Following are the statements made by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay and Speaker Penpa Tsering on the occasion of the 57 Tibetan National Uprising Day.
Statement of Sikyong on the 57th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day
March 10, 2016
Today marks the fifty-seventh anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising of 1959 against People’s Republic of China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet. On this occasion, my colleagues in the Kashag and I would like to pay tribute and pray for all those brave men and women who laid down their lives for the just cause of Tibet. We express our solidarity with those who continue to suffer repression under Chinese rule.
Though decades have passed by with Tibet controlled by China, the Tibetan people have been able to maintain their identity and spirit despite living under difficult situation. New generations, inspired by the sacrifices made by their elders, have taken the responsibility to strive for the cause of Tibet. The courage and conviction of our compatriots inside Tibet deserves deep admiration.
Chinese government routinely claims there is happiness and prosperity with the development of a new Tibet. But the truth is otherwise. All the areas inhabited by the Tibetan people are bereft of basic freedoms and continues to remain under strict control and surveillance. This fact is clearly evident from the prevailing grid system imposed on the Tibetan people’s travel and movements. The Human Rights Watch reports extension of intensive surveillance program in the villages across Tibet. The recent self-immolation by two youths from within and outside Tibet in addition to 142 self-immolations in the past is further evidence of the lack of freedom in Tibet. The Kashag will endeavor to fulfill their aspirations and solely blame the repressive policies in Tibet as the cause of self-immolation.
I stand here to apprise you that the situation inside Tibet is grim. Anyone speaking up for religious freedom and environmental rights are often charged on political grounds and are given harsh punishments. Mere possession of the image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama leads to arrest and imprisonment. Repositories of Buddhist culture are tightly monitored, monks and nuns face expulsion for not denouncing their spiritual leader. The Freedom House Report 2016 has listed Tibet as the second least free place in the world after Syria. Similarly, the European Parliament in its Report on EU-China Relations, December 2015 has clearly expressed concern for lack of religious freedom and travel restrictions in Tibet. Thus the Tibetan people live in fear and insecurity.
The Chinese authorities continued treatment of national minorities, including Tibetan people, have sparked disaffection and alienation. The action of a Chinese owned and operated hotel in Rebkong (Ch: Tongren), Qinghai province drew strong opposition and protest when it banned employees from speaking Tibetan language. On 22nd Dec 2015, a senior communist party leader of Tibetan origin expressed concern at the prevalence of discrimination at a meeting during which he referred to the recurring instances where people with ethnic backgrounds were discriminated against or denied access to certain services. He said this problem has generated unwanted social impact and caused strong public reactions from ethnic regions. Similarly, the Chinese government’s policy in general and the remarks of few leaders in particular have dubbed a whole ethnic group as “splittist”. Such remarks have drawn sharp reactions within China from many scholars and intellectuals who have written hard-hitting responses.
Global environmentalists and scientists have taken cognizance of the importance of Tibetan plateau as it contains the third largest ice reserve and is the source of ten major rivers flowing downstream to several neighboring countries. However it must be reiterated that incessant mining of natural resources, deforestation, extensive damming of rivers, retreating glaciers, etc. have doubtless caused irreparable damage to Tibet’s environment, which in turn is affecting the environment of the Asian continent. Sensing the necessity of protecting Tibet’s environment, we have time and again consistently raised the issue at various international climate change conferences. Last year, Central Tibetan Administration presented facts and figures along with Ten Point Action document to the participants of COP21 held in Paris, arguing why Tibetan plateau matters to the world and clearly urging United Nations, Chinese government and international community to urgently initiate measures to protect it.
We the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration firmly believe that the longstanding issue of Tibet can be resolved through dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Chinese government. We remain fully committed to the Middle Way Approach, which clearly seeks genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within China. It is hoped the leaders in Beijing will see reason with the Middle Way Approach, instead of distorting it, and step forward to engage in dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s envoys.
