release of Ganden Rinchen, the stopping of aid to the Panam project by the EU, the successful campaign to prevent China from hosting the year 2000 Olympic Games, the huge media splash made by nine Tibetan women at the UN World Women’s Conference in Bejing last September, the recent Tibetan flag hoisting in many European cities, and the signature campaign for the release of Ganden Choekyi Nyima, the new Panchen Lama, the on going Toycott campaign, the boycott of toys made in China, the mushrooming of Students for Free Tibet across the campuses of America, and the recognition by governments of the power of various Tibet Support Groups as potent pressure groups all testify to the co-ordination and effectiveness of the worldwide movement for Tibet, and to the strength of the TSG movement.
The efforts of TSGs have enabled the Tibetans to hold several productive and extremely meaningful dialogues with the pro-democracy Chinese groups in the west. These meetings have not only contributed to further increasing the understanding of the Tibet issue by the potential leaders of a democratic China, but have increased our own admiration for these brave Chinese men and women who have a vision of China which may not be incompatible with the hopes and aspirations of the Tibetans people.
Also because of the sincere and consistent campaigns launched by the Tibet Support Groups, several Tibetan prisoners and human rights activists have received the prestigious Reebok Human Rights Award, which has given hope and courage to millions of Tibetans. Several Tibetan prisoners have also been adopted as prisoners of conscience not only by various TSGs but also by human rights organisations.
Acts of courage, devotion and dedication from individuals have made great impact in reminding the world of the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom and justice. The name Grace Spring comes to mind. Grace started her one woman vigil for Tibet nine years ago. Every Friday without fail she continues to stand in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. I express our heartfelt appreciation to her and others who have undertaken similar individual initiatives on Tibet.
At the same time, I would also recognise the efforts of members of the Tibet Support Groups around the world who go to Tibet, at great risks, to document human rights abuses of the Tibetan people. These acts not only contribute to increasing the outside world’s understanding of the Tibetan tragedy, but serve as a morale booster to the Tibetans in Tibet who hope, and continue to struggle for, that their present tragedy will one day becomes just a bad memory compared to Tibet’s future as a land of peace, happiness, prosperity and boundless goodwill to all.
Another accomplishment of the Tibet movement is the increasing number of newsletter brought out by an increasing number of Tibet Support Groups, which however small, go a long way in educating people on the Tibet issue. And with the untiring lobbying assistance of the Tibet Support Groups, Tibetans have also managed to make parliaments, international fora and organisations around the world to pass at least 90 resolutions on the question of Tibet, which come as a breath of fresh air to Tibetans bottled up under Chinese communist occupation.
The success of the world wide TSG movement is a vindication of the true strength and power of the citizens of the world. It is a vindication of PEOPLE POWER. It shows that eventually it will be the people who will change the fate and destiny of our world. This is what democracy is all about: that the strength of conviction of either one individual or a group of individuals will become the rallying cry for a cause bigger than governments, bigger than the military might of a powerful nation.
The greatest achievement of the Tibet movement is our ability to place morality, nonviolence, truth, and justice on the agenda of the international community. The respect for these values is our only hope for peace and stability in the world and for a future free Tibet. It is on these values that we Tibetans have been waging our struggle for the freedom of Tibet and for the freedom of Tibet and for dignity for our people.
Despite our achievements, the struggle ahead of us is long and hard. The issues are complex, the international political scenario is in a state of flux, the interests of governments are mainly economic, and China, in the pursuit of its perceived national interests, is seen as flexing its newfound military and economic muscle in a way which makes the whole world nervous.
Faced with such a daunting prospect, we need to work with renewed hope and courage. We must remember that all our efforts finally must concentrate to help the Tibetan people regain their lost freedom. In this struggle, non-violence is our path and a negotiated political settlement with China our central policy. I take this opportunity to appeal to all our friends gathered here to help us launch a consistent, unrelenting campaign worldwide based on these two points.
Besides this basic issue, one of the most pressing Tibetan concerns is the ongoing Chinese population transfer policy in Tibet. All of us have thought long and hard on this issue. However, the stage has come when we need to vigorously engage ourselves in devising new means to stem and eventually reverse the tide of Chinese immigration into Tibet. The Chinese population transfer policy continues to pose as the gravest threat to the Tibetans as a distinct people. The Chinese in Tibet already outnumber the Tibetan population of six millions. Now we are receiving reports that China plans to move half a million Chinese miners into Tibet to mine the second largest deposit of copper in the world. The sudden influx of such a large number of Chinese will not only threaten the fragile ecosystem of Tibet but will further contribute to marginalising the Tibetan people.
The small technical setback for Tibet at the UN Human Rights Commission this year should not discourage us. In the recent years we have gained a great victory because of the fact that more governments are becoming aware of the seriousness of the situation in Tibet. Instead we need to redouble our efforts and prepare ourselves for the coming battles at UN in the years ahead. Because of the lobbying skills of our friends, because of their unrelenting and untiring efforts, the Tibet issue is becoming a focal point for the world body.
In Tibet the situation is getting worse. China is fast backwarding Tibet to the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, when a midnight knock at your door spelled your doom or that of your spouse or children. The political vocabulary and rhetoric China employs to heap abuse and insult on the person of His Holiness the Dalai Lama comes straight from the days of the Cultural Revolution, except even in the worst nightmare of the Cultural Revolution days did China dare question the legitimacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s spiritual leadership of the Tibetan people. Now China questions the very spiritual authority of His holiness the Dalai Lama.
