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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

EU-China Summit must address the issue of Tibet

May 17, 2009

Kelsang Gyaltsen, Envoy of H.H. the Dalai Lama
May 15, 2009

The European Union-China Summit will take place
on May 20, 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic. His
Holiness the Dalai Lama welcomes the summit. He
has always spoken out against any idea of
isolating or containing China. Instead he has
consistently called for the need to bring China
into the mainstream of the world community and in
particular into the mainstream of the world democracy.

The forthcoming summit offers a timely
opportunity for the European Union to address the
issue of Tibet with their Chinese counterparts.
The situation inside Tibet is compelling and
urgent. Presently, the Tibetans in Tibet are
undergoing the harshest wave of repression since
the days of the Cultural Revolution. The
increasing number of death sentences passed on
Tibetans in recent months is a clear indication
of the grave and tense situation in Tibet.

On October 31, 2008 the envoys of His Holiness
the Dalai Lama presented a Memorandum on Genuine
Autonomy for the Tibetan People to the Government
of the People’s Republic of China. This
memorandum puts forth the Tibetan position on
genuine autonomy and how the specific needs of
the Tibetan people for autonomy and
self-government can be met through application of
the principle on autonomy of the Constitution of the PRC.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government rejected
the Tibetan proposal without presenting their own views on a way forward.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has steadfastly
followed the Middle Way approach, which means the
pursuit of a mutually acceptable and mutually
beneficial solution through negotiations in the
spirit of reconciliation and compromise. His
Holiness the Dalai Lama’s thinking on the issue
has evolved in the course of time since
presenting his “Five Point Peace Plan” in 1987
and “the Strasbourg Proposal” in 1988. He has
adjusted and refined his position on a number of
issues in light of changing realities on the
ground and in consideration of the Chinese
government’s legitimate concerns, needs and
interests. This reflects His Holiness the Dalai
Lama’s flexibility, openness and pragmatism.

The Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the
Tibetan People and not earlier proposals and
other statements, authoritatively represents His
Holiness the Dalai Lama’s position today with
respect to an acceptable solution to the Tibetan
issue. Although it differs in significant aspects
from earlier proposals, it remains true to the
fundamental approach known as the Middle Way of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Despite the categorical rejection of the
memorandum by the Chinese side, the Special
Meeting of the Tibetans in Diaspora held in
November 2008 in Dharamsala, India, reconfirmed
the mandate for the dialogue process with the PRC
on the basis of the Middle Way approach of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama. As a result the Tibetan
leadership in exile reiterated its commitment to
the dialogue process. Today, the Tibetan side
stands ready to engage in honest and earnest
discussions on autonomy for the Tibetan people
anytime and anywhere. It is now for the Chinese
governments to show sincerity and seriousness in
addressing the real problems and issues of the Tibetan people in Tibet.

Against the background of a current policy of
merciless repression of the slightest dissent by
the Chinese authorities, which is resulting in
grave and wide-spread violations of human rights
throughout the Tibetan plateau, and His Holiness
the Dalai Lama’s consistent and unwavering
commitment to non-violence and to dialogue in the
spirit of reconciliation and compromise, it would
be befitting the European Union to take the lead
in promoting a peaceful resolution of the issue
of Tibet. In today’s heavily interdependent world
no country and no government is immune to world
opinion and to outside influence. There is no
doubt that the European Union could play a much
more proactive and constructive role in bringing
about a honest dialogue and negotiations on the
issue of Tibet between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership

We Tibetans are in dire need of international
help. First and foremost in opening up Tibet to
the rest of the world so that the Chinese
authorities and security forces no longer have a
free hand in Tibet. International presence will
have a restraining influence on the authorities
and the security forces and will thus provide
some measures of protection to the captive
Tibetans inside Tibet. Sending government and
parliamentarian delegations to Tibet is a way to
ensure this. Moreover, the Chinese government
must be encouraged to open up Tibet to
international press, aid organisations, other
non-governmental organisations and to tourism.
Immediate interventions for the suspension of the
death sentences passed on to Tibetans recently are a matter of great urgency.

Moreover, it is important to leave no doubt that
the current aggressive pressure politic of the
Chinese government in attempting to isolate His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and to silence the issue
of Tibet, has no chance of succeeding. The
message of the European Union to the Chinese
leadership must be that the issue of Tibet will
continue to be an important agenda in the
EU-China bilateral relationship unless it is
properly addressed and resolved through dialogue
in a mutually acceptable way for the parties
concerned. Evading the issue of Tibet during the
EU-China Summit will only increase the suspicion
and distrust in the minds of the Chinese
counterpart in the light of the wide-spread
sympathy and support for the cause of Tibet and
for His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the people and the public across Europe.

Above all, such a consideration of the political
sensitivity of the issue of Tibet for the Chinese
government would only encourage and strengthen
the hardliners within the Chinese leadership.
Consequently, it is the Tibetan position and
appeal that the issue of Tibet be judged by the
universally recognized principles and norms and
dealt with accordingly. It is unacceptable and
can only undermine the international system based
on agreed upon principles and international legal
covenants, when the political sensitivity of the
Chinese government is made the primary criteria
in dealing with the cause of the Tibetan people
instead of judging it in terms of the gravity of
the violations of human rights, injustice and
oppression taken place in Tibet. It is a fact
that Tibet today belongs to the most restricted
and least free places and the Tibetans to the
most repressed and threatened peoples in the world.

Ultimately, we Tibetans need on the other side of
the negotiating table a sincere partner for an
honest dialogue. Last year after the wide-spread
demonstrations throughout the Tibetan plateau,
the EU Foreign Ministers called on March 29, 2008
“for substantive and constructive dialogue which
addresses core issues like preservation of the
Tibetan language, culture, religion and
traditions”. The Tibetan side has answered the
call of the EU Foreign Ministers and presented
the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the
Tibetan People. On account of the Chinese
rejection of the Tibetan memorandum, the
Sino-Tibetan dialogue process has now reached an
impasse. Consequently, failing to address the
issue of Tibet at the forthcoming EU-China Summit
would greatly undermine the credibility of the EU
position on the issue of Tibet in particular and
on human rights in China in general.

This is a very critical and crucial time for the
Tibetan people and the issue of Tibet. The
EU-China Summit will be watched closely by
millions of Tibetan and Chinese peoples. The
Tibetan people need a message of hope, sympathy
and solidarity - not only not to give in to
despair and bitterness but also to strengthen
their faith in the path of non-violence, dialogue
and reconciliation as advocated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
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