Mary-Beth Markey, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “In this year’s March 10 statement the Dalai Lama seems to be positioning himself directly in the discussions that have been ongoing between his envoys and Chinese officials. It is a remarkably straightforward communication to Beijing, and illustrative of an historic commitment to forge a peaceful coexistence with China.”
The Dalai Lama states that in the last round of dialogue last month (February 15-23) in Guilin City, China, “My envoys reiterated my wish to visit China on a pilgrimage. As a country with a long history of Buddhism, China has many sacred pilgrimage sites. As well as visiting the pilgrim sites, I hope to be able to see for myself the changes and developments in the People’s Republic of China.”
The Dalai Lama’s March 10 statement placed the Tibetan struggle in its historical context, saying that a new era in Tibet’s history was marked in 1949 (the year of China’s invasion). He refers to the first dialogue that took place with China’s leaders, specifically Mao Zedong, in 1954-5, before describing his unwavering commitment to the Middle Way approach for resolving the issue of Tibet, and saying: “Unfortunately, Beijing still seems unable to overcome doubts and suspicions regarding my intention; it continues to criticize me of nursing a hidden agenda of separatism and engaging in conspiracy to achieve this.” He said: “I have stated time and again that I do not wish to seek Tibet’s separation from China, but that I will seek its future within the framework of the Chinese constitution. Anyone who has heard this statement would realise, unless his or her view of reality is clouded by suspicion, that my demand for genuine self-rule does not amount to a demand for separation.”
The Dalai Lama calls upon Tibetans and Tibet supporters to “leave no stone unturned” in supporting the dialogue, a reference to the call from the Tibetan government in exile to be cautious in protest activity against China.
Although the central leadership has not formally acknowledged that the dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Beijing is taking place, a Tibetan leader made an unusual admission last week that ‘dialogue’ was taking place between the two sides and that it would continue. In a report by Reuters on March 6, Jampa Phuntsog, Tibet’s governor, was quoted as saying: “We will have further discussions in future. But we haven’t yet reached the stage of substantive negotiations.”
In Washington DC today, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement to mark the anniversary of the March 10 Uprising: “The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world that the United States must be committed to meeting. We cannot turn a blind eye to the struggles of the Tibetan people. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the key to peace and stability in Tibet.”
As vigils and demonstrations were being held all over the world by Tibetans and their supporters to remember the tens of thousands of Tibetans killed and imprisoned by Chinese troops after their protest against Chinese rule in 1959, the Dalai Lama paid tribute to “the brave men and women of Tibet who have sacrificed their lives, and who continue to suffer, for the cause of the Tibetan people.”
March 10 demonstration in Washington, DC
Tibetans and their supporters in the Washington, D.C. metro area will gather today from 4-6 pm in front of the Chinese Embassy (2300 Connecticut Ave, Washington, D.C) to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. “To our brothers and sisters in Tibet, we ask them not lose hope, for as His Holiness the Dalai Lama once said, ‘the human spirit cannot be vanquished by brute and force alone,'” added Mr. Lhundup Amdo from the Capital Area Tibet Association. The event is being organized by the Capital Area Tibetan Association, International Campaign for Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet.