Thirty-one years ago today, the Tibetan people rose up against theChinese occupation of Tibet. In commemorating this momentous event inthe history of our country, I extend my greetings to every Tibetan.Today, we remember those brave Tibetans who gave up their lives for thefreedom of Tibet. We also express our deep admiration for our peoplescourage and determination in their struggle for freedom, even under themost brutal martial law regulations.
Today, as we contemplate the future of our Tibet, we cannot help butthink about the historic events of the past year. In China the popularmovement for democracy was crushed last June by unrestrained violence.But I do not believe that the demonstrations were in vain. Rather, thespirit of freedom has been rekindled among the Chinese people and Chinacannot escape the impact of this spirit of freedom which is sweepingthrough many parts of the world.
Extraordinary changes are occurring in Eastern Europe: events whichhave set the pace for social-political change throughout the world.Similarly, Namibia has gained its independence from South Africa andthe South African government has taken the first steps towards thedismantling of apartheid. It is encouraging to note that these changesare the result of a genuine peoples movement, and basically due to theirrepressible human desire for freedom and justice. What these positivechanges indicate is that reason, courage, determination and theinextinguishable desire for freedom will ultimately win.
Therefore, I urge the Chinese leadership not to resist the trend ofchange, but to consider the problems of the Tibetan and the Chinesepeople with imagination and broad-mindedness. I believe that repressionwill never crush the determination of any people to live in freedom anddignity. The Chinese leadership must look at the problems of Chinaitself, and the Tibetan issue, with new eyes and fresh minds. Before itis too late, they must listen to the voice of reason, non-violence,and, moderation which is spoken by the Tibetan people and by Chinasown students.
Despite claims of Chinese propaganda, millions of non-Chinese peopleliving in areas presently under the Peoples Republic of China sufferall kinds of discrimination. The Chinese themselves admit that evenafter forty years of communist rule these areas are backward and poor.However, the most disturbing effect of Chinese policy towards people inthese areas is the demographic transformation which has been imposedupon them. In virtually every area new Chinese immigrants have becomethe majority community. Manchuria has been completely absorbed. InInner Mongolia, only 2.6 million Mongols remain surrounded by eighteenmillion newly arrived Chinese. More than fifty percent of EasternTurkestans population are now Chinese while in Tibet, the six millionTibetans are outnumbered by 7.5 million Chinese immigrants.
Naturally, the non-Chinese people are restive. Unless Chinasleadership can take steps to assuage their feelings, there is everylikelihood that serious problems will result in the future. It isimperative, I believe, for China to learn a lesson from the SovietUnion and, in particular, to follow the example set by PresidentGorbachev who is seeking to solve similar problems through dialogue andcompromise. The government of China needs to realise that the problemsit faces in the non-Chinese areas under its rule are not merelyeconomic. At root they are political and, as such, can only be solvedby political change.
To bring about a peaceful and reasonable solution to the question ofTibet I proposed the Five Point Peace Plan and the Strasbourg Proposal.Even after the imposition of martial law in Tibet, we proposed to holdpreliminary meetings in Hong Kong to discuss procedure and othermatters in an effort to reduce tension and to facilitate an early startto the actual negotiations. Unfortunately, Chinas leaders to date havenot responded positively to our sincere efforts.
Recently the Chinese have vehemently rejected and condemned my stand onthe past status and history of Tibet. They want me to change thatstand. However, no one can alter truth of facts. By their narrowoutlook the Chinese are missing the main message which I have tried toconvey to them in my Five Point Peace Plan, the Strasbourg Proposal andthe Nobel Lecture which concerns the future relationship between Tibetand China. I am prepared to consider this with an open mind throughdialogue.
It is important for the Chinese authorities to recognise the trueaspirations of the Tibetan people, the majority of whom live insideTibet. Virtually all Tibetans long for nothing less than fullindependence for our country. If the Chinese have any doubts on thisthen they should permit an internationally-supervised referendum inTibet to determine the wishes of the Tibetan people.
Any relation between Tibet and China must be based on the principles ofequality, trust and mutual benefit. It must also be based on theprinciples which the wise rulers of Tibet and China laid down in atreaty as early as 823 A.D., engraved on the stone pillar in Lhasa.Among other things the treaty says, “Tibetans will live happily in thegreat land of Tibet, and the Chinese will live happily in the greatland of China”.
It is with sadness I note that, far from looking at the Tibetan issuefrom a fresh perspective, the Chinese authorities continue instead touse their awesome military might to crush the numerous protests of theTibetans. Last year, in response to Tibetan protest demonstrations, theChinese authorities imposed martial law in Lhasa. Martial law imposedin Beijing a few months later was recently lifted. In Lhasa, far fromlifting the martial law the Chinese are intent on tightening the noosearound the Tibetan people. Recent reports from Tibet indicate thatfurther repressive measures are being carried out. These days theChinese authorities are conducting house searches for participants ofthe pro-independence demonstrations.
Despite such brutality by the Chinese authorities, the Tibetans inTibet remain determined and undaunted. It is the right andresponsibility of every Tibetan to fight for freedom and rights. Butour struggle must be based on non-violence.
An important event for the Tibetan people has been the award of theNobel Peace Prize. Though it will not change my status as a simplemonk, I am happy for the Tibetan people, for this prize bringswell-deserved recognition to the Tibetan peoples struggle for freedomand justice. This reaffirms our conviction that armed with truth,courage and determination, we will succeed in liberating our country.
Since our struggle is for the rights, freedom and future well-being ofsix million Tibetans, we must strengthen our democratic institutionsand our democratic process. As I have said many times, respect forfreedom and democracy is essential for the development of a modernTibet and for the development of its people. In 1963, I promulgated thedemocratic Constitution of Tibet and we have gained valuable experiencein the working of democracy. There is still need to further democratiseboth the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples Deputies and the TibetanAdministration itself. To make our institutions more effective anddemocratic, I have sought the opinions and suggestions of our people. Ifeel that it is the responsibility of every Tibetan to create a trulyfree and democratic community in exile and, more importantly, in futureTibet where the main responsibility obviously must be shouldered by the educated young and those working inside Tibet under Chinese rule.
In conclusion, I wish to thank all those who have given moral and political support to our struggle for freedom and justice.
The Dalai LamaMarch 10, 1990