Address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the
Tibetan-Chinese Conference in Geneva on August 6, 2009
All photos by © Manuel Bauer, Agentur Focus 2009
Translated from the Tibetan original
Address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Tibetan-Chinese Conference
in Geneva on August 6, 2009
I extend my greetings to the Chair of this conference, the organizers, the delegates who have come from many different places, and guests. I would specially like to commend the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association for organizing this wide-ranging conference of Chinese and Tibetans.
For over a thousand years, the Tibetan and Chinese people have co-existed as friendly and harmonious neighbors with mutually enriching relations in the social and economic fields as well as in religion and culture. Occasionally, there were times when we fought each other. However, for the most part, relations between Tibetan and Chinese peoples were peaceful. Since Buddhism flourished in China before Tibet, Tibetan Buddhists accord Chinese Buddhists the respect and deference due to senior spiritual brothers and sisters.
Just as the rest of the world witnessed tumultuous developments in the twentieth century, China, too, experienced dramatic changes. Soon after the Communist Party took over China in 1949, the People’s Liberation Army entered Tibet, forcefully defeating the small and ill-equipped Tibetan army in Chamdo. In 1951, the 17-Point Agreement was signed under duress and all of Tibet was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China.
Despite all our sincere efforts to abide by the 17-Point Agreement, eventually (in 1959) I, along with my Cabinet, had to go into exile with around 80,000 Tibetans (both lay and the clergy) who were able to follow us. Soon after arriving in exile we began intensive and in-depth discussions on resolving the Tibetan problem through contact and discussions with the Chinese authorities. As a result, around 1974 we adopted the Middle Way Approach. The guiding spirit of the Middle Way Approach is the pursuit of a mutually acceptable and mutually beneficial solution through negotiations, in the spirit of reconciliation and compromise. We resolved not to seek the separation and independence of Tibet but to strive for a solution within the framework of the PRC. Thus, in 1979 when the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping signaled willingness for contact and discussion, we were fully prepared to respond positively. On establishing direct contact we sent delegations on fact-finding missions and for exploratory talks - altogether numbering 20 delegations. However, sadly there was no concrete outcome. Moreover, all direct contact ceased in 1993. As a result there were an increasing number of people in the Tibetan community in exile who did not agree with the Middle Way Approach.
Against this background, in 1997 we conducted an opinion poll among Tibetans in exile in which more than 64 per cent supported continuation of the Middle Way Approach. Consequently, we worked to re-establish contact with the Chinese Central Government and succeeded in doing so in 2002. Since then my envoys have so far had eight formal rounds of discussions with the concerned leaders of the Chinese Government and one informal meeting. Unfortunately, on account of a lack of political will on the part of the Chinese Central Government to address the issue of Tibet in a sincere and realistic way, the talks did not yield any tangible results. Moreover, the situation inside Tibet has worsened dramatically since the crisis in Tibet of March last year. Beijing has labeled those who peacefully demonstrated their dissatisfaction with policies towards minority nationalities, particularly Tibetans, as being anti-Chinese, thus fanning racial antagonism and hatred between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. This is a most irresponsible policy. It has resulted in baseless suspicion and distrust between the two communities. I am deeply saddened and concerned about this development.
Fortunately, many Chinese intellectuals have not succumbed to the propaganda of the Central Government. They have made the effort to understand the issue objectively. Thus, based on their own observations and findings, they have displayed sympathy and support for the Tibetan people in many articles. This is a source of great encouragement to the Tibetan people and triumph of truth.
My envoys have clearly conveyed both in writing and verbally, to the Central Government the essence of my Middle Way Approach that seeks a solution to the Tibetan problem within the framework of the People’s Republic of China and in accordance with the principles of its Constitution. The Constitution provides regional self-rule for minority nationalities. During the eighth round of talks last year, my envoys presented the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People. Based on provisions in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Law on Regional National Autonomy, this Memorandum explains in detail how the Tibetan people could exercise meaningful national regional autonomy. However, to our great disappointment our initiative was unabashedly labeled as disguised independence or a demand for semi-independence, and our Memorandum was categorically rejected and no effort was made to present a counter-proposal. As a result today, my faith in the good will of the present Chinese leadership is shaken.