On this subject, US President Barrack Obama, holding a Joint Press Conference with President Xi Jinping at Rose Garden on September 25, 2015 said: “We continue to encourage Chinese authorities to preserve the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people, and to engage the Dalai Lama or his representatives.” The US government’s concern and support for the Tibetan people is demonstrated by the visits to Dharamshala in 2014 and 2016 by Ms Sarah Sewall, Special Coordinator for Tibet Issues and Under-Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights of the Department of State. The Kashag deeply thank the US government for its support and solidarity as it provides hope and encouragement to the Tibetan people.
China claims the right to identify reincarnation of the Tibetan spiritual leader. This is a blatant lie as the claim is based on doctored history. The power and authority to decide the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, Tibet’s protector and savior, manifested in the human form, rests solely with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Nobody else has the right to do so. Regarding recognition of the reincarnation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has given clear advice and direction in his statement issued on Sep 24, 2011 which reads as follows: “When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the PRC.”
We were greatly overjoyed to witness the deep respect, reverence and enthusiasm with which the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, friends and supporters world-wide celebrated the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The most recent mammoth Delhi event was attended by India’s former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, former Deputy Prime Minister Shri L. K. Advani, former Ministers Dr. Karan Singh, Dr. P. Chidambaram and several other luminaries representing the people of India. At the time, Dr. Manmohan Singh reverentially referred to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a gift of God to the world.
The infinite deeds or accomplishments of His Holiness the Great XIVth Dalai Lama are not stated here as these are known to the people worldwide. Yet, at a time when Buddhism is passing through a difficult period, the faithful followers and practicing Buddhists must feel grateful for the precious opportunity of receiving the 18 Great Stages of the Path (Lamrim) teachings imparted successfully by His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the past few years. Such a feat unheard of in the history of Tibet must be penned in golden letters. We are happy to share the good news that His Holiness will return to Dharamshala in the next few days after having successfully completed medical treatment in the United States.
After the devolution of political and administrative authority to the people’s elected leadership, the 14th Kashag headed by me is nearing completion of our tenure. Sincere effort has been made to create international awareness and support for Tibet, bring improvement in the education of Tibetan children and sustainability of Tibetan settlements, among others. Awarding Tibetan Buddhist nuns Geshema Degree is a historic decision. An overwhelming response was witnessed to our call for helping earthquake affected people in Nepal which deserves appreciation and acknowledgement. The Kashag would like to deeply thank and express our gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for continuously showering us with his invaluable words of wisdom and kind advices. We must wholeheartedly thank the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet for supporting us in so many ways.
The Tibetan people in exile are following the great path of democracy and have thus far taken keen interest and active participation in the election processes. Very soon the final round for election of Sikyong and Members of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile will be held. Therefore, the Tibetan electorate is encouraged to participate on the election day in order to exercise the democratic rights as specified in the Charter for Tibetans in Exile.
The Kashag would like to take this opportunity to remember the kindness of the leaders of various nations that cherish justice, parliamentarians, intellectuals, scholars, human rights organizations and Tibet Support Groups, who have been steadfast in their support for the Tibetan people. In particular, we will always remember the kindness and consistent support of the people and government of India and state governments for generously helping us preserve and promote our religion and culture and ensuring the welfare of the Tibetan people in exile. We offer our heartfelt gratitude to all of them.
Finally, we sincerely pray for a healthy and long life of our most esteemed leader His Holiness the Great XIVth Dalai Lama. May all his wishes be fulfilled. May there be immediate resolution to the issue of Tibet. Above all, may the day for the union of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet emerge swiftly.
Central Tibetan Administration
March 10, 2016
Statement of the Tibetan Parliament Exile on the occasion of the 57th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day
March 10, 2016
Today is the 57th anniversary of the great uprising in Tibet’s capital Lhasa in 1959 carried out by people from all The Three Provinces of Tibet in protest against the evil deeds and designs of the communist Chinese. Likewise, it is also the day we remember our heroic fellow-Tibetan men and women of patriotism. On this momentous occasion, therefore, I, speaking on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, offer my commemoration and shared sense of well being and destiny through the vicissitudes of good and bad times as well as solidarity with the heroic men and women of Tibet who, driven by patriotism, have sacrificed their lives and conditions of livelihood for the sake of Tibet’s religious, national, and public causes. Also, to all those Tibetans left behind in Tibet who still continue to endure hardship under the brutal persecution of the government of China, I offer our shared sense of well being and destiny through the vicissitudes of good and bad times and solidarity.
