On this special occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Kashag offers its deep reverence and bow in gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Kashag extends its heartfelt greetings to the Honourable Members of the Indian Parliament, distinguished guests from Ladakh, Union Territory of India, Tibet Support Groups and the Tibetan people all over the world.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for his consistent advocacy of non-violence to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict. This award symbolizes recognition by the Nobel Committee for His Holiness’s constructive effort and commitment towards addressing international conflict resolution, human rights violations and global environmental challenges.
The endeavour to transform the 21st century into a century of dialogue and peace by learning lessons from the devastation of war and conflict of the previous century has not yet materialized. Therefore, it is evident that the broad vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to remain relevant and indispensable for the entire humanity.
Peace can be achieved when there is no war and when there is harmony without enmity. In order to realize the common aspiration of the humanity for a peaceful world, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consistently encouraged Oneness of the Humanity without discrimination based on race, religion and nation and to cultivate the universal values of love, compassion and altruism. In his teachings, His Holiness the Dalai Lama often emphasizes compassion as the source of peaceful mind in healthy body; and happiness in this and future lives. His Holiness from a young age has been practicing Bodhicita and emptiness as method and wisdom. It is rare to find such a spiritual leader in this world.
If every individual takes the initiative in putting into practice the message of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the well-being of humanity, it can greatly contribute to the elimination of war, exploitation, aggression and repression, which are obstacles to peace in the family, society and the world at large. For us Tibetans, the best way to celebrate this occasion is to seek resolution of the Sino-Tibet conflict, based on the teachings and messages of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which is the true source of our inspiration.
Today we are observing the 74th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also the International Human Rights Day. However, the violations of basic human rights remain unabated across the world. We stand in solidarity with those who are suffering under repressive regimes and authorities. We also express our deep admiration for those individuals and groups who are striving for human rights and fundamental rights.
The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasises on freedom and equality of all human beings. Similarly, Lord Buddha asserted that “freedom is happiness, falling under other’s control is suffering. Your own self is your own master; who else could it be? If you become your own master, you gain success, dignity, happiness and freedom from suffering”. The great Indian saint Shantideva prayed for the absence of conflict and violence, thereby leading to the attainment of absolute freedom. On the contrary, if one’s thoughts and actions come under the influence of others, then freedom will be lost.
In Buddhism, not just humans but all the sentient beings have equal potential to attain Buddhahood. In Buddhist prayer of refuge, all the sentient beings are considered equal and they pray through four immeasurable virtues of loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic-joy and equanimity for all the sentient beings. Lord Buddha emphasized that his teachings do not discriminate between caste and creed. Based on this far-reaching idea of equality, he embraced those considered as low caste such as butchers, fishermen and cobblers into the Sangha.
Today, even though numerous countries have signed the International Bill of Human Rights, cases of suppression and marginalization of minority nationalities and communities around the world still persist.
Across Tibet, unrelenting gross violations of human rights are taking place. In recent years, under a broad policy objective of the Chinese government, it has enforced forging of uniform Chinese national identity, Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism and discriminatory language policies. This has resulted in coerced enrolment of Tibetan children in colonial-style boarding schools. These coercive policies are causing an unprecedented threat to the survival of distinctive Tibetan identity. Unless the Chinese government is eager to follow Mao Zedong who was seeking an opportune moment by waiting for Tibetans to resist and then suppress them, it is pertinent to seek methods which conforms to the international laws and norms. This is in the long-term interest of the country’s harmony and national stability.
With an already entrenched and pervasive Chinese Communist Party and state control all over Tibet, the Communist Party system is being strengthened by increasing the party membership. Likewise, village leaders are being recruited into CCP and they are tasked with the responsibility to “crack down on separatism and maintain stability”. In large villages, the permanent “work teams” are systematically implementing measures to “reform village system, eradicate old systems and transform habits, customs and traditions”. Through the Gridlock Management System, PRC authorities continue to conscript local Tibetans. For instance, among the 48,000 personnel of the grid management system sent to Qinghai province from 2011 to 2018, 34,000 were deployed in the Tibetan areas. This year, 23 towns in Pekar, which are currently administered under Driru County with a population of 10,400 people are divided into 50 grids and are being tightly controlled and closely monitored by 57 grid leaders, 280 grid examiners and 140 volunteers.