In view of this sad state of affairs, I called a Special General Meeting of the Tibetan people. Last November around 600 delegates representing all Tibetans in exile gathered in Dharamsala for a six-day conference. The meeting discussed at length the situation inside Tibet and developments in China as well as the future course of the Tibetan freedom struggle. It also considered whatever views we were able to gather from a cross-section of Tibetans inside Tibet. Similarly, a special meeting was held by the Tibet Support Groups from all over the world.
In both meetings, even though there were strong voices calling for a change of the Middle Way Approach and an end to our contact with the present Chinese government, most of the participants endorsed continuation of the Middle Way Approach as well as the Tibetan-Chinese dialogue process. With this public affirmation of our Middle Way Approach, we stand ready to engage in earnest and sincere discussions as soon as there is a clear signal from Beijing that the Central Government is willing to address the real issues facing the six million Tibetans inside Tibet.
I have two appeals to our Chinese brothers and sisters who are participating in this conference. First, I seek your advice and frank opinions on what steps to take in future to solve the Tibetan problem. Secondly, I request your help in carrying a message to the Chinese people that we Tibetans harbor no hatred against our Chinese brothers and sisters, and that we Tibetans are neither anti-Chinese nor anti-China. I seek your help and cooperation in preventing the issue of Tibet being turned into an issue of racial prejudice and antagonism between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
I would like to conclude by expressing my gratitude to all participants who have come from distant places, as well as to the organizers. I pray that this conference will mark an important step towards a common future based on genuine trust, friendship, mutual respect and benefit.
August 6, 2009
Address by Mr. Yan Jia Qi
Your Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I came from New York to Geneva to stand here and speak today for three reasons: First, my reverence for the high virtue and great integrity of the Dalai Lama; second, for exchanges with Tibetan compatriots about our lives in exile; and third, for the fight for “Han-Tibetan unity” and the struggle to find a path for the resolution of the “Tibet Question.”
The Dalai Lama’s three great achievements in 50 years
The Dalai Lama has been in exile for 50 years, unable to return home. Of the people blocking his return, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping have passed away, while Jiang Zemin is no longer in power. In these 50 years, the maelstrom of China ’s politics have brought many changes, and many are the people who have risen to and fallen from China ’s political stage. But in his 50 years of life in exile, and with his lofty spirit and will of iron the Dalai Lama has accomplished three outstanding achievements:
First, Tibetan Buddhism has been transmitted to the entire world; second, the hundred thousand Tibetans in exile have coalesced into a society and are striding along the path to democracy, while dialog and unity between Tibetan and Han people has been initiated abroad; and third, he has relentlessly advocated the “universal values” of humanity, advocated the harmony found among all religions, and conveyed the spirit of “non-violence”, making great and outstanding contributions towards world peace. And thus it was that the world watched him receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The longest exile in human history
In the history of humankind, there have been many and varied reasons for exile. Revolution and political change often produce exiles. The exiles from the French revolution of 1789 spent 13 years in exile. Victor Hugo was in exile abroad for 19 years following Bonaparte’s coup and his famous book Les Miserables was completed in exile. Dante, the author of Divine Comedy was exiled for 37 years. The Italian Giordano Bruno was exiled because he opposed the notion that earth was at the center of the universe, and 531 years ago he came to the city where we are today – Geneva . It is likely that in all of human history, aside from the Dalai Lama, no one has ever been in exile for as long as 50 years. I met the Dalai Lama for the first time in Paris in 1989 and I was completely conquered by his spirit.
