FREEDOM FOR TIBET
One of the most tragic and unresolved issues facing the world today is the political status of Tibet and the treatment of the Tibetan people. Tibet is an independent, sovereign nation, with a unique history spanning some thousands of years.
Tibet was illegally invaded by the People's Republic of China in 1949 and 1959, and the occupation continues to this day. Torture and cultural genocide is rife, and the Chinese government refuses to recognise the unique and distinctive status of Tibet and the Tibetan people. It is hoped that one day His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the government of Tibet in exile will take their place at the head of an independent Tibetan state, living in peace and harmony with their neighbours in China.
Tibetan flag at Parliament House, Canberra, Australia, 15 October 2003. Held by Australian Greens politicians - Michael Organ MHR, Senator Bob Brown and Senator Kerrie Nettle, with the Dalai Lama's representative in Australia, Tenzin Phuntsok Atisha, following a meeting of the Australia Tibet Parliamentary Group.
Australian Greens Policy on Tibet pdf
[The following policy on Tibet was adopted by the Australian Greens during 2003-4. It was prepared by Michael Organ MHR and Senator Bob Brown in consultation with the Tibet Information Office, Canberra, and the Dalai Lama's official representative in Australia Tenzin Phuntsok Atisha. The authors would encourage the adoption of similar policies by political parties around the world, and offer the following policy as a model upon which to develop such localised policies.]
Tibet refers to the whole of Tibet known as Cholka-Sum in Tibetan, which contains the three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo.
Self Determination and Democracy
1. The Greens recognise that Tibet was an independent country prior to its invasion and occupation by the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and 1959 respectively.
2. The Greens recognise as per United Nations Resolution 1723 (XVI) of 1961 that under international law Tibetans are entitled to the right of self determination.
3.The Greens support the finding of the International Commission of Jurists that under international law Tibetans are entitled to the right of self determination.
4. While recognising the right to include a vote for independence, the Greens support the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way approach, which is outlined in his Strasbourg Proposal to the European Parliament, 1988, and which will deliver democracy and autonomy to the Tibetan people.
5. The Greens call on the People’s Republic of China to enter into constructive negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives on the status of Tibet and relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
6. The Greens commend the Tibetan people, and their leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, for consistently rejecting the use of violence in their search for a resolution to the current situation in Tibet, and notes that this was acknowledged in the awarding of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize to him.
7. The Greens express their continuing deep concern about widespread human rights abuses occurring in Tibet and call upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Tibet.
8. The Greens call upon the People’s Republic of China to release all Tibetan political prisoners.
9. The Greens call on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to open up Tibet to international human rights and humanitarian organisations and independent journalists.
10. The Greens support the Dalai Lama’s proposals to make the entire Tibetan Plateau a demilitarised zone and for the People’s Republic of China to actively promote peace in Tibet.
Cultural, Ethnic and Environmental Heritage
11. The Greens call for the abandonment by the People’s Republic of China of its population transfer policy which impacts upon the cultural identity of the Tibetan people.
12. The Greens urge the Government of the People’s Republic of China to protect the natural environment of Tibet, including its rivers, forests and wildlife, and to transform it into the world’s largest national park or biosphere, supported by a policy of sustainable development whereby natural resources would be directed towards the active promotion of peace and environmental protection.
13. The Greens urge the world community to offer assistance with the protection and preservation of the unique cultural heritage and ethnic identity of Tibet and of the Tibetans in exile.
Relations with Australia
14. The Greens urge the Australian Government to appoint a Tibet Coordinator in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to look after issues concerning Tibet and to liaise with the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives.
Strasbourg Proposal 1988) - ADDRESS TO MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BY HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA - STRASBOURG, JUNE 15, 1988
We are living today in a very interdependent world. One nation's problems can no longer be solved by itself. Without a sense of universal responsibility our very survival is in danger. I have, therefore, always believed in the need for better understanding, closer cooperation and greater respect among the various nations of the world. The European Parliament is an inspiring example. Out of the chaos of war, those who were once enemies have, in a single generation, learned to co‑exist and to co-operate. I am, therefore, particularly pleased and honored to address this gathering at the European Parliament.
