2008-12-18

Tibetan-Han Relations Like An Owner and His Pet

In the aftermath of the “Tibetan Incident” in March this year, one of the most significant changes has been the relationship between the Han and Tibetan ethnic groups, in other words the question of the status of Tibetans in China.

It can be said that relations between Hans – who make up the majority of Chinese society - and Tibetans have never been so clearly revealed than after the "Tibetan Incident" last March. In the past, it was as though a veil separated the two and this not only made things unclear but also produced a very beautiful effect similar to looking at a flower through the fog. Moreover, many Tibetans used to sing their own praises and believed that amongst the 55 minorities in China, their status was the highest, their minority was the one most likable to the Han people, and they in particular meant much more to Chinese people than Uighur people. Tibetan reincarnated lamas and Tibetan monks, for instance, often come and go between Tibetan and Han areas, have numerous Han disciples and feel proud to serve as Hans’ Lamas. However, among the Chinese people there are many so-called “Tibet fans” and some of them call themselves "drifters in Tibet". Hardly have they spent a few years in Tibet than they find life has no taste. In 2006 when the train entered Lhasa, it seemed that the whole of China started feeling excited about the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, and nearly everyone wanted to climb to the Potala. It can be said that it has been a very long time since Hans and Tibetans, I mean the relationship between the common people of the two people, have been permeated by tender feelings that cannot endure the truth.

And after the events in Tibet last March, this veil was lifted. It turns out what many of the Tibetans are satisfied with is just their status of finding favor with the Han among the fifty-five ethnic minorities. Many Han people, be it their love for Tibetans before the events or their hate for Tibetans after the events, have clearly shown that the feelings they nurtured were similar to the feelings of an owner towards its pet. This can be compared to the Tibetan mastiff, the most famous animal living on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. It seems so rare and so valuable that some Chinese tycoons or those who pose as lovers of culture spend vast amounts of money in a rivalry to purchase the mastiff which they also have to feed with lots of meat every day. But one day, the Tibetan mastiff all of a sudden gets angry and bites the person who has become its owner, and the animal is beaten to death on the spot. Chinese newspapers often relate this kind of story. And it perfectly illustrates the relationship between Tibetans and Chinese. This is actually the real and fundamental relations between ethnic groups in Chinese society. If Tibetans are content with being pets, the Han people will maintain the tender feelings they once had towards Tibetans; and just like they are willing to feed cats or dog they like, those Hans will keep on “loving” Tibet. But human beings are not pets: pets do not have a volition of ego, whereas human beings do. Tibetans do not want to be pets, for the consequence of being a pet involves the loss of self, and ultimately the loss of Tibet. Therefore, as long as Tibetans are not content with being pets, or not content with accepting their fate of being pets, and bravely fight for the their being human beings and being Tibetans, then this is what brings trouble. In fact, trouble is already there; Tibetans are sometimes arrested, detained, tortured or even massacred. These are punishments inflicted by the country’s regime. To the Han people who evolve in the non-government sphere, the fact that some Han people changed sides so quickly allowed the truth to surface. And the truth is that Tibetans cannot act as humans. As soon as they do, they are exposed to fatal risks.

Actually, Uighur people obtained the same kind of result a long time ago. The bottom line is that Tibetans and Uighurs are the same: they have not been able to secure a status equal to the Hans in a Chinese society mostly made up of Hans. And this is what was revealed through the events that unfolded last March in Tibet. For many simple-minded and easily satisfied Tibetans, this was like a hit in the face or from another angle, a very significant lesson.

Kunming, 2nd June 2008

© Copyright 2008 by Boxun News

C100 cosponsors 23rd Annual Tibet Day

23rd Annual Tibet Day in San Francisco Held Successfully

Hundreds of people attended the 23rd Annual Tibet Day fair held at Ft. Mason, San Francisco on Saturday, December 6 organized by the Bay Area Friends of Tibet and cosponsored by the Tibetan Association of Northern California. Highlighting the day were cultural performances by Tibetan child-star Tenzin Kunsel and Friends of Tibet speakers, authors Jane Bay and Patrick Mahoney. The authors donated their books, Love and Loss, and Tibet: Lamplight Unto a Darkened World respectively, to the Bay Area Friends of Tibet and spoke eloquently about the preciousness of the Tibetan people and culture.

The event was graced by representatives from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's and Congresswoman Jackie Speier's offices who read statements from these US public officials. Speaker Pelosi statement noted that the "Chinese government has not lived up to its promises to improve human rights." and that the "United States has a special responsibility to promote values of liberty, equality, and human rights that we hold dear. "I look forward to working with President Barack Obama on behalf of human rights and religious freedom of the people of China and Tibet."

Congresswoman Jackie Speier's statement noted that the "deplorable condition and treatment of the Tibetan people shocks our global sensibilities...It is absolutely at the forefront of our U.S. foreign policy on human rights that we continue , with fierce determination, to promote a free Tibet." Their full statements are copied below. San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly also spoke and reiterated his support for right of the Tibetan people to self-determination. Supervisor Daly had been instrumental earlier in the year to sponsor a human rights resolution critical of the Chinese government in the lead up to the Beijing Olympic Torch relay that came to San Francisco on April 9 and was a strong vocal supporter and demonstrator for the Tibetan people during the protests that ensued. The San Francisco city official was warmly welcomed at Tibet Day 2008.

All day there were several entertaining musical and dance performances by members of the Tibetan Association of Northern California and a screening of Rosemary Rawcliffe's A Quiet Revolution. Hundreds of people sampled Tibetan momos and Tibetan and human rights activists tabled information about various facets of the just cause of Tibet. Over 30 local Tibetan business or Tibetan and human rights organizations were represented at the event. The event also included a 30 minute presentation celebrating 25 years of Bay Area Friends of Tibet's service to the just cause of Tibet.

Founding BAFoT member Jigme Yugay Raptentsetsang spoke about the early days in 1983 when BAFoT was formed after the Chinese had committed some atrocities in Tibet. Founder Philip Ladenla spoke about three important conferences that BAFoT had organized in the first decade of the organization including in 1988: Five Point Peace Plan, 1990: Endangered Tibet, and in 1992 and important conference, Tibet: The Road to Independence. Julia Shepardson gave a detailed account on the Tibetan resettlement project of the 1990s in which BAFoT resettled 67 Tibetans and their families to the San Francisco bay area, often with much media coverage. Bonnie McCalla was president of BAFoT during the 1990s and recalled the numerous Tibet Day cultural fairs, Tibetan National Uprising Day commemorations and several other events that BAFoT had organized such as a conference that hosted three Nobel Peace Prize winners including the Dalai Lama and Rigoberto Menchu.

Former BAFoT President Diane Hume explained a lot of her volunteer work for Tibet including providing much digital artwork for Tibetan events. Finally, current BAFoT president Giovanni Vassallo reviewed the successes of 2008 Olympics campaign. But first he recalled BAFoT's 25 Years of Service including organizing 23 Tibet Days, 24 Tibetan National Uprising Day Commemorations, 13 Observances of the Missing Panchen Lama's Birthday, 24 Himalayan Fair tabling and presence at numerous community fairs, co-organizing visits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, other numerous protests and candlelight vigil and letter writing campaigns, continued support for local Tibetans and and local San Francisco Bay Area Government outreach. Then he spoke about his attendance and results of the Special International Tibet Support Group meeting that was convened in India 29 November - 1 December that he attended. Further, he spoke about the way forward for the Bay Area Friends of Tibet in the context of the International Tibet Support Network's post-Olympics strategic plan. The plan calls for the public to

1. Put Tibetans first,

2. Radically increase government pressure on China to provide concrete support for Tibet,

3. Put the spotlight on key Chinese officials responsible for policy in Tibet, and

4. targeted Chinese outreach. The proposals received a warm reception from the crowd of Tibetans and non-Tibetan supporters.

Proceeds from the event were marked to help BAFoT continue its mission to educate the public about Tibet as well as to the Tibetan Community Center of Northern California's capital campaign. Lucasfilm, Ltd., Committee of 100 for Tibet, Third Eye Travel, and the Dalai Lama Foundation were fiscal sponsors of the day-long event. The organizers thanked the sponsors and the many volunteers for their important contributions. More information about Tibet Day and the Bay Area Friends of Tibet's 25 years of service to the just cause of Tibet can be found at www.friends-of-tibet.org.

Chinese court sentences seven Tibetans between 8 years to life Imprisonment

16 December 2008 [Press Release]

Chinese court sentences seven Tibetans between 8 years to life Imprisonment

In the past couple of months, Lhasa Intermediate People's Court sentences seven Tibetans for their involvement in the so called "March 14" Riot. The sentences of indicted range between 8 years to life imprisonment, according to the confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

The information was further corroborated by the Lhasa Evening News (Ch: Lasa Wen bao) dated 8 November. According to the report, five Tibetans were sentenced by the Lhasa Intermediate People's Court on 27 October. The same court sentenced two other Tibetans on 7 November 2008 respectively for their involvement in the "March 14 Riot".

