On the eve of the 64th anniversary of Tibetans’ national uprising against China’s illegal occupation of their country, the International Campaign for Tibet calls on the international community to support the Tibetan people’s peaceful struggle, including by pressuring the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s envoys. With Tibetans continuing to suffer under China’s repressive rule, and the government in Beijing facing growing criticism around the globe, peaceful dialogue between the two sides is the only way to settle the decades-long Tibet-China conflict and deliver justice and peace to this critical region of the world.

On March 10 this year, Tibetans and Tibet supporters throughout the free world will commemorate the 64th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising against China’s occupation.

The historical facts show that Tibet has been an independent country. After a military invasion in 1949-50, China claimed dominion over Tibet and has ruled over it with an iron fist ever since. The Dalai Lama and the elected Tibetan leadership in exile advocate for the Middle Way Approach to resolve the Tibet-China conflict peacefully.

However, since 2010 no talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives have occurred. China insists on imposing poison pill preconditions, such as demanding the Dalai Lama proclaim that Tibet has always been part of China, which does not accord with history. Thus, the Tibet-China conflict remains unresolved.

Abuse of the Tibetan people

Although human rights are commonly violated across the People’s Republic of China, Tibetans are often singled out because of their distinct identity. Human rights conditions in Tibet are deteriorating dramatically. Freedom House lists Tibet as the least-free country on Earth—worse even than North Korea and tied with South Sudan and Syria. The State Department’s most recent Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released on April 12, 2022, proclaim that the Chinese government committed significant human rights violations against the Tibetan people. This includes credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings and torture, as well as cases of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

China continues to crack down on Tibetans’ human rights through an intense system of control, including a high-tech surveillance state. Tibetans are persecuted simply for preserving their cultural identity and most basic rights. They can be jailed and tortured just for celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Similarly, at the 38th round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue held on Feb. 17, 2023 in Brussels, the European Union conveyed its serious concern at the persistent restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms, use of forced labor, limits on due process rights and lack of judicial independence in China and the particularly vulnerable situation of Uyghurs and Tibetans. It urged China to investigate and stop violations of human rights and international law, expressing concern for cases of unlawful detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment.

Erasing Tibetan identity

The Chinese Communist Party’s intent is to “Sinicize” Tibetans—a term for a Chinese government policy designed to force Tibetans to become dominated by Chinese society by eroding their distinct identity and language and replacing them with Chinese “culture.” If allowed to succeed, this would result in Tibetans no longer having ties to each other, their land, their history or their culture.

The end goal is to replace a Tibetan identity with a Chinese identity, effectively erasing an entire people.

Resolving the Tibet-China conflict

We urge the international community to proactively support the Tibetan people’s peaceful struggle. We call upon the Chinese government to understand that resolving the issue of Tibet through negotiations with the representatives of the Dalai Lama is the only viable solution to this decades-long problem.

Currently, there is a bill before the United States Congress, the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act. Passage of this new bipartisan bill will pressure China’s government to renew negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys. The legislation confirms that the United States’ support for Tibet will never waver.

As we observe this March 10 anniversary, we stand in solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet in their quest for freedom and justice.