Tuesday 24 July 2012

Tibet is the key to democratising China - Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay

China's oppression of Tibetans and their culture is preventing China from becoming a modern, pluralistic, free, and democratic nation, according to Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of Tibet's government in exile, who added that the current Chinese system and policy in Tibet is destined to fail.
"If Tibet is granted autonomy, that could be a catalyst for moderation of China because if the Chinese government grants autonomy to Tibetans, for the first time they are accepting diversity within and accepting a distinct if not different people," Sangay, who is also known as the Kalon Tripa, told The Cable in an exclusive interview during his visit to Washington last week.

"I think no system which is authoritarian, or one-party rule, can last long. Ultimately, other people have to be taken into consideration, have to be empowered and respected by the system, because universality of freedom is established now," he said. "In that sense I do believe the universality of freedom will prevail and justice will prevail in Tibet as well."

For now, Chinese repressive and violent treatment of Tibetans inside China is increasing and tensions between Tibetans and Han Chinese are reaching new and dangerous levels, Sangay said. The Tibetan people, dedicated to nonviolence, have resorted to self-immolations in record numbers this year to protest their treatment at the hands of the Chinese government, he said. Forty-four Tibetans have self-immolated over the last 18 months and 34 of those have died.

Meanwhile, Tibet has been closed off to foreign tourists, Tibetan visitors are being expelled from the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and thousands of Han Chinese are being brought into Tibet to artificially alter the demographic balance there.

"That means the Chinese government is really cutting off Tibet and Lhasa from the rest of the world," said Sangay, who came to Washington to meet with administration officials and lawmakers to rally support for the region's plight.

Unlike his first visit to Washington since becoming Tibet's first ever competitively elected prime minister last year, when no U.S. officials would meet with him, this year Sangay was able to meet with two top Obama administration officials. The White House confirmed that Sangay met with NSC Senior Director for Asia Daniel Russel and the State Department confirmed he met with Under Secretary of State Maria Otero.

Both meetings happened in non-U.S. government buildings, however, in a likely effort to stave off a diplomatic blast from Beijing. Sangay also met with several lawmakers, including Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman(I-CT), and House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH).
Sangay said there's no reason for U.S. officials to be wary of meeting Tibetans.

"Meeting Tibetans and receiving his Holiness the Dalai Lama is not zero-sum," he said. "Some have this mindset that if I meet a Tibetan I'll be in trouble with the Chinese government, but the Chinese will meet with you and do business with you because they get a good deal. Tomorrow if they get a better deal from some other country, they'll do that too."

"And at the larger level, if Tibetans are ignored, essentially what you're ignoring is nonviolence and democracy," he said. "So in that sense I think from a democratic point of view, from a nonviolent point of view, supporting Tibet is vital because we are trying to be and we have proven in the last five decades to be a torchbearer of nonviolence and democracy."

During his meetings with officials and lawmakers, Sangay updated them on what he sees as a ramping up of Chinese government persecution of Tibetans, which included the arrest and detention of thousands of Tibetans who traveled to India in January to hear a teaching from the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, and violence against Tibetans who protested in February during the Chinese New Year that resulted in at least 6 deaths.

"Unfortunately, instead of the Chinese government addressing the issues, they're resorting to the blame game and saying these protests are instigated from outside, that self-immolations are happening because of influence from the outside," he said. "But even the generation of Tibetans who grew up under the Chinese system who have not met outside Tibetans and the Dalai Lama are protesting against the Chinese government, which clearly indicates the failures of Chinese government policies."

Chinese repression of Tibetans is not just a human rights issue, he said. The Tibetan plateau houses 10 major rivers that provide water for over a third of the world's population and the Chinese government is damning those rivers in ways that are sure to alter the environment unpredictably. The Chinese government has built the second-largest mine in Asia in Tibet, he complained, destroying historical and also sacred mountains.

"Some experts say that wars were fought over land before, now wars are fought over energy and soon wars will be fought over water, and Tibet constitutes if not the largest than one of the largest sources of freshwater," Sangay said.

Sangay's message to U.S. officials and lawmakers was to ask for a fact-finding mission to be sent to Tibet to investigate the situation there.

He also repeated his call for limited Tibetan autonomy within the Chinese system, similar to how China treats Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997 but still enjoys some control over its own affairs.

"We are asking for genuine autonomy within China, within the framework of the Chinese constitution. We are not challenging Chinese sovereignty or territorial integrity so we are willing to accept the One China concept," he said.

Chinese officials are in Washington Monday and Tuesday for the semi-regular U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, a set of talks Washington insists are productive but that critics see as routine and light on deliverables. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly urged the Chinese government to reopen a dialogue with the Tibetan people last week during a meeting in Cambodia.

