Johannesburg, South Africa – As part of the Tibetan Delegation to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Global People’s Forum, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the International Campaign for Tibet, and the Tibet Justice Center strongly condemned the “Chinese NGOs’ Position Paper on What on Earth is Missing,” issued on August 27, 2002.

In an August 29 statement the Tibet groups said, “The Global People’s Forum operates under a democratic process that allows all voices to be heard. It is well outside the purview of Chinese ‘NGOs’ to attempt to censor the opinions of others with whom they disagree.

“The organizations representing Tibetan interests at the Forum will continue to express our opinion that Tibetans should be afforded the right to self-determination, as guaranteed for all peoples in the United Nations Charter. We will continue to advocate for strong language in the Civil Society Statement that supports fundamental human rights and freedoms for all peoples. These rights are encoded in various UN conventions to which China is a party and has obligations.

“Once again, Chinese participants have shown that they are not interested in constructive dialogue, and instead are intent on silencing Tibetan voices. Our NGOs have been working and will continue to work to create dialogue, to discuss environment and development issues pertinent to Chinese-occupied Tibet and Tibetans, and to push for a human rights-based approach to sustainable development around the globe.

“We call on the NGO community interested in peace, justice, and democratic debate to uphold the rights of all peoples to contribute to the global dialogue on sustainable development and to make special efforts to support the many occupied and oppressed peoples represented in this gathering.”

The Tibetan delegation has attended several NGO meetings at the Government segment of the WSSD Summit to support lobbying work for the realization of positive language on human rights, governance, self-determination and foreign occupation.

As of August 27, the governments had informally agreed to this paragraph on foreign occupation and related issues: “Take further effective measures to remove obstacles to the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, in particular peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which obstacles continue to adversely affect their economic and social development and are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be combated and eliminated. People under foreign occupation must be protected in accordance with the provisions of international humanitarian law.”

Tibet received significant media attention at the Global People’s Forum. On August 26, the Nechung monks conducted the consecration prayers to begin the creation of the Chenrezig Sand Mandala, which attracted media attention with coverage by Reuters TV agency and local TV channels.

South African and foreign journalists, including broadcast stations such as National TV SABAC and Radio in South Africa, regularly interviewed members of the Tibetan delegation. On August 24, ETV, a popular private TV channel in South Africa, featured the dissolution ceremony of the Sand Mandala at Killarney Shopping Centre during its evening news hour.

At the opening ceremony of the Global People’s Forum at the Johannesburg Stadium members of the Tibetan Delegation greeted approximately 50 representatives of Chinese Government-organized non-Governmental organizations (GONGOs) with Tibetan flags.

“I did not expect the Chinese government would send so many of their GONGOs to the WSSD Summit. I would not be surprised if they have all come to disrupt Tibet events that we have organized during the Summit,” said Norzin Dolma from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

Wire reports by AFP and Reuters in recent stories filed from the WSSD, particularly on the Tibetan participation, misreported several quotes to Tsering Yangkey and Ngawang Choephel, which were made during the interviews. The Tibetan delegation has already contacted the journalists to set the record straight by sending a rejoinder in print as well as by phone call and in meetings with the concerned journalists.

Tibetan participation at the WSSD attracted the attention of both the media and the representatives, especially from Africa. Many participants visited the Tibetan Information Stand where the Nechung monks are creating the sand Mandala. Summit Star, one of the daily newspapers of the WSSD Summit, ran an article, Tibetans Find a Voice at Talks-NGO of the Day, said: “A delegation of Tibetans in exile came to the Summit to represent the people of Tibet and call on the international community to act for long-term sustainable future of the land and the rivers… Tibetan activists claim that if the Chinese-driven industrial development in their homeland is not regulated immediately, the future of Asia’s entire river system could be in jeopardy.”

As both the NGO Forum and the Government Meeting began their substantive work, members of the Tibetan Delegation attended various events where Tibet could be raised among appropriate WSSD issues. Some Tibetan participants were invited to speak at events while others drew attention and support to peoples living under foreign occupation and their inalienable right to self-determination, workin to get these issues addressed by both the NGO Forum and the Government declarations.

Members of the Tibetan Delegation at WSSD Summit are:

  • Ngawang Rigzin, Nechung Monastery
  • Tenzin Phulchung
  • Tenzin Rabten
  • Tenzin Tharchin
  • Norzin Dolma, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
  • Thubten Norbu, Student, USA
  • Renato Palmi, Tibetan Society of South Africa
  • Lisa Sock, International Campaign for Tibet
  • Gabriel Lafitte, Tibet Expert, Australia
  • Tashi Tsering, Tibet Justice Centre
  • D’Archy Richardson
  • Scott Harrison
  • John Isom
  • Jampal Chosang, Tibetan Government in Exile
  • Tashi Wangdu
  • Tsering Yangkey
  • Tsering Yangchen
  • Ngawang C. Drakmargyapon
  • Namgyal Tsering