Eliminating two abuses of power in China ’s political system
Ever since the First Emperor there have been two abuses of power within China ’s political system: one is autocratic dictatorship, and the other is the central concentration of power. And because of these two abuses of power since the First Emperor, there has always been two “cycles” in China ; one is the “Dynastic cycle” and the other is the “cycle of fragment and union”. This “cycle of fragment and union” is the cycle of “separation and reunification” – the situation of “two governments on either side of the Taiwan Straits” is precisely this “separation” aspect of the cycle of “separation and reunification”. Today’s Communist government is still a “dynasty”. The way to break these two cycles is to use democracy to break the “Dynastic cycle” and to use a “federal system” to break the “cycle of separation and reunification”.
“Long term goals” and “short term goals”
There are “long term goals” and “short term goals” in resolving the “Tibet Question”. The long term goal for the Tibet Question is the practice of “a high degree of autonomy” under a federal system, and I consider that a short term goal is for the Dalai Lama and all Tibetans in exile to “return freely to Tibet”, where they can go on pilgrimages, travel and settle in Tibet, just as Taiwanese compatriots today can travel and settle in China. I believe that resolutions of the Taiwan Question and the Tibet Question can only be found along the path to a federal system.
Differentiating two issues
Something I must say today is that the Tibet Question cannot be resolved with the Dalai Lama remaining in exile. Religion and ethnicity are deep-rooted forces in the several thousands of years of human history, and for the “ Tibet knot” be eased the Dalai Lama must be able to return to his own country. The Chinese Constitution regulates for the implementation of the “Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law”, but it exists only in name and not in practice. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said that if the Tibetan people had “true autonomy in name and deed” he would not seek the independence of Tibet . I believe that when the Dalai Lama goes back to China , he will be an enormous force for promoting Han-Tibetan unity as well as great unity between all of the nationalities.
China ’s Constitution clearly stipulates that “citizens have freedom of speech, publication and assembly”, but in truth such regulations are not implemented. The Constitution clearly stipulates for the implementation of “regional ethnic autonomy”, but in truth such regulations are not implemented. And therefore, when exiles raise “achieving true autonomy in name and deed and without contravening provisions in the Chinese Constitution”, it is akin to us saying “achieving the right to freedom of assembly in name and deed without contravening provisions in the Chinese Constitution.” The question of “how a future Tibet will be autonomous” does not depend upon “negotiations” for its resolution, just as the question of “ China ’s future democratic system” does not rely upon “negotiation” for its resolution. At this point I would like to say, do not make the question of “how a future Tibet will be autonomous” a condition of the Dalai Lama’s return to China, because Beijing will use this as an excuse to propagandize to the ordinary Chinese people its refusal to allow the Dalai Lama to return to China.
Two issues have to be differentiated in order to resolve the “Tibet Question” under today’s current circumstances: the first is the question of the return of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan exiles’ return to Tibet , and the other is the question of autonomy and political systems in a future Tibet . The first is a matter of of the Dalai Lama and other “Tibetan exiles” sacred rights, while the second cannot be achieved solely by negotiation with the Communist Party.
We have been in exile for 20 years, and also have two issues: one is “finishing our exile” under the precondition of “reversing the verdicts of June 4”, and the second is for China to establish a “democratic system”. “Reversing the verdicts” is to admit that “June 4” was a “massacre” on China ’s soil. The second issue is not one that be solved through negotiation with the Communist Party, and instead requires the joint struggle of us all to bring an end to “one Party dictatorship”.
