I came here today with the intention of visiting the assembly for a short while as I wished to discuss some matters of minor importance. Actually these are matters already well known to everybody. During the past over 35 years we have been working for the restoration of freedom which is our historical right. One part of this work has been to gain experience of real democracy and to implement it gradually. As the role of parliament is most important for this, I came here for a while today with the intention of sharing some of my thoughts with some new deputies who are present here. During the years gone by, there certainly have been a number of achievements. I have visited various places on the globe and I found that those people who are familiar with the Tibetan situation consider the Tibetan refugees to be different from the various other refugee groups on the earth in that we are united in our cause due to our organisational set up.
It is evident that even the Chinese government cannot ignore the Tibetan situation and the power of our unity. It shows that due to our organisational set up in exile we are able to serve the general cause of Tibet and it clearly shows how much this is benefiting us. It is something that we can be proud of.
Secondly, our general cause of Tibet is related with pacifism which is based on the Buddhist teachings. Under these circumstances the Tibetan refugees are contributing to some extent towards the development of mental peace and happiness on this earth. Because of this the number of people sympathetic towards Tibetans, our religion and culture is growing. Those who become interested in the Tibetan religion and culture, gradually take interest in the struggle for freedom of Tibet. Due to this, the number of those explaining the Tibetan situation to the public in the world is increasing and the number of those having sympathy and concern for Tibet is growing.
When there is sympathy and strong support for the Tibetan cause among the general public, the views of most of the people will also be sympathetic towards us. It is evident that most of them are able to comprehend the righteousness of our cause. Due to this the parliaments of many countries have passed resolutions on Tibet and the matter has been taken up for discussions. This also influences the governments of those countries. There certainly have been definite achievements of our organisational set up in exile. The united efforts of us all have made it possible. Therefore, I thank those people and the deputies of the Tibetan parliament who have assembled here today and the Kalons affiliated to the administration who have been serving the general cause of Tibet sincerely according to their abilities.
As for the future, as I have been explaining to people, the situation in Tibet seems hopeless. However, considering the perspective of the general world situation there is much hope for the Tibetan cause and it is very important that we continue to make our best efforts. Therefore, I request all of you to take up responsibility and make concerted effort.
As far as the administrative and parliamentary affairs are concerned, in my opinion it is necessary to pay more attention to bring about efficiency in our activities and the actual implementation of the changes needed on the basis of work done and experience gained up to now. Although in our administrative units the work is basically done sincerely, it is as I have always been saying: the Tibetan character is such that unless some urgency demands immediate action, they will easily procrastinate in a somewhat irresponsible manner. Therefore, it is not at all proper for us to remain contented with our lot, thinking that everything is very well. Much more still remains to be done to intensify our efforts. It is very important to make improvements based on careful planning.
This working session is for making a selection of deputies from the various localities and the manner of their election. Based on the analysis of the experiences gained up to now and the various advantages and disadvantages, isn’t it necessary to discuss further what additions, alterations and changes have to be brought in and so on? Likewise, there will be minor changes in the way the Kalons are nominated, based on actual experience. There has been a certain method of implementation which has been followed up to now. It will certainly be necessary, either during this assembly or later, to consider what would be the most efficient way of democratic implementation of decisions. I think it is good to discuss these matters and pay attention to the necessary changes to be made. This is the first thing I wanted to talk about relating to general matters.
Then, secondly, on the method of solving the Tibetan question. Actually, everybody knows about this very well. However, I thought that I should relate one matter to all Tibetan people’s deputies. It is as I said in my previous 10th March (Tibetan Uprising Day) speech the reason for what I have said is that during the past 15 years we have relied upon various approaches and as such we do not regret what we have done. We did what was possible. The main objective for our actions has been the urgency of the situation in Tibet. It has now become even more urgent to apply measures to prevent the serious possibility of the land of Tibet turning into the land of China. Therefore, solving this problem has become the primary objective and efforts have been made to solve the Tibetan question through the Middle-Way Approach. On the other hand, not a single occasion has presented itself for discussing in detail with the government of China on what would be a better approach for solving the Tibetan question. I recognise this as a defeat or a failure.