"The secretary's been forthright, the president has been forthright, that we have serious, ongoing concerns about a variety of human rights issues and rule-of-law issues in China, and we are always open and clear about those with Chinese officials," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland at Monday's press briefing.

Sangay wrote in a July 13 Washington Post op-edthat such statements are welcome but not nearly enough to help the Tibetan people.

"The time has come for the world to shut out the noise of China's influence and to hear the Tibetan cries: that repression is unbearable and unacceptable," he wrote. "Because we know that the democracies of the world recognize basic human rights and freedoms to be universal values, we ask the international community to intervene before our situation deteriorates even further."

In his interview with The Cable, Sangay also noted the irony of the Chinese government's attempts to choose the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, even though the Chinese government denies the validity of organized religion.

"The communist party thinks of religion as poison, and his Holiness is called the Devil, so why are the Chinese so interested in the reincarnation of the Devil?" he said. "So we think they have no business in reincarnation because they don't believe in it to begin with, and even if they try to intervene, Tibetans will not believe it. It's like Fidel Castro saying I'll select the next Pope and Catholics should believe it. That's not going to happen, so the Chinese government might try, but it's bound to fail."

Sunday 24 June 2012

June 22, 2012, Friday
China unrealistic on Tibet, talks futile: Dalai Lama

London: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Wednesday resuming talks with China on his homeland's future was futile unless it adopted a "realistic" stance.

In comments likely to enrage a Chinese leadership already angry over his trip to Britain, the Dalai Lama also said a shift towards democracy and better human rights in China was inevitable and the Chinese people "really want change".
The 76-year-old monk was speaking in Britain, which he is touring to spread a message of non-violence and compassion, touching upon issues including European economic woes, which he said were partly caused by "greed and ignorance".

"The issue is (the people's) basic right. In future, unless they start a realistic approach for the Tibetan problem inside Tibet, there's not much to discuss," the Dalai Lama told Reuters in an interview at Britain's houses of parliament.

Beijing has snubbed British officials, warned of "serious consequences" and, according to an unsourced report in the British media that China did not confirm, threatened to relocate its Olympic team from the northern British city of Leeds in protest at the Dalai Lama's meetings with British officials.

China considers him a separatist for his long struggle for Tibetan autonomy, and tensions over the issue are at their highest in years after a spate of protests and self-immolations by Tibetan activists, which have prompted a Chinese security crackdown.

China has ruled Tibet since 1950, when Communist troops marched in and announced its "peaceful liberation". Beijing insists Chinese rule has brought development and prosperity and denies trampling Tibetan rights.

The Dalai Lama, who has accused China of "cultural genocide", fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising, and unrest has continued sporadically ever since.
Earlier this month, two of the Dalai Lama's envoys to talks with China resigned over what they said was the deteriorating situation inside Tibet and Beijing's lack of a positive response to Tibetan proposals for genuine autonomy.


The Dalai Lama insists he is not seeking full independence, but says there is little he can do to convince Beijing, which he said was actually only interested in imposing its will.

"We both have mantras to recite. My mantra is 'We are not seeking independence'. The Chinese mantra is 'Tibet is always part of China'. I think the real effect of both mantras is limited," the Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

"This is not a question of convincing. I think they feel it is easier just to suppress."
The Dalai Lama hoped, however, that China may take a different approach under a new president, virtually certain to be Xi Jinping, or will be forced to do so by an increased clamour for change among its 1.35 billion people.

"I hope Mr Xi Jinping, a new leader, new blood, looks in a more open, realistic way," the Dalai Lama said, adding that Xi should usher in political reform in the same way that former leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s and 1980s brought in the market reforms that have made China an economic powerhouse.

"Deng Xiaoping said: 'Seek truth from facts'. Then he followed the capitalist road for economic reasons. Now the political system - I think the time has now come to seek truth from facts," the Dalai Lama said.

In any case, a shift towards democracy and better human rights in China is inevitable, he said.

Chinese authorities have moved to stifle growing dissent, fuelled partly by greater confidence among the country's burgeoning middle class and also online social networks.

"China has to go along with world trends. That's democracy, liberty, individual freedom. China sooner or later has to go that way. It cannot go backward," the Dalai Lama said.

Tibet News
Information on Human Right and Freedom Repression in Tibet

Monday 11 June 2012

Kalon Tripa Accepts Resignations of Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen.
The Tibetan Leadership Reiterates its Commitment to the Middle-Way Policy

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Kasur Lodi Gyari, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen at Kashag Secretariat in Dharamsala on 31 May 2012/Photo by Namgyal Tsewang/Tibetonline TV

Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Head of the Central Tibetan Administration, regretfully accepted the resignations of Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen. The resignations became effective June 1, 2012.

Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, assisted by Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, led the Tibetan team in nine rounds of talks with representatives of the Chinese government starting in 2002. The last meeting with the Chinese side took place more than two years ago in January 2010. Despite Mr. Gyari’s desire to step down in April 2011, the two envoys were asked to continue their efforts to reach out to their Chinese counterparts by Kalon Tripa-elect Dr. Lobsang Sangay. The envoys met and briefed the Kalon Tripa on twelve separate occasions since May 2011.

At the Task Force meeting on May 30-31, 2012 in Dharamsala, the envoys expressed their utter frustration over the lack of positive response from the Chinese side and submitted their resignations to the Kalon Tripa. “Given the deteriorating situation inside Tibet since 2008 leading to the increasing cases of self-immolations by Tibetans, we are compelled to submit our resignations. Furthermore, the United Front did not respond positively to the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People presented in 2008 and its Note in 2010. One of the key Chinese interlocutors in the dialogue process even advocated abrogation of minority status as stipulated in the Chinese constitution thereby seeming to remove the basis of autonomy. At this particular time, it is difficult to have substantive dialogue,” stated the two envoys in their resignation letter.

“I have known both Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen for many years. They have worked extremely hard in challenging circumstances and made earnest efforts to move the dialogue process forward and resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully. Their contributions during their decade-long leadership of the Tibetan negotiating team have been invaluable. The Kashag will continue to rely on them for their wise counsel. They will remain as senior members of the Task Force team,” said Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

The Kashag urges Beijing to accept the Middle-Way Approach, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and within the framework of the Chinese constitution. This is a win-win proposition, which contributes to PRC’s unity, stability, harmony and its peaceful rise in the world.

The Tibetan Task Force on Negotiations will be expanded and will meet again in December 2012 to discuss the Chinese leadership transition with the hope of continuing to dialogue with the new Chinese leaders to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully.

The Tibetan leadership remains firmly committed to non-violence and the Middle-Way Approach, and strongly believes that the only way to resolve the issue of Tibet is through dialogue. The Tibetan leadership considers substance to be primary and process as secondary, and is ready to engage in meaningful dialogue anywhere and at anytime.

The Kashag
June 3, 2012
Contact Persons
For Tibetan: Kasur Tempa Tsering +91-9811115593
For English: Thupten Samphel +91-9805024662
For Chinese: Dawa Tsering +91-9882611071 (until June 5, 2012)
+886-227360366 & 255822506 (after June 5, 2012)

Wednesday 25 April 2012

23 April, 2012

Where is China Heading on Tibet?

Remarks by Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari to the Council on Foreign Relations Washington, DC, April 23, 2012

You know that I have been leading the Tibetan delegation for the dialogue with the Chinese government for the last many years. But I am not here today to give you a report on my progress because there is nothing new to say on that front. My last meeting with my counterparts in Beijing was in January 2010. Ever since, despite sincere and serious efforts on my part, we have been unable to reconvene. With the very critical situation in Tibet, the leadership changes both in Beijing and Dharamsala, and due to some other factors, I do not see any prospect for an early resumption, at least under my watch. However, having spent decades on this effort, I still do passionately believe that ultimately the only way for the Tibetans and Chinese to find a mutually acceptable solution for Tibet is through dialogue. I hope therefore that farsighted thinking and a resurgence of political will can prevail over intransigence among China’s leaders, and I am pleased that the democratically-elected Tibetan leader Dr. Lobsang Sangay the Kalon Tripa (Chairman of the Cabinet) has repeatedly expressed a strong continuing commitment to pursue the Middle Way approach initiated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Every struggle is unique. In the case of the Tibetan struggle, its uniqueness is derived from the nature of the Tibetan people, the Tibetan Buddhist culture, and the deep historical and personal bond between the Tibetans and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Even after he devolved his political authority to an elected leadership in 2011, the Dalai Lama’s world view -- shaped by the extraordinary, sometimes tragic experiences of his life; the scores of world leaders, including Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mao Zedong and other towering figures with whom he met; and his unwavering commitment to peace and non-violence – make the person of the Dalai Lama key to bringing to a close a conflict that has endured for more than 60 years.
Today, I would like to draw attention to some emerging elements in this long conflict and to share with you my serious concern that unless these elements are taken care of, the foundation for any eventual negotiated solution may be lost.

