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4th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet

Edinburgh, Scotland 18-19 November 2005

His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama with Michael Organ MHR, Edinburgh, 19 November 2005.

The Address of Kalon Tripa Professor Samdhong Rinpoche at the 4th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet, Edinburgh, 18-19 November 2005

Dear friends,
On behalf of the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I would like to welcome and thank you all for sparing your precious time to attend this convention.

This convention comes at a critical period in the history of the Tibetan people. His Holiness the Dalai Lama often describes the present period as the one that will make or break the spirit of the Tibetan people and that of Tibet's spiritual and cultural heritage. This is because the Tibetan people are presented with new opportunities and daunting new challenges.

On the bright side, since 2002 we have managed to re-establish contacts with the Chinese authorities. On our part, we are making every effort to maintain and expand these contacts in our sincere attempt to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully on the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle-Way Approach.

The Middle-Way Approach recommends that the whole of Tibet be granted genuine autonomy. In return the six million Tibetan people will be happy to live within the constitutional framework of the People's Republic of China (PRC). This is the position of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the aspiration of the vast majority of the Tibetan people.

Harry Cohen MP, Pema Jungney, Mike Pringle MSP, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche and Chris Vallance MSP, 18 November 2005.

In order to resolve the issue of Tibet on the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle-Way Approach, the Central Tibetan Administration has made every effort within our power to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations and taken a series of confidence-building measures. We are pleased that the Chinese authorities have taken note of these positive steps. We will continue to take these steps till the issue of Tibet is resolved through a negotiated settlement.

Though Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen, a senior member of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's delegation engaged with the PRC leaders, will brief you in detail on our contacts with the PRC leadership, I would like to acknowledge the open and frank attitude of the PRC representatives. We especially appreciate the comments made by them during the last round of talks held in Berne in Switzerland in July 2005 that the PRC central leadership attached great importance to the contact with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

On our part, during the talks we have both in writing and verbally explained to the PRC leadership all the concerns raised by them. Much to the anger of the worldwide Tibet movement, the Kashag has taken the extremely unpopular decision of requesting the Tibet Support Groups, the Tibetan people in exile and NGOs to avoid provocative actions and slogans and not to engage in personally confronting the visiting Chinese leaders abroad with agitation. Much to the dismay of a section of the Tibetans, at official functions we have banned the singing of songs that fuel nationalistic anger and anti-Chinese sentiments. These are some of the measures that we have taken to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations. They are an indication of both our seriousness and sincerity in peacefully resolving the protracted issue of Tibet and in restoring to the long-suffering people of Tibet the dignity and happiness they so richly deserve.

We believe the People's Republic of China has an historic opportunity to grasp the hand of friendship extended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The ability of PRC to view His Holiness the Dalai Lama as its most effective ally and a trusted partner in its continuing search for social peace and legitimacy in Tibet will rebound enormously in enhancing China's international image. This will especially be true in the eyes of those millions in Asia whose lives and the lives of their ancestors have been enriched by Tibetan civilization and now in the eyes of millions around the world who look to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for guidance and inspiration.

We hope to accomplish this with the continuing support, guidance and commitment of our friends in the legislative bodies around the world. The fact that PRC has renewed its contacts with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is due to the counsel offered to the PRC leaders by government and legislative leaders around the world. We hope your support and commitment on this critical area of our contacts with the PRC leaders will continue.

We feel that the aspiration of the Tibetan people as articulated in the Middle-Way Approach are most reasonable and within the constitutional provision of the People's Republic of China. PRC's willingness to settle the issue of Tibet on the basis of the Middle-Way Approach will contribute to peace and stability and will enhance the image of PRC.

At this point it is important for us to clarify one fundamental nature of the Tibetan people's struggle, which is a struggle for the future of the six million Tibetan people. It is not a struggle for the restoration of the lost privileges of His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his traditional government.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that once he returns to Tibet in a manner that meets the aspirations of the majority of the Tibetan people, he would hand over his inherent powers to a duly elected local government of Tibet. Once this happens, the Central Tibetan Administration in exile would automatically be dissolved and the affairs of Tibetans will be looked after by the same Tibetan officials who are currently working in Tibet.

In his latest interview which appeared in an Indian national daily, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "When the day comes for our return with a certain degree of freedom, then I will hand over all my authority to the local Tibetan government. Hopefully, that local government should eventually be an elected government."

Kalon Tripa Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, Edinburgh, 17 November 2005.

Friends, I must once again remind you in a nutshell the objectives and the nature of our struggle. We do not perceive the problem of Tibet as an isolated problem for the Tibetan people alone or a struggle between just two nations, namely China and Tibet. The Chinese and Tibetans lived as neighbors since time immemorial. Our relations had been fluctuating all the time, as friends, as relatives, as enemies, but at no time such deep problems as we are facing for the last more than fifty years, had never happened.