There has not been any success in preventing the primary problem of population transfer of Chinese into Tibet. The Chinese are continually arriving there, their control is growing tighter and the environment is degenerating. Not only that, the worst is that before the previous Tibetan New Year some new arrivals from Tibet told me that the situation in Tibet is worsening and under such circumstances the position of the administration headed by the Dalai Lama is getting much weaker. It seems that some people are losing hope as they think it important to hold direct negotiations with the Chinese government which has not been achieved. I heard that some people are thinking like this. When I heard this, I thought this was very serious. The important responsibility of the Tibetans in exile is to do everything possible so that the matchless courage of Tibetans living in Tibet does not diminish. Really, it will be very bad if the courage or will-power of the Tibetans inside Tibet should breakdown.
Based on these matters are the views which have given rise to the Middle-Way Approach during the last 14 years. I welcome them. The more ideas we have, the more analytical our thoughts will become. When there are ideas, reasons are bound to be there. There are also reasons for the policies or approach I have been following. When there is a sound reason based on actual experience, it becomes easy for those calling themselves “China experts” and for those nations having trade relations with China, to give us their support. This being so, it definitely helps us gain world support. Under such circumstance I see my stand as well-founded and I also believe in that. From year to year the number of our supporters if increasing in the world. However, because there has not been any let up in the danger of destruction and degradation in Tibet, especially because of the Chinese influence in the minds of some Tibetans, I am myself starting to have some doubts on the matter.
Even if the primary objective of solving the emergency could not be achieved, there still exists the essential need for carrying on the struggle for a long-term solution. Even if there is no immediate benefit in the present crisis, if time is wasted in not applying ourselves to the long-term benefits, it will be a loss. In the meanwhile I have received a lot of support to the approach I have been applying until now. It has been successful. On the other hand I have met with new difficulties and have not been able to accomplish my objective. This being so, I have been consistently saying that the ultimate decision should be made by the people themselves. After they have been consulted, the decision has to be taken on the basis of the majority opinion. Policies have to be implemented according to that decision. Whatever be the result, good or bad, happiness or misery, there will be no regret. From my own personal viewpoint, we should all think according to democratic principles. In my view, there will be no regret on a matter which has been decided on the basis of consultation. It will pose no difficulties to ask us living in exile for our opinions and compare them, but it will not be possible to gather the opinions in Tibet. However, it will be possible to gather opinions to some extent from most of the significant regions. It will take some time. If a decision based on such measures is taken, there should be no need for regret.
In my previous 10th March speech I stated as follows: “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 [Middle-Way Approach] 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.” Lastly, the reason for what I said in my 10th March address was because I thought of consulting the people and establishing my approach and my stand.
Now immediately it is not possible to fix a specific time. In a definite time-span, the opinions of the people should be gathered. As for the manner of doing so, the various approaches should be clearly explained to the people. Each and every person should comprehend the advantages and disadvantages in each approach and the problems they pose. They should be able to discuss and compare them, and then there should be enough time, some months, half year or a year for public discussions. Then, having a proper understanding of the matter or by following the views of others, by thoroughly comprehending the situation, the approach to be relied upon should be decided by a referendum. This is my idea of taking a decision based on a referendum. Even the specific time cannot be determined now, when the course of action is outlined like that, you should think on that and consider what kind of other methods exist by thinking constantly and not during the sessions alone.
Anyway, the situation in Tibet has become very urgent. If, as a result of this discussion and sharing the ideas with others you could bring about a new approach different from the one we have been relying upon, I will welcome it. In case any Tibetan, especially the Tibetan people’s deputies or any friend of Tibet can suggest an approach which can be applied for solving the present urgent situation, I will welcome it. Really, the actual situation is getting very serious.
Then, last year there was a minor incident in Dharamshala. It is possible that those of you coming from far-away places do not know clearly what happened. However, the final result arising out of it was favourable. The local people paid new attention to the amount of benefits arising from Tibetan refugees staying here. It also helped the Tibetans to remember the kindness of the locals, and especially to realise that when one is not in one’s own country wherever one stays one will meet with some difficulties. Anyway, it was very good that a bad incident turned out as favourable as it did.
Another minor matter: In the meantime under the name of the Four Rivers Six Ranges Organisation (Chushi Gangdrug) a document was signed with some representatives of the Tibetan and Mongolian Affairs Commission of Taiwan, which has caused some problems. It has always been my wish to develop good relations with Taiwan. The reason for this is that the basic method for solving the question of Tibet is to find a way based on negotiations between China and Tibet. Other than this, it is not possible to bring out any solution based on discussions with others.
