Statement of Mr. Pema Jungney, the Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile) to the World Parliamentary Forum, Mumbai, India, 19 January 2004

Honourable Chairperson and distinguished parliamentarians from around the world, At the outset I would like to thank you Chairperson and your secretariat for once again considering the participation of members from the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples Deputies (TibetanParliament-in-Exile) to this important forum. I on behalf of all my colleagues and the six million Tibetan people thank you all parliamentarians for upholding the right to freedom of expression or opinion of the Tibetans at this gathering. I wish to clearly state here that we Tibetans had no intention to cause any inconvenience to your schedule or deliberations when three of our parliamentarians applied for participation.

Let me first of all briefly introduce to you our parliament. The Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies is the highest legislative organ of the Tibetan refugee community. It was instituted in 1960. The creation of this democratically-elected body was one of the major changes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has brought about in his efforts to introduce a democratic system of administration. The Assembly consists of 46 elected members. U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, the three traditional provinces of Tibet, elect ten members each while the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon faith elect two members each. Tibetans elect three deputies in the west: two from Europe and one from North America. In addition, three members with distinction in the fields of art, science, literature and community service are nominated directly by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

If I may touch now on the Sino-Tibetan conflict and the way forward towards a lasting solution to the grave problem in Tibet, on the Tibetan Government in Exile’s policy towards China, we had consistently supported His Holiness’ Five Point Peace Plan and the Strasbourg Proposal. His Holiness in 1994, proposed a referendum by the Tibetan people to decide on the future course of the Tibetan struggle. Tibetan people expressed their complete faith in His Holiness’ leadership and decided not to have a referendum and to follow whatever His Holiness decides on the future course of Tibet, considering the changes and developments in the global political scenario. Based on the overwhelming peoples’ aspirations, the Parliament passed a unanimous decision to this effect by bestowing full powers to His Holiness. Consequent to the Tibetan people and parliament’s decision, His Holiness in his 1998 10th March Statement said ” I wish to thank the people of Tibet for the tremendous trust, ! confidence and hope they placed in me. I continue to believe that my middle way approach is the most realistic and pragmatic course to resolve the issue of Tibet
peacefully. This approach meets the vital needs of the Tibetan people while ensuring the unity and the stability of the People’s Republic of China. I will therefore, continue to pursue this course of approach with full commitment and make earnest efforts to reach out to the Chinese leadership” and the same approach continues today. With this, I hope the Tibetan government’s policy towards PRC is crystal clear.

For this reason we have decided to seek a negotiated, peaceful, mutually beneficial settlement with China and since we have already rebuilt contacts with the Chinese leadership, the focus of the movement should be on urging, pressurising, lobbying and facilitating by all non-violent means in our common effort to expedite the process of negotiations. We dont have much time. The very identity of the Tibetans is at stake, leave alone their unique culture, religion and language. If no solution is found as soon as possible, the coming decades will turn Tibetans into something like native Indians in America and aborigines in Australia. That will be very sad because the Tibetans have a lot to offer to global peace and harmony.

In 2002 and 2003, the Chinese authorities received His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s envoys to visit China and Tibet. The re-establishment of direct contact with the Chinese leadership has been a positive and welcome development. The Tibetan delegates, on their return to Dharamsala, reported of extensive exchanges of views on the Tibetan issue in Beijing in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was pleased with the delegates’ reports and instructed them to continue the contact with the aim of leading the current process to honest and substantive negotiations on the issue of Tibet

There is now an urgent need for the two sides to raise the level of the current contact to achieve substantive dialogue on the future political status of Tibet. We believe that the Chinese leadership should now demonstrate its seriousness and sincerity to resolve the issue of Tibet through peaceful negotiations. We also believe that the expression of international concern over the current situation in Tibet will help push Beijing towards substantive negotiations.

The Tibetan Government-in-Exile has taken all measures to create conducive atmosphere for dialogue. We do not feel that a lot of time is needed to understand our proposal. We have climbed down from our historical right of complete independence to genuine autonomy, the most important part of which is to turn the whole of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa, where human and nature can coexist in harmony. Tibet should be totally demilitarized and it should be the centre of learning and for
the promotion of peace throughout the world. The PRC should stop the sinofication of Tibet. It is now the turn of the Peoples Republic of China to reciprocate our goodwill because we are not seeking separation from China. Many fear that PRC might use delaying tactics to avoid international criticism. If such is the case, it will not bode well for the future of China. It will prove to be a historic mistake for the Chinese leadership.

Besides our huge concern on the continued violations by the Chinese authorities of the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people, including and especially their rights to freedom of speech and worship, there are two areas of enormous concern to us. They are Beijing’s overall Western China Development Programme and the ongoing railway line construction to connect Lhasa and Central Tibet with China’s vast network of rail lines. These development projects when completed will
facilitate the immigration of China’ excess population onto the Tibetan plateau and this will further erode the ability of the Tibetan people to hold on to their distinct cultural heritage and ethnic identity.

The Western China Development Programme is aimed to create the infrastructure to facilitate the exploitation of the vast natural resources and to encourage the millions of un-employed Chinese workers to migrate to the Tibetan inhabited areas. This policy has the advantage of solving the growing un-employment in China’s coastal areas and other big Chinese cities and integrating the minority regions more firmly under the control of Beijing by flooding them with Chinese settlers.

Here I would like to say that the issue of Tibet is not an issue whether the Tibetans in exile can return to our homeland. The reason why we are involved in the struggle for Tibet is to ensure that China ends the present appalling human rights situation and improves the condition to the satisfaction of the Tibetan people.

Once again I would like to thank the organisers and the participants for supporting our participation to this distinguished forum and appeal to you all to help us in our struggle. I sincerely hope that this conference will enable us to forge a closure network amongst parliamentarians to build another world, a world of peace, justice and
democratic values. A world where non-violence will become the ultimate weapon to resolve global conflicts. A world which will support to “Make Tibet a Zone of Peace and Non-violence.”

Thank you,

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