Washington, D.C., 23-24 April 1997

 


The Washington Statement on Tibet

April 24, 1997

The Third World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet held in Washington, D.C. on 23 and 24 April 1997 notes with dismay that despite the ever growing demand by parliaments and government leaders of many countries that negotiations take place between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the Tibetan government in exile, such negotiations have not taken place. Instead, the Chinese government has intensified its repressive policy in Tibet. In particular, reports and observations of the UN Special Rapporteurs, international human rights organizations and parliamentary delegations in the last two years, indicate that the Chinese authorities have escalated moves to erase the very identity of the Tibetan people as evidenced by:

— renewed assault on the religious freedom and cultural heritage of the Tibetan people;

— increased torture, imprisonment and death of those asserting their Tibetan identity and political aspirations;

— marginalization of the Tibetan language through measures such as the closing down of Tibetan language middle schools and imposition of Chinese language in higher institutions of learning, including the Tibetan University in Lhasa;

–attacks on monasteries and nunneries in the name of political re-education which have resulted in the expulsion, imprisonment and death of many;

— continuing transfer of Chinese citizens to Tibet and the forced abortion and sterilization with the purpose of reducing the Tibetans into an insignificant minority in their own country as the key component of China’s “final solution” to the question of Tibet; and

–interference in the religious process for the recognition of the Panchen Lama and the detention of eight-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognized according to Tibetan tradition and belief as the 11th Panchen Lama, at a secret location.

The Convention deplores these attacks on the life, religion and culture of the Tibetan people and demands that they be stopped forthwith. It further demands the immediate release of the 11th Panchen Lama from captivity.

The Convention reaffirms the resolutions adopted at the first and second World Parliamentarians Convention (in New Delhi, March 18-20, 1994 and Vilnius, May 26-28, 1995), including the explicit recognition of Tibet’s historical independence and the inalienable right of the Tibetan people to self-determination.

The Convention emphasizes its recognition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his government as the sole legitimate representatives of Tibet and the Tibetan people.

The Convention is convinced that a lasting solution to the question of Tibet can only be achieved through earnest negotiations between the People’s Republic of china and His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, without preconditions.

The Convention applauds the statesmanship of the Dalai Lama and his efforts to initiate dialogue and negotiations with China in order to find peaceful solution to the conflict.

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that despite the historical reality of Tibet’s sovereignty he is prepared to hold negotiations on genuine self-government for Tibet and the demilitarization and transformation of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa (non-violence), without raising the independence.

The Dalai Lama formally and publicly reiterated his position, as stated in the previous paragraph, at the Convention on 23 April 1997.

Therefore, the Convention believes that the stand publicly taken by the government of the PRC that the Dalai Lama’s stand on independence is the obstacle to negotiations is unfounded.

Consequently, the Convention once again calls upon all governments to use their influence at all possible levels, including in the United Nations, to persuade the government of the People’s Republic of china to accept the Dalai lama’s fair and reasonable offer to open negotiations with its leaders. In this context, the Convention records its appreciation of the message sent by President Clinton to the Parliamentarians Convention.

The Convention requests the Secretary-General of the United Nations to appoint a special representative to contact all relevant parities in order to seek ways to facilitate the initiation of negotiations between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile.

The Convention calls also on corporations, non-governmental organizations and individuals doing business or working in Tibet or China to use their influence to support efforts to reach a peaceful solution through negotiations. It also calls on all government and non-governmental organizations supporting projects in Tibet to do so only in accordance with the guidelines prepared by the Tibetan government-in-exile in order to ensure that it is the Tibetan people in Tibet who will benefit from such projects.

The Convention commends the United States Congress, the European Parliament and a number of governments for providing financial support for Tibetan refugees and their social and economic development. It recommends that other parliaments and governments also consider providing financial support.

The Convention salutes the Tibetan people who have, in the face of grave adversities and suffering, consistently maintained their non-violent policy in efforts to protect their fundamental rights and regain their freedom. Successful negotiations are the only way to prevent the escalation of tensions.

The participants at this III World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet and the thousands of like-minded parliamentarians in at least fifty countries assure His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people everywhere of their continued support. To this end, the Convention has adopted the III World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet Action Plan.

Washington, D.C. April 24, 1997

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Action Plan for Tibet

Adopted at the Third World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet, Washington, D.C.,
23-24 April 1997

Parliamentarians

 

  1. Move a simple motion in their own parliament calling on their own government to support the establishment of discussions without pre-conditions between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the PRC. The resolution to be similar to:
  2. Be it resolved that the .(Insert the name of Parliament) urges the Government of the PRC to enter into meaningful negotiations without preconditions with representatives of the Dalai Lama in a neutral venue (under the auspices of the UN) with the objective of resolving the Tibet Issue.

     

  3. Establish or join their own parliament’s Tibet Support Group to provide an effective lobbying group especially before and after visits by the Dalai Lama.
  4. Establish or join their Parliament’s Amnesty International Group and request their Government to act on every urgent action case raised by AI. This will include, as a matter of course, cases of Tibetan prisoners of conscience. The group should ensure that overseas parliamentary delegations are briefed on the human rights situations in the countries they visit.
  5. Ensure all parliamentary delegations to China also visit Tibet after being thoroughly briefed on the political and human rights situation there on the condition that reliable Tibetan interpretation is available.
  6. Foster the creation of Tibet Support Groups within regional IPU groups and regional parliamentary groups.
  7. Discuss the Tibetan issue with visiting Chinese parliamentarians and leaders, and encourage the participation and involvement of local community groups.

Community Groups

 

  1. Organize a celebration of Tibetan New Year, if possible, show casing Tibetan culture, food and crafts, telling participants this is the culture the Chinese Government is attempting to eradicate.
  2. Organize a commemoration of the invasion of Tibet, for example in the form of rallies, public meetings and/or Tibet Flag Days.
  3. Visit their local Member of Parliament to discuss Tibet and to give them information on the political and human rights in Tibet.
  4. Identify sympathetic journalists to target with news of Tibet. Journalists from all media should be targetted.
  5. Organize a petition to the parliament calling on the government to support the establishment of talks, without preconditions, between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the PRC.
  6. Call on all governments, nongovernmental organizations, UNICEF and individuals to write to the government of People’s Republic of China, protesting the violation of the child rights by continuing to incarcerate the Panchen Lama — a child of eight years of age and apply every form of pressure for his immediate release.