In this respect, what is today referred to as the People’s Republic of China, which is considered as one of the great powers in the modern world, has, since the very time of its founding, been nothing but a perpetrator of violent and imperial dominion over many of its neighbouring countries and territories, including Tibet. Besides, the People’s Republic of China could never be recognized as a country at par with those that are founded on a history of respect for freedom, equality, and democratic principles. It was in a scenario of this background that China began its armed invasion of Tibet from the east. Finally, when it was close to fully annexing Tibet and taking over its sovereignty and had created a critical situation whereby it posed a direct threat to the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the supreme temporal head and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, there was a spontaneous, united uprising against communist China by people from all The Three Provinces in Tibet’s capital Lhasa on 10th March 1959. The memory and effects of this great uprising can never go into eclipse from the vast firmament of this globe. This campaign movement against the government of China also remains a historic event of such importance that it will never be forgotten by our future generations for as long as this eon endures.
Subsequent to its annexation of Tibet, the government of China set out to gain full control of the territory and its entire human and material resources. And on that basis, it split up a contiguous Tibetan territory into different administrative divisions, naming them variously as Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures, Tibetan Autonomous Counties, and so on. It thereby scattered everywhere an ethnically homogenous Tibetan population, putting them under diverse kinds of administrative units. In addition, it has, to this day, never changed its policy of brutal and violent persecution of the Tibetan people, showing absolutely no care and concern for their wishes and aspirations. Generations of the people of the Snowland of Tibet have been relentless in protesting against the policies being implemented by the government of China also because of the ways and means by which China has acted against them with coercion and force. During the entire period of its occupation rule, China has continued to trample on the human rights of the Tibetan people, denied them their religious freedom, disregarded the need to protect their linguistic heritage, set out to destroy their natural environment, and implemented a vicious policy of colonial domination. With policies such as these, China threatens to transform the historically Tibetan territory into one controlled and dominated by Chinese people. And this has now reached a stage whereby China is poised to decimate the integrity of the Tibetan nation and people out of existence. It was because of developments leading up to this danger that the Tibetan people have persisted without respite in protesting against the Chinese rule. But the government of China has, far from entertaining any inclination to address their wishes and aspirations, cracked down on the Tibetan people with merciless repression, using nothing but violence and torture. More than 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a result of such brutal repression. In particular, since 2009, and up to 29 February 2016 – when monk Kalsang Wangdu-la of the Tsokha Aryaling Monastery in Nyarong County of the Tibetan territory of Karze Prefecture martyred himself – some 143 Tibetans in Tibet have been driven to carry out peaceful protests by means of setting themselves on fire. But far from giving any consideration to these acts of peaceful protest driven by desperation, China responded by issuing a series of so-called white papers on Tibet, holding a series of work forums on Tibet, and so on. But no matter how numerous these kinds of actions taken by the Chinese government were, which have been imposing in form but devoid of any substantive meaning at the practical level, they will only contribute to widening the gulf between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, with no hope of ever bringing them closer towards each other. The Chinese government’s actions in driving this wedge between the two sides is a reality so stark that denying it is as futile as trying to conceal the glare of the sun with a cupping of one’s palm. Over the past more than half a century, China has kept on proclaiming that it had liberated millions of Tibetan serfs who stood up and that the Tibetan people have ever since been basking in full enjoyment of every conceivable kind of freedom in what it calls their great Chinese motherland. In reality, however, the Tibetan people are forbidden to even put on display a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, their single-minded object of devotion. Permanently resident so-called work teams have been stationed in monasteries and residential neighbourhoods to exercise strict control and supervision over every aspect of religious and day to day life activities of the Tibetan people. Thus, the people in Tibet are subjected to 24-hour surveillances on their day to day activities, including when they are eating or sleeping, resting or moving. Looking at this existing state of affairs, one can only deduce that the situation in Tibet today is devoid of any peace and stability but remains, on the other hand, a battleground in a continuing struggle, or, rather, like a vast prison camp. China has thereby ensured that Tibet remains a territory where people cannot be seen to remain in genuine full enjoyment of their freedoms.