Five questions: the first step for Tibetan exiles to return to their home
What I have said today is to clarify the following five points:
First, it the Dalai Lama’s sacred right to return to China, to return to his home, to Tibet; second, questions of “the Dalai Lama’s return to China” and “negotiations about autonomy” should be separate; third, the questions of “how to achieve autonomy” and future political systems in Tibet are not problems that can be resolved through negotiation, because the failure of negotiations on “how to achieve autonomy” has been used as a “reason” by Beijing to block the return of the Dalai Lama to China; fourth, “representatives” and “delegations” should no longer be dispatched for further negotiations. Fifty years have already slipped by and Beijing has no more reasons for blocking the Dalai Lama’s return. The repeated “negotiations” in reality only delay the time of the Dalai Lama’s return. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly expressed his desire to go on pilgrimage to Wutai Mountain, and under conditions of not discussing “Tibet’s future autonomy” then “the Dalai Lama’s pilgrimage to Wutai Mountain” would not be a matter for “negotiation”; and fifth, it is hoped that a pilgrimage and scriptural teachings by the Dalai Lama at Wutai Mountain can be realized within a short period of time.
May the Dalai Lama live a long and healthy life. The Dalai Lama’s return to his home would be the first step for exiled Tibetans to return home, and a momentous event transcending Party factions and transcending the Chinese government, promoting “Han-Tibetan unity” and the “great unity of all China’s nationalities”. Let us convey the spirit of the conference today far and wide, radiating from Geneva to Tibet , to all of China and to the entire world.
Yan Jia Qi
August 6, 2009
Kalon Tripa Professor Samdhong Rinpoche’s Address to the Inaugural Session
of the International Sino-Tibetan Conference
Being Held in Geneva, Switzerland
6 August 2009
While making obeisance to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the supreme religious and political leader of the Tibetan people as well as an apostle of world peace, I would like to extend my affectionate greetings to the Chair of the conference, Mr. Jonathan Sisson, Dr. Tashe Thaktsang, Mr. Yan Jiaqi, distinguished guests, conference participants, media people and to my colleagues from the Central Tibetan Administration.
First and foremost, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association for holding this historic meeting in the famous city of Switzerland — Geneva. In this crucial and critical period, if the Chinese and Tibetan peoples remain mired in perennial suspicion and do not engage with each other to create better understanding between themselves, then this will not only be a great loss to both Chinese and Tibetans but will also help in fulfilling the objective of those who are bent on separating the two peoples. Therefore, organizing this conference is in keeping with the need of the hour.
Switzerland is a neutral country that has, for a long time now, relinquished warfare as a tool of state policy. It is also a unique country that has a long history of having contributed to resolving many international conflicts. Moreover, Switzerland is — aside of being a place where the largest number of Tibetans in Europe live — a favourite tourist destination for many people, whether we consider the scenic beauty of its landscape, its geography or its climate. Therefore, the choice of the venue of this conference is perfect. The organisers of the conference are also perfect, in that both the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association are bodies dedicated to promoting harmony and friendship in human societies. Moreover, the participants are perfect as they are all people with great intellect and experience; people who cherish justice; and people who possess liberal outlook that shuns narrow parochial feelings or holding one’s own view as supreme and who believes in seeking truth from facts. Furthermore, this conference has perfect guidance in the form of a keynote address delivered by no less a person than His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has kindly consented to grace this inaugural session of the conference. So, I have no doubt that this important gathering with four “perfections” as I explained before, will bring about a great outcome that will go a long way in fulfilling the short- and long-term benefits of the Chinese and Tibetan peoples.
All of you participants have taken the trouble to come from distant places or countries across the world to attend this conference, sparing your precious time and money. We are greatly moved and encouraged by this gesture of yours, as it clearly shows how much importance you attach to the unity between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples and how much responsibility you shoulder upon yourselves to actually bring about this. While welcoming all of you to this conference, I — on behalf of the entire Tibetan people — would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to each one of you present here.