Governments

 

  1. Ensure that Governments raise the question of talks without preconditions between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the PRC on the future of Tibet in all Ministerial discussions with PRC.
  2. Support the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on Tibet to the UNHRC, Geneva.
  3. Request the UN Secretary general to appoint a personal envoy/representative on Tibet.
  4. Periodically request independent media access to Tibet.

Washington, D.C. April 24, 1997

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Address of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Third WPCT,
Washington, D.C., 23-24 April 1997

It is my great pleasure to address this gathering of distinguished parliamentarians. I know that some of you have come from very far away to discuss the issues affecting Tibet and how best to promote a peaceful resolution to the situation in my country. The people of Tibet are always encouraged by the support shown by parliaments around the world, and on behalf of the Tibetan people, I want to thank each of you for joining us here today.

I would like to particularly thank the Co-Chair of the Congressional Host Committee, Congressman Benjamin Gilman, who has been so committed to the Tibetan people for many years, as well as the International Campaign for Tibet, for hosting this convention here in Washington, DC. I would also like to thank the Tibetan Parliament, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, who is co-hosting this Convention.

Because we are honored to hold this convention in the great halls of the U.S. Congress, I would also like to express the sincere gratitude of all the Tibetan people to the U.S. Congress for its leadership on the issue of Tibet. From its historic resolution of 1991 declaring Tibet to be an occupied country, to the annual provision of humanitarian assistance to Tibetan refugees, to the establishment of the Tibetan language Voice of America program and Radio Free Asia, the Congress has been at the forefront of international efforts to pressure the Chinese government to change its policies towards Tibet.

It has now been 48 years since the Chinese government first occupied my country. During this period the Tibetan people have endured great hardships and they continue to be denied the many basic freedoms which we in the free world take for granted, such as freedom of speech, of association and of religion.

I am deeply concerned for the well-being of my people. In recent years, the local Chinese authorities in Tibet have dropped all pretense of respecting Tibet’s unique cultural and religious traditions and is now engaged in a systematic effort to destroy all that remains Tibetan in Tibet through a host of repressive regulations and practices. This, coupled with the continuing influx of Chinese settlers who now outnumber Tibetans, has led my people to become more and more marginalized in all spheres of life.

The situation inside Tibet brings me tremendous sorrow and my most urgent objective has always been to end the suffering of the Tibetan people. My top priority is to protect and save the Tibetan people’s cultural identity. Accordingly, I have tried to adopt a pragmatic approach to find a negotiated solution which is mutually agreeable to the Tibetan and Chinese people. At the same time, I have counseled my people to pursue a path of non-violence even though I understand their frustrations at the lack of any positive developments. My hope is that the Chinese leadership will appreciate the importance of a peaceful settlement to the Tibetan situation, for no matter what the outcome, the Tibetan and Chinese people will have to live side by side. That is why the many proposals I have put forward over the years to peacefully resolve the situation in Tibet have been made in the spirit of reconciliation and compromise.

It is my belief that in order to have constructive negotiations we should concentrate on the future, and let history be history. Of course, as I have said consistently, Tibet was not a part of China before 1949. Even Chinese leaders such as the Republic’s founder, Sun Yat Sen and Mao Tse Tung, acknowledged that Tibetans were a distinct nation, culturally, ethnically, linguistically, geographically, but also politically. Thus Mao talked of China’ “foreign debt” to Tibet.

Let us leave the past aside and agree to start negotiations, without preconditions, about the future. For it is the future of our people that is at stake.

In 1979 Mr. Deng Xiaoping stated that “everything except independence can be discussed and resolved.” I responded positively to this statement. I have categorically stated that I am not insisting on independence for Tibet and my proposal is for genuine self-rule for the Tibetan people.

In fact it was ten years ago that I announced my Five Point Peace Plan here in the Congress of the United States. In that plan I laid out my thoughts on a possible solution to the Tibetan situation and expressed my willingness to take into consideration the legitimate needs of China. The plan called for Tibet to be transformed into a Zone of Ahimsa or non-violence and for the Chinese government to abandon its population transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet; to respect the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights; to restore and protect Tibet’s environment; and to begin earnest negotiations on the issue of Tibet.

The Chinese leadership did not respond positively to this proposal and instead indicated that it was not specific enough. Therefore, in 1988 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 1988, I came out with a detailed framework for a negotiated solution. In recent years I have made further overtures by reiterating my interest in negotiations time and time again, each time expressing a willingness not to raise the issue of independence.

I had sincerely hoped that Mr. Deng Xiaoping would be able to find a solution to the situation in Tibet during his lifetime. In many ways he was a great leader who brought new prosperity to the Chinese people. But he seemed unable to follow through with his promise to enter into substantive negotiations on the issue of Tibet.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to say to the new leadership in China that I remain ready to enter into honest negotiations so that we can end the turmoil in Tibet. This is not just a critical issue for the Tibetan people, but it is also in the long-term good of China. Peace and stability of the region depends on a solution to the Tibetan situation because Tibet occupies a strategic location in Asia and has historically played a role in maintaining peace in Central and South Asia. I am hopeful that a forward-looking and sincere leadership will emerge in Beijing who will understand the benefit of peacefully resolving the situation in Tibet.

At this critical juncture in Chinese history, the international community should encourage China to develop to its full potential by supporting the democratic forces in China. In order to do so the leaders of the world should have the farsighted wisdom to point out China’s weaknesses to enable it to become a fully-respected and equal member of the international community. Economic and democratic developments should be addressed jointly, as they are intricately linked.

It is my sincere belief that it would be unproductive to isolate China. Therefore, I have always called for a policy of engagement with China. But at the same time, the international community should be proactive in its dedication to the principles of human rights and democracy that the free men and women everywhere hold so dear. As we are here in Washington, I would also add that because of America’s moral and economic leadership around the world, the U.S. has a critical role to play in encouraging China to develop in the right direction.