The present problem, as we see it, is a symptom of a larger human malady which has perpetuated in the modern world. We will therefore have to search for the remedy also at a larger plan, at the level of all human societies. Our conflict is neither a conflict of political ideology nor for political powers. It is neither a fight for territory nor a struggle between nationalities.

The Tibetan people do not ask for either separation or a larger share of political or economic power. Our soul objective is to retain the identity of Tibetan people as non-violent society in order to preserve and promote the unique Tibetan cultural and spiritual heritage in order to share it with all human beings. The essence of the Middle-Way Approach is to achieve the required basic freedom and human dignity for all the Tibetan nationalities in order to enable them to perform efficiently their universal responsibility, which is impossible under the present situation.

If PRC authorities have a political will, our above-mentioned aspiration can be easily fulfilled by implementing the provision enshrined in the Constitution of PRC for National Regional Autonomy with all sincerity. By this the people of Tibet will be able to contribute their part for humanity and be emotionally integrated with the People's Republic of China, which will make real unity and stability for the PRC.

To achieve this objective, we are fully committed to non-violence means.

The present major problems of humanity, including problems facing PRC, are of 'Violence'. Unless the violence is eradicated, none of the human problems, national or international, can be resolved on a sustainable basis. Keeping in view the objectives and the methods mentioned above, our struggle is a struggle between truth and falsehood, justice and injustice, violence and non-violence. The world community has well recognized the nature of our movement and therefore supported it voluntarily without any expectations. In spite of that we are not yet able to convince the PRC leadership and they always accuse us and His Holiness for being "Separatist". In spite of our consistent policy of Middle-Way adopted for last 26 years, PRC continues to accuse us of being "Separatist". Sometimes, we begin to doubt that the PRC leadership wants us to remain "Separatist" and want us to continue to work for "separation" in order to meet some of their internal political requirements.

My one-pointed request to you all, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that through your legislative bodies, through your government and through the individual friends of PRC leadership, to kindly educate, persuade and encourage them to give up the unfounded doubts and suspicion upon His Holiness and his administration. And to begin a meaningful negotiation with His Holiness without losing any time.

The marginalisation of Tibetan inside Tibet, demographically, economically and politically has endangered the very survival of the Tibetan identity. Each passing day, the marginalisation increases by leaps and bounds. Therefore, time is running out. Tibet must be saved before its extinction.

In conclusion, my colleagues in the Kashag join me in expressing our deep appreciation to your presence and participation in this convention. It is an indication of your support to and solidarity with the just and non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people.

I am particulary encouraged by the strong Indian delegation from All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. In fact, the inception of the WPCT (World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet) was the brainchild of the All Parliamentary Group of the Indian Parliament in 1994. Today, when I am in your midst, the memory of the late Shri Madhu Limay comes to my mind again and over again. He took great personal interest in organising the All Party Parliamentary Group in the Indian Parliament and also in convening the first WPCT in New Delhi. I also remember the hard work done by Shri George Fernandes and Shri Mohan Singh, who were conveners of WPCT at that time.

In fact, the issue of Tibet as well as the cultural heritage of Tibet still surviving in exile is mainly due to the generous and continued support of the government and the people of India. I would urge all the participants of this Convention as well as all the sympathisers of Tibet all over the world to recognise and acknowledge it.

Jampal Choesang, Michael Organ, Mongosuthu Buthelezi MP, Michael Danby MP, Tenzin Phuntsok Atisha, 18 November 2005.

I would also like to thank the Assembly of the Tibetan People's Deputies for initiating this fourth World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet. The Central Tibetan Administration would like to express our deep appreciation to the Government of the United Kingdom for permitting us to hold this convention. We would also like to express our gratitude to both the Scottish Cross-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and the UK Parliamentary Group for Tibet for stepping in to actually organise this convention at such a short time.

{Copy of speech taken from the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration.}

The Edinburgh Declaration 2005

We, the 133 delegates to the IVth World Parliamentarian's Convention on Tibet, held in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 18 and 19 November 2005, members of 30 parliaments and associates from countries spanning all the world's continents, on behalf of ourselves and our respective parliamentary groups, have gathered to review and discuss the developments with respect to Tibet since the 3rd World Parliamentarians' Conference on Tibet (WPCT)(Washington D.C. 1997).

The Convention thanks the people of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament's Cross-Party Group on Tibet and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet as well as the City of Edinburgh for their hospitality in hosting this convention. It notes the appropriateness of holding this meeting in Scotland, given the many similarities between the genuine autonomy Tibet seeks within the People's Republic of China and the autonomous status Scotland has achieved within the United Kingdom and the UK's current Presidency of the European Union.