The report cited that on 27 October 2008, five Tibetans were sentenced between 8 years to life imprisonment and deprivation of political rights on charges of "endangering state security" to committing crimes of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China. The Lhasa Intermediate People's Court convicted and sentenced the following Tibetans to varying prison terms.



Wangdue
Wangdue, in his 40's was sentenced to life imprisonment and deprivation of political right for life on charges of "endangering state security,"
Migmar Dhondup was convicted on same charge of "endangering state security" and was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment and five years deprivation of political right,
Phuntsok Dorjee was sentenced to 9 years' imprisonment and five years deprivation of political rights on charges of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China,
Tsewang Dorjee was sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment and five years deprivation of political rights on charges of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China,
Sonam Dakpa, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and five years deprivation of political rights on charges of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China.


Yeshi Choedon
Whereas the same court on 7 November sentenced Yeshi Choedon, in her 50's and retired health worker to 15 years in jail and deprivation of political rights for five years on charges of "endangering state security" and Sonam Tseten was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment with deprivation of political rights for five years on charges of treason or illegally offering information to people outside China.

Wangdue, now in his early 40s, a former political prisoner and HIV/AIDS activist whereabouts remains unknown until his court trial on 7 November 2008. The Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials arbitrarily detained him from his home on 14 March in Lhasa.

The bald comments made earlier by the Chinese official on the number of Tibetans having sentenced so far were devoid of any details about names, charges, jail terms, dates of court trials and other details. Mr. Li Boadong, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in a response to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) expert during a hearing told, "After judicial proceedings, 69 had been sentenced to imprisonment for committing crimes of arson, robbery, theft, obstructing government functions, trouble-making in the streets, gathering to disrupt public order or attacking State organs; seven had been sentences for committing crimes of treason or illegally offering information to people outside China, and eight were still under investigation by the judicial organs." The authorities had earlier said no Tibetans had so far been sentenced to death, raising the possibility of such punishment in the future trials.

In the absence of any independent media and monitoring agencies in Tibet, the nature of the court proceedings without legal representation of their choice obviously bring forward the questions of competency of the court. TCHRD expresses its concern at the sub-standard legal proceedings in Chinese occupied Tibet and fears the worst scenarios for the Tibetan protesters who exercised their fundamental human rights of freedom of opinion and expression. The sentencing is a clear mockery of law and due process.

The Centre expresses its deepest shock and is outraged by these bogus trials and the harshness of the sentences handed down on those seven Tibetans. We are extremely concerned about the eight Tibetans whom the Chinese official told are being under judicial investigation. Any prison sentence can amount to a death sentence in Tibet where torture and inhumane treatments of political prisoners is well documented. The Centre questions the transparency of the legal proceeding as trials were held behind the closed door and many of the convicted were held incommunicado and disappeared since their arbitrary detention by the law enforcement agencies.

KASHAG WELCOMES UN CHIEF'S TIBET REMARKS AND REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TO DIALOGUE

KASHAG WELCOMES UN CHIEF'S TIBET REMARKS AND REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TO DIALOGUE

The Kashag welcomes the remarks made by Mr. Ban-ki Moon, the Secretary-General of the UN, saying that "I hope the Chinese authorities will continue to resolve all these issues through dialogue. The dialogue started some time ago between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government. I hope this will continue in a sincere manner so that all the concerns coming from Tibet will be resolved smoothly and harmoniously."

These forthright remarks by the Secretary General of the world body indicate the concerns of the international community as whole on the current sad state of Tibet. We believe that such remarks will serve as an impetus for the Chinese authorities to resolve the issue of Tibet to the satisfaction of the Tibetan and the Chinese people.

At the same time, we are dismayed by the remarks made in response to the Secretary General's comments by the Chinese foreign ministry's statement saying that the door to dialogue is still open while reiterating many pre-conditions that make it impossible for the dialogue process to move forward.

The statement said, "The key is whether the Dalai Lama examines and corrects his political stance, abandons his wrongful position on 'Tibetan independence' and genuinely matches his words with actions."

In fact, this attitude of the Chinese authorities is the real obstacle to the advancement of the dialogue process. This attitude is the one that firmly closes the door for further dialogue.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has committed himself to the Middle-Way Approach since 1979. His Holiness is not seeking Tibet's separation from China. Therefore His Holiness has no reason to correct his political stance. All his actions absolutely match his words. The whole world knows His Holiness the Dalai Lama's position of not seeking Tibetan independence for last three decades. Therefore, the PRC's assertion about wrong position on Tibetan independence is absolutely baseless and unsustainable. Their imagination about His Holiness' position on Tibetan independence shows either they want to distort His Holiness the Dalai Lama's intention for their political purpose or their lack of will to address the problem of Tibet. Nothing is farther from truth in saying that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is seeking Tibetan independence or semi-independence or independence in disguise. However, we are confident that such obvious untruthful statement can not mislead or fool the enlightened international community.

During the latest round of talks held in Beijing in November, the two envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mr. Lodi Gyari and Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, presented, at the instance of the Chinese counterpart during the earlier meeting, a memorandum on genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people. The memorandum puts forth the Tibetan position on genuine autonomy and how the specific needs of the Tibetan nationality for autonomy and self-government can be met through application of the principles on autonomy of the constitution of the People's Republic of China. On this basis, His Holiness the Dalai Lama felt confident that the basic needs of the Tibetan nationality can be met through genuine autonomy within the constitution of the PRC. Now that the memorandum has been made public, any sensible person can verify from the document whether His Holiness the Dalai Lama is seeking independence or semi-independence or independence in disguise.

This is to reiterate that we are sincere in our commitment to the dialogue process and are serious that the issue of Tibet be resolved within the framework of the Chinese constitution for the benefit of both Tibetans and Chinese people. Therefore, we are always ready to have dialogue with PRC at anytime, anywhere if the PRC authorities wish to do so.


December 18, 2008
Dharamsala


--------------------------------------------------------
Tsewang Phuntso
Liaison Officer - Latin America
OFFICE OF TIBET
241 East 32nd Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 213 5010 extn. 11

To learn more about Tibet and the Tibetan culture in Spanish language, subscribe our quarterly newsletter, "Noticias del Tibet" or visit our website, www.tibetoffice.org/sp

2008-12-04

Dalai Lama's address to European Parliament

Your Excellency, Mr. President, Honorable Members of the Parliament, ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is a great honour to speak before you today and I thank you for your invitation. Wherever I go, my main interest or commitment is in the promotion of human values such as warm heartedness – this is what I consider the key factor for a happy life at the individual level, family level and community level. In our modern times, it seems that insufficient attention is paid to these inner values. Promoting them is therefore my number one commitment.
           
My second interest or commitment is the promotion of inter-religious harmony. We accept the need for pluralism in politics and democracy, yet we often seem more hesitant about the plurality of faiths and religions. Despite their different concepts and philosophies, all major religious traditions bear the same messages of love, compassion, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. They are also similar in having the potential to help human beings lead happier lives. So these two are my main interests and commitments.
 
Of course the issue of Tibet is also of particular concern to me and I have a special responsibility to the people of Tibet, who continue to place their hope and trust in me during this most difficult period in the history of Tibet. The welfare of the Tibetan people is my constant motivation and I consider myself to be their free spokesperson in exile.
 
The last time I had the privilege to address the European Parliament (EP), on October 24, 2001, I stated, “despite some development and economic progress, Tibet continues to face fundamental problems of survival. Serious violations of human rights are widespread throughout Tibet and are often the result of policies of racial and cultural discrimination. Yet, they are only the symptoms and consequences of a deeper problem. The Chinese authorities view Tibet’s distinct culture and religion as the source of threat of separation. Hence as a result of deliberate policies an entire people with its unique culture and identity are facing the threat of extinction".
 
Since March this year, Tibetans from all walks of life and across the entire Tibetan plateau demonstrated against the oppressive and discriminatory policies of the Chinese authorities in Tibet. With full awareness of the imminent danger to their lives, Tibetans from all across Tibet known as Cholka-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo), young and old, men and women, monastic and lay people, believer and non-believers, including students, came together to spontaneously and courageously express their anguish, dissatisfaction and genuine grievances at the policies of the Chinese government. I have been deeply saddened by the loss of life, both Tibetan and Chinese, and immediately appealed to the Chinese authorities for restraint. Since the Chinese authorities have blamed me for orchestrating the recent events in Tibet, I have made repeated appeals for an independent and respected international body to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter, including inviting them to Dharamsala, India. If the Chinese government has any evidence to support such serious allegations, they must disclose it to the world.
 
Sadly, the Chinese authorities have resorted to brutal methods to deal with the situation in Tibet, despite appeals by many world leaders, NGOs and personalities of international standing to avoid violence and show restraint. In the process, a large number of Tibetans have been killed, thousands injured and detained. There are many whose fate remains completely unknown.  Even as I stand here before you, in many parts of Tibet there is a huge presence of armed police and military. In many areas Tibetans continue to suffer under a state of de-facto martial law. There is an atmosphere of angst and intimidation. Tibetans in Tibet live in a constant state of fear of being the next to be arrested. With no international observers, journalists or even tourists allowed into many parts of Tibet, I am deeply worried about the fate of the Tibetans. Presently, the Chinese authorities have a completely free hand in Tibet. It is as though Tibetans face a death sentence, a sentence aimed at wiping out the spirit of the Tibetan people.
 