An important development currently underway which deserves serious attention by the international community is Hong Kong’s impending reversion to Chinese rule. There are tremendous similarities between the system of “one country, two Systems” China has agreed to uphold with Hong Kong and the system of rule that the Chinese leadership imposed on Tibet shortly after the occupation of Tibet began. Even the details are hauntingly similar, right down to the establishment of a Preparatory Committee which in Tibet, gradually became the de facto government of Tibet, even though I remained the titular head.

I hope that the international community will learn from the bitter experiences we were forced to endure during that painful period in Tibet’s history. I also hope that China will honor the wishes of the people of Hong Kong, as they failed to do in Tibet. It is certainly true that the Chinese government will gain invaluable experience during the process of Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese rule that could provide them with a new perspective.

The Chinese leadership should see that the U.S. and international support for Tibet or for Hong Kong is not “anti-Chinese”. Rather, it represents an outpouring of concern for the suffering of the Tibetan people and an appreciation for our just cause. This gathering today of parliamentarians from around the world is an example of this support. Clearly those of you here today do not hold any ill will towards China. You have come here because of your genuine concern for Tibet and China.

In recent years an increasing number of Chinese individuals, some still living in China, have expressed sympathy for the plight of the Tibetan people. I believe this is because they are gradually becoming aware that there is more to the issue of Tibet than Chinese propaganda would suggest. I am a strong believer in the strength and power of human relationships and have taken the opportunity to interact as much as possible with my Chinese brothers and sisters. These meetings have enabled us to understand our mutual concerns and interests and I believe they are the key to a resolution in Tibet.

My recent visit to Taiwan illustrates this growing understanding and concern by Chinese-speaking people for the culture of Tibet. I believe that in the long run this will help establish mutual understanding and respect between the Tibetan and Chinese people. During my visit I was greatly impressed by the openness and frankness with which the Taiwanese people were able to discuss issues which concerned them. The democratic developments in Taiwan can certainly become a role model for China where the people continue to be denied a role in the political decision making process.

In closing, I would like to thank the representatives from around the world who are gathered here today for your outstanding efforts on behalf of the Tibetan people. The Tibetan people’s cultural and religious identity is slowly disappearing in the face of China’s continued repression in Tibet. We cannot succeed in our efforts to save the Tibetan culture without your support.

Thank you.

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Inaugural Session of the Third World Parliamentarians’ Convention
on Tibet, Washington, D.C., 23-24 April 1997

Welcome Address by Lodi G. Gyari, President, International Campaign For Tibet, Washington, D.C.

I would like to welcome everyone of you. I would like to express our gratitude to support given by the parliamentarians to the Tibetan people. In the United States, the Congress has, under the effective leadership of the parliamentarians like Congressmen Benjamin Gilman, been demonstrating good support to the Tibetan cause.

I normally say that United States has two policies on Tibet. While the Congress recognizes Tibet’s soverienity and considers it as an illegally occyupied nation, the Administration holds Tibet to be a part of China.

However, the years the parliamentarians throughout the world have greatly contributed in keeping the Tibet issue from dying. I am particularly glad to recognize The Honourable George Fernandes, Member of Parliament from india, with whom I have the pleasure of cooperating in starting the very first parliamentary group. I would also like to welcome Hon.Ela Gandhi, a Memger of Parliament from South Africa, grandmother of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as the delegates from South America.

The development in Geneva during the Human Rights Commission session in March-April, 1997 when China was able to force a division in the European Union leading to a non passing of a resolution condemning China’s human right practice in China and Tibet indicates that we have a great challenge ahead. This experince reveals the need for a multilateral strategy on China. I would like to applaud the courage of the government of Denmark in sponsoring the China resolution at the Commission.

It is now my pleasure to introduce Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies which is the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.

Address of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman, Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile)

Your Holiness, Mr. Chairperson, Fellow Parliamentarians, distinguished Guests and Friends,

At the outset, I welcome all of you most sincerely and express my deep sense of gratitude on behalf of six million suffering people of Tibet. The parliamentarians who have taken the trouble of coming all the way to attend this conference to express solidarity and unflinching support for the cause of Tibet represent the noble political will based on the moral conscience of humanity.

If on your part there would not have been a deep sense of commitment to the values of freedom, justice and human dignity you would not have taken pains to assemble here. This is the gathering of people who posses indomitable courage and who without fear or greed have guts to stand up for truth and justice against a mighty force of our times. We all know that Tibet has nothing to offer as benefits to anyone to you or your country in material or politaical terms in contrast to what our oppressor China, so readily offers. Therefore, your presence here is not vitally important and invaluable for we Tibetans but also for the humanity at large. It is not a simple strategic support for a people of nation or a political group. It is the support which strangthens the forces of truth, justice and nonviolence and morality all over the world. His Holiness offen says that “The Tibetan Supporters are neither pro-Tibetan nor anti-China; they are pro-justice, truth and nonviolence and anti-justice, falsehood and violence.”

This assembly consist of people who refuse to be neutral spectators when a section of humanity suffers from oppression and expliotation at the hand of totalitarian regime. Noble Laureate Eli Weisel rightly said that “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim; silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

It is a good augury that we have gathered in Washington to hold this convention of WPTC. The United States is rightly acclaimed as the champion of the ideals of democracy, freedom and justice. It has always stood for liberty, equality and human dignity. The great people of United States have consistently supported the cause of Tibet. Therefore it is my duty to express my gratitude to the organizers and supporters of this convention.`

With these preliminary remarks I may be permitted to share some of my thoughts with you. The situation in Tibet is worse than ever before. The ongoing systematic rampage of its civilization and the sinister policy of annilhilating its cultural and racial identity is being pursued jealously. The escalating demographic aggression; the unending tale of various forms of discriminations; the rising wave of torture, killings and unlawful detentions; the never increasing onslaught on Tibetan language, culture and religion; the heartless sinocization of Tibet and the continuing destruction of its environmant-all this and more- is going on unabatedly.

I do not want to take your time in recounting the numerous instances of violation of human rights, destruction of culture and civilization, indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources, misuse of economic development projects in Tibet particularly financed by world comunity wich ultimately benefit the Chinese to settle down in Tibet. You are well aware of all these things. There is ample evidence available and there are numerous documents on these subjects the advent of Deng era in China; disolution of the mighty USSR; the establishment of unchallenged world supremacy of the U.S.A. and the ultimate triumph of the free markets economy with ever increasing spread of liberaliztion all over the globe-the perception of the world community regarding the Chinese communist regime began changing.