The Convention recalls the urgent call by the IIIrd WPCT for negotiations between the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC), on the one hand and His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, on the other, as the Dalai Lama has proposed for decades. We reiterate our strong support for the Dalai Lama's Middle Way approach to resolve the issue through negotiations in the spirit of non-violence and reconciliation. We commend the Chinese government for heeding this call by inviting the Dalai Lama's special envoys for four rounds of high-level meetings in Beijing and Berne between September 2002 and June 2005. This is a very important, encouraging and necessary development for the resolution of the question of Tibet.

However, the Convention is surprised that these meetings have been so infrequent and is concerned that the dialogue has not been accompanied by any positive changes in China's governance in Tibet, nor by any discernible improvement in the human rights conditions of Tibetans. This is especially disturbing in view of the Tibetan government's considerable efforts to persuade Tibetans and their supporters to exercise extreme restraint in order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks. In this context, we especially deplore the continued suppression of freedom of expression, culture, religious belief and practice, and the marginalization of the Tibetan language.

The Convention deplores the refusal of the Chinese government to release political prisoners, in particular the Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has been held in a secret location since 1995, when he was only 6 years old.

The Convention is seriously concerned about the continued influx of Chinese settlers into Tibet, which threatens the identity of the Tibetan people.

The Convention is deeply concerned at China's persistence in implementing the so called 'Western Development Plan', in total disregard of the wishes and concerns of the Tibetan people and despite the obvious damage this is causing to them and their environment and the clear threat its continuation poses for the survival of the distinct culture and way of life of Tibetans, including their language and religion.

The Convention is also concerned at the degradation of the natural environment of the Tibetan plateau, including the Himalayan region, exacerbated by the said development policies of China in the region.

The Convention supports the creation of a zone of ahimsa (peace and non-violence) throughout the Tibetan plateau and is convinced this would provide an important example to the rest of the world.

Consequently, the Convention

Emphatically calls on the government of the PRC to demonstrate its sincerity and seriousness in finding a negotiated solution to the question of Tibet by arranging to meet with the Dalai Lama's representatives much more frequently and to start engaging in substantive negotiations with them, without preconditions and without further delay;

Urges the Chinese government to indicate commitment to the negotiation process by making visible improvements in its policies in Tibet, in particular

Calls on President Hu Jintao to demonstrate his own commitment to resolve the issue of Tibet by meeting with the Dalai Lama as soon as possible in a mutually agreed venue;

Calls on both parties to intensify their efforts to achieve tangible results in negotiations before 2008, when the world's eyes will be turned to China and the situation in Tibet on the occasion of the Olympic Games;

Stresses the importance of worldwide parliamentary support for Tibet and decides to undertake activities to strengthen the role of parliaments and parliamentarians in this respect;

Calls on all governments and parliaments to monitor closely China's behaviour in Tibet and developments regarding negotiations with the Dalai Lama and his representatives, and to place and keep Tibet firmly on the agenda of bilateral and multilateral discussions with China;

Calls on the EU to appoint a special representative for Tibet to promote, provide assistance for and to follow negotiations between the PRC and the Tibetans, in accordance with the express demands of the European Parliament.

Commends the Tibetan government in exile for the impressive progress it has made in developing democratic institutions and processes;

Finally, the Convention decides to hold the next World Parliamentarian's Convention on Tibet prior to the 2008 Olympic Games and looks forward to reviewing the progress made at that time.

19 November 2005

His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama addresses the Convention

In his address at the closing ceremony of the 4th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his appreciation to all parliamentarians and participants for their support for the just and reasonable cause of Tibet.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "We are not seeking independence. We are seeking genuine autonomy within the constitutional framework of the People's Republic of China." His Holiness the Dalai Lama explained that once this is achieved, he will hand over his traditional powers to the local Tibetan government. His Holiness hoped that this local Tibetan government would eventually be an elected government. He said that these details need to be discussed with the Chinese authorities.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasised the importance of the preservation of the culture, which in a genuinely autonomous region will also become a part of the culture of the People's Republic of China. His Holiness believes this will enrich the culture of the People's Republic of China. His Holiness is gratified by the fact that many Chinese in the mainland are showing a higher appreciation of the value of Tibetan culture.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that this gathering of parliamentarians around the world should not be construed as an act of engaging in anti-Chinese activities. His Holiness gave the example of two hands. His Holiness said that of the two hands the right hand is considered more important, which is always extended in friendship to China. His Holiness said there is no return gesture from the Chinese. For this reason the left hand seeks the support of our friends in the international community. His Holiness also said that once the right hand is grasped by the Chinese government in friendship, the left hand will join the effort.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama also focused the attention of the participants to the importance of the protection of the environment of Tibet. His Holiness said that most of the rivers of Asia originate from Tibet and millions of people downstream depend on their livelihood on Tibetan waters.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama give an interesting anecdote about his meeting with Chairman Mao when he visited China in 1954. His Holiness said that the purpose of sending the soldiers of the People's Liberation Army and Chinese officials were to help Tibet. Chairman Mao said that once Tibet became developed, these personnel would be withdrawn. Chairman Mao also asked His Holiness whether Tibet had a flag. His Holiness responded and said yes. To this Chairman Mao said you could keep your flag and fly it along with the Chinese national flag. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said this is an indication of broad- minded thinking.

