Statement of the Kashag on the 41st Anniversary of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Day, 10 March 2001
Today, on 10 March 2001, we commemorate an unforgettable event in the history of Tibet. Forty-two years ago, on this day, the people of Tibet rose in a spontaneous and united uprising against the Chinese government’s systematic military campaign against our religious and political systems.
On this occasion, I would like to record that in 1979 Deng Xiaoping told us that the Chinese government was willing to discuss and resolve the Tibetan problem as long as the Tibetans did not ask for independence. The door to negotiations, he said, was open was long as the Tibetans met this condition. His Holiness the Dalai Lama – having since 1973 envisioned direct negotiations as the means of finding a solution to the Tibetan issue – responded immediately to Deng Xiaoping’s suggestion. Over the past few decades, His Holiness has proposed a Middle Way approach and said that irrespective of the past history, he would call on the Chinese leadership to come to the negotiating table in order to resolve the present critical situation in Tibet and facilitate a mutually-beneficial solution for long-term peace and co-existence.
However, the Chinese government has consistently sought to reduce the Tibetan issue to that of the personal status of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and has refused to acknowledge that there is problem in the whole of Tibet. Therefore, in 1987 His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus and unveiled his Five Point Peace Plan for resolving the problem of Tibet in the interest of both Tibet and China. This was followed by his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which elaborated on the Five Point Peace Plan. Although China turned a deaf ear to His Holiness, the two proposals were welcomed and supported by the United States and many other governments, parliaments, non-governmental organizations and individuals. Even the Chinese democrats and intellectuals in China and other countries welcomed these proposals. It is quite apparent from this groundswell of support that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way approach is indeed a non-violent means of benefiting the peoples of both Tibet and China.
Over the past 22 years, the Chinese government has failed to come up with a favourable response to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s initiative and international opinion in its favour. Instead, Beijing has termed His Holiness’ initiatives as a call for semi-independence and disguised form of independence. Similarly, Beijing has put all kinds of unrealistic conditions with the aim of avoiding negotiations. As we see it, peaceful negotiation is the only option available for both Tibetans and China to resolve the problem of Tibet. And, sooner this problem is resolved, the better for both Tibet and China.
Although, China severed communications with us around 1993, we, on our part, have continued to explore all opportunities, albeit in vain, to open dialogues with China. For example, last year Gyalo Thondup, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s elder brother, visited Beijing in his personal capacity. There, he met the Chinese leaders, who gave him a message for His Holiness. The message contained nothing new to inspire hope; it merely rehashed China’s oft-repeated position on the issue of Tibet. Nevertheless, we decided that China’s mere act of contacting us could open new opportunities. In a sincere bid to open communications with the Chinese government, we contacted the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. Despite the obstacles created by their side, we offered to send a delegation to Beijing to present a memorandum from His Holiness, detailing his thoughts for resolving the problem of Tibet, and to explain the points in the memorandum and discuss them with the Chinese leadership. The Chinese reaction has been to create obstacles and to reduce the issue of six million Tibetans’ welfare to that of the personal status of His Holiness. Other than that, there has been no positive response to our overtures.
It is, therefore, clear that China’s usual claim of the door to negotiation being open is nothing more than a ploy to deceive the international public opinion. Apparently, the Chinese leadership does not have the will and courage to resolve the Tibetan issue. Nevertheless, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way policy remains unchanged even now. If China continues to rebuff his Middle Way approach, it must take full responsibility for any untoward development that may stem from this. On our part, we will continue to make efforts to send the delegation, as proposed to the Chinese Embassy. Whether this delegation is able to visit China or not will depend solely on the Chinese leadership.
Recently, there was a change in the top leadership of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region. But the situation in Tibet has continued to worsen. There is no indication of any change toward the positive direction. His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to be vilified and Tibetan religion, culture and language are undermined and repressed since they show Tibet as distinct from China in all aspects. If Tibetans speak for their wellbeing, they are criticized as separatists irrespective of whether their opinions have any political connotations or not. Let alone human rights, even the rights of nationality equality and religious freedom as enshrined in China’s own constitution are denied to Tibetans.
More particularly, since last year a campaign of “Three Serious Offences” has been launched throughout China. In Tibet, “separatism” became the core of this campaign. Tibetan cadres are subjected to “Four Prohibitions”, namely prohibition against religious faith, against displaying religious altars and the Dalai Lama’s photos at home and putting up prayer flags, against participating in the activities of “feudal blind faith”, and against sending children to schools in foreign countries. Simultaneously, a campaign of “Education in Four Ideological Precepts” was introduced. Moreover, moves are afoot to replace Tibetan officials above the village-level administrative unit with Chinese.
This year Hu Jintao, China’s Vice-president, met the Tibetan members of the National People’s Congress in the evening of 5 May and said, “Resolute struggle against splittist rebellions and other activities disturbing social stability must be treated as an important work on the high-level political agenda. We must implement this campaign seriously. “All splittist activities must be curbed and repressed firmly according to the law.” These developments are pointers to a worsening situation in Tibet. Naturally, our political responsibility in exile becomes heavier. It is, therefore, important for us to heighten our international campaigns.
Since the Chinese government’s policy and action seek to obliterate the world community’s one member with over 3,000 years of history, our counter-measures should be carried out with a sense of urgency and not merely as a matter of routine affairs. We can be sure that the Chinese government’s brutal repression and propaganda to undermine the Tibetan freedom struggle will only backfire; it will certainly not produce the desired result.
The Chinese government’s mammoth Western Development Program covers the Tibetan region as well. We welcome international investment and aid that bring practical benefit to the Tibetan people. However, projects like building railroads to bring Chinese settlers to Tibet, to cart out Tibet’s natural resources and to sinicize the country will be opposed. We request governments and organizations to seriously study the impacts of every project in Tibet before extending their support to it. We emphatically request them not to support projects that will have the effect of destroying the Tibetan culture, national identity, economy and environment. In this context, we would like to thank governments, organizations and individuals who have so far followed and supported the Central Tibetan Administration’s guidelines on development projects in Tibet.
The 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and other political prisoners face serious threat to their lives. We request governments, parliaments, non-governmental organizations and individuals to step up campaigns for the release and wellbeing of these political prisoners.
Ever since His Holiness the Dalai Lama began democratizing the Tibetan society over four decades ago, we have made tremendous progress in this direction. This year, we will be taking another important step towards democracy; the system of electing Kashag, the apex executive body, is now changed. His Holiness will produce a list of not less than two candidates for the post of Kashag Chairperson. From this list, the Tibetan parliament will elect one. The elected Chairperson will propose a list of his colleagues and secure the support of the parliament for their appointment. In the light of this change, the forthcoming election of the parliament members will become all the more important. I, therefore, request the Tibetan people to make sure that they vote for candidates, who are qualified in terms of their learning, competence and dedication to serve our cause.
I take this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Government and people of India as well as to other governments, parliaments, organizations, intellectuals, mediapersons, the general public, students and the Chinese people who have shown a strong sense of empathy for our people.
Finally, I pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and spontaneous fulfillment of his wishes.
The Kashag 10 March 2001