Consequently, governments of the world started to promote and pursue two interdependent policies towards China simultaneously. One of these policy is based on the thoery that since economic liberalization and industrial development have startad taking place in the Mao China, the forces of democracy and political liberty will automatically be strengthened there. The world community decided to help China in its economic development efforts. China started to recieve funds and technological know-how at a gigantic scale.It was believed that with the growth of consumerism and material prosperity political liberalization will follow and very soon democracy will be knocking at the doors of Biejing. Advocates of this theory believed “If winter is there can spring be far behind”

The second policy was based on the premise that China should not be isolated or should not be allowed to isolate itself from the world community. The more China remains isolated the more problems it will create for the rest of the world. Therefore, in accordance to the wishes of the rulers of China, it was given speacial treatment in the name of constructive engagement. Multilateral financial, industrial and commercial relationships were established with it by almost all the important nations, particularly by the most developed nations of the world. Incidentally, U.S.A. happen to be the greatest protagonist of this move as is reflected in its policy of awarding the exceptional status of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) to China. It is said that such favourable treatment will not only open up a vast market with immense potentialities and will thus give a boost to the world economy but will also provide more ways and oppotunities if interaction with China at different levels which will ultimately bring democracy and the rule in that country.

Both of these policies have been experimented for the last twenty years, and now the results are as clear as ever. How much democratization and liberalization has taken place inside China was reflected most poignantly at the Tinanmen Square a couple of years ago. Chinese authoriteis have become more confident about the effectiveness of their tactics because they have seen that world community is not much serious about democracy and human rights.

It is evident that the totalitarian regime of China has become more poweful and carried on its ruthless repression of human rights and civil liberties at a faster rate than before. This is due to its increasing economic power augmented and stabilized by foreign aid and investment which poured into China at an unprecedented scale. All this has greartly increased China’s bargaining power. It is no wonder its policy of twisting arms and issue threats, day in and day out, flows from this bargaining power.

Now it is amply clear that both the policies being pursued since last twenty years or so by the world community as regards China have proved not only futile but have also proved to be counterproductive. China has become a world power both economically and militarily. So far so good. But what is more important, it has neither shown any sign of democratizing and liberalizing its policy nor has given a single proof of a change in its colonial and imperialistic policies. It has demonstrated its utter disregard for all human valus. It is continually mocking at the feeble noises being made regularly about the dissapionting human rights records of China of the annual UNHRC meetings. Hardly two weeks ago and to be precise, on the last 15th April at Geneva UNHRC meet China emerged victorous when it pushed for a “no action” motion on a resolution censuring Beijing’s dismal human rights record. It even prevented the world’s fore most human rights forum from debating its own records and, thus, seriously undermining the credibility of the UNHRC. We Jainmen, head of the Chinese delegation, thundered, China’s progress is a historical certainity…and the backers of the resolution (against China) were pursuing a doomed cause.”

Here I would also like to point out that the U.N.Declaration on Human Rights has a sanctity of its own because it has been accepted by the entire community of Nation of world. Nevertheless China openly disowns and condemns the very concept of universality of human rights. It openly declares that the prevalent concept of human rights is a western concept which is not acceptable to China. But no response is forthcoming from the world community to such a blatant stand.

If the democratic world is really serious about its committment to the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights than the prevelent approach towards China needs to reviewed with all seriousness. If ths approach has strengthen the hands of those who flagrantly violate the basic norms of civil society and who perpetually perpetrate all forms of artrocities against the subjugated people and other racial and cultural minorities than it needs to be abandoned altogether.

Here I wuold like to recall the wods of Mr. Paul Berkowitz, Asian policy Staffer for the Chaiman of House International Realtions Committee of the U.S. Congress. He had rightly said in the last WPCT Convention,”The American Strategic policy towards China over the last twenty years is no longer serving the vital national interests of the U.S. We have been conciliatory and the Chinese have taken it for our weakness. We have sort mutually beneficial commerce and the Chinese have taken us to be cleaners, using unfare trade rules and slave and prison labour.”

How one should interpret this situation? Can one say that the world community was not unaware of the reality and all talk about democracy, liberty and human rights was merely an eyewash? Can one say that the world community entered into financial and trade relations with China for economic gains? Why the democratic world did not visualize adopting such measure against China as were adopted earlier in the case of South Africa, Cuba, Iraq etc.

It is said that TNC’s or MNC’s find China most siutable country for investment because of the nonexistence of the rule of the law and the absence of any genuine labor laws which enbales them to reap easy profits. These profits are gained because there are no labor unions, no strikes and it is easy to settle the business and trade terms by greasing the plans of a few party cadres bureaucrates. No dispute can be brought before an independent judiciary. If it is true then one is let to the conclusion that powerful trading and industrial interest operating on a global scale will never wish that democracy and rule of law are establish in China.

It is very pinching for us to realize that the issue of human rights can so easily be jettisoned from economic relations. But, at the same time, when the issue of intellectual property rights or copyrights comes up for consideration, the trade and economic relations are invariably tagged with it. The present global situation is such that the economic value is the only value which is accorded the highest status in the hierarchy of human values.

The entire world today, appears to be in competition to get access to Chinese market at the cost of ignoring human rights and moral values. The very idea of a market of a billion consumers is so alluring. But, ironically, the fact is that it will not be long before China becomes the land of a billion exporters,,, rather than that of billlion buyers. China may very soon flood the westerm market with consumer goods and other products cheaper and superior to what the Westerm economy can offer. China is not only using its increased economic resources for augmenting its armed might and strenghtening its arsenal but is also threatening the security of Asia. It is well known that China makes persistent claims on Taiwan, Nepal, Korea, Burma, and extensive area of Indian territory. When international relation are dominated by economic interests and trade considerations are given highest value what else can be expected? When humanity organizes its value structure primarily on the foundation of economic considerations such situation is bound to arise. Now commerce reigns supreme in the world affairs.

We may disagree with Charles Baudelaire who said, “Commerce is, in its very essence, satanic”. But we cannot overlook his contention that:”The least vile of all merchants is he who says let us be virtuous, since, thus, we shall gain much more money than those who are dishonest.” If the world community gives the central value to commerce it is all right, but, it can at least genuinely try to be honest and virtuous.