In conclusion His Holiness hoped that under Hu Jintao, who is young and smart and has experience of Tibet, the situation in Tibet will improve.

His Holiness was welcomed to the City Chamber by Mr. Harry Cohen, the President of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, and Mr. Chris Balance who read out the Edinburgh Declaration on Tibet, which will soon be posted on this website. Mrs. Dolma Gyari, the Vice-Chairperson of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies expressed the Assembly's appreciation to the two co-hosts of the convention, the organisors and most importantly to the participants of the convention.

19 November 2005

His Holiness praises China on Hu Yaobang, says Tibet convention not anti-Chinese

Edinburgh, 19 November: The two-day visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Scottish capital concluded here this evening with an address to the 4th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet that was co-hosted by the Scottish Cross Party Parliamentary Group on Tibet and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

Expressing his appreciation to all the members of parliament from across the world and other participants, His Holiness said that although some Chinese government officials may consider the convention as "anti-Chinese', in reality it is not at all anti-Chinese or anti-China. He emphasised that the Tibetan struggle is neither anti-Chinese nor anti-China and that moment the Chinese leadership show genuine understanding and a willingness to resolve the Tibet issue, there will be no need for outside support for the just Tibetan cause.

His Holiness said that China's recent attitude toward the fragile ecology of Tibet and the news to rehabilitate the late Chinese leader Hu Yaobang were positive developments.

"I admire Hu Yaobang's courage. In 1982 he visited Tibet and reduced the number of Han Chinese settlers in Tibet," His Holiness said adding that all man-made problems are created because of ignorance and lack of proper knowledge and information.

His Holiness also spoke about how the Tibetan people were implementing democratic principles of governance in exile and hoped that the present Chinese leader Hu Jintao will adopt a more realistic approach to resolve the Tibet issue.

The 4th World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet's "Edinburgh Declaration" thanked "the people of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on Tibet and the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet as well as the City of Edinburgh for their hospitality in hosting this convention." Among other points, it "called on all governments and parliaments to monitor closely China's behaviour in Tibet and developments regarding negotiations with the Dalai Lama and his representatives, and to place and keep Tibet firmly on the agenda of bilateral and multilateral discussions with China."

Earlier, His Holiness visited the Scottish Parliament where he was welcomed by Mr. Chris Ballance, Convener of the Scottish Cross Party Parliamentary Group on Tibet and other members of the Cross Party Tibet Group. Mr. Ballance said that Tibet has a significant place in the world and this is why it was important that Tibet be made a Zone of Peace as envisioned by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In the morning His Holiness spoke on the subject of "Ethics for the New Millennium" at the Usher Hall, tickets for which were sold out a long time back according to the officials of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, which with the backing of the Edinburgh City Council had organised the public event. Prof. Sheila MacLean, a distinguished academic of international standing and repute also spoke and shared the platform with His Holiness. The conversation was chaired by the Rt. Revd Richard Holloway, who is a writer/broadcaster and Chairman of the Scottish Arts Council.

His Holiness told the capacity filled audience that the best solution to solve a problem is through dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect and good motivation. He said the application of non-violent method does not have any negative side effect.

"It is common sense that war is bad. In order to achieve genuine world peace we need to develop inner disarmament as well as external disarmament,"said His Holiness, who in his book, "Ancient Wisdom, Modern World - Ethics for the New Millennium" further elaborates by saying, "Peace is not something which exists independently of us. But nor does war. It is true that certain individuals - political leaders, policy makers, army generals - do have particularly grave responsibilities in respect for peace. However, these people do not come from nowhere. Like us, they were nourished by their mother's milk and affection. They are members of our own human family and have been nurtured within the society, which we as individuals have helped create. Peace in the world thus depends on peace in the hearts of individuals. This in turn depends on all of us practicing ethics by disciplining our response to negative thoughts and emotions, and developing basic spiritual qualities."

Like the last visit to Edinburgh in June 2004, this visit of His Holiness to the Scottish capital also generated a lot of public goodwill and media attention for Tibet and the Tibetan Nobel Peace Laureate's message of peace and tolerance. At all the programme venues the atmosphere looked colourfully vibrant and festive with Tibetans, Edinburghians and others lining up the street to greet His Holiness.

Report by: Tsering Tashi, Office of Tibet, London.

19 November 2005

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