Dharamshala: Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration testified at the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s hearing on Preserving Tibet: Combating Cultural Erasure, Forced Assimilation and Transnational Repression. Read Sikyong’s testimony here.
Apart from Sikyong, the witnesses on Tuesday’s hearing include Richard Gere (Chairman of International Campaign for Tibet), Lhadong Tethong (Director of Tibet Action Institute) and Tenzin Dorjee (Senior Researcher/Strategist at TAI). The testimonials of the four witnesses essentially stressed the new and worsening challenges faced by Tibetans in Tibet as Beijing implements new intensified repressive measures.
The commission headed by Chairman Smith and Chairman Merkley examined the unprecedented linguistic, religious and human rights repression in Tibet and the transnational repression faced by Tibetans abroad. After scrutinising the details of the testimonies, the commission will identify diplomatic and policy options for the United States and other like-minded countries to help preserve Tibetan cultural heritage as well as explore measures to defend against threats and intimidation targeting Tibetans in the United States and around the world.
In his testimonial, Sikyong detailed the Chinese government’s complete disregard for the serious and urgent aspirations of the Tibetan people that have resulted in 157 tragic acts of self-immolation in Tibet since 2009 in the hope that the PRC government would pay some attention to their plight and that the international community would come to their rescue. He elaborated on both small and large-scale repression that is deliberately intended to annihilate the foundation of Tibetan culture and national identity. He testified on the recent implementation of colonial boarding schools across Tibet to assimilate Tibetan children into the majority Han culture. Additionally, Tibetan youths are massively transferred to China for labour and incentivised migration of Han Chinese into Tibet is being carried out. He cautioned, “If the PRC is not made to reverse or change its current policies, Tibet and Tibetans will definitely die a slow death”.
Despite the prevailing atrocities in Tibet, Sikyong pointed out that Tibet’s case does not receive adequate global attention predominantly due to PRC’s Orwellian gridlock system where they attempt to use all means of artificial intelligence to surveil people, control the flow of information precisely to keep the real situation of Tibet concealed from the outside world. And those in leadership roles in education, religion, culture and environment that have dared to speak against the PRC are being arbitrarily arrested or go missing.
“The sincerity of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) leadership manifests in the policies and programs being implemented in Tibet as we speak. In the last few years, evidence emerging from Tibet in the form of reports by the UN, independent institutes and scholarly research, the Chinese government’s one nation, one language, one culture and one religion is aimed at forced assimilation and the erasure of the national identity of the Tibetans and other minority nationalities. Unsurprisingly, the international watchdog, Freedom House lists Tibet right at the bottom with Syria and South Sudan in their least free country index”, said Sikyong. He reiterated his administration’s unyielding commitment to peacefully resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict which currently remains at an impasse.
“As the Sikyong, I am fully committed to following the Middle Way Policy: the way forward shown by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and adopted by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. This policy is aimed at finding a non-violent, mutually beneficial, negotiated and lasting solution to the Sino-Tibet conflict that can set an example for this violence-ridden world. Resolution to the Sino-Tibet conflict can have profound geo-political implications for a more peaceful and secure region and the world”, Sikyong assured. He thanked the chairman and members of the committee for organising this hearing which he noted was an impetus to Tibet’s struggle for truth. He also expressed his gratitude to the US Congress for making necessary changes to the Tibet Policy Act and the introduction of a bill on Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act which is yet to become a law.
Also at the hearing, US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Uzra Zeya delivered a video message raising concerns over the Communist Party of China’s continued repressions inside Tibet, such as the enforcement of colonial-style boarding school system and involuntary mass DNA collection campaigns endangering the unique Tibetan identity.
“This administration will continue to shine a light on Tibet-related issues within our broader human rights concerns with the PRC, bilaterally or jointly with multilateral partners and promote accountability for the PRC’s human rights abuses in Tibet and elsewhere”, she assured and further guaranteed her dedicated support and efforts stating, “I am committed to continuing this administration’s close and sustained cooperation with the congress to deepen our strong track record of supporting the Tibetan community and uphold an affirmative vision for human rights”. She put forward two questions before concluding her address, asking the commission how the U.S government can assist in improving information flow into and out of the “Tibetan Autonomous Region” despite China’s impenetrable great firewall. Secondly, she sought recommendations for garnering multilateral global support to elevate the issue of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.