Many honorable members of the EP are well aware of my consistent efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibet problem through dialogue and negotiations. In this spirit, in 1988 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg I presented a formal proposal for negotiations that does not call for separation and independence of Tibet. Since then, our relations with the Chinese government have taken many twists and turns. After an interruption of nearly 10 years, in 2002 we re-established direct contact with the Chinese leadership. Extensive discussions have been held between my envoys and representatives of the Chinese leadership. In these discussions we have put forth clearly the aspirations of the Tibetan people. The essence of my Middle Way Approach is to secure genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the scope of the Constitution of the PRC.
 
During the seventh round of talks in Beijing on 1st and 2nd July this year, the Chinese side invited us to present our views on the form of genuine autonomy. Accordingly, on 31st October 2008 we presented to the Chinese leadership the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People. Our memorandum puts forth our position on genuine autonomy and how the basic needs of the Tibetan nationality for autonomy and self-government can be met. We have presented these suggestions with the sole purpose of making a sincere effort to address the real problems in Tibet. We were confident that given goodwill, the issues raised in our memorandum could be implemented.
 
Unfortunately, the Chinese side has rejected our memorandum in its totality, branding our suggestions as an attempt at “semi-independence” and “independence in disguise” and, for that reason, unacceptable. Moreover, the Chinese side is accusing us of "ethnic cleansing" because our memorandum calls for the recognition of the right of autonomous areas "to regulate the residence, settlement and employment or economic activities of persons who wish to move to Tibetan areas from other parts of the PRC."
 
We have made it clear in our memorandum that our intention is not to expel non-Tibetans. Our concern is the induced mass movement of primarily Han, but also some other nationalities, into many Tibetan areas, which in turn marginalizes the native Tibetan population and threatens Tibet’s fragile natural environment. Major demographic changes that result from massive migration will lead to the assimilation rather than integration of the Tibetan nationality into the PRC and gradually lead to the extinction of the distinct culture and identity of the Tibetan people.
 
The cases of the peoples of Manchuria, Inner Mongolia and East Turkestan in the PRC are clear examples of the devastating consequences of a massive population transfer of the dominant Han nationality upon the minority nationalities. Today, the language, script and culture of the Manchu people have become extinct. In Inner Mongolia today, only 20% are native Mongolians out of a total population of 24 millions.
 
Despite the assertions by some hard-line Chinese officials to the contrary, from the copies of our memorandum made available to you it is clear that we have sincerely addressed the concerns of the Chinese government about the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC. The memorandum is self-explanatory. I would welcome your comments and suggestions.
 
I take this opportunity to appeal to the European Union and the Parliament to use your good offices, sparing no efforts, to persuade the Chinese leadership to resolve the issue of Tibet through earnest negotiations for the common good of the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
 
While I firmly reject the use of violence as a means in our struggle, we certainly have the right to explore all other political options available to us. In the spirit of democracy, I called for a Special Meeting of Tibetans in exile to discuss the state of Tibetan people and the state of the issue of Tibet and the future course of our movement. The meeting took place from November 17-22, 2008 in Dharamsala, India. The failure of the Chinese leadership to respond positively to our initiatives has reaffirmed the suspicion held by many Tibetans that the Chinese government has no interest whatsoever in any kind of mutually acceptable solution. Many Tibetans continue to believe that the Chinese leadership is bent on the forceful and complete assimilation and absorption of Tibet into China. They therefore call for the complete independence of Tibet. Others advocate the right to self-determination and a referendum in Tibet. Despite these different views, the delegates to the Special Meeting unanimously resolved to empower me to decide the best approach, in accordance with the prevailing situation and the changes taking place in Tibet, China and the wider world. I will study the suggestions made by about 600 leaders and delegates from Tibetan communities around the world, including views we are able to gather from a cross section of Tibetans in Tibet.
 
I am a staunch believer in democracy. Consequently, I have consistently encouraged Tibetans in exile to follow the democratic process. Today, the Tibetan refugee community may be among the few refugee communities that have established all three pillars of democracy: legislature, judiciary and executive. In 2001, we took another great stride in the process of democratization by having the chairman of the Kashag (cabinet) of the Tibetan Administration in exile elected by popular vote.
 
I have always maintained that ultimately the Tibetan people must be able to decide the future of Tibet. As Pundit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, stated in the Indian Parliament on December 7, 1950: “The last voice in regard to Tibet should be the voice of the people of Tibet and nobody else.”
 
The issue of Tibet has dimensions and implications that go well beyond the fate of six million Tibetans. Tibet is situated between India and China. For centuries Tibet acted as a peaceful buffer zone separating the two most populated countries on earth. However, in 1962, only a few years after the so-called “peaceful liberation of Tibet” the world witnessed the first ever war between the two Asian giants. This clearly shows the importance of a just and peaceful resolution of the Tibet question in ensuring lasting and genuine trust and friendship between the two most powerful nations of Asia. The Tibetan issue is also related to Tibet’s fragile environment, which scientists have concluded, has an impact on much of Asia involving billions of people. The Tibetan plateau is the source of many of Asia’s greatest rivers. Tibet’s glaciers are the earth’s largest ice mass outside the Poles. Some environmentalists today refer to Tibet as the Third Pole. And, if the present warming trend continues the Indus River might dry up within the next 15-20 years. Furthermore, Tibet’s cultural heritage is based on Buddhism’s principle of compassion and non-violence. Thus, it concerns not just the six million Tibetans, but also the over 13 million people across the Himalayas, Mongolia and in the Republics of Kalmykia and Buryat in Russia, including a growing number of Chinese brothers and sisters who share this culture, which has the potential to contribute to a peaceful and harmonious world.
 
My maxim has always been to hope for the best and to prepare for the worst. With this in mind, I have counseled the Tibetans in exile to make more rigorous efforts in educating the younger generation of Tibetans, in strengthening our cultural and religious institutions in exile with the aim of preserving our rich cultural heritage, and in expanding and strengthening the democratic institutions and civil society among the Tibetan refugee community. One of the main objectives of our exile community is to preserve our cultural heritage where there is the freedom to do so and to be the free voice of our captive people inside Tibet. The tasks and challenges we face are daunting. As a refugee community, our resources are naturally limited. We Tibetans also need to face the reality that our exile may last for a longer time. I would therefore be grateful to the European Union for assistance in our educational and cultural endeavors.
 
I have no doubt that the principled and consistent engagement of the EP with China will impact the process of change that is already taking place in China. The global trend is towards more openness, freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. Sooner or later, China will have to follow the world trend. In this context, I wish to commend the EP for awarding the prestigious Sakharov Prize to the Chinese human rights defender Hu Jia. It is an important signal as we watch China rapidly moving forward. With its newfound status, China is poised to play an important leading role on the world stage. In order to fulfill this role, I believe it is vital for China to have openness, transparency, rule of law and freedom of information and thought. There is no doubt that the attitudes and policies of members of the international community towards China will impact the course of the change taking place in China as much as domestic events and developments.
 
In contrast to the continued extremely rigid attitude of the Chinese government towards Tibet, fortunately among the Chinese people – especially among the informed and educated Chinese circles – there is a growing understanding and sympathy for the plight of the Tibetan people. Although my faith in the Chinese leadership with regard to Tibet is becoming thinner and thinner, my faith in the Chinese people remains unshaken. I have therefore been advising the Tibetan people to make concerted efforts to reach out to the Chinese people. Chinese intellectuals openly criticized the harsh crackdown of Tibetan demonstrations by the Chinese government in March this year and called for restraint and dialogue in addressing the problems in Tibet. Chinese lawyers offered publicly to represent arrested Tibetan demonstrators at trials. Today, there is growing understanding, sympathy, support and solidarity among our Chinese brothers and sisters for the difficult situation of the Tibetans and their legitimate aspirations. This is most encouraging. I take this opportunity to thank the brave Chinese brothers and sisters for their solidarity.
 
I also thank the European Parliament for the consistent display of concern and support for the just and non-violent Tibetan struggle. Your sympathy, support and solidarity have always been a great source of inspiration and encouragement to the Tibetan people, both in and outside of Tibet. I would like to express special thanks to the members of the Tibet Inter-Group of the EP, who have made the tragedy of the Tibetan people not only a focus of their political work but also a cause of their hearts. The many resolutions of the EP on the issue of Tibet have helped greatly to highlight the plight of the Tibetan people and to raise the awareness of the issue of Tibet amongst the public and in governments here in Europe, and all around the world
 
The consistency of the European Parliament’s support for Tibet has not gone unnoticed in China. I regret where this has caused some tensions in EU-China relations. However, I wish to share with you my sincere hope and belief that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond mistrust to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and recognition of common interest – irrespective of the current very grim situation inside Tibet and the deadlock in the dialogue process between my envoys and the Chinese leadership. I have no doubt that your continued expressions of concern and support for Tibet will, in the long run, have a positive impact and help create the necessary political environment for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet. Your continued support is, therefore, critical.
 
I thank you for the honor to share my thoughts with you.