Our Commitment and Future Course of Action

Mr, Chairpersons, Ladies and Gentlemen: We the people of Tibet have not yet run out of patience, but the time is running out. I emphasize that it is time, now to save Tibet. Otherwise, entire Tibetan civilization will be completely wiped out of Tibet and from the globe. Nothing will remain to be rescued thereafer.

I may also add that for us it is a matter of extreme worry that the younger generation of Tibetans who are not deeply grounded in the traditional culture of peace and nonviolence, i.e. those who are born and brought up under Chinese occupation, might be driven by the Chinese policies to take recourse to extreme measure and a violent movement may errupt in future. That would be desastrous in many ways.

Despite the tremendous suffering inflicted on our poeple by China since 1949, and despite China’s intransigence in avoiding H.H. the Dalia Lama’s proposal to resolve the Tibetan problems through peaceful negotiations, the Tibetans have remained committed to the ideals of truth, nonviolence and genuine democracy. The Tibetans are also committed to find a solution which is in the best interest of the both China and Tibet. Under no circumstances the simple but brave people of the Tibet will ever flinch from their determination to regain their lost freegom through nonviolence. There are many ways of waging a nonviolent struggle. Mahatma Gandhi has shown us the way. I need not elaborate here various aspect of such a struggle. Here I can say only this much: come what may, we shall carry on our nonviolent struggle under the leadership of H.H. the Dalia Lama who symbolizes the forces of truth, peace, nonviolent and compassion. Even if many Tibetans have to shed their lives in the course of this nonviolent struggle it does not matter.

I am of the opinion that if the democratic world makes a really serious resolve to end oppression and injustice being inflicted upon Tibet I see no reason why we should not succeed in our goal.

Keeping all these facts in view this august convention has to explore all possible ways and means to achieve an earlier solution of the Tibetan problem. Some of the steps which may possibly be considered suitable for a desired course of action may consist of the following:

 

  • The resolution and New Delhi Action Program adopted at the first WPCT covention in 1994 and the Vilnius Resolution passed in the second convention of the WPCT in 1995 may be reviewed to find out what progress we could make through our efforts. This will help us to chalk out a more pragmatic strategy suited to the present situation.
  • As suggested in the Vilnius Resolution, United Nation may be persuaded to expand its de-colonization committee to include the issue of de-colonization of Tibet.
  • Effective steps have to be envisaged which will stop China from making a mockery of the United Nation Human Rights Commission. It is also necessary to put effective pressure on China so that the social, cultural and relogious rights of the Tibean are restored inside Tibet.
  • Above all, every possible effort should be made to persuade the Chinese to come around the Negotiation table along with H.H. the Dalai Lama.

At the end I thank H.H.the Dalia Lama, Senator Jesse Helms, Congressman Benjamin Gilman, his colleagues and Mr. Lodi G. Gyari for making such wonderful arrangement for this convention.

Friends I have taken much of your precious time and I am afraid I have digressed a lot from what I was expected to say. But I could not help it. I may be excused for that.

May I now introduce Hon.Benjamin Gilman.

Statement of Rep. Benjamin Gilman, Chairman, House International Relations Commitee, US Congress

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Holiness and distinguished participants. Thank you Lodi for your kind words. It is specail honour for the House International Relations Committee and the Congress to host this Third International Parliamentarian Convention on Tibet.

I am pleased to welcome H.H.the Dalia Lama, Professor Rinpoche, the Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, and all the distinguished legislators, academics, participants and guests joining us today. It is fitting that this historic meeting takes place under the roof of the “House of the people” by a worldwide community of legislators, scholars and experts.

As I drove down from New York last evening after spending the last two days celebrating the Passover holidays with my family, the significance of our meeting here today reminded me of the similarities between our two people’s and indeed the similarities between the righteous efforts of any people for freedom and G-d given rights.

During Passover the Jewish people celebrate their freedom from slavery and are reminded of their ancestors’ wandering in the desert for fourty years. The family sedar centers around recalling the persecution of the Jews by the Pharaoh, the efforts made to free the Jews, the promises made by G-d, their plight in the desert and the meaning of the sedar’s different foods, drinks and rituals. But most significant of all is the family gathering recounting the story of how a powerless non violent religious regained its rights.

As we gather together today I strongly fell that same sense of family that same motivation for coming together. Some of you have travelled very long distances and are sacrificing precious time and money to help the Tibetan people. Others are volunteering your services so that this can happen. But most significant of all is the selfless of the deed and the joy of doing what is right.

Today we are a family gathering to learn from the past, to enjoy good company and to help our Tibetan and Chinese brothers and sisters regain their freedom that is rightfully theirs. The result of our deliberations which will be delivered to the Secretary General of the United Nations and various governments are intented to bring those leaders into the family…to give them the opportunity to strengthen and to be part of our unity of effort.

Most of you know the statistics the Chinese destruction of over 6000 monasteries, the death of 1.2 million Tibetans (a third of the population), the tight control of the religion by a foreign athiest government, the public humuliation of monks and nuns. The Tibetans have lost every thing their great teacher, their lands and monasteries, and now due to the diabolical “final solution” -a population transfer program of massive numbers of Chinese into Tibet- many Tibetans are very rapidly losing their identity language and self respect.

The Romans destroyed the temple in Jerussalem some two thousand years ago and sent the Jews into exile from their holy land. The Chinese destruction and current occupation of Tibet is every bit as cruel and brutal to the Tibetans. The very strict control of Tibet’s religious institutions by atheist communist officials is not only unimaginable blasphemy to Tibetans but to all of the world’s great religious traditions.

The extend to which China’s past and present leaders are personally responsible for these policies is very distressing. For example it was Deng Xiaoping who directed the People’s Liberation Army into Tibet and oversaw its’ destruction. Just three years ago it was reported that at an internal Central Communist Party meeting President Jiang Zemin asserted that, religion is one of the biggest threat to Communist Party rule in China and Tibet. Subsequently Premier Li Peng signed decrees 144 and 145 which restrict worship, religious education, distribution of Bibles and other religious literature, as well as restricting contact with foreign coreligionists.

