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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Call to Tibet Support Groups

November 9, 2010

Tibet Custom
November 6, 2010

Surajkund, India: The sixth International
conference of Tibet Support Groups began in
Surajkund, near New Delhi in India, on November
5, 2010, with a call from His Holiness the Dalai
Lama to the international community to look at
the Tibetan issue from three aspects rather than
merely as a human rights issue.

His Holiness, despite being slightly indisposed
(he joked that the mouth cover he was wearing
made him look like a Jain monk), spent a
considerable period of time explaining the three
aspects of the Tibetan issue as being that of
ecological, culture and human rights issues.  In
terms of the ecological aspect of the issue, His
Holiness said more than a billion people in the
region may be depending on the water that comes
from rivers that originate on the Tibetan
plateau. He also cited Chinese scientists who
have dubbed the Tibetan plateau as the Third
Pole, indicating that its ecological status is as
important as that of the North or the South
poles. Therefore, His Holiness said people in the
region who will be impacted by changes to the
Tibetan environment have the right to express
their concern at the future of Tibet. He added
that this has nothing to do with politics.  His
Holiness said that preservation of the Tibetan
environment is also in the interest of mainland China.

On the Tibetan issue also being a cultural one,
His Holiness explained the distinction that he
makes between Tibetan Buddhism as a religion and
Tibetan Buddhist science and philosophy. He said
Tibetan Buddhism as a religion was the business
of Buddhists alone. However, Tibetan Buddhist
science and philosophy can contribute to the
development of humanity beyond the Buddhist world.

His Holiness said he regarded himself as a
messenger of the ancient Indian thought of
Ahimsa. He added that Ahimsa is action and that
action is dependent on the motivation, for which
the key factor is compassion.

He termed the Tibetan Buddhist culture as a
culture of peace and culture of compassion. His
Holiness added that in recent times scientists
have been showing interest and doing research on
the impact of cultivating compassion on the
individual, his mental state and to the
community. He talked about the projects that the
University of Wisconsin in Madison, Stanford
University and Emory University have initiated on
this.  He said initial results have indicated
positive impact of cultivating compassion.

His Holiness also said in recent years more and
more Chinese have been paying attention to the
Tibetan issue indicating that the struggle is a
just and moral one.  He also said some people
accuse the Tibetans of internationalizing the
Tibetan issue. Comparing the dialogue process
with the Chinese government to the right hand and
reaching out to the international community to
the left hand, His Holiness said if there is a
concrete result to the right hand the left hand does not need to do anything.

His Holiness said that a stumbling block to
finding a solution to the Tibetan issue is the
lack of transparency, existence of distorted
propaganda and censorship in China. Once these
are not present and there is an independent
judiciary, the Tibetan issue can be resolved
quickly, he said. His Holiness said he advocated
a gradual change in China rather than overnight
transformation into a democracy.  He added that
given the nature of the Chinese system any
overnight change could result in a chaotic
situation that will not be in the interest of
China or the world. He suggested that just as he
was thinking of retirement, the Communist Party
in China should think of gradual retirement with grace and honour.

His Holiness was the Guest of Honour at the ceremony.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Lal Krishna Advani,
former Indian deputy prime minister, said the
Tibet Support Groups were doing a great job for
humanity.  He then related his interaction with
Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited India
in 2006 in which he had asked the Chinese
President to create conditions that would enable
His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet before
the Olympics.  However, that did not happen and
China missed an opportunity to resolve the
Tibetan issue, he said. Mr. Advani said that this
was not the last opportunity and asked Beijing to
reach out to His Holiness with the intention of
sincere dialogue and recognize the legitimate
aspirations of the Tibetan people. Beijing cannot
have a more reasonable and peace-loving
interlocutor than this living embodiment of the
teachings of the Buddha, he said.

Mr. Advani talked about the challenges to the
bilateral relations between India and China,
including on the border issue.  However, he said
the Indian support to the aspirations of the
Tibetan people was independent of the unresolved
boundary dispute with China. He said that His
Holiness the Dalai Lama has chosen to seek
autonomous status for Tibet and that there needs
to be genuine autonomy for Tibet. He added that
the biggest hurdle in resolving the Tibetan issue
is the ideology of Communism and the attitude of
the regime in Beijing.  He recalled having told
American leaders that just as they are passionate
about nuclear non-proliferation they should be
similarly passionate about non-proliferation of
dictatorships. He said a conscious effort needs
to be made to change dictatorships into democracy
and to strengthen democracy. He added that it
will be good for the people of Tibet and good for the people of China.

He said just as the United States and the USSR
were the key determinants of history in the 20th
century, the bilateral relationship between India
and China will be one of the key determinants of
the course of world history in the 21st century.
He added that India and China are neighbours and
two ancient civilisations with much in common.
The commonness is imparted by civilisational Tibet, he said.

He said his aspiration and hope was that a day
will come when the Tibetans who are in India will
be able to go back to Tibet with dignity, peace and honour.

Earlier, the inaugural ceremony began with the
Master of Ceremony Vijay Kranti inviting His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and former Indian deputy
prime minister L.K. Advani to light lamps on the
occasion of the Indian festival of lights, Diwali.

Thereafter, welcome remarks were made by Dr. Nand
Kishore Trikha, National Convenor of the Core
Group for Tibetan Cause, India. He is a former
editor of Navbharat Times, leading Indian
national daily in Hindi.  He said the problem of
Tibet is not just of Tibetans but of humanity and
the international community therefore cares about Tibet.