ADDRESS TO THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

By His Holiness The Dalai Lama XIV

Brussels, 4 December 2008

New York Times editorial: Beijing’s Blind Spot

Despite rising calls for Tibetan independence, nearly 600 Tibetan exiles from Buddhist monasteries and the diaspora in India, Europe and America have wisely reaffirmed the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” of nonviolence toward China and autonomy for Tibet. China’s leaders are unwisely refusing to seriously pursue a compromise.

Tibetans, especially younger Tibetans, are increasingly frustrated. Eight rounds of talks since 2002 between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Chinese officials have yielded no progress. Beijing has invested heavily to improve the quality of life in Tibet. But it continues to restrict Tibetans’ rights, while seeking to dilute their power by encouraging Han Chinese to migrate to the region.

During the latest round of talks, the Tibetans offered a memorandum that proposes to protect Tibet’s culture, religious and educational traditions within the autonomy provisions of China’s Constitution.

Beijing spurned the memorandum, and it continues to claim that the Dalai Lama’s real plan is to break Tibet away from China. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly endorsed autonomy. And the memorandum could not have been plainer: “We remain firmly committed not to seek separation or independence.”

In an interview this summer with Nicholas D. Kristof, a Times columnist, the Dalai Lama made clear his acquiescence to another of Beijing’s demands — that Tibet accept the socialist system under Communist Party rule. If China’s leaders doubt his sincerity, they should test him with good-faith negotiations.

Time is running out. Anti-Chinese riots in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in March showed that many Tibetans already have lost all patience. According to official Chinese reports, 18 civilians and one policeman died in a rampage that burned 120 houses and looted nearly 1,400 shops. Exile groups say Chinese security forces killed scores of Tibetans in the crackdown that followed. Governments and organizations around the world protested Beijing’s brutality and obstinacy.

Beijing remains obstinate. China has now called off a summit with the European Union, scheduled for Monday, after the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, made clear that he planned to meet with the Dalai Lama later in the week.

It is in Beijing’s clear interest to pursue serious negotiations while the revered, 73-year-old Dalai Lama is still able to persuade his followers to accept a peaceful compromise. Instead, China’s leaders seem to be betting that the problem will go away when the Dalai Lama dies. That is a cynical and dangerous gamble.

November 27, 2008


LETTER
China and Tibet
To the Editor:


In “Beijing’s Blind Spot” (editorial, Nov. 27), you wonder why China’s rulers will not accept the Dalai Lama’s “middle way,” which seems so obviously “in Beijing’s clear interest,” since many Tibetans, especially among the young, would be more radical.

You would certainly be right to say the Dalai Lama’s offer is in the interests of the Chinese people as a whole. But the interests of Beijing’s rulers need to be looked at differently. If any one of them were to appear “weak” on the issue of “splitting the motherland,” he could be attacked by rivals and suffer a loss of power. Hence none are willing to.

Moreover, for the ruling group as a whole, trouble with the Dalai Lama is not entirely a bad thing. In recent years Chinese people having been protesting in increasing numbers over corruption, land seizures, environmental destruction, a growing gap between rich and poor, and other issues that specifically raise questions about the government’s performance.

For the government to be able to make an issue of the “jackal-hearted” Dalai Lama who would split the motherland not only diverts attention from these complaints but also positions the rulers as heroes of Chinese nationalism.

Eyewitnesses to the Lhasa riots last March noted a strange “hands off”’ posture of the police during the first half day of the disturbances. During those same hours, though, journalists from the government-controlled media were making videotapes of rioting “splittists,” and the tapes were then shown around the clock on television, in every corner of China, for several days to follow.

There are reasons China’s rulers do these things, but it is hard to call them a blind spot.

Perry Link
Riverside, Calif., Nov. 27, 2008

The writer is professor emeritus of Chinese studies at Princeton University and is now at the University of California at Riverside.

2008-12-03

Communique of the Special International Tibet Support Groups Meeting

The Special International Tibet Support Groups Meeting, held in India, the second home of the Tibetan people, concluded today with a strong call to action, condemnation of the PRC’s intransigent approach on Tibet, and an expression of solidarity with the Tibetan people at a time of crisis.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama had asked Tibet supporters attending the Special International TSG Meeting, called by the Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India, to “provide suggestions to our elected leadership on the best possible course for the realisation of the Tibetan people’s fundamental aspirations”. The gathering followed the Special General Meeting of the Tibetan People held in Dharamsala, base of the Tibetan government in exile, from 17-22 November.

The Special TSG meeting opened with one minute’s silence for those who have died in Tibet, particularly since the uprising from 10 March 2008 onwards, and for those killed in the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

More than 100 delegates from over 30 countries expressed a sense of urgency due to the brutal crackdown in Tibet and the Chinese government’s recent propaganda offensive following talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives. Continued commitment to a non-violent approach and support for the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination was agreed.

Outrage was expressed at the Chinese government’s hardline stance against the Dalai Lama, with particular reference to lack of progress in talks with Chinese officials. Participants pledged to support Tibetans in seeking a new framework for engagement. They welcomed the fact that the Memorandum of Genuine Autonomy had been made public by the Dalai Lama’s representatives prior to the Special Meeting in Dharamsala in November.

During lively and intense debate, many delegates pressed for the Tibetan government in exile to reassess the Middle Way approach (which currently seeks genuine autonomy within the framework of the PRC) in favour of independence if there is no substantive improvement in the Tibetans’ situation in the near future and sincere engagement from the Chinese side.

Delegates to the Special International TSG Meeting reaffirmed their commitment to putting the needs and wishes of Tibetans in Tibet first. They expressed heartfelt admiration for the great courage of the Tibetan people in their peaceful resistance across the plateau since March. The protests are a rejection by the Tibetan people of Chinese rule in Tibet, expressing a resentment that has built up over nearly 60 years since China’s invasion and reached a breaking point. Through their dissent, Tibetans are conveying the message that the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile represent their interests, and not the Chinese government. The meeting expressed profound concern over the continuing suffering of the Tibetan people, now under de facto martial law, and the delegates’ solidarity with political prisoners and the families of the hundreds of disappeared.

The meeting welcomed the recent Special General Meeting of the Tibetan People, which provided opportunities for diverse opinions from the Tibetan community to be openly expressed and discussed. This was an important democratic forum that should be continued in order to strengthen Tibetan institutions and civil society in exile. Delegates noted that while the meeting was held in exile, efforts were made to ascertain the views of Tibetans in Tibet, despite an intense climate of fear and Chinese government restrictions. The Special General Meeting re-affirmed the solidarity of Tibetans from across the Tibetan plateau, just as Tibetans in Tibet from all three provinces (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo) have demonstrated strong unity in their assertions of Tibetan national, cultural and religious identity.

Delegates highlighted the 21st century relevance to the world of the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual tradition and culture, especially in terms of offering alternative ways forward for conflict resolution.

The meeting re-affirmed TSG recognition of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile as the pre-eminent and legitimate representatives of the Tibetan people. Delegates agreed to continue to work to achieve formal recognition of the Tibetan government in exile in the international community.

Delegates recognised the importance of preserving the institution of the Dalai Lama, and acknowledged that the Dalai Lama’s leadership extends to millions of Buddhists worldwide and peoples of many different countries in the Himalayas, Mongolia and beyond.

Delegates agreed to intensify their efforts in order to bring an end to the injustices in Tibet. Advocacy work with stake-holder governments in the region was discussed, including protection of vulnerable Tibetans in Nepal at a time when the Chinese government has stepped up its influence in the region. Tibet is of tremendous geopolitical significance. Delegates also agreed that awareness must be raised, particularly in Asia as a matter of urgency, about Tibet’s critical importance as the earth’s ‘third pole’ and a watershed of Asia’s great rivers affecting millions of people.

It was noted that the Chinese political campaigns have led to further unrest and increased tensions between Chinese and Tibetans. There is a risk that this could intensify further in the build-up to the 50th anniversary of the 10th March uprising in 2009. There was particular commitment at the meeting for developing new strategies for targeted outreach to the Chinese people, particularly given the upsurge in anti-Tibetan sentiment and Chinese nationalism as a result of distorted representations of the situation in Tibet by the Chinese government.

Specific suggestions and recommendations on advocacy, monitoring, campaign action, Chinese outreach and the dialogue process will be presented to the Tibetan government in exile following the meeting.

Monday, 1 December 2008, 12:15 p.m.

2008-11-17

What Tibet Wants - The Dalai Lama asks his followers to chart their own course

2008.11.16 Wall Street Journal Asia. As leaders of the Tibetan exile community convene in Dharamsala, India this week to discuss Tibet's future, their task is not easy. Seven months after protests across the Tibetan plateau, Lhasa remains under military lockdown; the Tibetan community abroad has grown more deeply divided; and the Sino-Tibetan dialogue is in tatters.

Yesterday the Tibetan government in exile released its "Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People." The memo was presented to Beijing during the latest round of formal negotiations earlier this month. It lays out in unprecedented detail the Dalai Lama's vision for an autonomous Tibet and explains how these aspirations fit within the scope of the Chinese constitution.