The totalitarian Chinese govenment has created official religious organizations that control all religious worship, activity and assocaition in China and Tibet and supplant the independent authority of the Roman Catholic Church, independent Protestant churches, and independent Budhist, Taoist, and Islamic assocaitions. Indeed, the Bureau of Religious Affair is headed by a rigid communist who is hostile to all religion.

The Bureau is controlled by the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Commuist Party. The party was behind the recent sentencing of a 76 year old Protestant leader to 15 years in prison for distributing bibles, the sentencing of a 65 years old evangelical elder to an eleven year prison term for belonging to an evangelical groups outside the government-sanctioned religious organizations and the sentencing of a 60 years old Roman Catholic priest to two years of “reeducation through labor” for unknown charges. He had previously spent 13 years in prison because of his refusal to renounce ties with the Vatican.

The Communist Party and the Bureau of Religious Affairs are also responsible for the kidnapping of the 6 years old Panchen Lama and his family who have been detained for almost two years, and their whereabout are still unknown. Scores of Tibetan Buddhists who refused to participate in the Chinese sham enthronement of Beijing’s “Panchen Lama” have been sent to prison and one of their spiritual leaders committed suidice rather than take part in the charade.

Mind you, these people are not spending lenghty periods of their life in horrible prison conditions for peacefully advocating political pluralism or democracy. They are being severely punished merely for pursuing their religious beliefs.

Pro democracy advocates in China and Tibet are going through equally hard times.The recently released State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices in China and Tibet states that “In 1996 the authorities stepped up efforts to cut off expression of protest or criticism. All public dissent against the party and government was effectively silence by intimitation, exile, the imposition of prison terms, administrative detention or house arrest. No dissidents were known to be active at year’s end.” Not even the old Soviet union managed such success aginst the refuseniks.

The State Department Reports goes on to say: “Although the Govenment denies that it holds policital prisoners, the number of persons detained or serving sentences for ‘couterrevolutionary crimes’or ‘crimes against the state,’ or for peaceful political or religious activities are believed to number in the thousands. Persons detained during 1996 included activities arrested for issuing petitions or open letters calling for reforms and greater democracy.”

Having checkmated all resistance in Tibet and China the dictators have been successfully applying similar strategies in the international arena. Just last week, representatives of the unelected government in Beijing once again succeded in Geneva at the U.N.Commission on Human Rights to have a no-action motion adopted on the consideration of a resolution regarding human rights violations in Tibet and China. The Beijing dictatorship elevated its international bullying to new heights by threatening Denmark that if it introduced a human rights resolution regarding China , the resolution would “become a rock that smashes on the Danish governmant’s head.” Such statement and the shameful action by Beijing of introducing a no-action are insults and a disgrace to the Commission on Human Rights. No country should be able to utilize its economic or political power to attempt to block international scrutiny of its human rights record. And no civilized country on the face of the earth would permit its diplomats, spokesmen or leaders to make such pernicious remarks.

Within the past year Beijing officials have made similiar threats against Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan if they permitted H.H. to visit their countries and if their leaders were to meet with Him. China’s diplomat have been flying all over world promising stadium, roads, government buildings, purchases of airplanes and other forms of trade and assistance in order to bully, threaten and cajole Commission members to vote with them in Geneva.

Three years ago, leaders of many nations that are currently members of the U.N.Commission on Human Rights urged President Clinton to de link U.S. trade with China to its human rights violations. They argued that the human rights issue ought to be considered separate and apart from trade and economic matters and last week they ignore the hypocrisy of trading their values and principles away.

The United State did not stand very tall in Geneva having launched a last minute halfhearted attempt to support Denmrak. Even to this day we do not know if President Clinton will meet one-on-one with H.H. as President Bush once did. The president recently met with the leaders of China’s People’s Liberation Army who was Chief of the Army General Staff and directly responsible for the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese general was greeted with a 19 gun salute. And the president met with the head of the Chinese government military manufacturing company that attempted to sell AK-47 assult rifles and stringer missiles to Los Angeles street gangs but he did not meet with the Cambodian democracy leader, Sam Rainsy who recenty survived an assasination attempt, nor with Jose Ramos Horta, the Eastern Timorese Nobel Peace Price Winner.

Democracy is on the run and having a difficult time establishing itself throughout Asia because democracies throughout the world, including our own nation, have put short term economic gains for powerful companies ahead of the long term benefits of democracy and the rule of law. Although most westren CEO’s intimately understand and are usually supportive of the role that an independent judiciary has no controlling corruption which in turns helps to maintain profitable business ventures, they are mesmerized by what Goerge Will of Washington Post calls the “beguiling chemira” of the China market. Almost every deal with China requires a substantial technological transfer that quickly evaporates their profitable sales.

Since 1989, every year around now, members of the business comunity visit Capital Hill to speak to us about the need for a Most Favored Nation trading status for China and to warn against containment verses engagemrnt of the govenment of Beijing. But I summit to you that the containment verses engagement discussion is a straw man. In a healthy family, members discuss issues, come to agreement and then follow on their words with deeds. Engagement continuess even when a punishment occurs. If many agreements are broken and a sibling never stands up for his or her rights then the other one usualy turns into a bully. At which point the family and the aggrieved sibling will both be responsilble if the belligrant’s behavour effects the larger cummunity.

The Tibetans and all of us here today are bearing our responsible to the world community by calling attention to the crises of leadership in both the People’s Republic of China and in any other government that fails to be alarmed, and to take strong action against the manipulation of religion and the destruction of a people.

Such a peolpe who have a particular commitment to God that characterizes their whole national identity who are the victims of the most vicious oppression who might be miraculously delivered against the odds precisely by continuing to hold to their special relation to God rather than by practising the ways of the Pharaoh, need all of our support.

We are family. We are here to bring out the best in all our members. Your very presence gives the Tibetans and Chinese people hope for the future.

The aspirations of the people of Tibet do not differ from those of the people of the China. In fact, both are struggling against dictatorship to establish the right to determine their future, to construct their civilizations, and to worship in freedom.

For centuries, the Tibetan people have had a special relationship with the people of China. We do not seek to disturb this. Although Tibet has always been a distinct and indenpendent nation and civilization, it has always acknowledged that its history and destiny is linked to China’s.