As you know, my country--Tibet--is undergoing a very difficult period. The Tibetans--particularly those who live under Chinese occupation--yearn for freedom and justice and a self-determined future, so that they are able to fully preserve their unique identity and live in peace with their neighbors.
For over a thousand years we Tibetans have adhered to spiritual and environmental values in order to maintain the delicate balance of life across the high plateau on which we live. Inspired by the Buddha's message of non-violence and compassion and protected by our mountains, we sought to respect every form of life and to abandon war as an instrument of national policy.
Our history, dating back more than two thousand years, has been one of independence. At no time, since the founding of our nation in 127 B.C., have we Tibetans conceded our sovereignty to a foreign power. As with all nations, Tibet experienced periods in which our neighbors - Mongol, Manchu, Chinese, British and the Gorkhas of Nepal - sought to establish influence over us. These eras have been brief and the Tibetan people have never accepted them as constituting a loss of our national sovereignty. In fact, there have been occasions when Tibetan rulers conquered vast areas of China and other neighboring states. This, however, does not mean that we Tibetans can lay claim to these territories.
In 1949 the People's Republic of China forcibly invaded Tibet. Since that time, Tibet has endured the darkest period in its history. More than a million of our people have died as a result of the occupation. Thousands of monasteries were reduced to ruins. A generation has grown up deprived of education, economic opportunity and a sense of its own national character. Though the current China leadership has implemented certain reforms, it is also promoting a massive population transfer onto the Tibetan plateau. This policy has already reduced the six million Tibetans to a minority. Speaking for all Tibetans, I must sadly inform you, our tragedy continues.
I have always urged my people not to resort to violence in their efforts to redress their suffering. Yet I believe all people have the moral right to peacefully protest injustice. Unfortunately, the demonstrations in Tibet have been violently suppressed by the Chinese police and military. I will continue to counsel for non-violence, but unless China forsakes the brutal methods it employs, Tibetans cannot be responsible for a further deterioration in the situation.
Every Tibetan hopes and prays for the full restoration of our nation's independence. Thousands of our people have sacrificed their lives and our whole nation has suffered in this struggle. Even in recent months, Tibetans have bravely sacrificed their lives to achieve this precious goal. On the other hand, the Chinese totally fail to recognize the Tibetan people's aspirations and continue to pursue a policy of brutal suppression.
I have thought for a long time on how to achieve a realistic solution to my nation's plight. My Cabinet and I solicited the opinions of many friends and concerned persons. As a result, on September 21, 1987, at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington, D.C., I announced a Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet. In it I called for the conversion of Tibet into a zone of peace, a sanctuary in which humanity and nature can live together in harmony. I also called for respect for human rights and democratic ideals, environmental protection and a halt to the Chinese population transfer into Tibet.
The fifth point of the Peace Plan called for earnest negotiations between the Tibetans and the Chinese. We have, therefore, taken the initiative to formulate some thoughts which, we hope, may serve as a basis for resolving the issue of Tibet. I would like to take this opportunity to inform the distinguished gathering here of the main points of our thinking.
The whole of Tibet known as Cholka-Sum (U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo) should become a self-governing democratic political entity founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good and the protection of themselves and their environment, in association with the People's Republic of China.
The Government of the People's Republic of China could remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy. The Government of Tibet should, however, develop and maintain relations, through its own Foreign Affairs Bureau, in the fields of religion, commerce, education, culture, tourism, science, sports and other non-political activities. Tibet should join international organizations concerned with such activities.
The Government of Tibet should be founded on a constitution of basic law. The basic law should provide for a democratic system of government entrusted with the task of ensuring economic equality, social justice and protection of the environment. This means that the Government of Tibet will have the right to decide on all affairs relating to Tibet and the Tibetans.
