Statement of the Kashag on the 45th Anniversary of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Day, 10 March 2004
Today, as we commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Tibetan peoples peaceful uprising in Lhasa–an event which cannot be erased from the memory of the Tibetan people–the Kashag pays its tribute to the brave men and women of Tibet who sacrificed their lives for our spiritual and political cause. We also pledge our solidarity with the innocent men and women in prison in Tibet who continue to suffer.
In the last two 10-March statements of the 12th Kashag, we reflected on the past events and took stock of both the negative and positive developments. We outlined the Kashags implementation policy of His Holiness the Dalai Lamas Middle Way Approach for resolving the issue of Tibet through negotiations, and means of reinforcing the strength of the Tibetan people. We also dwelled on the recent re-establishment of our contacts with the Chinese leadership and our appeal to the Tibetan community-in-exile how to conduct ourselves for the realisation of negotiations. All these were made clear, aimed specifically at the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet. I am hopeful that everybody is well aware of this. Therefore, instead of repeating the whole thing again, I would now like to concentrate on the developments of the past year and related to this, tell you briefly about our future plans, keeping especially in mind the leaders of the Peoples Republic of China.
After the smooth transition of the leadership of the Peoples Republic of China from the leaders of the third to the fourth generation, the delegation led by the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited China again in May/June, 2003. They held discussions with the new leaders and were able to take a step further in sustaining this relationship. They were also able to visit some Tibetan places, including the Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. We are currently doing our groundwork preparation for the third possible visit by our delegation to discuss the matter of beginning the actual process of negotiations. A request for this has already been placed before the Chinese Government and our delegation is ready to go after we receive a clear signal.
During the year 2003, His Holiness the Dalai Lama traveled to many countries across the globe, and held unprecedented meetings with many high-level leaders of the world. Not only did he welcome the recent revival of contacts between the Chinese authorities and Dharamsala and express hope and optimism over it, but he also said that there had been no visible positive developments taking place in Tibet so far. Above all, he aired his views about some of the developments in Tibet that were of abiding concern to him. Moreover, in October 2003, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made his gracious presence at the Fourth International Conference of the Tibet Support Groups and addressed the gathering in the same way. Although the leaders of the Peoples Republic of China expressed reservations about some of these developments, yet our contact with the Chinese leadership basically remains unscathed. As far as the Tibetan Administration is concerned, we have been making our best efforts to create an atmosphere conducive for dialogue. In this regard, we are deeply appreciative of the whole-hearted cooperation extended to us by the Tibetan diaspora as well as the Tibet Support Groups around the world. I would like to request you all to continue to lend us the same cooperation in the future as well–until the problem of Tibet is resolved forever.
As the leaders of the Peoples Republic of China are well aware, the late Deng Xiaoping proposed in 1979 that anything except the independence of Tibet could be discussed and resolved. His Holiness the Dalai Lama responded to it by saying that if all the three traditional provinces of Tibet enjoyed genuine autonomy with a democratic system of governance, he would not seek independence. From that time to this day, it has been 25 years. The leaders of the Peoples Republic of China know very well that after all these years–under any circumstances, at any place and at any time–His Holiness the Dalai Lamas steadfast commitment to his Middle Way policy remains unaltered and this has been widely known across the globe. However, the Chinese leadership seems to be very skeptical about it; they have not been able to work towards the realisation of the proposal Deng Xiaoping and His Holiness the Dalai Lama made with unmatched courage, and have always been playing with time. Instead of it being beneficial, this has proven to be of great loss to both Tibet and China. It is a general phenomenon that any political problem, which is not addressed immediately and ignored and prolonged, will only aggravate the problem further. This is quite evident from the experiences of many international problems that we see around us. By the same token, if the Tibetan problem is not resolved at once and authorities continue playing with time, it will not be a loss to the Tibetan people alone. It will be a great loss to the Peoples Republic of China as well. This view is not only shared by the majority of the intellectuals of the world but by many impartial Chinese intellectuals who support this argument with vigorous reason. It is needless to mention that if we are not able to begin a substantive dialogue to resolve the Tibetan problem and indulge in pushing the matter further, the future generations from the two sides would view both the Chinese and Tibetan leaders as not acting responsibly.