What we must insist on is that both elements of this relationship be respected. Tibet must be recognized as a distinct with all the rights to determine its future and construct its civilization.

I urge you during the next two days to chart out a program of action where together we can take a multilateral approach in helping H.H. the Dalia Lama and the people of Tibet. Many of us in the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats, are prepared to work with you.

Lodi, I want to convey to you and your staff at the International Campaign for Tibet and to all the volunteers here today doing the hard work of making this happen, my deepest appreciation and respect.

To the leaders in Beijing who knows of our meetings here today and tommorrow, we ask with all sincerity that they work with us to let our people go.

May your deliberations lead to freedom and peace for the Tibetan people.

God bless.

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The United Nations’ Obligation to Tibet
Luncheon Address by Alfredo Martinez Moreno

Ladies and Gentleman,

For a citizen of a small country, who has discharged responsibilities in the executive and judicial, but not in the legislative, branches of government, it is a true honor to address a select group of parliamentarians from diverse part of the world, about a subject which move the most intimate fibers of all men of goodwill that the holocaust of a people by any definition respectable-those of Tibet, that remote and legendary country situated in the high plateau beyond the Himalayas, inhabited by pacific people who during almost 1,300 years had developed a “distinct and unique culture”, based mainly on spiritual and religious values, until a little less than a half century ago when it was consumed by a totally unjustified aggression, before the passivity and the indifferences of the international community and in violation of the most sacred principles of the United Nations Charter. Specifically this was the violation of the principle of self-determination of the people and the obligation of all the states to refrain in their international relations from the threat and the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any other state.

If, since 1949, the Government of the People’s Republic of China, having consolidated its dominion over its own immense continental territory, began to further “the liberation of Tibet and other neighboring regions”, the aggression really began at the end of 1950, at the time the fifth Session of the General Assembly was meeting and even though the civilized world reacted with horror before the armed invasion, neither the most democratic organ of the United Nation, the General Assembly, nor the organ directed in charge of maintaining the peace and security in the world, the Security Council, did anything protect a virtually defenseless country.

In fact, on the 7th of October of 1950, an army of 40,000 men, with modern arms, attacked the city of Chamdo, the provincial capital of Eastern Tibet, and defeated a few thousand Tibetan militiamen, who, due to the Pacific nature of its government, had neither been duly trained or adequately armed. One month after the out break of the hostilities, on the 7th of November of 1950, a distinguished diplomat of my country, EL Salvador, Dr. Hector David Castro, a man of principles, formally requested that the theme of the aggression against Tibet be included in the agenda of the General Assembly, but the request was blocked by India and the United Kingdom, who believed that the interference of the World organization would complicate the situation, endangering the cold war and would give added pretext to the People’s Republic of China its sending of troops to Tibet. A grave mistake! The lack of action on the part of the United Nations, at a time when the aggressor state aspired to be admitted to the Organization, for which was required, according to article 4 of the Charter, to be “a peace loving state which accepts the obligation of the present Charter and is able and willing to carry out these obligation”, made possible that China terminated the independence and the sovereignty of Tibet. I remember, with patriotic pride, that several North American newspapers including The New York Times praised the worthy position of El Salvador. Thus The Journal American published an editorial, entitled “BRAVO, EL SALVADOR”, which, among other comments, declared, “it was a grandiose and moving thing to see little EL Salvador intervene in the matter and demand that the Unityed Nations investigate, and if not, issue a resolution deploring the invasion of Tibet”, and added that the Salvadorean delegate had been the “guardian of the international conscience”.

The Government of Tibet, presided over by H.H. The Dalia Lama, then made an impressive appeal to the United Nations, and, upon the lack of reply, decided to send a delegation to Beijing to negotiate bilaterally with the new leader Mao Zedong. The result was the imposition of an “Accord of Seventeen Points upon the Tibetan delegates which didn’t have the clear power to sign, and in which the military occupation and the administration of the foreign policy of Tibet was ceded to China, but nominally guaranteed the existence of Tibetan political system and autonomy, and recognized the power of the Dalia Lama and of the Panchen Lama, which theoretically respected the religious beliefs and customs of the subject people. Naturally the Tibetan Government didn’t ratify a pact signed under duress and it is clearly known under customary international law and Article 52 of the Vienna Convention of the rights of the Treaties that any treaty signed under the threat or use of force is null and void.

The oppression of the Tibetan people has continued to deteriorate day by day and year after year in a permanent martyrdom, in which all human rights and fundamental liberties have been violated and has converted Tibet into an oppressed colonial state: that is, an independent state under occupation, in which a part of its national territory has been arbitrarily separated and included into neighboring Chinese provinces and “in which its map has been redrawn by the aggressor state”, and in which its population of six million inhabitants has been reduced by the expulsion or flight of more than one quarter, at the same time as there have been massive transfers of Chinese populations into Tibet so as to nullify the right of self-determination of its native people.

Before the cruel and discriminatory treatment in education, health and housing, before the destruction of its monasteries and centers of religious training, the deforestation of its woodlands, the contamination of its environment and the installation of nuclear bases; even against the pillaging of its harvest resulting in ravenous hunger, the Tibetan people, peaceful by nature and conviction, witnessed national uprisings in 1956 and 1959, which resulted in a repression which killed thousands of Tibetan monks, peasants and shepherds.

The world shaken before the Chinese despotism, which has committed an extreme case of genocide, in which they have tried to destroy, “in whole or in part, a nation, ethnical or religious group”, but which, in this case is not the destruction of a group or a minority, but of an entire people, which has suffered condition of life calculated to bring about its total demise, the world press, the Congress of United State of America, the European Parliament and those of Germany, Italy and Australia, the principal humanitarian institutions and defenders of human rights, have condemned and protested the aggression against, the submission, the massacres and the torture of the Tibetan people.

The General Assembly of United Nations, in several session periods, has approved, by large majorities, resolutions “calling for the cessation of practices which deprive the Tibetan people of their fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to self-determination, and have pleaded for respect for their distinctive cultural and religious life”. The UN Sub-Commission on the discrimination of Minority Rights, in 1991, has expressed concerns for the violation of rights, which threatens the religious and national identity of the Tibetan people.