Since I was a fairly young man, I have been privileged to serve His Holiness the Dalai Lama and, in recent years, I have been His Holiness’ chief interlocutor in talks with the Chinese leadership. As a cabinet member of the Tibetan administration in exile and Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I have also had close interactions with leaders and officials at various levels of governments in different parts of the world. Growing up in India’s environment of freedom and democracy has deeply enriched my thinking, and I have been especially fortunate to know and, in many cases, to work closely with a galaxy of Indian intellectuals and political leaders. Here in the United States, where I have been actively engaged in advancing the Tibet cause for nearly 25 years, I have also had the opportunity to know many scholars, government leaders, and officials who have handled Asia, and specifically China policy. Many of them were kind enough to extend to me their personal friendship and mentoring, such as the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. I have greatly benefited from the wisdom and guidance of many of these fine people. My 30 years of dealing with Chinese leaders, including with members of the Politburo of the Communist Party, has also provided me with first-hand exposure to their views and priorities, and also their concerns.

These experiences have informed my diplomacy on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and I would like to believe that I have served him and the Tibetan struggle better because of the information and access I have been given. I hope my remarks today will be received in the spirit in which others have shared their insights with me – and as an elder Tibetan diplomat who has lived through these historic times and whose institutional memory is longer than some of those who are less familiar with Tibet yet may be shaping Tibet policy today.

The history of relations between Tibet and China – and between Tibetans and Chinese – is complex and cannot be understood simply in the context of the relatively young People’s Republic of China. This may seem like an obvious assertion were it not for the fact that many of us do not study history sufficiently, and our friends in Beijing seem intent on convincing today’s policy-makers not only that ‘Tibet is an inalienable part of China’ but also that relations with the PRC must be predicated on a notion – incorrectly applied to Tibet – that support for the Tibetan struggle violates the ‘one China’ principle.

The present Tibet-China relationship has its roots in China’s military invasion of Tibet in 1949/50 and in the ‘Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet’ imposed on the Tibetans in 1951.

At this juncture, let me turn to a number of issues that potentially affect policy choices facing governments in Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as those of the Tibetan exile leadership. These correspond with three very serious concerns I have with respect to: international behavior relating to Tibet, the possible direction of Chinese policy with respect to Tibetan autonomy, and the alarming situation in Tibet itself.

First, as I mentioned already, I wish to address a phantom cause for paralysis affecting the ability of some governments to put in place a credible and flexible policy on Tibet and the worsening situation there. This is the well known – but apparently ill understood—‘one-China’ policy invoked by the Chinese government to prevent legitimate inquiry or engagement by members of the international community with respect to Tibet.

The ‘one-China’ policy, as you must know, was created in the early 1970s as the instrument that enabled the United States to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China and maintain relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan.

Then U.S. President Richard Nixon and his national security assistant Henry Kissinger were responding to the Communist Chinese leaders’ need for assurances on U.S. policy with respect to Taiwan when they told Chinese Premier Chou Enlai and Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong that the United States was not pursuing a ‘two-Chinas’ policy. In the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, the United States artfully acknowledged that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait claim that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China… and the United States does not challenge that position.”

This ‘one-China’ policy paved the way for the joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China on January 1st, 1979, and the adoption by the United States Congress of the Taiwan Relations Act that same year. Under the 1979 agreement, the United States recognizes the PRC government as the sole legal government of China, while the Taiwan Relations Act set out the nature of relations the United States would maintain with Taiwan in terms that were not inconsistent with the ‘one-China’ policy but protected the status quo and therefore the status of Taiwan, whatever that might be.

Adherence to the ‘one-China’ policy has been reiterated by successive American Administrations, sometimes making explicit reference to the communiqués mentioned above or to Taiwan’s unchanging status. Although the ‘one China’ policy was articulated in the context of US-China and US-Taiwan relations, Beijing increasingly demands that other governments with whom it establishes or maintains relations also endorse this ‘one-China’ policy.

What is the relevance of this discussion to Tibet? If one has to look for any reference point for China-Tibet relations, it is not the 1972 Shanghai communiqué, but the ‘17 Point Agreement,’ previously mentioned. In fact, the lack of relevance of the ‘one China’ policy is precisely what I would like to address. No Tibetan government has ever claimed to be the government of China, so the application of the ‘one-China’ policy to Tibet – or for that matter, the PRC government’s ‘one China’ principle that stresses the inalienability of both Taiwan and mainland China as parts of a single ‘China’ -- simply does not arise.

We have our differences with China’s leaders when it comes to the history of Tibet and our historical independence from China but, as you well know, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s proposals and statements concerning ways to resolve the Tibetan question all envisage solutions that respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China as the state is constituted today. These proposed solutions call for the exercise by Tibetans of genuine autonomy within the People’s Republic of China and within the framework of its constitution – not for independence.
Yet, the PRC government vigorously pursues efforts to extend the applicability of ‘one China’ to Tibet and, in recent years, it has misled a number of governments into believing not only that the ‘one-China’ policy applies to Tibet, but that it restricts the extent to which their government officials can interact with Tibetan leaders in exile, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We believe that the intended effect of China’s initiative is to limit outside governments from playing a constructive role in promoting a mutually acceptable negotiated solution for Tibet. Indeed, by accepting the applicability of ‘one China’ to Tibet, governments are subtly aligning themselves with the Chinese position that the Dalai Lama is trying to ‘split’ China.