In Keeping with its harsh rhetoric, China is coming down hard on the Tibetan people. In fact, the only reason why the Chinese Communist Party is still in power in China and still occupies Tibet is its effective suppression of all the fundamental human rights of both the Chinese and the Tibetan people.
In its new report, China: No One Is Safe’ Amnesty International says,” Gross violations of human rights have intensified in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) since a resurgence of demonstrations and other activities in favor of Tibet’s independence began in September 1987. Its concerns rest with the authorities’ denial of free speech and association in the region, and the persistent pattern of gross violations of other fundamental human rights in connection with the suppression of the nationalist movement.”
Photographs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are today banned in Tibet, and monasteries and nunneries cannot be built without official approval, which is not forthcoming because the authorities think these two institutions of Tibetan learning and knowledge are hotbeds of what they call “Splittism.”
Above all, the Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly distrustful of the Tibetan cadres. A recent official party document described the Tibetan cadres as “Having their stomach with the party but their heart with the Dalai Lama”.
As a consequence of this, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported on February 25, 1995, that one thousand cadres and technicians from fourteen Chinese provinces would be sent to Tibet to ma and manage forty four key county posts in Tibet. This is an indication of the real extent of the “autonomy” enjoyed by Tibet.
Faced with such a situation, I feel that we now need to focus on four major and specific areas in addition to the areas in which we work for the common cause of Tibet. The first is continuing to extend the range and vigour of the Students for free Tibet movement. This movement has seen a remarkable growth in recent years in America and now we need to make the Student for Free Tibet into a world movement.
The second is continuing our efforts for dialogue with the pro-democracy Chinese movement. The several conferences we have had in the past years have contributed to a better understanding and better appreciation of the efforts of both the Tibetans and the Chinese democracy movement to secure dignity and freedom for the both the Chinese and the Tibetan peoples. We need now to further increase both the frequency and the range of topics to be discussed at such future meetings so that mutual distrust will be replaced by mutual respect and suspicion by understanding, for the good and prosperity of both Tibet and China.
The third is that we need to focus our international efforts in the developing world. The Chinese authorities have been accusing Dharamsala and His Holiness the Dalai Lama of being a “tool” and “stooge” of “Western” hostile forces.” In order to show that truth and justice has support everywhere in the world, we need to increase our activities in the so-called Third World.
The fourth is to increase our efforts in Tibet. Without putting any one at risk in Tibet, we need to increase the input of literature to Tibetans in Tibet. Complementing this we need to redouble our efforts in creating more awareness of the tragedy of Tibet and Tibetans amongst Chinese masses in China. We are encouraged by our experience with the Chinese democracy movement in the free world. It has helped us in clearing their misunderstanding about Tibet. This is crucial because the Tibetan and Chinese people will always have to live as neighbours irrespective of the context in which the Tibetan issue is resolved.
As the human rights situation in Tibet worsens, we may use several upcoming events to spread the world about Tibet. The Olympic Games in Atlanta this year and the holding of the International Parliamentary Union’s conference in Beijing this September and the handing over of Hong Kong to Chinese rule next year may be events we may use to launch specific campaigns to highlight the ongoing tragedy that is taking place on the roof of the world.
Finally, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has received increasing respect and good will across the globe. There is no better way for the world to show their respect and regard for him than by inviting him to address the UN General Assembly. We might wish to launch a campaign on this issue.
A Word to Describe the Tibetan Tragedy:
Before I conclude I would like to make a suggestion. The Tibetan people have suffered grievously at the hands of the Chinese Communists. Till now we have not succeeded in coining a word or a term to describe the enormity of the sorrow, tragedy and sadness of the Tibetan people. If our movement is to be energized, sustained, and eventually to succeed, we need to coin a word which can describe the unprecedented suffering of the Tibetan people. The African National Congress had its Apartheid, a single word which describes the sin and the great wrong of racial segregation and separate development for whites and blacks. The Balkan tragedy has its ethnic cleansing, a term which brings out very forcefully and vividly the systematic attempt by those powerful and mighty to eradicate a people of a different race or religious beliefs.
The Tibetan tragedy has all these elements, including the elements from the horrors of the Jewish holocaust. How is it that we Tibetans have suffered so much and yet are unable to articulate our suffering in inspired terms?
Here are some new words which might set you thinking. The first one is culturecide. The next is Tibetocide. The third and last is de-shangrilised. I have jotted these down in the hope that you will, at the end of the conference, be able to come up with a much more expressive coinage.
We Tibetans have contributed only three words to the English language, lama, yak and shangrila. Today because of this conference let us give a fourth, a word most expressive of the suffering and tragedy of the Tibetan people, expressive enough to provoke a continuous and inspired literature on the subject.
Finally, while once again expressing our profound sense of appreciation and gratitude to everyone of you for your consistent devotion and solidarity for the freedom of Tibet, I appeal to all the Tibetan Support Groups to increase better coordination and better understanding among yourselves as you continue to work for the cause of the Tibetan people. It will ensure more concrete results.
In the end, I wish you Tashi Delek, and as we always say, Next year in Lhasa.