In order that our question could be solved by mutual discussions with China, it is important to make the Chinese comprehend the real situation of the Tibetans. The main way the Chinese people could be made to understand our situation is to explain it to those Chinese living in free countries, especially in Taiwan. The understanding they have gained will gradually percolate to China and create an awareness there about the Tibetan situation. The most effective means to create awareness about the real situation of Tibetans among the Chinese is through the Chinese themselves and therefore it is important to foster good relations with them. Therefore I consider it important to develop cordial relations with Chinese living in free countries.
Under this policy, and as the freedom of speech and a change towards democracy are taking place in Taiwan these days, both the government of Taiwan and many of her people do have a great interest in developing relations with Tibetans. I have myself for many years wished that an amicable relation could be developed between Taiwan and us. However, I had hoped that we could develop good relations on the basis of our rights. Recently some people went to Taiwan and started a new movement for developing good relations or re-establishing the relations as there were none for a while. This has not been at all satisfactory. In brief, for many years past, we have had a lot of difficulties due to contacts with the Tibetan and Mongolian Affairs Commission in Taiwan. As there have been these kinds of problems, we have not been able to create good relations with Taiwan at present, even though we have made well-grounded efforts in this direction. At a time when we have not been able to establish good relations, and when something is created under the name of an important group in the Tibetan society, it is generally improper to develop contacts with a foreign nation and sign a document.
Especially, during this period when the Tibetan administration is trying to develop good relations with Taiwan, there are some difficulties which has existed even before. If the firm policies maintained by the Tibetan administration are silently disregarded by the Tibetans, it will not prove very effective. If all the people act according to the stand maintained by the administration, its policies will bring more result. The worst thing is that those people who observe the administration’s policies do not go to Taiwan, and those going and staying there are craving for money and material things, or in spite of being aware of the administration’s policies, disregard them, or do not understand the true cause of Tibet. Anyway, they are showing a somewhat vague appreciation. If somebody who is able to explain and comment on the stand of the Tibetan administration after first having comprehend it, could go to Taiwan, this could bring something worthwhile.
When relations with Taiwan have for some time remained somewhat strained and then this kind of situation is created under the name of an important Tibetan organisation, it causes special difficulties with regard to the present circumstances and becomes a big obstacle. Moreover, during the past many years some activities under the name of the Four Rivers Six Ranges Organisation have not always been according to our views. The other day when three people from that organisation met me, I explained this clearly to them. The situation being like this, according to my personal viewpoint, it is as I have often been saying: We are all known to each other and familiar for many years. We are close friends. However, when this kind of mistake is made, it is important to avoid faulty courses of action which take place occasionally. This is related to our main cause.
Basically, out of the three, Dotoe is an important province. In the past, there were innumerable people of that province, who, for the sake of religious and secular affairs kept to their commitments and experienced difficulties. The Buddhist doctrine holds a special position in the Tibetan religion and culture. In brief, as for those persons from the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyud, Nyingma and Bonpo traditions who hold, protect and propagate the Buddhist teachings and practice, a large number of people from that province have for long served the cause of the religion. Even now, in most of the centres in exile belonging to the Sakya, Gelug, Nyingma and Bonpo traditions, most ex-abbots are from the province of Dotoe. This is really important.
When engaging in activities under this kind of significant name, apart from the long-term effects, even insiders will start having doubts concerning the appropriateness of the actions undertaken. It would be very dangerous if the people of Dotoe would become disappointed and lost faith. In the past it has happened that a minor cause had resulted in giving rise to many prejudices. When prejudices and doubts have developed in the people’s minds, whatever activities are undertaken, they will be of somewhat vague nature and there will be meaningless internal strife. It has become fundamental to our cause that the three provinces keep firmly to the commitment of integrity and unity. Due to activities opposed to this, a small cause can slowly bring forth the internal degeneration of the commitment which is a very frightening matter.
The Tibetan administration-in-exile which is headed by me has, during the past over 35 years, always considered as its main cause and fundamental policy, “the long cherished goal of the glory of freedom of the entire Tibet”. However, it seems that some individuals are harbouring doubts about this state of affairs. But there is no need for me to swear on it. Sincerely, the fortunes of us all depend on the fortunes of the three provinces. I think that during the past over 35 years there was no need to bring any changes to this principle and policy. There has not been any talk suggesting any changes to be brought in. I have not even dreamt about it. However, there are some Tibetans amongst us who are concerned about this matter. The reason for it is something very unfortunate. It is because some of the activities have not been carried out properly. Therefore, irrespective of this problem, from now on these kinds of difficulties should not arise and our commitment to the three provinces should remain unabated. It is very important that we do not engage in senseless talk motivated by meaningless prejudices and doubts, but should maintain the purity of our commitment. Therefore, based on the painful experience of the past, I hope that this problem will be cleared and that the disease will not occur again and again. This has a connection with the two chairmen [of ATPD], the Kashag and also sometimes with working committees.