The memo promises that the Tibetan government in exile will be dissolved once an agreement is reached and says the Dalai Lama will not seek political office. It advocates more autonomy for the Tibetan regional government, and pledges not to expel non-Tibetans. In response, Beijing called the document a disguised plan for independence with one official saying the Dalai Lama was intent on "ethnic cleansing." Such vitriol is not encouraging to those who advocate more compromise.

The Dalai Lama's peaceful "Middle Way" policy has failed to improve the situation inside Tibet. A growing number of Tibetans believe a less conciliatory position would improve their negotiating power; some advocate full independence or orchestrated campaigns of nonviolent "noncooperation" inside Tibet.

A stronger stance would carry risks. Not least, it would make it harder for the international community to support Tibet. One glimmer of encouragement on that score has recently come from Europe, where French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the EU Parliament announced they will meet the Dalai Lama next month.

For the moment, it looks like China is winning in what is essentially a waiting game. Beijing is betting that when the Dalai Lama, 73, passes away, the Tibetan community will be divided and weak. Meanwhile, Han Chinese continue to stream into the Tibetan plateau, and Tibetan children are being educated in Mandarin and groomed for assimilation.

As the Dalai Lama meets with his followers this week, we hope Beijing will be listening -- and will realize that that his vision for an autonomous Tibet within China's borders is the best path to a peaceful solution.

2008-11-07

Repression continues in Tibet, foreign media still unable to investigate

Reporters Without Borders deplores the Chinese government’s lack of goodwill towards foreign journalists trying to visit Tibet and its repressions of Tibetans who dare to talk about what has happened to them. A Tibetan monk, for example, was arrested three days ago after speaking openly in a video and answering a foreign journalist’s questions about the torture he underwent in prison.

“The simple fact that the freedom of movement and freedom to interview granted to foreign journalists are not been applied in Tibet shows that a state of exception still exists in the province,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The foreign journalists who have managed to get into Tibet confirm that a heavy military and police presence has imposed a climate of fear for most Tibetans. The news blackout is designed to prevent journalists from carrying out an independent evaluation of the toll from last March’s unrest.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We above all urge the Chinese government to allow foreign journalists to travel freely to Tibet. The government must also, as a matter of urgency, release all Tibetans held for expressing their views or for providing information about the situation in the province.”

Jigme Guri, a Buddhist monk at Labrang monastery (in Gansu province) was arrested by about 50 police and soldiers on 4 November after recording a video in which he spoke openly about the torture to which he was submitted after being arrested in March. He also answered an Associated Press reporter’s questions in September, explaining how he was hung by his arms and beaten to make him confess to leading the March protests in Labrang. The authorities have not provided any information about him since his second arrest.

The Chinese authorities announced on 17 October that rules allowing foreign journalists freedom of movement and freedom to interview would remain in force. But these rules do not apply to the Tibetan region, which the press can only visit after obtaining the agreement of the local authorities. Very few of such permits are given to foreign reporters.

In August, Agence France-Presse reporters tried to visit the Tibetan region of Garze, in Sichuan province, where soldiers had opened fire on demonstrators a short while before. They managed to get as far as Kangding, but it proved impossible to continue to Garze. On the instructions of the authorities, all drivers were refusing to take foreigners there. The reporters saw a significant military presence in both the cities and the countryside, and strict police control around Buddhist temples.

There are many police controls around Tibet and provinces with a Tibetan population, as well as around the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, where a permit has to be obtained in order to travel to Shigatse or Gyantse.

No foreign journalist has been able to cover the trials of Tibetans accused of participating in the March riots. According to a recent statement by a Chinese official, at least 55 people have been given prison sentences.

Several foreign journalists have told Reporters Without Borders it has become much harder to work in Tibet since the riots. “Far fewer people dare to talk now,” said a European journalist who went to Tibet in August.” “And investigating what happened in March is an ordeal. You can read the fear on their faces.” Like the other journalists, she travelled to Tibet on tourist visa.

“The massive army and police presence and the cameras installed in many parts of the city create a general feeling of mistrust and paranoia,” another European reporter said. “The Tibetans know they are taking a big risk if they talk to a foreigner.”

A journalist who recently returned from Lhasa said: “Many of the people living in Lhasa are convinced there are microphones and cameras at street corners, in the shops and in taxis. Everyone is suspected of being an informer so they avoid answering questions. People are less afraid in the rural areas.”

She added: “Some monasteries are almost empty. It is easy to see that certain monks and guards are there to keep you under surveillance. They try to prevent direct conversations with foreigners.”

Tibetan writer and blogger Woeser also described this climate of fear during a visit to Lhasa in August, before she was arrested and forced to leave Tibet.

Although some Internet caf├ęs in Lhasa allow foreigners to visit them, websites such as Facebook are often inaccessible. A Tibet specialist living in France said Tibetan online chat forums are much less active since then March events.

It has meanwhile been reported that Ludrup Phuntsok, a 23-year-old monk living at Achog Tsenyi monastery in Ngaba, was sentenced on 28 October to 13 years in prison for helping to edit the book “Mahseng Zhedra.” Three other monks at the same monastery received prison sentences for unknown reasons. Documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen and local TV presenter Washu Rangjong are still being held without trial.

2008-11-06

Alice Walker to Obama References His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Open letter from Alice Walker to Barack Obama
TheRoot.com
November 6th, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely.

However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,

Alice Walker

2008-11-05

The Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure seeks Nominees

The Rowell Legacy Committee is currently accepting nominations for The Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure which will honor that adventurer whose artistic passion illuminates the wild places of the world, and whose accomplishments significantly benefit both the environment and the people who inhabit these lands and regions. Nominations will be accepted from now through December 31, 2008 and can be sent via email, fax or regular mail. The $15,000 annual cash award will be presented to an individual selected by a panel of active and influential members of the outdoor adventure world at the annual Rowell Lecture Series in spring 2009 at an event in San Francisco. This event is co-presented by The Yosemite Fund and the Commonwealth Club of California. For more information about the Rowell Award and to obtain a nomination form, please visit www.rowellaward.com.

In August 2002, famed adventurers, writers and photographers of wild places Galen and Barbara Rowell died tragically in a plane crash near their home in Bishop, California.. The Rowell Legacy Committee was formed to commemorate the lives and preserve the spirit of the Rowells. Its hope is that Galen and Barbara’s work and the award will inspire in others the love of the human experience in the environment and the desire to protect the wild and special places on our planet. The Committee is excited to present this unique award to an individual who exemplifies the hallmarks of Galen and Barbara – adventure, art and giving back.

The Rowell Legacy Committee Honorary Chairs include: Conrad Anker, Tom Brokaw, Greg Mortenson, Rick Ridgeway and Erik Weihenmayer.

The Rowell Award Judging Panel includes: Conrad Anker, Richard Blum, Dick Dorworth, Frans Lanting, Doug McConnell, Chris McNamara, Duane Raleigh, Corey Rich, Nicole Rowell Ryan, and Steven Werner.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2008

Media Contact:
Brian Thysell, Director
The Rowell Award
c/o The Yosemite Fund
155 Montgomery St., Suite 1104
San Francisco, CA 94104
415-434-1782, ext. 329
brian@rowellaward.com

2008-10-29

Olympics campaign report - SF Team Tibet

The 2008 Beijing Olympics offered a rare opportunity for Tibetans and human rights activists to shine a spotlight on the Chinese government's illegal, unjust occupation of Tibet that has lasted over 50 years. San Francisco (SF) was the sole United States stop on the Beijing Olympic torch relay, with the flame set to pass through on April 9, 2008. This gave San Francisco Team Tibet (SF Team Tibet), a coalition of five California-based Tibetan organizations, an opportunity to galvanize local and international Tibetans, supporters, and San Franciscans and oppose it.

Leaders of SF Team Tibet include: Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC) President Ngodup Tsering and Secretary Tsering Gyurmey; San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (SFRTYC) President Tenzin Dasang and Vice President Youtso Tenzin; Students for Free Tibet (SFT) Board Member Yangchen Lhamo and Regional Coordinator Tenzin Seldon; Committee of 100 for Tibet (C100) President Giovanni Vassallo and Board Member Geoff Lewis; and the Bay Area Friends of Tibet (BAFoT) Secretary Barbara Green and others teamed up to lead the historic San Francisco campaign opposing the Beijing Olympic Torch.

On August 7, 2008, SF Team Tibet led a protest rally and march. It began at the SF Civic Center Plaza facing San Francisco City Hall. Tibetans called on the Chinese government to end its egregious human rights abuses in Tibet and to resolve the issue of Tibet through earnest negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. SF Team Tibet called on Mayor Gavin Newsom, to say “No” to Beijing’s torch, so long as the Chinese government continued its brutal reign in Tibet. Video of the demonstration is available at youtube1 .

SF Team Tibet organizers delivered a letter to Mayor Newsom’s office. It informed him that an Olympic torch under the auspices of the Chinese government “does not represent any values consistent with those of the city of San Francisco, “It went on to explain that:

“There is a brutal repression still going on to clamp down on freedom of opinion and expression in Tibet. Olympics are China's excuse to further harass, arrest, intimidate, coerce and beat Tibetans and human rights dissidents into silence…Your welcoming of the Olympic torch would suggest ... that you are ready to turn your back on a unique opportunity to promote legitimate international concerns and ... take a stand for justice in Tibet and China".