But these well-intentioned resolutions have been totally innocuous. Not a single governmental body or entity has taken a clear position regarding the right of self-determination of the Tibetan people, as the Conference of International Lawyers on Issue relating to the Self determination and Independence for Tibet established. This conference, held in London in 1993, following the definition of “a people” in international law affirmed by UNESCO experts, declared that the Tibetans constituted a true and distinct people, for they have the following common features:

 

  • a common historical tradition;
  • racial or ethnical identity:
  • cultural homogeneity;
  • linguistic unity;
  • religious or ideological affinity;
  • territorial connection; and
  • a common economic life,

Consequently, the Tibetan people are entitled to their right of self-determination. If nothing is done in the near future, the unique and admirable culture of these noble people is going to disappear: it is a culture in imminent danger of extinction.

That which is happening in Tibet, I repeat, is an authentic genocide, a spectacle of horror before a totally insensible and vacillating international community. When the Soviet Union sent its troops and tanks into Hungary, to stifle the libertarian rebellion of its people, who by the thousands fled or were expelled from their country, the voice if deep human sentiment of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt protested against what she correctly called “genocide by deportation”. And when, a few years ago, hundreds of Chinese students were massacred in Tiananmen Square, the entire world condemned the barbarity. But now, what has been done in the face of the expulsion and flight of a fourth part of the total population of Tibet? What has been done in the million and a half-persecuted people for its adhesion to a national identity and its respected religion? What has been done in the face of murder torture for more than a million Tibetans? And what has been done to counter the virtual suppression of Buddhism and the prohibition of its millennial language, or in the face of the destruction of more than six thousand monasteries, now reduced to less than a dozen, some left exclusively for touristic purposes?

I understand that the Peoples Republic of China represents the greatest existing potential market for the industrial nations and I know that, according to the North American magazine, that nation has purchased more than forty two billion dollars of United States Treasury Bongs, and that international commerce is important for world stability and the development of its people. But the community of nations cannot, for moral imperatives ignore the principles and values of international peace, solidarity and the dignity of man, enshrined in the Charter of United nations itself, which seeks the establishment of the rule of law in the world.

Even without provoking a confrontation, the great powers have the means, diplomatic and even coercive, to detain the destruction of a millenary culture which has contributed to the dignification of the mankind. It is an inescapable moral obligation.

A confederated world, organized under the rule of law, is eventually inevitable, I believe. We cannot know when it will become reality, but the need is every day more palpable and a durable peace is becoming ever more dependent upon it. The visionaries, prophets, and the poets have, from ancient times, seen its advent.

The aggression and domination by large, powerful and often willful nations, over smaller and indefensible states – often tolerated in the name of geopolitical expediencies and commercial interests, is manifestly the war-engendering residue of empire building and of “national self-interest” gone totally irresponsible in a world still emotionally attached to these fetishes of national destiny and colonialism. That the international community and especially some major powers have proved again to be indulgent with these outrages, in the name of out upsetting an intimidating power, will be seen in a less nationalistic, less aggressive and more just future as unconscionable and hypocritical in the extreme.

The smaller nations long for the time when “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid”, and I believe that precisely this justice, respect and sensitivity in the relations of nations large and small is what is meant in the vision of Isaiah.

We are present today in a nation organized in accord with the highest standards of civilized human beings. We venerate the memory of Washington, Jefferson, Marshall and Lincoln-who in the midst of the Civil War inspired those principles of the conduct of war known as the Lieder Declaration, so as to soften the intensity of conflict and promote the humane treatment of the combatants country. A country, which after the Second World War so generously assisted the reconstruction of Europe and of its defeated nations.

Here today are parliamentarians of many nations animated with the hope of achieving peace through the rule of law, To them, to you, I respectfully ask, supplicate, that you take an interest in that the community of nations, that civil society, and especially the United Nations, rise above lyric declarations and fulfill the obligation of rescuing a people which secularly has been a lover of peace and of human brotherhood.

It is now time that the worthy parliamentarians of clear mind and noble sentiments, demand that their respective government, especially those of the major powers, which too often have, by vacillating actions, impeded the approval of concrete and efficacious resolutions, step down from the empyreal of their good intentions to face the anguished reality of a people abandoned to its agony.

For examples, it is necessary that the Secretary General of the United Nations name a personal envoy to investigate the situation of Tibet, for he has the faculty to do so; that the United Nation Commission for Human Rights, at the earliest possible, name a “Special Rapporteur for Tibet”, to annually report to the organs of the United Nations and to the world community at large- the human rights abuses in Tibet, as the permanent Tribunal of People has asked, and that the General Assembly “expand the mandate of the Special Committee on Decolonization to include Tibet in its mandate”, as the conference of International Lawyers recommended in its London statement of 1993.

There are many other exertions, which can be made, as a matter of urgent priority, to help the Tibetan people to regain their respectable culture and religion.

As a citizen of a small nation, of deep Christian convictions,”with malice towards none and charity for all”, to use the Lincolnian phrase which belong to the spiritual heritage of mankind, I finally repeat and share the words of H.H. the Dalai Lama trying to catch a glimpse of the future Tibet, which would again be a peace-loving state, adhered to the principle of Ahimsa (nonviolence) and to spiritual values. It would have a democratic system of government, bound and engaged to preserve a clean, pure and beautiful environment in a totally demilitarized nation. In other words, with the forceful support of the international community, the illuminating and eternal Tibet, pride of the world.

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US President Bill Clinton’s Message to
the Third World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON
April 17, 1997

Warm greetings to everyone gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Third World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet. I am pleased to welcome all the participants, and especially His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose devotion to the Tibetan people and inspiring advocacy of nonviolence and dialogue have earned the world’s lasting admiration.

All Americans cherish the rights guaranteed to us by our founders in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We have worked to extend them not only to our own citizens, but also to people everywhere, recognizing that these freedoms are the birthright of all humankind. It is heartening that, with the growth and development of the human rights movement, there has been a greater awareness and appreciation that such has been a greater awareness and appreciation that such rights are universal and not limited by political boundaries.

We must continue to speak out whenever human rights are threatened or denied, and I am grateful for the continuing efforts of leaders like you, who have done so much to advance democracy, human dignity, and religious freedom worldwide.

Best wishes for a successful convention.

Bill Clinton

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