As every one gathered here knows, Tibetans and Chinese have lived in friendship as brothers and sisters for the most part of their long histories, although occasionally they fought wars against each other. On the whole, however, they continued to remain as close neighbours in the past. Since the 7th century onwards, relations began to develop between these two peoples on religious front as well. In the later years of the 13th century, a special relationship called the Priest-Patron relationship was forged between the Chinese Yuan emperors and Tibetan rulers. This unique relationship was replicated even during the period of the Manchu rule over the Chinese nation. The 20th century saw a great change — political, economic and social — taking place across the length and breadth of the planet we live in. Under this global trend for change, the Chinese Communist Party took over the rein of its country and since then, both the Chinese and Tibetan peoples have had to undergo untold sufferings and difficulties. 50 years have elapsed since the flight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and over 80,000 of his Tibetan followers to exile [in 1959]. The six million Tibetan people living in Tibet continue to suffer as it has been over these long and gloomy years; their situation has not changed even to this day. However, His Holiness the Dalai Lama — recognising very clearly that these sufferings are caused by the myopic and narrow Tibet policy framed by a small number of Chinese political leaders and not by the Chinese people — has always made every possible effort to see to it that the Tibetan and Chinese peoples are not separated in their hearts and minds. Seen from the Chinese world also, there are a countless number of people who know the truth showing great respect and reverence to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and sympathising with the Tibetan people. And this community of Tibet sympathisers is today becoming ever more prominent or conspicuous in terms of voicing their support to the Tibetan people. For example, all of us know of the many Chinese nationals from within the Mainland China — and outside it — writing honest articles or opinion pieces on the true situation inside Tibet since the massive and peaceful protests that shook the World’s Roof, beginning March 2008. These articles reflect the viewpoint of the Chinese people at the grassroots level.
Earlier, the Chinese authorities used to describe all Tibetans to be happily reposing trust and confidence in the Chinese government after their having achieved “liberation” from the past “feudal serfdom” and blame a small number of separatist “Dalai Clique’’ for creating all the troubles. Since last year’s popular March incident, however, it has been engaging in a systematic, well-planned activities and propaganda to split the Tibetan and Chinese peoples by portraying the entire Tibetan protests as being anti-Chinese. It seems that there were, among the general Chinese populace, a considerable number of people who harboured animosity towards the Tibetans as a result of their having been deluded by these Chinese official propaganda. But more and more Chinese people are, now, beginning to understand what the reality is with the gradual unfolding of the truth. The recent report on last year’s Tibet protests, published from Beijing, is a clear evidence of the fact that there are many Chinese who do not always let themselves to be befooled by the lies spewed out by the Chinese state propaganda machinery. In this regard, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said many times: “Although my trust in the Chinese leadership is growing thinner and thinner, my trust in the Chinese people is always intact, without undergoing any changes.”
Whereas the unity among nationalities is the basis of a country’s stability, China’s stability is the basis of peace throughout the world. Nobody can take this issue lightly. The exile Tibetan Administration led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, serves as an independent spokesperson of the six million Tibetan people. This Administration has now and again made it amply clear to the relevant authorities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that it firmly holds on to the mutually beneficial Middle-Way policy, which seeks to resolve the problem of Tibet along the line of the existing constitutional provisions of the PRC. The envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama have, in particular, made this very clear — both verbally and in writing — to the heads of China’s Central United Front Work Department in the course of the eight rounds of formal talks and one round of informal talk they have had with them since 2002. That we are committed to finding a solution to the Tibet problem within the Chinese political framework can also be gleaned from the contents of the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for All Tibetans (this memorandum has already been made public now) the Tibetan interlocutors presented to the PRC during the latest, eighth round of talks. From our side, because we are committed to pursuing an approach that does not seek estrangement of the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, there is no change whatsoever in our thinking that in the future also, we should engage in dialogue with the Chinese leadership on the memorandum we submitted last year.
The People’s Republic of China is a multi-nationals country. Those in the governance should, therefore, fulfil the aspirations of all nationalities under its jurisdiction. Should it succeed in doing so, then the unity and equality of nationalities as enshrined in the Chinese constitution will also be realised.
