It is an honour and a privilege to address the concluding session of the 4th International Conference of Tibet Support Groups. On behalf of the Tibetan people in and outside Tibet I would like to extend my appreciation and greetings to our friends who have gathered here for their unceasing support.
We are very happy to have Mr. Takna Jigmey Sangpo in our midst today. His efforts for working for the cause of Tibet are an inspiration for the Tibetan people. We certainly hope that his efforts, and the efforts of others like him, will have a positive impact on ending the suffering of the six million Tibetan people.
The Tibet Support Groups have played a very vital role in the movement for the freedom of the Tibetan people. The Tibetan cause has always been associated with truth, non-violence and pragmatism under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All of you who believe and uphold these principles have created awareness about the plight of the long suppressed people of Tibet and put pressure on the People?s Republic of China to find an amicable solution to the issue of Tibet through various means. It is not possible to predict how long this struggle will go on. Some of you have been involved in this movement for a very long time and some of you have joined recently. But we would need all your support not only for as long as the struggle last but even after that.
I will not dwell on the status of the Tibetan movement and the issues of concern to us. All these issues have been deliberated upon during the last three days. Besides, the concerns of the Tibetan people were explained to you by no less a person than His Holiness and they were reinforced by our Kalon Tripa – Chairman of the Kashag – Professor Samdhong Rinpoche.
What is important now is how we can carry this movement forward and the various campaigns with detailed action plans that we need and how we can collectively and effectively implement these in perfect coordination with one other.
Notwithstanding the different backgrounds that you all come from and the different political environments that you have to function in, there are many campaigns in the action plan which should be carried out in coordination to give it a global effect. There are also many campaigns which could be undertaken locally. The global communication system has made the world smaller and brought all of us much closer. Except for a few places, we all should be able to communicate and coordinate without any problem.
I would like to say that the issue of Tibet is not an issue merely about whether the Tibetans in exile can return to our homeland. The reason why we are involved in the struggle for Tibet is to ensure that China ends the present appalling human rights situation and improves the condition to the satisfaction of the Tibetan people. For this reason we have decided to seek a negotiated, peaceful, mutually beneficial settlement with China based on the Five Point Peace Plan of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and since we have already rebuilt contacts with the Chinese leadership, the focus of the movement should be on urging, pressurising, lobbying and facilitating by all means our common effort to expedite the process of negotiations. We do not have much time. Leave alone our unique culture, religion and language, the very identity of the Tibetans is at stake. If no solution is found as soon as possible, the coming decades will turn Tibetans into something like native Indians in America and aborigines in Australia. That will be very sad because the Tibetans have a lot to offer to global peace and harmony.
The Tibetan Government-in-Exile has taken all measures to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue. We do not feel that a lot of time is needed to understand our proposal. We have climbed down from our historical right to complete independence to genuine autonomy, the most important part of which is to turn the whole of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa, where man and nature can coexist in harmony. Tibet should be totally demilitarized and it should be the centre of learning and the centre for the promotion of peace throughout the world. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) should stop the ‘Sinofication’ of Tibet. It is now the turn of the People?s Republic of China to reciprocate our goodwill because we are not seeking separation from China.
Many fear that PRC might use delaying tactics to avoid international criticism. If such is the case, it will not bode well for the future of China and this will prove to be a historical mistake for the Chinese leadership.
There are drastic economic changes sweeping China, which also produce a host of problems. The leadership has to be more pragmatic and more transparent. It has no other choice.
There are positive signs of receptiveness from the new Chinese leadership. They are looking for better neighbourly relations and a better world order. The members of our delegation have also seen a noticeable change in their attitude. They have in a way recognised the fact that the issue of Tibet cannot be ignored and it is an issue that needs to be resolved. And we are hopeful that the new Chinese leadership led by President Hu Jintao will take necessary initiatives for a peaceful and permanent solution.
We have brainstormed for several days on the various campaigns we need to wage to put pressure on China to develop more liberal policies in Tibet and to induce China to engage Dharamsala in a fruitful negotiated settlement of the issue of Tibet as early as possible. To this end, we have come up with an action plan. I believe that the most important thing now is to implement the action plan so that the suffering of the Tibetan people is greatly eased and the human rights situation is vastly improved. Till then our struggle will go on and your support for this is invaluable.
I would like to once again thank all of you, particularly the organisers who spent months painstakingly and meticulously planned the programmes. Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung has been associated with the organising the three previous international conferences of the Tibet Support Groups. We have also had a partnership programme with the Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung since 1991. The Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung has not only talked about its ideals of liberalism and individual freedom in books and publications but has actually implemented its beliefs in supporting our cause even under extreme pressure. For this we are most indebted to the Stiftung. We express our sincere appreciation to the Forum 2000 Foundation of former President Vaclav Havel, who is not only personally close to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but has also actively supported the cause of Tibet. I would like to express the deep appreciation of the Assembly of the Tibetan People?s Deputies to the President and Vice-President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic for their willingness to hold this conference under their auspices. Their support for this conference is a source of great encouragement to the Tibetan people in and outside Tibet. Last but not the least I would like to thank staff of Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) and the Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung and others who were either directly or indirectly involved in the organisation of this conference.