While the PRC government is trying to intimidate some governments into believing that meeting with Tibetan exile leaders would violate the ‘one-China’ policy, in reality, this assertion is counter-intuitive to the policy. If there were a connection, the adherence by any government to the ‘one-China’ policy would have the opposite effect. Since the policy was developed precisely to make it possible for the United States to continue to conduct relations with Taiwan while recognizing the PRC government as the sole government of China, if the policy were at all relevant to Tibet, it then should enable governments to conduct relations with the Tibetan exile leadership and His Holiness the Dalai Lama without incurring Beijing’s displeasure.

Ironically for the Chinese assertion, the United States Government actually directs its officials, through the implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act (P.L. 10-228, Sec. 611) to “maintain close contact with religious, cultural and political leaders of the Tibetan people…” Those European and other foreign ministry officials, or their advisors, who uncritically accept Beijing’s opposite argument should do proper analysis before they caution their own political leaders not to cross this non-existent line on Tibet.

Every government has the right to engage with the Tibetan leadership without affecting its solemn adherence to the ‘one-China’ policy and, I would argue, even has the duty – out of self- interest and in the interest of global peace – to promote a peaceful solution to the issue by engaging with both sides in the conflict. With the transfer of power in Dharamsala, it is critical that governments are prepared to look ahead and make policy decisions based on direct relations with the new democratically elected leadership whose authority is derived directly from the Tibetan people in exile and is seen by Tibetans inside Tibet to be derived directly from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I need not tell you that Tibet is situated in a strategically important place in Asia, at its very heart between the two largest populations of the world (the Chinese and the Indian), and it shares its remaining border with the Islamic populations of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. One also must not lose sight of the importance of the Tibetan plateau as the ‘third pole’ or the Earth’s third largest store of ice. And, as climate change continues or even accelerates the melting of Tibet’s glaciers, water issues originating in Tibet will have effects that resonate far beyond, impacting both the water supply for billions of people and the atmospheric circulation over much of the planet.
Instability on the Tibetan plateau can therefore have wide ramifications. It should be considered too that the kind of violent extremism we are seeing in other parts of the world is not seen in Tibet where His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the tenets of the Tibetan Buddhist culture -- struggling against great odds to survive -- have been moderating factors against the destabilizing and potentially dangerous effects of hate propaganda, increasing tensions and economic inequalities between Tibetans and Chinese, and other risk factors in Tibet. Governments and world leaders seen to engage with Tibetans, especially with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, endorse the message that dialogue and non-violence is a laudable path to follow to bring about change. Fear and even refusal to meet with Tibetan leaders sends the opposite signal to those around the world who stand before the choice of whether to pursue their objectives through dialogue and democratic means or through the use of violence. European and other government leaders who wish to stand for non-violent conflict resolution and against the use of deadly force should be mindful of how they demonstrate their convictions and, in the case of Tibet, they should follow the example set by successive U.S. Presidents, Secretaries of State and congressional leaders and stand by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with the Tibetan people.

Turning to Chinese policies on Tibet, I note with concern the recent article by a person of standing within the Chinese Communist Party advocating the scrapping of the Chinese constitutional provisions and laws on autonomy as they apply to the Tibetans and other nationality minorities within the PRC. This should not be read as an expression of an over-zealous individual’s view. Since some years, a certain academician with strong ties to the Communist Party leadership dealing with the Tibetan issue has also been advocating this view in various forums. It is important to understand the consequences of the implementation of such ideas, for they are considerable.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s proposals and the position of the Tibetan exile administration, supported by many international experts and governments alike, is that the situation in Tibet should be resolved by transforming what is now merely a nominal autonomy for Tibetans under the Chinese constitution and laws into a genuine and effective autonomy. We are convinced that our primary goal of restoring the right of Tibetans to live as Tibetans according to our culture, values and religious traditions can best be achieved if Tibetans can govern themselves under a system of devolution of power from the central government to the Tibet Autonomous Region and its contiguous Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in the People’s Republic of China (where half of all Tibetans live). The international community is increasingly aware of the benefits of decentralization of power and the contribution of autonomy arrangements in the resolution and prevention of conflicts, especially in multi-ethnic states. The autonomy Tibetans are asking for, as set out in detail in the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People that my delegation presented to the Chinese government in our 8th round of dialogue in November 2008, respects the Chinese constitutional framework and is in line with the best practice of states in the area of autonomy.
Instead of supporting the implementation of real autonomy in Tibetan areas within the People’s Republic of China, the proposal I am referring to advocates the opposite position. In the name of promoting Chinese nationalism it calls for eliminating ethnicity and minority status for Tibetans coupled with assimilationist policies, such as requiring that Tibetan children study Chinese culture as the aspirational culture. The policy being advocated is one that negates the distinctiveness of Tibetans and other non-Chinese and would hasten the serious cultural destruction already underway in Tibet.