Regarding the ideology, policy and the conduct of works of the current political leadership in China, people have adopted various and sundry means to express their dissatisfaction or disagreement with — and opposition to — these in the past and will, probably, do so in the future as well. What is of utmost importance, however, is that we should see to it that these do not lead to the deterioration of harmonious relationship between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. I would like to urge the participants of this conference to kindly explain to the general Chinese populace the real thinking and position of the Tibetan people, particularly Tibetan exiles, and of the exile Tibetan administration led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama — and thereby bringing about a stable harmonious relationship between the two peoples. I would also like to urge all of you to provide us suggestions or guidance on the future course of action we should take.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our utter dismay over the recent sad turn of events in East Turkestan(Xinjiang). In solidarity with all those who have lost their lives and sustained injuries during that time, as well as the great loss of properties that accompanied it, I offer my condolences and prayers for all of them.
To conclude, I pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the fulfilment of all his wishes. I also pray that the unity between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples may last for thousands of years and that the Tibetans inside and outside Tibet may be reunited soon. May this conference bring about a meaningful outcome! Thank you.
Welcome address by Mr. Jonathan Sisson,
Representative, International Fellowship of Reconciliation
Dialogue among Representatives of Chinese and Tibetan Civil Society Geneva Conference
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, His Holiness,
It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to this gathering. I do so in my capacity as the Geneva representative of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), one of the co-hosts of this conference.
The IFOR is one of the oldest peace organizations in the world, founded in the Netherlands after the First World War to reconcile the enemy nations in Europe and North America. Although initiated in Europe by Christian pacifists who refused to participate in that or in any war, the IFOR has grown over the years to include representatives of all the major spiritual traditions on all continents – Jews and Moslems, Hindus and Buddhists, animists and humanists. What they share as IFOR members is a radical belief - grounded in their respective religious traditions - in the sanctity of all human life and in the need to develop nonviolent alternatives in the pursuit of peace and social justice.
It is this pursuit which brought the IFOR into contact with the Tibet community in exile. In the 1980s, it was the IFOR which first put the issue of human rights in Tibet on the agenda of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Since the mid-90s, the IFOR has been reporting regularly to the Commission and now to the Council on Human Rights on developments concerning the freedom of religion and belief in Tibet.
As outlined in the letter of invitation, the purpose of this conference is to bring together Chinese and Tibetan scholars, educators, journalists, human rights advocates, and others to engage in dialogue. To be sure, to engage in dialogue is more than simply to participate in an exchange of opinion or debate. At the heart of dialogue is a search for truth. No one has a monopoly on truth. In a situation of conflict, truth is split asunder. Each and every side will have its own truth and its own responsibility toward the conflict. This does not mean that responsibility is shared equally, that there is no difference between victims and perpetrators. But it does mean that in every conflict there are multiple truths. To search for truth through dialogue requires us both to formulate our own truth and to listen to the truth of others. Indeed, from a nonviolent perspective, the first and foremost task is to discover the truth of one’s adversary, which is often the truth that we would prefer to deny.
As a Fellowship of Reconciliation, we are of course concerned about the role of dialogue and the search for truth in connection with a process of reconciliation.
From a political perspective, reconciliation is more than simply a question of apology and forgiveness to be resolved among aggrieved parties. Reconciliation is a long-term process which entails a broader examination of and critical reflection on the inter-personal, structural, and cultural dimensions of violence in our societies. It questions the moral values and the oft unjust power relationships which form the foundation of our communities. Increasingly, during the past two decades, these issues have come to light in the context of political transition after violent conflict. Initiatives to confront impunity and to promote the rule of law by investigating past human rights violations have become important factors in accomplishing such transitions. To this end, new international norms have emerged which recognize the rights of victims and the obligations of the State to deal with a legacy of past human rights violations. As such, there is a need to acknowledge publicly the abuses that have taken place, to hold those responsible who have planned, ordered, and committed such abuse, and to rehabilitate and compensate victims. This process of dealing with the past is a pre-requisite for reconciliation.
