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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?"

Tibet representative plays down comments

August 3, 2009

CLEARING THE AIR: Dawa Tsering said that while Tibet had experienced
internal divisions in its history, it had never been occupied or ruled
by a foreign country
By Loa Iok-sin
STAFF REPORTER
Friday, Jul 31, 2009, Page 2

The Tibetan government-in-exile?s representative in Taiwan, Dawa
Tsering, yesterday sought to clarify his recent remarks on Tibetan
history after they drew criticism.

Dawa was quoted by the Taipei Times as saying in a keynote speech at a
forum on human rights issues in Tibet and Xinjiang in Taipei last Friday
that Tibetans were not a unified people throughout history and that the
concept of a sovereign state in the modern sense never existed in the
minds of Tibetans before the Chinese invaded Tibet in the 1950s.

Because of the absence of this concept Tibetans did not resist the
invasion until later, when they realized that the occupation threatened
their culture, religion and property, he was quoted as saying.

?After reading the report published by the Taipei Times, some [Tibetan]
readers came to believe that I meant that Tibet was not historically a
unified country and that Tibetans had no sense of statehood and thus
criticized my remarks,? Dawa said in a written statement yesterday. ?I
therefore would like to clarify it so that the false information would
not be passed on or be used by people with malicious intentions.?

Besides receiving protests from Tibetans, Dawa said that officials from
the Tibetan government-in-exile had also voiced their concerns.

He said in the statement that while Tibet had experienced internal
divisions in its history, ?it was an independent country and had never
been occupied or ruled by a foreign country.?

?The concept of a sovereign country in the Western sense was not
understood by Tibetans, and they were not aware that it was their
responsibility to defend their own country and sovereignty,? the
statement said. ?Hence, when China invaded Tibet in 1950, Tibetans did
not actively resist the invasion. Instead, they regarded the defense of
their country as the responsibility of the Tibetan government.?

Dawa went on to say in the statement that Tibetans began to rise up
against Chinese rule not only because of threats to their religion,
culture and private property, but also because the Chinese Communist
Party regime repressed Tibetans in all aspects ? political, economical
and social ? in the name of ?state? and ?sovereignty.?

The repression, he said, ?made the [Tibetan] people realize that it was
their responsibility to defend the sovereignty and independence of their
own country.?

?Above is what I truly meant when I discussed the relevant issues in my
speech [last week],? he said.
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