They marched about another mile to Chinese consulate and held a press conference. Deyden Tethong, of SFT, spoke at the event. Laurel Sutherlin, who had been arrested and released by the Chinese government for assisting SFT demonstrators on Mount Everest earlier that year, also spoke. SF Team Tibet was not going to allow the Chinese government to promote its propaganda.

TIBETAN UPRISING DAY

Every year Tibetan and Tibet supporters gather to Tibetan National Uprising Day and the 1.2 million Tibetans killed due to the occupation of Tibet. This year, SF Team Tibet used the anniversary to protest the SF Olympic torch relay. 300 members of SF Team Tibet gathered and a large Tibetan flag unfurled over the flight of white stone steps leading into SF City Hall and they held a portrait of the Dalai Lama above the crowd next to banners saying "Olympics in China, Torture in Tibet," and "Truth is our only weapon." They pleaded for the Mayor’s help and urged city officials to pass a resolution calling on China to improve conditions for Tibetans in their homeland.

The public was informed of the plan to line the April 9 Olympic torch route to protest. News helicopters flew overhead as the community gathered that evening for a candle light vigil at Union Square, in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district.

FREE SPEECH RESTRICTIONS?

On March 12, the SF Chronicle reported that there was “tense times between Beijing and city officials over the possibility of protests along the torch route, especially after a "Free Tibet" rally outside City Hall...” It also reported that the city would restrict free speech during the Olympic torch rally that “despite grumblings from China, the city will provide "free speech" zones at both the opening and closing ceremonies.”

SF is often remembered as a great city for promoting human values such as human rights and civil rights. Unbelievably, city officials considered suppressing the voices of dissent or restricting free speech along the torch. News of this plan caused outrage throughout SF amongst those concerned. Was the long arm of China’s government attempting to influence local SF policy and silence Tibet’s legitimate expression of concern for justice? Tibet groups had long been denied permits to use Civic Center Plaza and had been told that all the large SF gathering squares were on hold for the Mayor’s office. A March 18th, a SF Chronicle editorial pointed out that the planned intrusion of free speech rights were “undeserved,” and that “Beijing may like these plans, but why should San Francisco?”

CRISIS IN TIBET SPURS RALLIES

In March 2008, Tibetans in Tibet took part in the biggest protests in decades in all three Tibetan provinces of Amdo, Kham, and U-Tsang. SF Team Tibet organizers immediately supported the peaceful protestors, condemned the use of unwarranted force against them, and vowed daily protests and nightly vigils. Starting March 17, SFRTYC led daily protests outside SF City. The Olympic torch was now the symbol of real-time oppression. Chants of “Olympics in China: Torture in Tibet,” “Human Rights – In Tibet” “Reject China's bloody torch," and "We will never give up"— reverberated outside and around city hall every week day until the week the Olympic torch relay was held. Signatures and letters were mailed to Mayor Newsom to seek his support to cancel the torch relay. (See video youtube2 ). Organizers met almost daily and often nightly to draw up plans for and various levels of action for the torch passing.

RESOLUTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

There was an effort to pass a human rights resolution for Tibet at San Francisco City Hall in the lead up to the torch relay. SF Supervisor Chris Daly was approached to sponsor the resolution. He responded positively and he included support for other victims of China’s lack of human rights. He presented a resolution -- “commending the Tibetan Freedom Torch and the Global Human Rights Torch Relay and in their efforts to raise awareness regarding human rights violations in China and urging the San Francisco City Representatives accepting the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch to welcome the Torch in the explicit spirit of Olympism, consistent with the United Nations Charter established in this City, and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” -- to the SF Board of Supervisors. SF Team Tibet lobbied all the SF supervisors to support it.

Supervisor Carmen Chu, did not support the resolution. She chaired the venue for the first vote on the resolution on March 20, 2008. Supervisor Daly presented the legislation. Around 200 people, mostly Tibetans had a chance to provide public testimony and only about four members of the public opposed Daly’s resolution. Nevertheless, Chu produced her own resolution, which gutted any critical references to the Chinese government and commended the Beijing Olympic Torch. It passed 2 to 1 in this subcommittee and Supervisor Daly removed his name as sponsor.

Undeterred, Supervisor Daly reintroduced the original resolution to the full board and both resolutions came up for a vote on April 1, 2008 after of a huge rally on the City Hall steps. Chu’s resolution failed and Daly’s passed 8-3 and called for an international investigation of China’s recent crackdown on dissenters in Tibet and encouraged the city’s official representative at the torch festivities to accept the flame with “alarm and protest.”

Representatives of the Chinese government tried to pressure supervisors and met with Mayor in regards to the votes. They had condemned both resolutions which they said would “harm San Francisco-China relations.”

Daly later acknowledged that he had been encouraged by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strong stand against the Chinese government’s oppression of Tibetans - calling on President George Bush to boycott the opening Olympic ceremonies in Beijing. Speaker Pelosi called for vigorous protest during the torch relay.

The Mayor’s office finally released the details of torch’s route. Around 80 torch bearers would be employed for it.

SFT, TANC, and TYC members made numerous banners, placards and shirts. Volunteers organized web sites for the public, and engaged in a huge public relations campaign. Tibetan bikers rode around Berkeley and SF leafleting about the upcoming events. TANC members hosted hundreds of Tibetans who came from around the United States to attend the April 8-9 events.

MEETING MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM

Mayor Newsom finally agreed to a meeting. Ngodup Tsering, Tenzin Dasang, Barbara Green, Yangchen Lhamo and Vassallo met with him on April 3rd. They expressed concerns about Tibetan safety during the torch relay, asked him to support the Tibetan human rights resolution recently passed. He was requested to outreach to the International Olympic Committee to seek their support in canceling the scheduled torch run through Tibet. The Mayor said he would raise concerns to IOC. Later, he called for the cancellation of the Olympic torch relay in Tibet.

SF Team Tibet and the Tibet movement’s efforts finally seemed be effective. Suddenly, there was no need for permits to demonstrate along the route. The city had backed off its plan to require protesters to be caged into the free speech zones.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE ACTION FOR TIBET

On Monday April 7th three SFT demonstrators scaled cables near the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and unfurled two banners. One banner read, "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 08," a play on the official slogan of this year's Olympic Games, "One World, One Dream." The other read, "Free Tibet." It turned out that the protesters performed similar actions at Mt. Everest and later on the Great Wall of China. Laurel Sutherlin, Duane Martinez and Hannah Strange firmly established themselves as champions of Tibet.

TIBETAN FREEDOM TORCH & RALLIES

Thousands of people gathered at United Nation Plaza on the morning of April 8 to witness the Tibetan Freedom Torch (TFT) ceremony and participate in a march to City Hall and to the Chinese consulate.

A press conference was held. Speakers included Vassallo, Tenzing Chonden, North American Representative of the Parliament-in-Exile, Charles Altekruse, a former Olympian, and representatives of SF Team Tibet.

The TFT ceremony began with Opening Blessings prayers and a Dedication and Moment of Silence, followed by a welcome speech by Ngodup Tsering. Chaksampa Tibetan Dance and Opera Company then gave a vigorous performance. The TFT was introduced and it was placed in front of a picture of the Dalai Lama. Supervisor Daly and Tenzing Chonden presented Good-Luck scarves to the Dalai’s Lama’s portrait. Then Tenzin Dasang read a statement on the TFT and led the crowd in repeating an oath to continue the struggle for Tibetan freedom. This was followed by the Tibetan National Anthem. Next, a Tibetan monk released 50 white doves as a symbol of peace, one for each year Tibet has been under the Chinese occupation.

Supervisor Daly again spoke to the crowd and called on everyone to receive the torch with “alarm and protest.” Tenzing Chonden spoke again and was followed by Jamyang Norbu, a respected founder of TYC. The segment ended and thousands headed to SF City Hall.

At City Hall, Tenzin Seldon, addressed the crowd through a bull horn. She was followed by Vassallo and then the President of the SF Board of Supervisors, Aaron Peskin. Jigme Norbu, nephew of the Dalai Lama spoke more about freedom and justice for Tibet. People then moved on to march toward the Chinese Consulate.

At the Consulate, the Tibetan National Anthem was sung and people sat down on the street to listen to the speakers. Namgyal Kyulu, President of the Tibetan Association of Southern California was followed by Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of SFT and other speakers. SFT’s Tenzin Dorjee also spoke. The crowd rose to continue the march back to United Plaza and then there was another performance by Chaksampa and a tossing Tsampa (flour) in the air to propitiate the Buddhas, Gods and Goddesses, for “Peace on Earth and Victory to the Truth.”

The candlelight vigil began. Thousands braved the cold winds to stand and listen to Tibetan speakers, and later to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called on President George Bush and other leaders to not go to the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, for the sake of human rights. Actor Richard Gere, eventually flanked by Tibetan Buddhist monks echoed Desmond Tutu’s call. Thousands joined in prayers for the victims of Chinese government abuse in Tibet.