The recently-concluded session of the Chinese National People’s Congress did not take up these suggestions, but these ideas are dangerous all the same. If these ideas were to lead to changes in the autonomy laws, such a development would have serious ramifications internationally, in Tibet, and for prospects of achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibet question – because it is on the basis on a genuinely autonomous Tibet that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been able to build a consensus among Tibetans for a future of coexistence with the Chinese.

The international ramifications should be carefully weighed by any Chinese leader contemplating this radical policy move. It is necessary to consider that the recognition by certain governments of China’s claim to Tibet was conditioned through various diplomatic exchanges on the understanding that Tibet’s distinctive identity would be respected as an autonomous area within the People’s Republic of China. Perhaps most important in this regard was India’s demand and China’s explicit assurance, given by Prime Minister Chou Enlai to Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956.
Given India’s proximity to Tibet and its long relations with that country and with China, the Indian government’s position and the assurances given to it by the People’s Republic of China are particularly important because these factors clearly affected the actions and positions of other states whose governments have continued, as has the Government of India, to emphasize the autonomy of Tibet while recognizing it to be a part of the People’s Republic of China. Joint communiqués between India and China make the important distinction when dealing with Tibet of referring to the autonomous status of the Tibetan region. A revocation of Tibet’s autonomy by China or a further dilution of its meaning cannot be taken lightly by these governments and could have serious consequences for China and the region.

What China’s leaders must also realize is that by reneging on the promises of autonomy in the constitution – even if they are unfulfilled – would severely impact the Tibetan position on the question. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way approach is premised on the supposition that a middle ground between independence and the current centralist dictatorship is possible within the framework of the People’s Republic of China and its constitution. That middle ground is genuine autonomy. If the constitutional basis for autonomy were to be removed from the Chinese constitution and if, therefore, a Middle Way approach could no longer be accommodated within the People’s Republic of China and its constitution, then Tibetans would be compelled to look for a totally different approach.

When we look at the volatile situation in Tibet today, we could well be witnessing a preview of what is yet to come if Tibetans there do not soon experience a considerable, tangible and meaningful change in China’s policies and practices or are at least given a realistic expectation for such change. The terrible and tragic wave of self-immolations in eastern and northeastern Tibet – the Tibetan areas of Kham and Amdo – are unquestionably the direct result of Tibetans living under daily circumstances of oppression. The Chinese government’s failure to grasp the reality of this situation and to act responsibly is of serious concern to many governments.

Prospects for deepening religious repression in Tibet, continuing vituperative attacks against His Holiness the Dalai Lama, constraints on culture, including in the area of Tibetan language use, escalating tensions between Tibetans and Chinese as a result of economic disparities, the yet unknown impact of China’s radical social experiment with nomad settlement – all of these developments forecast an intensification and broadening of the protest movement in Tibet.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always called on the people to refrain from using violence and has courageously reached out to China’s leaders over the years. The willful disregard of Chinese leaders to his proposals – and to the plight of the Tibetan people – has placed at risk the peace and stability of Tibet. I do not expect Tibetans to turn to violence as long as His Holiness is present as the symbol of the Tibetan nation and its spirit. However, a continuation of the current level of repression in Tibet – or a worsening of it, which some observers expect—will increase Tibetan resistance, as people feel they have little left to lose.

In circumstances of intense government repression against its own citizens – or of open conflict – the international community has coalesced around the Responsibility to Protect or R2P principle. This principle has been invoked in UN debates on Darfur, Burma, Libya and elsewhere, and the UN has established a framework for its implementation, including the role of early warning. The exercise of sovereignty is a privilege and responsibility that is derived from the will of the people, and it prohibits their abuse. In the case of mass atrocities, the international community has a responsibility to intervene to assist the people and protect them from intolerable harm. Intervention need not be military in nature: that is clearly a measure of last resort.

China, with Russia, has used its veto in the Security Council to block a UN Resolution on Syria that would have embraced R2P as a justification of intervention, claiming the Security Council had no role in the internal affairs of a state. But the People’s Republic of China is not immune to the will of the people it governs or to the condemnation of the international community when it violates international norms of behavior. And Tibetans will inevitably continue to appeal to the international community, despite the major obstacles they may encounter in that endeavor. They have no choice but to do so in the face of the Chinese government’s refusal to address their real and legitimate grievances. The risk factors are in place in Tibet. Unless China’s leaders change their course, with a more responsible approach, I believe that the international community must be increasingly vigilant and prepared to act in a qualitatively different manner to help save Tibet.