For the Peoples Republic of China, there are no hurdles in the way of resolving the Tibetan problem. All conditions are ripe, be it politics, economy or international relations. We all know this very well that a mutually-beneficial solution to the Tibet problem through a non-violent process of dialogue will set a good example for resolving other domestic and international problems for China. It will also provide an opportunity for His Holiness the Dalai Lama– through his service to humanity– to make an unmatched contribution in bringing about unity among the general public of the Peoples Republic of China, including the Tibetan nationality, and also in the areas of religion and culture.
Taking due note of these important developments, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his exiled administration have adopted a conciliatory and flexible approach by setting aside past history and treating the future as more important. And in order for the Tibetan and the Chinese people to co-exist in unity within the framework of the Peoples Republic of China, we have been striving for a genuine self-rule without bothering about the problem it entails and the emotions of the Tibetan people. This decision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama of unifying the Tibetan and the Chinese people is not only a great decision beyond our general thought but also has a historical significance of promoting equality of nationalities, unity and the stability of the motherland. If the leaders of the Peoples Republic of China without laying too much importance on temporary gains are able to use this great opportunity with a more flexible mind and in a proper manner, I have no doubt that they will be able to leave a great historic legacy. Conversely, delaying the negotiations by laying difficult preconditions and putting more importance to past history than the future will not be beneficial to both sides. Worse, it will make the present problem more complicated and hence more difficult to resolve.
Presently all nations of the world – whether big or small – and the autonomous regions, provinces and districts, etc., are all able to achieve their present status by adapting to changing circumstances and due to the changes and developments that had taken place in the world over the past hundred years. Since it is an established fact that there is no country or autonomous state that has come into existence without changes in its past history, we believe that resolving the issue of Tibet by putting emphasis on the future rather than on the past must be considered a contemporary political skill.
We never try to make the Tibetan problem an international issue because His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration do not want to. However, those in the international community who love truth and justice cant help but express their concerns because of the continued deterioration of political freedoms, nationality rights, Tibetan language and traditions, human rights situation and the environment in Tibet. This indirectly changes the nature of the Tibetan problem into an international issue. Nobody can stop this unless a positive change takes place in Tibet.
It is an illusion to hope that the Tibetan issue will naturally die down after sometime by delaying in solving it. This is because the issue is not about the personal position and power or for that matter is not related to the future career prospects of a few leaders and individuals. The Tibetan issue is directly related to the Tibetan identity and interests. Because of this it is obvious that as long as the Tibetan nationalities remain in existence, mere changes in leadership and generation will not make the Tibetan issue disappear. We hope and appeal to the new generation of Chinese leaders to seriously consider this issue by seeking truth from facts and for the long term benefits of the Tibetan and Chinese people. We appeal to them not to waste the good opportunity and the conditions created by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I once again emphasize that this hope and appeal is not for the benefit and interests of the exiled Tibetans but for the future aspirations of all the Tibetans within the three provinces of Tibet who want to have the freedom to preserve the Tibetan identity and culture.
I, as a directly elected spokesperson of the Tibetans in exile, stress here again that there will be no changes in what His Holiness the Dalai Lama publicly declared in 1992 that the administration of Tibet will be undertaken by the Tibetans in Tibet and that no one from exile would hope for power and rights once the Tibetan issue is peacefully resolved through negotiations.
Considering that there is a limit to the patience of the Tibetans and the fact that obstacles could be created by those who are opposed to a negotiated settlement, I would like to once again urge the Chinese leadership to make use of the good opportunity and the conditions available at their disposal to begin at the earliest opportunity substantive negotiations for resolving the issue of Tibet.
Finally I pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and an immediate resolution of the just cause of Tibet.
The Kashag, 10 March 2004
N.B. Translated from the Tibetan.