Besides this, to make the grid system more intrusive in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), “Double-Linked Household Management System” has been set up. Under this system, neighbourhoods have been divided into small groups of 5 to 15 households, each with lay people, monks and nuns and government officials who are tasked with maintaining “social stability and security control”. Every year, a model “Double-Linked Households” at the village, township, county, prefecture and region levels are selected and awarded monetary prizes. Their children are also given bonus points in the university entrance and staff recruitment exams.
Last month, the Chinese government announced that it has built and started operating a big cloud computing data centre in Lhasa to monitor data of 300 million people in Asia. The centre will be used for compiling data through the ongoing surveillance systems such as CCTV camera, facial recognition, Global Positioning System (GPS) and large-scale collection of DNA. It will also enable digital dictatorship with unprecedented power of surveillance and control.
Although there is no system of appointing government officials in areas below village and township levels in China, over 20,000 permanent government or party officials were sent to the “TAR”. Moreover, six office buildings and staff quarters were built for every village administrative district in the “TAR”.
The Chinese government is claiming that these measures are aimed at maintaining stability and falsely accuses Tibetans of “separatism and disturbing social security”. To maintain stability, every movement of Tibetans are watched round-the-clock through enforcement of communist ideology and policy of one nation, one culture, one religion and one language. Moreover, the Tibetans are forced to express gratitude to the Chinese government and coerced to follow the so-called advanced Chinese culture and way of life. This system of all-encompassing control of society is unheard of in the world. No one other than the Chinese government in this world can think of such policies which violate people’s inherent human rights and dignity.
The Preamble of the forty-year-old PRC Constitution opposes Han chauvinism. However, the Chinese government continues to ruthlessly pursue policies of discrimination, suppression and extermination of other nationalities.
The Central Tibetan Administration is making consistent efforts to seek a mutually-beneficial and a lasting solution to the Sino-Tibet conflict through the Middle-Way Approach based on non-violence and negotiation. It is because we consider the sustenance of the Tibetan people’s cultural, religious, linguistic identity and natural environment as crucial to our existence. Despite all odds, we stand firm in our efforts and commitments to reach out to and engage with the Chinese leadership to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict.
The visionary leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has resulted in the establishment of separate Tibetan settlements, schools, monastic and cultural institutions in exile. These have empowered the Tibetans to preserve our distinct national identity and strengthen the freedom movement. Today, the dispersal of compact communities through relocation to cities in India and other foreign countries, alongside the plummeting Tibetan birth rates in exile and decline in new arrivals from Tibet, have become a significant challenge. Therefore, the last parliamentary session amended the rules and regulations to enable the settlement people to favourably contribute land and house to the Central Tibetan Relief Committee for redistribution to those who came from Tibet in the last four decades and do not own anything to call their home.
This is the first step towards rebuilding compact communities. The Kashag will undertake the majority of the needs of the Tibetan community in the next fiscal year. In the next few months we will be embarking on acquiring land sufficient to provide to those who don’t own any homes. Therefore, we urge generous Tibetans to contribute to this noble project.
Recognising the drastic decrease in the number of students in the Tibetan schools, in the interest of students, we shall make long-term effort to consolidate the schools to make best use of the existing scarce resources.
We would like to commend the participation of a good number of Tibetans in the Voluntary Tibet Advocacy Group, some of whom have already launched their advocacy campaigns in their respective countries. It is of paramount importance to harness their potential, ability and skills to strengthen our movement in the dynamic global political situation. Therefore, we urge everyone to join this campaign.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has time and again reassured us to live a long life. To realize this it is of utmost importance for the Tibetans and followers alike to keep our spiritual commitment and act in accordance with the visions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Finally, we pray for the long life and good health of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom for the Tibetan people. May freedom and human rights prevail throughout the world!
10 December 2022