Of the Seventh International Conference of
Tibet Support Groups, Brussels
On behalf of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile I would like to offer my greetings to the guests, the delegates from the Tibet Support Groups, and, likewise, to all those who have taken interest and responsibilities in organizing this Seventh International Conference of Tibet Support Groups.
You all have sacrificed precious time in devoting yourself to making efforts in support of the Tibetan cause. And it is in the course of making such efforts that you have especially come to attend today’s conference and taken part in holding discussions to bring forward the most desirable and the best possible proposals designed to benefit the Tibetan cause. We are particularly grateful to you that this conference has taken place in a period of such great tragedy as today in the history of Tibet and the Tibetan people. Your sense of altruism, fortitude, and unwavering determination has instilled trust and pride in us towards you. Likewise, this has become a new source of courage and faith in the Tibetan people in Tibet. In this connection, let me quote at this forum what His Holiness the Dalai Lama routinely says about your dedication to the Tibetan cause: “I do not consider those who support the Tibetan cause to be anti-China and pro-Tibet. Rather, I consider them people who have faith in and support the truth.” Just as His Holiness the Dalai Lama reiterates this repeatedly, you have stood on the side of truth and extended your support to us. We offer heartfelt thanks to you for your stand.
As you all know very well, it has now been about 57 years since the government of China occupied and annexed Tibet through the use of armed force. Likewise, this is also the number of years His Holiness the Dalai Lama has lived in exile. I do not wish to go into a discourse on the history and the historical status of Tibet at this time. Immediately after arriving in the friendly neighbouring country of India – to which we owe a great debt of gratitude – His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with great commitment, took gradual and determined steps towards the noble path of democratizing the Tibetan governance system in exile. It was in continuance of this course that this year general elections to the 16th Tibetan Parliament in exile and to the post of Sikyong, the political leader of the Tibetan people, were successfully held, reaffirming the democratic vibrancy of the Tibetan administration system.
Within the Tibetan community in exile, the various settlements, schools, monastic centres, and Tibetan associations, and likewise, the non-governmental organizations and others, continue to make unprecedented efforts in the struggle for the just cause of Tibet and, likewise, in the areas of upholding the Tibetan religious heritage, culture, and language. Our wish is that the government of China agrees to enable the realization, in a short period of time, of a day when His Holiness the Dalai Lama returns to Tibet and when the Tibetan people in exile and those remaining in Tibet are reunited. We must remain ready at all times to grab the opportunity, wasting no time, for the possibility of the realization of such an eventuality. But even if such a fortunate turn of events is to take a long time to realize, the Tibetan people living in exile are already in a more or less strong enough position to be able to carry forward the national struggle and preserve their linguistic and cultural heritages.
Tibetans living in Chinese ruled Tibet have no freedom and opportunities. They are under pressure at all times to be careful and cautious about how they carry on their day to day living. Besides, the government of China continues to exercise such severe controls and restrictions as to effect a day to day degeneration of the Tibetan people’s customs, religion, culture, and language. ?ust few examples will suffice to prove this point. In 2007, China issued what it called “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas”. And in 2015 it launched an “Online Database of Living Buddhas”. These are clear proof that China exercises severe control on Tibet’s unique religious system of reincarnation. And this proof is further reinforced by the fact that this year the government of China launched a drive to demolish residences of monks and nuns at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy so as to reduce the student population at this globally famed centre for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
The situation of the political prisoners in Chinese ruled Tibet too has been continuing to get more severe. Many of them are given long prison sentences. And without any consideration to their health and physical conditions, many Tibetan political prisoners are subjected to such severe and brutal beating and torture that some of them die in prison. The most prominent example of such death is that of the highly respected religious figure Tulku Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. Some of the Tibetan political prisoners, although released, fail to remain alive for long due to chronic ailments resulting from severe ill-treatment during their incarceration. Few reported example of such cases are that of Gyaye Phuntsog, a nomad of Domey Tsolho. Another reported example is that of Ashagtsang Norlha of Kham Derge. Yet another very recent example is that of monk Khyenrab of Dhingri Shelkar Monastery near Shigatse.