Tibetans living in exile too have persisted in carrying out on continuous basis campaigns of numerous kinds against China’s persistent hardline policy of violent repression on Tibet. And there have been not a small number of Tibetans in exile who took recourse to the peaceful protest method of setting themselves on fire. Most recently, on 29th February 2016, Dorje Tsering-la, a 16-year-old boy of the Tibetan Homes Foundation school in Mussoorie, set himself on fire for the sake of the fundamental cause of Tibet. He succumbed to his burn injuries on 3rd March. Incidents like these show that Tibetans in Tibet and in exile are of one mind in their aspiration. Besides, they show on a persistent basis that Tibetans will never give up their struggle so long as there is no final settlement of their just cause.
That there has not been any improvement in the human rights situation in China as a whole and especially in Tibet over the past one year has been made clear in the annual reports issued by a number of international organizations recently. In particular, the reports issued by a delegation from the United States Congress and the Federal German Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid after their separates visits to Tibet make clear this conclusion. China has rendered obscure the situation of a large number of Tibetan political prisoners, including that of the young Panchen Lama reincarnate. However, among the political prisoners who have been tried and given sentences, and who continue to endure unimaginable ill-treatment and torture, the case of the Lithang Tulku Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche and the circumstances surrounding his sudden death in prison has become only one of the clearest known examples. Today, in every part of The Three Provinces of Tibet, the Tibetan people endure the severest of controls and restrictions on their routine life on a daily basis. In particular, the situation in the Driru County of Kham remains among the most serious, with numerous orders having been issued by different local Chinese government departments and units, rendering the area a most severely restricted one for its residents. We appeal to all Tibetans and supporters of the Tibetan struggle to direct especially strong attention to this situation by direct, indirect and other means to help free the people there from their current severe hardship.
The secrets of the body, speech and mind deeds of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama are, from all their aspects, being greatly complimented and revered to unimaginable degrees by people in countries across the world. In particular, they especially marked His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday and also honoured him in numerous other ways, basking themselves in the glory of this momentous occasion with joy, faith, and contentment. However, on the other hand, with regard to the government of China and, especially, in the so-called Autonomous Region of Tibet, there has been a campaign of issuing a continuing stream of defamatory and blasphemous remarks against him, bans on putting on display his photos and so on. In addition, in the course of investigating corruption, which is seen as the biggest problem in China today, a requirement has been included to find out if officials have any kind of links with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and so on. Likewise, China recently launched an online database of what it called authentic Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism. There is no way we can accept any such action by the government of China. Besides, there is no mentioning that these are contrary to the principle of atheism on which the communist ideology of the Chinese government is founded. As a matter of fact, with regard to all matters pertaining to the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a clarification has already been issued during the 11th conference of the four great schools of Tibetan Buddhism and of the Yungdrung Bon tradition. Besides, recently, when a Chinese actor was sought to be recognized and enthroned as a tulku, or a reincarnate lama of Tibetan Buddhism, and he became exposed as a fraudulent tulku, the actions and remarks of Chinese leaders such as Zhu Weiqun and Ye Xiaowen on the issue of “living Buddhas” were refuted and exposed by Tibetetologists based in Beijing as well as by many scholarly lamas and tulkus living in Tibet, with demands these leaders come clean on their questionable conducts. It is our position that the behaviours of a section of the Chinese leadership such as Zhu Weiqun contribute nothing but only to creating obstacles to the development of fraternal interethnic relations between the two peoples and remind the government of China that it too took cognizance of this fact.