Thank you.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Vision in Moon Brings Jail

The Dalai Lama visits the Mahabodhi Temple after the Kalachakra Buddhist Festival in India's Bodhgaya town, Jan. 11, 2012. 

10th April 2012

A Tibetan man is detained for seeking visions of the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama visits the Mahabodhi Temple after the Kalachakra Buddhist Festival in India's Bodhgaya town, Jan. 11, 2012. 
Chinese police in the Tibetan capital Lhasa have detained a young man for seeking a vision of the Dalai Lama in the moon, the Tibetan exile government said Tuesday.

Phurbu Namgyal, 20 and a resident of Lhasa’s Lhundrub district, was “recently” detained after he and a group of friends gathered at night outside an area club to look at the moon in the hope of seeing the exiled spiritual leader’s reflection, the India-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said.

“He told them that if someone gazes at the night sky, one can see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the moon,” the CTA said, adding, “All of them started looking at the sky to see the vision outside the club.”

Public Security Bureau officers later detained Phurbu Namgyal, saying he had committed an “illegal act,” the CTA said.

Namgyal’s present whereabouts and condition, the exact nature of the charges made against him, and the date of his detention are still unknown.

A report from Tibet had said that  Phurbu Namgyal had recently seen a reflection of the Dalai Lama in the moon, the CTA said.

The report added that Namgyal had then confided his experience to his friends while working together at a club house in Lhasa.

The power of faith

The Dalai Lama, who lives in India, is reviled by China’s leaders as a “splittist” seeking Tibet’s independence from China, and his images are widely understood to be banned in Tibetan regions of China.

This ban has never been put into writing in explicit form, though, said Columbia University Tibet scholar Robbie Barnett.

“It has never been clearly expressed as a law, and therefore you can get variations in implementation,” Barnett said.

The act for which Phurbu Namgyal was detained would not have constituted a crime “in the technical sense” in any case, Barnett said, adding that he may have been picked up simply for causing a crowd to assemble.

Bhuchung Tsering, vice president of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, said that Phurbu Namgyal’s report of a vision and his subsequent detention reflect “the power of the Tibetan people’s faith and how this is seen by the authorities.”

“Although this is not the first time that Tibetans have reported seeing the Dalai Lama’s image in the moon, the authorities’ attempt to strike down this one individual is absurd, to say the least.”

Friday 6 April 2012

China Launches 'Strike Hard' Campaign in Tibetan Areas

Wednesday, 04 April 2012

The Chinese authorities in Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture have issued a public notice 'encouraging' the general public to secretly report to the police any 'illegal' activities aimed at harming 'social stability' and 'national unity'.
This public notice, written in Tibetan and Chinese languages, was issued on 9 March 2012, a politically sensitive month for the Chinese authorities in Tibet. This notice, issued in all eight counties of Kanlho Prefecture, is prominently displayed in the streets, on the walls and even on the tree trunks. Kanlho Prefecture has witnessed continued Tibetan protests against the Chinese government. There are not a single county in Kanlho that has not witnessed a demonstration or protest march since 2008. Even Tibetan schoolchildren rose up in protest. In 2008, 12 known Tibetans were shot dead by the security officers for participating in peaceful protests. In recent months, a Tibetan schoolgirl, Tsering Kyi died of self-immolation protest in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) county. Other cases of arbitrary practices and official abuse of power are common in Tibetan areas in Kanlho.
The notice emphasizes 'striking hard' on 'illegal' activities. The Tibetan words for Strike Hard are ‘Dungdek Dakpo’ or ‘Dungdek Tsenon’. The 'Strike Hard' campaign, also known as Yanda in Chinese, was first launched in China in 1983 to crack down on crimes such as gun and gang crime, telecom fraud, human trafficking, robbery, prostitution, gambling and drugs, etc. But in Tibet, the campaign is used for political purposes to forewarn Tibetans from taking part in any of protests and demonstrations during politically-sensitive months. Human rights activists have said that many human rights violations in Tibet occur during the implementation of the Strike Hard campaigns.
In Tibet Autonomous Region, the Strike Hard campaigns are launched on seasonal basis such as 'Winter Strike Hard' and 'Summer Strike Hard' that would last for two months. Under this campaign, security presence increase considerably with random raids conducted on residential and commercial complexes including private homes, hotels, bars, cafes, etc. Many get rounded up on mere suspicion in such raids. Arbitrary arrest, detention, interrogation and torture, dismissal from jobs and expulsion from religious institutions are common consequences of the Strike Hard campaign.
The official practice of paying money to the public to get information is not new. In the aftermath of widespread protests in 2008, the authorities in Lhasa and Kardze Prefecture openly announced a reward of Yuan 20,000 to anyone who provided information about those Tibetans who took part in protests.
The phrase 'beating, smashing, looting and burning' was first used by the Chinese authorities to label Tibetans who participated in the demonstrations in Lhasa in 1989. In 2008, this phrase was used ad nauseum by the Chinese authorities to describe the Tibetans who took part in 14 March 2008 protest in Lhasa. But the official propaganda behind this phrase was exposed by the Beijing-based think-tank called Gongmeng or Open Constitution Initiative in a daring investigative report in 2009.
Below is a translation of the Notification:
Notification of Kanlho Public Security Bureau Encouraging the Masses of Kanlho Prefecture to Expose and Report on Anyone Committing Illegal Activities Harming Social Stability

