Tibet: Network Unites for Support Group Conference
With over 250 delegated representing support groups from over 50 countries, the convening of the Seventh International Conference of Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) took place between 8 and 10 September 2016 under the stewardship of his holiness the Dalai Lama. Taking place in Brussels, Belgium, the conference helped assess the state of freedom of movement in the region and highlighted the common goals by which all Support Groups are united.
The statement below is published by the Central Tibetan Administration
The Seventh International Conference of Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) was convened in Brussels by the Tibet Interest Group in the European Parliament, and co-hosted by the International Campaign for Tibet, Lights on Tibet, les Amis du Tibet and the Tibetan Community in Belgium and facilitated by the Department of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration. Over 250 delegates representing support groups from 50 countries and all continents, members of other NGOs and special guests participated in the conference.
The Conference drew inspiration and strategic benefit from the diverse skills and perspectives and from the sense of common purpose of TSGs from around the world. It examined the current situation in occupied Tibet, especially the political, human rights and environmental developments there, assessed the state of the Tibet freedom movement, and drew up plans for coordinated action.
During the inaugural ceremony on September 8, 2016, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who addressed the Conference as the Guest of Honour, explained his three commitments, in view of his recent devolution of political authority. Other speakers at the inaugural session included members of the European Parliament, Thomas Mann and Cristian Dan Preda, and the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Jan Peumans, as well as the former President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Henri Malosse, and the Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, Richard Gere. Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay reiterated the Tibetan leadership’s commitment to resolve the issue of Tibet through the Middle Way approach and called on the international community to support these efforts. The Conference was graced by the participation of the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, the Vice President of the German Parliament, Claudia Roth, and member of the European Parliament, Csaba Sogor, who addressed the closing session.
The Conference welcomes the strong participation of Chinese lawyers, scholars and human rights activists in its deliberations and regards their engagement as an expression of the growing solidarity between the Chinese people and the Tibetan people.
The Conference notes with great concern the worsening of the human rights situation in Tibet, including the repression of religious freedom and the suppression of the Tibetan national identity and language under the increasingly authoritarian regime. It expresses solidarity with all Political Prisoners in Tibet. In this context, the Conference welcomes recent joint actions by concerned governments on China and, building on this, urges increased action on Tibet.
The Conference is dismayed at the hardening of the positions of the Chinese Communist Party and the government authorities towards His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration and their refusal to engage in dialogue with them to resolve the issue of Tibet. It is deeply saddened by the many Tibetan men and women who have chosen the ultimate sacrifice –of taking their own lives– to express their yearning for freedom and determination to save the Tibetan identity and religion, to protest the destruction of both by the PRC, and call for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s return.
The Conference is profoundly concerned about the devastating impact of China’s policies on Tibet’s fragile and globally vital environment, notably the damming of Asia’s rivers, destructive mining practices and coercive settlement of nomads, all of which exacerbates the impacts of climate change and environmental destruction on the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding regions.
The Conference expresses its complete and continuing solidarity with the non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people for freedom and for a restoration of their fundamental human rights. It commends the initiatives of parliamentarians and government officials of many countries who persist in pressing the PRC to respect the rights of the Tibetan people and who urge its leadership to resume dialogue with representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to respond positively to his efforts to pursue a mutually beneficial solution through the Middle Way approach, which calls for genuine autonomy for the whole Tibetan people.
The Conference considers the Chinese government’s demand that His Holiness declare that Tibet has been a part of China since antiquity entirely unacceptable both because of the falseness of this historical claim and because this precondition forms an obstacle to earnest negotiations. It reaffirms its conviction that Tibet has not historically been a part of China and that the Tibetan people have the right to determine their own destiny. The Conference emphasizes that the PRC cannot obtain legitimacy for its rule over Tibet by attempting to force His Holiness and members of the international community to endorse its untruthful claims. It can only gain legitimacy for a role in Tibet from the Tibetan people themselves, through a mutually beneficial agreement and by implementing real changes in its policies and behavior towards the Tibetans in accordance with the latter’s needs and aspirations. The conference consequently calls on the Chinese government to unconditionally resume dialogue and on other governments to resist Chinese government pressure to endorse China’s claim to Tibet, and to persuade China’s leaders to abandon the shameless precondition.
The Conference commends the Tibetan community in exile and individual Tibetans for exercising their democratic rights in electing the leadership of the Central Tibetan Administration, the legitimate representative of the Tibetan nation and people.
Conference participants reaffirm their commitment to supporting the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and for respect of their human rights and protect the plateau’s environment. They fully support His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration leadership’s persistent call for earnest dialogue to resolve the Tibetan issue and will strengthen their efforts to press the international community to persuade the Chinese leadership to do so. The Tibet Support Groups will continue their dedication until a satisfactory solution has been achieved.
Accordingly, the conference has outlined the following proposals for Action Plans to be carefully considered and developed:
Joint and individual action by governments on religious freedom, in particular against the demolitions at Larung Gar, which has been brought to the world’s attention by the international press.
Legal action in national courts on the basis of universal jurisdiction.
Expression of solidarity with the cultural and national identity resilience movement in Tibet.
Action on language rights at the United Nations.
Place the release of the Panchen Lama on the agenda of a US-China Presidential summit.
Take action against the Confucius Institutes’ political agenda and obstruction of academic freedom
List the 1959 Tibetan national uprising among the UNESCO’s heritage of Memories of the World.
Establish a system for providing correct information on Tibet on Wikipedia sites.*
Translate Tibetan testimonies and personal stories for distribution in Chinese.
Establish a system for providing correct information on Tibet on Chinese language Wikipedia sites.*
To press all affected countries in particular the PRC to enter into a water-sharing agreement regarding the waters originating from the Tibetan plateau.
To persuade the PRC to allow the Tibetans to be stewards of the Tibetan plateau to slow down climate change for global benefit.
To get the PRC to earnestly implement the protection of the environment of the Tibetan plateau through beneficial provisions of the PRCs environmental laws.
The participants commit themselves to the above action plans and engage to work collaboratively with one another.
Photo courtesy of Tibet.net