Messages from Australia:

Peter Slipper, MP, Deputy Speaker, Australian
Parliament, said: " ... I understand that the
aims of the conference are to offer an
opportunity and platform to all Tibet support
groups to meet and exchange views and experiences
with each other and with the Central Tibetan
Administration in order to forge a more effective
means of supporting the cause of Tibet. I would
like to congratulate you on organising this
conference so that supporters of Tibet can
contribute towards a solution of the Tibet issue
satisfactory to the both His Holiness and Tibetans at home and in exile ..."

Bob Brown, Australian Greens Senator for
Tasmania, said: " ... Please convey my support to
the organisers and participants of the conference
in their efforts to create a more unified
campaign for greater recognition of Tibet and for
their inclusion of Chinese supporters to their
cause. Australian Greens members of parliament
will continue to recognise His Holiness the Dalai
Lama as the accepted spiritual leader of Tibetans
around the world and to urge the leaders of other
parties to meet with him and acknowledge the
human rights and political situation in Tibet..."

Michael Danby, Federal Member of Parliament for
Melbourne Ports and Chair, All-Party
parliamentary Group for Tibet, said: "... Our
group would have liked to send a representative
to the conference, but due to parliamentary and
other duties unfortunately this was not possible.
In Australia, as I think is the case in other
countries around the world, the Tibetan cause can
at times be a lonely one. Due to Chinese
Government pressure, support for Tibet tends to
be narrow and limited. A large conference such as
this one which brings together groups from around
the world is a great affirmation of the true
depth and breadth of support for Tibet ..."

Joan M Wilson, President, Tibetan Friendship
Group Australia, said: "... I believe strongly,
that all though horrific for the Tibetans
themselves, their example of bravery and 'middle
way approach' in the face of the aggression,
cruelty and domination, is an example sorely
needed today. If the world is to survive in an
atmosphere of peace and happiness, many
countries, races and creeds, must learn from the
Tibetans. I am not talking of religion
necessarily, but of their philosophy of
compassion and tolerance - it is a most
remarkable example and has I believe, already
made an influence. The Tibetan Friendship Group
Association (Inc.) believes that if the Tibetan
culture and their peaceful philosophy, is to
survive and spread, it will be through the
Tibetans educated in India. There is a huge debt
owed by the world to India for its hospitality.
The Tibetans then flow out from there and on to
other countries such as USA, Europe, Australia,
and some bravely back to Tibet..."

Thereafter, an overview of activities since the
last TSG conference was made by Mr. Dennis
Cusack, Co-Chair of the International Tibet
Support Network. He talked about new challenges
and new opportunities. He mentioned activities to
create a substantial increase in effective,
coordinated, sustained activity by Tibet Groups
as well as sustained pressure on governments and
Chinese leaders.  He also explained the Tibet
groups' work to monitor the next generation of
Chinese leaders and reaching out to Chinese people.

Dr. Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for
China, was invited to speak next.  He said that
the extraordinary struggle of the Tibetan people
have won respect.  He said that despite having
undergone much suffering under a government that
was predominantly Han Chinese, His Holiness the
Dalai Lama has consistently reached out to the
Chinese people.  He said His Holiness's passion
was bearing fruit, he said, as Han Chinese are
beginning to realize that the threat to the
Tibetans are a threat to them, too.

Referring to the recent attempts to stop the use
of Tibetan as a medium of instruction in some
Tibetan schools in Tibet, Dr. Jianli said that
cultural genocide begins with linguistic
genocide.  He said Tibetans have every right to preserve their culture.

Major (Retd.) Vijay Singh Mankotia, former
minister of Himachal Pradesh, in his remarks
talked about Indian concern at China's policy of
strategic encirclement.  Quoting an Indian poem
why the Tibetans need support, he said, "All
around us is a deadly silence, Speak up, this is
the moment of test, this is the moment of truth."

Major Mankotia also said that the Chinese charges
of His Holiness wanting to take away one fourth
of Chinese territory is misleading and a gross distortion.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Senate of
Philippines, quoted at length from UN Charter and
relevant conventions to say why the principle of
non-discrimination needed to be applied to the Tibetan people.

Mr. Rafael Gimalov, Member of Parliament
from  Russia, there was growing interest in
Russia on Tibetan religion, cultural heritage and
tradition. He said as the Chairman of the
Parliament's Environment Committee, he was
concerned with the ecological catastrophe that is
taking place on the Tibetan plateau.   He
therefore said that the conference need to focus
on the preservation of Tibetan language and
environment.  He offered to provide whatever
assistance that he can give to promote awareness on the situation in Tibet.

Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche shortened his
remarks in the light of the session going way
beyond schedule. He said the printed text of his
statement has been circulated. He termed the
coming five years as being most precious,
critical and decisive moments for Tibet's future
and called for the revitalization of the Tibet movement to meet the challenge.

During the ceremony, Mr. Lal Krisha Advani
released a book, "2008 Uprising in
Tibet:  Chronology and Analysis," compiled by the
Tibetan Department of Information & International Relations (DIIR).

In the afternoon, the participants got an update
on the Tibetan-Chinese dialogue process from
Special Envoy Lodi Gyari and Envoy Kelsang
Gyaltsen, who also answered some
questions.  There was also an eye witness account
by Mr. Tsewang Dhondup, who suffered injuries
from a bullet shot by Chinese security force
following a demonstration in Eastern Tibet in
March 2008.  There was also a session on Tibetan
environment with Mr. Gabriel Lafitte from
Australia and Mr. Tenzin Norbu, head of
Environment and Development desk of DIIR. The
participants later started workshops on campaign strategies.

The conference is being convened by the Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India.
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