To sum up, in order to decide about this matter, the Kashag and the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPD) have gathered the opinions of people of Dotoe concerning this matter. Almost 99 percent have given the same kind of response. I am very happy about that. It is also something which should actually be so. The sincere efforts that we have been making should be able to win the confidence of the majority of the general public and it seems that this has been successful to some extent. I am extremely happy about this. Holding the opinion of the majority of people and our fundamental policies as basis, the current matter will be in the course of time decided by the Kashag and the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies. It will be an honest official decision and it is quite possible that some individuals will not agree with it. However, it will surely be supported by the majority. If we can manage to proceed directly it will be very good. In this critical period for the survival of the land of Tibet, its three provinces, the field of activities of Avalokiteshvara, and the six million Tibetans, it is very unfortunate that meaningless doubts should arise due to baseless internal prejudice. It is very important that this does not happen in future.
The immediate and long-term policies of the Tibetan administration which we have established even without having enough potential for that, have to be supported and implemented by the people of the three provinces. When referring to the Tibetan administration, it should not be something which one cannot trust as an object of criticism and contempt. When the Chinese have relations with us, if a family member of the Dalai Lama goes there, they will immediately develop good relations with him. If a representative of the Tibetan administration or an official of the Tibetan administration goes there they cannot take the risk. If the Chinese tell somebody who considers the exile administration as crucial, that some among the Tibetans speak derogatively about the Tibetan administration, it is very unfortunate. Therefore, considering especially the organisation of Dotoe amongst the many groups and societies here, it will of course be all right to have varying opinions on the course of activities to be followed in future. I welcome that with pleasure. However, there should be no doubts and prejudices on the fundamental aims. It is very important to get rid of them. Now we should take care that such difficulties do not arise again.
I wish to add the following to this. When this kind of situation occurs, our first reaction to it has been motivated by our sincere concern for our common cause of Tibet and our fundamental policies. It is not because of personal ill-feelings. For instance, the Kashag and the Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, who are present here, they have nothing to do with their personal likes or dislikes. However, when there is some agitation related to the matter, sometimes there is a possibility of some personal feelings having crept in. In case it were so, it will prove harmful instead of being beneficial. Therefore, the public should become calm about the matter. Recently some people also had arguments and fights amongst themselves. I am very sad that such a thing should have happened. There is nothing beneficial in it. It will bring more harm than benefit. Therefore, as I have just explained about our fundamental cause, it is necessary that an organisation bearing the name of one of the great provinces can serve the common cause in accordance with its name and be successful in the implementation of its activities. It has to avoid controversies. It has to support the fundamental cause. After the Kashag and the Assembly have taken a decision on it and established it, all should support it. Anyway, it is very important that such difficulties do not repeat themselves in the future. Together with that it is not good to engage in activities based on personal ill-feelings. Work should be done very honestly in all sincerity towards the common cause and without personal consideration. If one allows one’s own personal likes and dislikes to influence one’s work, it will become somewhat deceitful. It is not good at all. Together with that the public has to remain peaceful. Otherwise, even if one is motivated by a beneficial intention, if it turns out “emotional”, it will result in turmoil, and will do more harm than benefit. That would be no good at all. If we act as fools, it won’t have any meaning at all. We are speaking here about decisions concerning about fundamental cause, and not about something silly. Therefore, all of us should think from the point of view of what is important and should do so openly.
To sum up, the organisation of the administration-in-exile represents all Tibetans. It is very important that it should implement its decisions. That is one important point. What else is there to say? The talks have turned towards Taiwan and that is an important subject as I have already explained. The relations with Taiwan have become very important. We have been discussing this question for the last one year. It will be a loss for us if we stay without any good relations with Taiwan. However, in order that the relation should develop into a good one, we should act sincerely and our activities should be clean and above board. This is my hope and opinion. Of course, there will be discussions on this topic in future also. My best wishes to everybody. Thank you.
Note: His Holiness the Dalai Lama delivered the above speech extempore in Tibetan. This English translation is not issued by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and any comparison, therefore, should not be made with the one in Tibetan. This is only for information of the visitors who can’t read Tibetan. In case of doubts, consider the original speech in Tibetan.