Clearly, there is long way to go on the path towards reconciliation between China and Tibet. As we know, negotiations between representatives of His Holiness the Dali Lama and the Chinese authorities have not yielded substantial progress and have now been suspended. Yet, there is no alternative to dialogue and the search for truth. The role of civil society in promoting and in engaging in dialogue becomes all the more important in the face of such an impasse on the political level. This is the challenge that we previewed as organizers of this conference and which you as participants have accepted: To formulate your truth, as you see it, and to seek the truth of others. To speak one’s truth in humility, without the intent of imposing it on others is one of the deep lessons of nonviolence. An even deeper lesson emerges when we learn to acknowledge our own responsibility for injustice when formulating our suffering as victims.
I thank you for having accepted our invitation to come to Geneva and to engage in dialogue with your counterparts. What you will practice during these next few days could perhaps lay the foundation for some future truth-seeking process between the Chinese and Tibetan communities at large. Indeed, without wanting to anticipate the results of your dialogue, perhaps this conference may mark the beginning of civil society initiative to create a truth or truth and reconciliation commission as part of a future settlement of the Tibet issue.
Vote of Thanks by Dr. Tashe W. Thaktsang,
President of Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association
Conference in Geneva in August 2009
In the name of the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association (GSTF) I welcome you to this conference and thank you for participating. The Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association was founded 26 years ago by Swiss and Tibetans to work together for the Tibetan cause.
Today GSTF has more than 2000 members, several sections in different cities of Switzerland and a professional office in Zurich with fixed employees. The aims of GSTF for which we strive for in a non-violent way are identical to the ones that all the Tibet Support Groups in the global movement share. I therefore talk to you today on behalf of the international Tibet-Movement.
With deep interest and full of hope we followed the dialogue between the representatives of the Chinese government and the Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Unfortunately, not only the dialogue didn't show any results, but even the request for autonomy for Tibet by the Tibetan government in Exile was rejected by Beijing even though it suggested autonomy within the frame of the Chinese law.
The massive violations of human rights against the Tibetans are still taking place daily in the Autonomous Region of Tibet (TAR) and in other provinces where Tibetans live. The concrete proofs are the impressive protests against the oppression and discrimination of Tibetans in the above-mentioned regions that took place last year.
As you all know, the violent suppression of these protests and the following completely sealing off of the TAR as well as the malicious campaign by the media and the attempt of the Chinese leaders to stir up the Chinese people against the Tibetans, produced an international wave of protests worldwide.
Since the occupation of Tibet, the resistance of the Tibetan people has always been against the politics of Beijing towards Tibet and never against the Chinese people even though reading Chinese mass media last year could have given this impression. The Tibetan people are not against the Chinese people - definitely not. Knowing this fact, an intensive and continuous exchange of views between Chinese and Tibetans besides politics is urgently needed. I am therefore very glad you accepted our invitation.
These days, many members of GSTF are very worried about this inhuman situation in Tibet. We have therefore repeatedly asked several European governments to invite the leaders in Beijing to start an essential dialogue with the Tibetan government in Exile.
Every day the lived reality in the European Union as well as the lived example of Switzerland proves that a synergetic and peaceful coexistence of different ethnical groups with different languages, customs and cultural characteristics is possible and even produces encouraging results. My opinion is that this present European social system has been developed from a continuous and substantial dialogue which is marked by an incessant substantial mutual respect. This dialogue in Europe was and is neither about business nor about a deal but solely about the following of universal human rights. The human rights are undeniable, they are not divisible and therefore there is nothing to argue about. This insight is an achievement of the European Age of Enlightenment.
If this culture of dialogue was the fundament of the understanding between Tibet and China, I would have legitimate hope for a soon and peaceful solution for Tibet.
May this conference contribute to the wellbeing of the Chinese and the Tibetan people! I wish the esteemed participants of this conference a frank exchange of opinions and a pleasant stay in Geneva.
I thank you for your attention.
Dr. med. Tashe W. Thaktsang