To sum up, China is actively carrying out in Tibet its aims to colonize the territory. For example, take the case of Tibet’s capital Lhasa. A little over a decade ago, it was already being estimated that for every one Tibetan, there were six Chinese people living in it. In fact, in the urban areas of Tibet, the Chinese people are fast outnumbering the local Tibetan residents.
Likewise, in 2008 almost the whole of Tibet was hit by large scale peaceful protests against Chinese rule. And in 2009, Tibetans began protesting against Chinese rule by setting themselves on fire. Since then, until 23rd March 201?, a total of 144 monks, nuns, and lay Tibetan men and women have immolated themselves. Among them, 124 are known to have died. And there is still no clear information whether the remaining 20 are alive or had died. The demands and aspirations of all those Tibetan martyrs were the same: That His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be invited to return to his homeland of Tibet; Tibetans should be allowed full enjoyment of their freedoms, and so on. They have raised these demands in various forms – in their slogans while carrying out the self-immolation as well as in the last messages many of them left behind. But far from paying any heed and taking interest in their sacrifices and demands, the government of China resorted to humiliating the families and spouses of the self-immolators, blaming in all sorts of other ways for the reasons for the self-immolations in order to carry out a false publicity about the actual situation.
Across the world as a whole there is a phenomenon of inability to think things in terms of ethics, on the basis of affection for others, with a feeling of equality of everyone and so on due to economic imperatives, pressures of military might and threats arising from new generations of nuclear weaponry, and, likewise, the need to combat various kinds of threats posed by terrorism. Likewise, the government of China puts up an appearance of being the very model of uprightness in its behaviours, with the people being claimed to be in full enjoyment of their rights. In reality, however, the government of China relies on the power of its economic and military strength to ignore many of its citizens’ rights and to conceal this fact in an effort to ensure that the outside world does not come to know about the true situation.
On the issue of Tibet, there has been a series of talks between envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the government of China. However, the government of China did not make any ethical change in its attitude. Nevertheless the Tibetan efforts to achieve a just solution to the issue of Tibet on the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s proposal for a middle way solution, which is also the political stand of the Central Tibetan Administration, continues. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has repeatedly stressed that in the 21st century, in which we live today, HH
efforts should be continued to resolve differences through peaceful, non-violent means. This call is founded on a sound reasoning and we have full faith that the issue of Tibet will be resolved accordingly. From the side of the government of China too, there should be a repeated consideration of the issue of Tibet in a sustained and numerous efforts. I wish to take this opportunity to again appeal to the government of China to make efforts to resolves the Sino-Tibetan dispute through a negotiated settlement.
The fact that this Seventh International Conference of Tibet Support Groups could be held in Brussels over a period of three days; that His Holiness the Dalai Lama very graciously attended its inaugural session; that many prominent public figures attended it and addressed the conference; and that, likewise, numerous members from Tibet Support groups in many countries held free discussions on numerous important topics such as the real situations of the Tibetan people in Tibet, the state of the issue of Tibet on the world stage, the environmental situation in Tibet, and ways to achieve the just cause of the Tibetan people through Sino-Tibetan interactions, have succeeded in sending a clear message to China too.
We remain confident that throughout the period from the end of this conference till such time as when the just cause of the Tibetan people will prevail, the members of the Tibet Support Groups will, with great spirit and enthusiasm, succeed in persuading peoples, governments, parliaments and so on both internationally and within their own respective countries to realize the urgent need to take interest to support the Tibetan cause. Likewise, we are greatly pleased that many Chinese people living overseas have been able to attend this conference. We perceive great benefits in terms of influencing the government of China and creating an understanding of the real situation in Tibet if you are able to discuss the Tibetan issue amongst yourself with a degree of emphatic interest. We therefore felt an urge to request you all to do your best to try to bring this about.
Thank you; I will end my closing statement here. I once again take this opportunity to offer my thanks to all the invited guests at this conference, all those who have organized and facilitated the organizing of this conference, and the Tibet Support Group members who have attended this conference. Tashi Delek.
By the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile 10 September 2016