To maintain Kanlho social and political stability, speed up and promote the building of a “harmonious Kanlho”, create a favorable economic and investment environment, prevent and strike hard on illegal and criminal acts that endanger social stability, to encourage the broad masses to actively expose the criminals, by reporting to PSB, which has been authorized by the relevant stability maintenance authority to issue the following notice:
I. The Public Security organs will strike hard on anyone engaging in the following acts, which seriously harm national security and disrupt social stability, undermine national unity:
1) Instigating inter-ethnic relations, creating unrest between nationalities, engaging in ethnic separatism and destroying national unity.
2) Inciting and advocating the public to split the nation by means of speeches, writings, drawings and films, etc. are acts that threaten social order and social stability.
3) Participating in and promoting illegal organizations or giving guidance and donations to such organizations are acts that endanger national security and harm social stability.
4) Fabricating and disseminating rumors on social networking sites, distributing harmful information through internet and phone, are illegal acts that harm social stability.
5) Devising plans to engage in illegal activities of "beating, smashing, looting, burning" and other violent means to disrupt social order and public security
II. The broad masses of the people should actively take action, and actively provide clues for the public security organs to expose these criminal acts. Anyone who reports such criminal activities to public security organs shall be provided personal protection and their identities will be kept confidential as well as rewarded a minimum Yuan 5,000.
III. This directive will be implemented from the day of the announcement

Monday 2 April 2012

China willing to resume talks with the Dalai Lama

Beijing: As suicide bids continued unabated in Tibetan-inhabited areas seeking return of the Dalai Lama, China, for the first time in recent months, has indicated its willingness to reopen the stalled talks with him if he “truly gives up Tibetan independence.”

“The central government has also made clear its willingness for talks if the Dalai Lama truly gives up Tibetan independence. The door remains open to him,” the state-run ‘China Daily’ said today.

This is perhaps the first time that an indication has come up in the official media after the previous dialogue between Chinese officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama failed to make any headway in 2010.

It follows a barrage of criticism unleashed against him in recent weeks, with China alleging that he was instigating suicides, specially among the Buddhist monks in Tibetan-inhabited areas.

Over 30 people have attempted self immolations. One Tibetan youth burnt himself to death ahead of the recently-concluded BRICS summit in Delhi which was attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The two sides have held nine rounds of talks since 2002 but nothing concrete has emerged so far even after the Tibetan spiritual leader asserted that Tibet is part of China and sought genuine autonomy.

However, Chinese officials brushed off his assertions stating that the Dalai had come up with far stiffer demands like withdrawal of Chinese military and police from Tibet and the four Tibetan provinces.

The Dalai also wanted all ethnic people, other than Tibetans, to leave Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and the four provinces, Qu Xing, President of the state-run China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) said told media here recently.

Besides, he wanted his authority to cover all of Tibet, including, Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan. All these regions put together constitute one fourth of China’s territory, Qu said.

Though the Dalai says on one hand that he renounced the independence demand, his other demands that all troops and mainland Chinese should leave the areas amounted to seeking independence, he said.

Asked about the prospects of the resumption of talks, Qu had said the Chinese Central Government can consider if the Dalai abandons his “independence political objective.”
Today’s article in the China Daily said the “Chinese government has repeatedly shown good intentions to the Dalai Lama by arranging the visits of his private representatives and relatives, even after the riot in March 2008.”

The article titled “Dharamshala cannot represent Tibetan people” said “neither Dharamshala, nor other settlements of the exiles, could have the territory it needs to form a sovereign state.”

“The ‘government-in-exile’ cannot even effectively control the piece of soil under its feet, which is Indian territory. Besides, India has long publicly recognised Tibet as part of China, so how can it tolerate some other ‘sovereign state’ within its own borders”? it asked.

“Most importantly, the ‘government-in-exile’ of the Dalai Lama’s clique has never been formally, even factually, recognised by any country in the world,” it said.