OLYMPIC FARCE

SF Team Tibet had gathered at Ferry Park and protesters were sent off in groups of 50 to be stationed along the published route. Hundreds of pro-torch demonstrators carrying extra large red Chinese national flags and were said to have been bused in by the Chinese consulate and other pro-China groups, though some said they had come of their own accord. Many protesters carried Tibetan flags and shouted slogans calling for Tibetan independence and for human rights for the country.

The rerouting of the torch from its published course has been well-publicized since April 9. Thousands of people, both the Chinese government supporters and pro-justice Tibet campaigners, Darfur and Burma activists, and others were denied the right to protest along the torch route as the Mayor had promised. The closing ceremony at Justin Herman Plaza was cancelled as thousands waited for it. After a brief opening ceremony, the torch was hidden for over 45 minutes and reappeared on Van Ness Avenue, far away from those gathered along the published torch route. Buffered by dozens of security officials and police, the torch was carried north to Bay Street and later onto a street leading to the Golden Gate Bridge. But, it turned around and headed to San Francisco International Airport for a hasty closing ceremony, bypassing tens of thousands of people.

Around noon, about 300 Tibetan protesters and Supervisor Daly had pushed past a line of police in the middle of the Embarcadero near Folsom Street, part of the torch route. The group held a 40-foot sign that read, "San Francisco says: No Torch in Tibet." They stopped the 50 passenger bus carrying six Olympic torch bearers and Chinese officials near Embarcadero and Bryant Street. Topden Tsering, Barbara Green, Vassallo, and Tenzin Dasang were amongst the protesters in front of the bus. Video shows that after the bus stopped it continued approximately another 10 feet into the crowd. This disregard for the people led Tsering and Vassallo to keep some overly emotional folks from vandalizing the bus. Nine protesters lay down in front of the bus and blocked its passage. While supporters chanted slogans, the police later removed them. (See video at video1 and video2 .) The Mayor and the Chief of Police would state to the press that the reroute was an eleventh hour decision after the bus, carrying torch bearers and Chinese officials, was stopped.

The almost total reroute was denounced by President Aaron Peskin of the SF Board of Supervisors. "Gavin Newsom runs San Francisco the way the premier of China runs his country - secrecy, lies, misinformation, lack of transparency and manipulating the populace," Peskin said. "He misled supporters and opponents of the run. People brought their families and their children, and (mayoral officials) hatched a cynical plan to please the Bush State Department and the Chinese government because of the incredible influence of money.”


Some demonstrators caught up to rerouted torch. Television footage showed one Tibetan who was dragged back by police for trying to break through the police line around the torch. Many others still managed to show their banners and wear messages on their t-shirts in clear shot of the Olympic torch.

SF Team Tibet held a victory rally at Ferry Park, adjacent near the torch relay’s cancelled closing ceremony. The people cheered after a speech by Majora Carter. Carter was an official Olympic torch bearer who pulled a Tibetan flag from her sleeve and waved it not long after officially receiving the torch. Her commitment to human rights struggle of the Tibetans was inspiring. The crowd was also presented with the bikers for Tibet who would carry the TFT down the coast of California. SFT’s Golden Gate Bridge activists received the leader’s and the people’s thanks.

The thousands of people who demonstrated April 8 and 9 may have seen the giant billboard, displayed for weeks over one of the city’s busiest freeway that called to “Stand up for Tibet.” Tibetans and San Francisco will forever be remembered in Olympics’ history as having vigorously protested and displayed tremendous alarm toward Beijing’s fake symbol of peace.

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This report also appeared in edited form in the Tibetan Association of Northern California's (TANC) annual report http://www.tccnc.net/programs/tanc_annual_report.pdf

Dalai Lama says he won't be used as excuse by China's Government

Some international media reports have suggested that the Dalai Lama has "given up" on finding a solution for Tibet and that he has lost hope for Tibet. Today the Dalai Lama's office issued a clarification, including a translated excerpt of his address, which makes it clear that the Dalai Lama believes that widespread discontentment of Chinese rule means this is a critical time for Tibet and that "it would not do for us living in the free world to remain silent or inactive – as though we are oblivious to what was happening."

The Office of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala issued a statement today (1) clarifying remarks made by the Dalai Lama on Saturday 25 October, which have been misrepresented.

The Dalai Lama's address emphasised that the "ultimate objective" and "fundamental duty" of the Tibetan people must be "to bring about a positive change inside Tibet" and to maintaining Tibet's unique national identity.

In his comments the Dalai Lama noted that in March this year the Tibetan people "courageously articulated their discontentment with – and long-simmering resentment against – the Chinese government". He continued that "there was no way for the Chinese government to altogether ignore this fact [protests in Tibet] and it should have come up with measures that were appropriate to what was happening on the ground. However it did not."

In addition to its refusal to address the political crisis in Tibet, the Dalai Lama notes that "the Chinese government has accused me of inciting the recent unrest in Tibet" and "continues to hurl abuse against me". Confronted by the Chinese government's present unbending policy of further repression in Tibet and continuing personal attacks upon himself, the Dalai Lama concludes: "I have faith and trust in the Chinese people; however, my faith and trust in the Chinese government is diminishing."

The Dalai Lama expands on his "diminishing" faith in the present stance of the Chinese government by stating that he is no longer prepared to be used as an excuse by the Chinese government for lack of progress in resolving the Tibetan issue.

Instead, the Dalai Lama indicates that it is time to review the strategy for engaging with the Chinese leadership. Referring to his "Middle-Way" approach – which accepts Chinese sovereignty over Tibet but which requires "genuine autonomy" for the Tibetan people in return – the Dalai Lama states that: "Taking these developments into account, it appears that my continuing to hold on to this position [the Middle Way] is creating obstacles to the Tibet problem, rather than helping resolve it." Stating his belief that the Tibetan issue is a matter for the entire Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama continues: "Therefore the issue of the common good of Tibet would be better decided by the Tibetan people."

The Dalai Lama has already called upon the elected Tibetan leadership to organise a special meeting where it, together with the Tibetan people, will review the strategy for engagement with the Chinese leadership over the future of Tibet. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan government in exile, between 17 and 22 November.

Reacting to the comments of the Dalai Lama, Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

"The Dalai Lama's loss of faith in the sincerity of the Chinese government to negotiate must prompt a change in policy of Western governments. Those governments have for too long praised China simply for staging the talks, regardless of whether progress was being made or not. If the international community continues to hide behind these talks instead of holding the Chinese Government accountable to a worsening human rights situation in Tibet we can only conclude that it is for reasons of political expedience. This, despite claims from Governments that human rights are fundamental 'to China's future stability and prosperity, which is in all our interest."

For further information: Matt Whitticase: +44 (0)20 7324 4605 / +44 (0)7515 788456

Notes to Editor:

(1) The clarification issued by the Dalai Lama's office today, together with the translated excerpt of his address on Sino-Tibetan relations, is available at: http://www.tibet.net/en/index.php?id=474&articletype=flash&rmenuid=morenews

Both are reproduced in full below:

Clarifications on His Holiness' Tibet Remarks in Dharamsala on 25 October 2008

During celebrations of the 48th founding anniversary of the Tibetan Children's Village on 25 October here in Dharamsala, His Holiness the Dalai Lama made some remarks on the issue of Tibet that are now being quoted out of context in some media reports. Consequently, to clarify the situation we are issuing the gist of His Holiness' remarks below as well as a separate translation of a transcript of what he really said.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that Tibetans have long been pursuing a path to find a solution to the issue of Tibet that would be mutually acceptable to Tibetans and Chinese. This has received widespread appreciation from the international community, several governments included. More importantly, it has gained the support of many Chinese intellectuals.

His Holiness went on to say that, unfortunately, the Chinese leadership has so far not responded positively to our overtures and does not seem interested in addressing the issue in a realistic way. Beginning in March this year, a series of protests and demonstrations erupted in Lhasa and in many other traditional Tibetan areas. These were clearly a spontaneous expression of the Tibetan people's deep-seated resentment and dissatisfaction over more than five decades of repressive Chinese communist rule.

Since the Chinese Government has accused His Holiness of orchestrating these protests in Tibet, he called for a thorough investigation to examine these allegations, even offering access to Central Tibetan Administration files and records here in India. So far, this offer has not been taken up, but the situation in Tibet becomes graver by the day. Therefore, His Holiness said that it is difficult for him to continue to shoulder such a heavy responsibility when the present Chinese leadership does not seem to appreciate simple truth, reason and common sense. In the absence of any positive reciprocal response from the Chinese leadership, His Holiness feels that if he cannot help find a solution, he would rather not hinder it in any way. His Holiness feels that he cannot afford to pretend that his persistent efforts to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the Tibetan problem are bearing fruit.

Therefore, on 11 September His Holiness called a special meeting of Tibetans from all parts of our community in exile to engage in wide-ranging discussions with the aim of identifying realistic and non-violent options for the future course of our struggle. His Holiness concluded that when all is said and done it is for the Tibetan people themselves to decide about their collective future.

Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dharamsala
28 October 2008


His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Sino-Tibetan Relations and the Special Meeting in November

[An Excerpt from His Address During the 48th Founding Anniversary of the Tibetan Children's Village on 25 October 2008]

Recently Tibet has witnessed a crisis. Across the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the Tibetan people courageously articulated their discontentment with — and vented their long-simmering resentment against — the Chinese government. The outburst was not just restricted to the community of monks and nuns; it included believers as well as non-believers of all ages, including Party members, students, and even those Tibetan students who are studying in Mainland China. Realistically, at that time there was no way for the Chinese government to altogether ignore this fact and it should have come up with measures that were appropriate to what was happening on the ground. However it did not. Completely ignoring Tibetan aspirations, it went ahead and cracked down upon the Tibetan protestors, calling them various and sundry names such as "Splittists", "Political Rebels".

At this critical moment when the great mass of our brothers and sisters inside Tibet have made such great sacrifices, it would not do for us living in the free world to remain silent or inactive — as though we are oblivious to what was happening in our country.

Until now, we have adopted a position that is based on an endeavour to benefit both the parties concerned. As such, it has gained the appreciation of many countries across the world, including India. Among Chinese intellectuals, in particular, there is a growing support for this approach. These are indeed victories for us. To bring about a positive change inside Tibet is not just our fundamental duty; it is also our ultimate objective. The sad reality, however, is that we have not been able to fulfil this objective. Therefore when I made my first statement to the European parliament in Strasbourg way back in 1988, I categorically mentioned that the ultimate decision with regard to the issue of Tibet would be taken by the general Tibetan public.

In 1993, direct contact between the Chinese government and us came to an end. We once again held consultations with the general Tibetan populace on the best possible way forward. It was decided, however, to continue to follow the same position as before.

The common cause of Tibet concerns the welfare of the Tibetan people as a whole. It is not at all an issue about my person. As such the Tibetan people collectively should think over the issue of the common good of Tibet and decide accordingly. Seen from a different angle, we have from the very beginning committed ourselves to treading a genuine path of democracy. On our part, we do not preach democracy and practise autocracy. So, at this critical juncture whatever suggestions, views and opinions the general Tibetan public have should be thoroughly discussed. This should be done in a manner that takes into account the best possible course for the realisation of our fundamental cause, rather than for the glorification of ideologies and policies of respective political parties or the simple articulation of different political viewpoints.

All Tibetan people — whether they belong to the laity or the ecclesiastical community — must work towards the sustenance of our national identity. Generally speaking, the sustenance of the Tibetan national identity is quite different from that of any other nations or peoples on this planet. If the Tibetan national identity is sustained well, its value systems — based as they are on the Buddhist tenets of loving kindness and compassion — have an innate quality of being beneficial for the whole of the world. Therefore, our struggle for truth is not only related to the benefit of the six million Tibetans, it is also closely related to our ability to provide a certain amount of benefit to the entire world. Our struggle for truth, thus, has reason behind it. If in the future the Tibetan struggle for truth is amicably and properly resolved, it will certainly help millions of people, including those in China, to discover new prospects for leading a healthier, more meaningful life, securing both mental and physical happiness.

On the other hand, if Tibet were to become a society that pursues only material benefit — as a result of China's complete obliteration of Tibetan religion and culture, the very basis of which is compassion — this will, instead of benefiting the Chinese people, lead to their loss in the future. Therefore, this struggle of ours is, in reality, beneficial to everyone involved. Realising this, we should think over and discuss the ways and means available to us. I am asking all of you to do so, because this is an issue that concerns the common good of all of us Tibetans.

The Chinese government has accused me of inciting the recent unrest in Tibet. As well as making direct representations to the Chinese government, I have made public appeals that Beijing should provide a detailed explanation on this matter. In these representations and appeals, I have said that they can dispatch investigating teams to Dharamsala to check the files of our departments and offices. I have also said that they can go through the recorded tapes of my speeches or statements to the new arrivals from Tibet. No investigating teams have arrived thus far. But China continues to hurl criticism against me.

Taking these developments into account, it appears that my continuing to hold on to this position is creating obstacles to the Tibet problem, rather than helping resolve it. Therefore the issue of the common good of Tibet would be better decided by the Tibetan people. There is no need for me to interfere in this.

On 11 September I reached a decision that I can no longer bear this responsibility. I see no useful purpose being served by my continuing to take up this responsibility. However, if the Chinese leadership honestly engages in talks, then I may be in a position to take up this responsibility again. I will, then, sincerely engage with them. It is very difficult to deal with people, who are not sincere. So I say this very candidly to representatives of the media: I have faith and trust in the Chinese people; however, my faith and trust in the Chinese government is diminishing.

I have called upon the elected Tibetan leadership to discuss these points at a special meeting. I feel this matter cannot be decided all at once by the convening of such an extensive meeting. The principal point, however, is that all the people should take responsibility, should take a keen interest in the matter and should come up with the ways and means, as well as practicable actions, for the realisation of our cherished goal. In other words, all Tibetans should work together in a spirit of collective responsibility to discuss the matter before us, taking into full consideration the short- and long-term benefit of the Tibetan people. However, the final or the actual decision must be made by the Tibetan people.

2008-10-28

English Translation of HHDL's statement at TCV, October 25 2008

I don’t have to reiterate, since many monks, nuns and lay people have gathered here today, and everywhere people have shown interest in the ongoing relations between China and Tibet and the ways to relate.

Earlier on September 11, 2008 (as it might be) I have mentioned both to the Kashag [Cabinet] and Tibetan Parliament that till date we have our own ways of relating with the Chinese Government. In the recent past, a crisis has occurred in Tibet. From all over the three regions, individual Tibetans have shown their deep resentment and despair with great courage—not only monks and nuns alone, but government workers, students and especially those from the Central Nationalities University in Beijing.

However, be it believer or non-believer, Tibetans, including monks and nuns, old and young, every Tibetan without differentiation has shown their resentment. During that time, I hoped that the Chinese government would investigate the reality and come up with a realistic solution, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Reality cannot be erased.

The Tibetan people have shown what they long for and they have been distortedly labeled as “splittists” and ”rebels” and were harshly repressed.

In this critical situation, Tibetans in Tibet have sacrificed so much and we cannot pretend not to know this. That’s why, till date we have maintained our political stance, and we have tried every means to benefit both sides.

Many countries, including India, have shown support to this, particularly support from Chinese intellectuals has grown over the years. That’s a victory. In reality, our responsibility and goal is to improve the situation in Tibet but this has not materialized.

Due to this, I mentioned in the European Parliament in the first Strasbourg proposal [1988] that the final decision regarding Tibet will be made by the Tibetan people. In 1993, direct relations with the Chinese Government broke down. Then we had discussions with the Tibetan people and we stood with this primary political stance.

In this critical situation, if we turn a blind eye it won’t achieve anything.

The Tibetan issue is an issue of the Tibetan people and not about me alone. That’s why the issue of Tibet should be considered and decided by the people. Secondly, ours is a true democratic system and not like the Communist government where they speak about democracy but practice autocracy. This is not the way we will ever do things.

When you enter a crucial period, you have to think, discuss and debate. It’s not about political groups defending their own positions. The point is that your actions should not be just based on your political stance. It is not a struggle between the ideologies of political groups. In turn, we have to discuss and debate on the strategies to resolve the Tibetan issue. This we have to do.

All the Tibetans have to work to keep Tibetan identity alive. This identity is different to the rest of the world because we have kindness and compassion as the basis of our nature. If we are able to keep our identity alive it will be helpful to the world and inspire admiration, which is good.

Therefore, our struggle for truth is not only for six million Tibetans. We have the capability to benefit the world. Our struggle for truth is based on reasoning, and if it is successfully resolved then it will surely help millions of Chinese to find a new way of life and one that is meaningful, with both healthy body and happy mind.

If Tibetan religion and culture based on compassion is eradicated and society becomes only concerned with money, in the future this will not help the Chinese and will be their loss.

That’s why our struggle for truth is to benefit both self and others. Now, how are we going to do it? This is why we are going to discuss on the Tibetan issue, so please discuss.

Due to the March unrest in Tibet [the Chinese government] accused me of instigating this unrest. During that period, I made a public announcement that they should come to Dharamsala and carefully investigate the files and the conversations I have had with Tibetans from Tibet that have been recorded on tape. But they did not investigate it. The only thing they do is to accuse me.

Taking this all into account, if I carry on in my position, instead of helping to resolve things, it creates an obstacle. The Tibetan issue is an issue of Tibetan people and it should be resolved by the people. I need not interfere in this. That’s why I made a decision on September 11th 2008 that I cannot hold this responsibility and don’t see a reason to carry this responsibility.

Speaking truly, I can take the responsibility because I have reasons to explain, as I have been sincere throughout. It’s difficult to talk to those who don’t belief in truth. I have clearly mentioned to the world press that I still have faith in the Chinese people, but my faith with the Chinese government is thinning. I have been saying that it’s getting difficult.

Therefore, I have requested the Kashag (office of Cabinet Ministers) and Parliament to organize this [November] Special meeting. I feel that this conference will not bring about an immediate solution. However, the Tibetan people should take collective initiative and take an interest based on the kind of long-term strategies that we should employ to resolve our struggle. The decisions will depend on the reality. That is the aim of the meeting.

[Translated by The Tibet Connection]