As individual freedom is the real source and potential of any society's development, the Government of Tibet would seek to ensure this freedom by full adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights to speech, assembly, and religion. Because religion constitutes the source of Tibet's national identity, and spiritual values lie at the very heart of Tibet's rich culture, it would be the special duty of the Government of Tibet to safeguard and develop its practice.
The Government should be comprised of a popularly elected Chief Executive, a bi-cameral legislative branch, and an independent judicial system. Its seat should be in Lhasa.
The social and economic system of Tibet should be determined in accordance with the wishes of the Tibetan people, bearing in mind especially the need to raise the standard of living of the entire population.
The Government of Tibet would pass strict laws to protect wildlife and plant life. The exploitation of natural resources would be carefully regulated. The manufacture, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and other armaments must be prohibited, as well as the use of nuclear power and other technologies which produce hazardous waste. It would be the Government of Tibet's goal to transform Tibet into our planet's largest natural preserve.
A regional peace conference should be called to ensure that Tibet becomes a genuine sanctuary of peace through demilitarization. Until such a peace conference can be convened and demilitarization and neutralization achieved, China could have the right to maintain a restricted number of military installations in Tibet. These must be solely for defence purposes.
In order to create an atmosphere of trust conducive to fruitful negotiations, the Chinese Government should cease its human rights violations in Tibet and abandon its policy of transferring Chinese to Tibet.
These are the thoughts we have in mind. I am aware that many Tibetans will be disappointed by the moderate stand they represent. Undoubtedly, there will be much discussion in the coming months within our own community, both in Tibet and in exile. This, however, is an essential and invaluable part of any process of change. I believe these thoughts represent the most realistic means by which to re-establish Tibet's separate identity and restore the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people while accommodating China's own interests. I would like to emphasize, however, that whatever the outcome of the negotiations with the Chinese may be, the Tibetan people themselves must be the ultimate deciding authority. Therefore, any proposal will contain a comprehensive procedural plan to ascertain the wishes of the Tibetan people in a nationwide referendum.
I would like to take this opportunity to state that I do not wish to take any active part in the Government of Tibet. Nevertheless, I will continue to work as much as I can for the well-being and happiness of the Tibetan people as long as it is necessary.
We are ready to present a proposal to the Government of the People's Republic of China based on the thoughts I have presented. A negotiating team representing the Tibetan Government has been selected. We are prepared to meet with the Chinese to discuss details of such a proposal aimed at achieving an equitable solution.
We are encouraged by the keen interest being shown in our situation by a growing number of governments and political leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter of the United States. We are also encouraged by the recent changes in China which have brought about a new group of leadership, more pragmatic and liberal.
We urge the Chinese Government and leadership to give serious and substantive consideration to the ideas I have described. Only dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead to a viable solution. We wish to conduct discussions with the Chinese Government bearing in mind the larger interests of humanity. Our proposal will therefore be made in a spirit of conciliation and we hope that the Chinese will respond accordingly.
My country's unique history and profound spiritual heritage renders it ideally suited for fulfilling the role of a sanctuary of peace at the heart of Asia. Its historic status as a neutral buffer state, contributing to the stability of the entire continent, can be restored. Peace and security for Asia as well as for the world at large can be enhanced. In the future, Tibet need no longer be an occupied land, oppressed by force, unproductive and scarred by suffering. It can become a free haven where humanity and nature live in harmonious balance; a creative model for the resolution of tensions afflicting many areas throughout the world.
The Chinese leadership needs to realize that colonial rule over occupied territories is today anachronistic. A genuine union or association can only come about voluntarily, when there is satisfactory benefit to all the parties concerned. The European Community is a clear example of this. On the other hand, even one country or community can break into two or more entities when there is a lack of trust or benefit, and when force is used as the principal means of rule.
I would like to end by making a special appeal to the honorable members of the European Parliament and through them to their respective constituencies to extend their support to our efforts. A resolution of the Tibetan problem within the framework that we propose will not only be for the mutual benefit of the Tibetan and Chinese people but will also contribute to regional and global peace and stability. I thank you for providing me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.
Page compiled by: Michael Organ. Last updated: 8 November 2005.