That the Tibetans living in Tibet have to this day continued to carry out campaign actions against the Chinese occupation rule in their homeland is a fact all too well known across the world. In particular, during the past more than one year, many young Tibetans have come out on the market streets to carry out lone protest actions, holding up in their hands portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and shouting slogans. The Chinese authorities have clamped down on each of them by arresting and prosecuting them, and this situation continues today. Everyone should pay close attention to this development, for it is a duty fallen on our shoulders to take up and further the hopes and demands raised by these fellow-Tibetans as well as to make utmost efforts to see them released from Chinese prisons as soon as possible. Besides, by way of showing respect to the selflessness and courage of the Tibetans living in Tibet, and as a matter of keeping utmost in our minds the imperative to prioritize loyalty to the generality of the Tibetan national and religious causes, we the Tibetan people living in exile too should refrain from being preoccupied with our differences in the independence versus Middle Way tussle. Rather, it is of fundamental importance that Tibetans in Tibet and in exile steer a common cause and be clear about knowing who our enemies are and who our fraternal compatriots are. Likewise, at this time, when the process of the elections of the Sikyong and of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile is underway, it bears reminding that the candidates for these elections are all aspirants for the highest offices of the Central Tibetan Administration. So, rather than engaging in baseless talks, rumour mongering and the like, which might render one an unwitting tool in the hands of our enemies, we would like to remind everyone that the vital right to stand as candidates and to vote in the elections should be exercised by adhering to the highest standards of democratic principles and practices.
We are all refugees for political reasons and our primary task is to strive to accomplish the just cause of Tibet. During the term of the 15th Tibetan Parliament in Exile, which is about to come to an end, motions expressing solidarity, condolences and mourning in keeping with the criticality of the situation in Tibet during each of its session were adopted. A major Tibet solidarity campaign action was jointly carried out by the Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan public. A Flame of Truth relay rally for Tibet was carried out. Campaigns to lobby for action on Tibet were carried out through meetings with both members of the Indian parliament at the centre and with lawmakers in the state legislatures. Lectures to announce and explain political matters and on related subjects concerned with the issue of Tibet were held in the Tibetan settlements and other places inhabited by communities of Tibetans. The Indian government and parliament at the centre as well as the state governments and legislatures, the different Tibet support groups, as well as governments and parliaments in other countries, and non-governmental organizations have been extremely kind and generous towards the Tibetan people. They have conferred high honours and respect to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the irreplaceable leader of the Tibetan people; held discussions on the issue of Tibet; given support to the approach of peaceful Sino-Tibetan dialogue; and offered material and other kinds of much needed assistance to the Tibetan people. These supports and assistances are ongoing and to all of them we offer immense heartfelt gratitude. In particular, we take note of the fact that a delegation of members of the United States Congress led by Nancy Pelosi, who is a former Speaker of the US House of Representatives and the current Democratic Leader in the House and who is a staunch supporter of the Tibetan people, was able to especially visit Tibet. And the delegation was able to witness and publicize a report on the actual situation there. The fact that a high-level official delegation from a foreign country was able to visit Tibet and witness the situation there was a historical record. On behalf of the Tibetan people both in Tibet and in exile I offer heartfelt thanks to her and her colleagues. At the same time, we would like to point out that the issue of Tibet still remains to be resolved. The situation in Tibet continues to remain critical. We therefore appeal to everyone to bear this in mind and urge nations and peoples everywhere who covet peace and justice to offer us ever greater and continued support.
On our part the Central Tibetan Administration remains committed to striving to reach a peaceful settlement with China on the basis of the mutually beneficial middle way approach. This being the case, if the leaders of China are unequivocal in words and deeds in their stated aim of doing something beneficial to the people of Tibet, it should grant our historical region a meaningful autonomy in keeping with the provisions of its law on regional autonomy for ethnic minority regions. In this connection we would like to point out to the government of China that it should know that this is the timely, appropriate thing to do and will only be in keeping with the requirements of the time.
Finally, we pray countless times that during the hundred eons he continues to live among us, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the irreplaceable leader of the Tibetan people, forever remain in occupation of his eternal Yungdrung Throne, that the just cause of Tibet prevail in all speediness.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
Dharamsala, 10th March, 2016