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The Great Middle Way Referendum Swindle

posted by The Tibetan Political Review

By Jamyang Norbu (September 3, 2014)

 This is probably the last article I am going to write on the subject of the Middle Way Approach (MWA). I have posted about a dozen pieces on various aspects of this policy: from its crafty (but dishonest) name, its simpleminded political and diplomatic justifications, its screwball economic rationale and its grovelling, too-clever-by-half, modi operandi – the leading one being “outreach to our Chinese brothers and sisters.”

But one cannot go on flogging a dead horse forever. And MWA is a dead. Beijing murdered it on twenty-five or twenty-seven (I just can’t keep track) different “negotiations”. But the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) cannot bring itself to accept this. Like Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho it preserves the hideously dessicated corpse of MWA in a metaphorical cellar in Gangkyi somewhere, desperately trying to reanimate it with videos, websites, workshops, campaigns and so forth, and dealing with those who deny its viability with a large but metaphorical (?) kitchen knife. Dead as it is, there remains one last item of MWA business to be settled. It is this assertion that keeps appearing again and again in many CTA statements:

The Middle-Way Approach was Adopted Democratically

The mutually beneficial Middle-Way policy… adopted democratically by the overwhelming majority of the Tibetans…

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has proposed the Middle Way Approach and has been adopted democratically by Tibetans.

The Middle-Way policy was adopted democratically — through unanimous agreement

Every one of these statements are bald-faced lies. There is no other way to express it. If I tried to put it any more diplomatically I am afraid I might end up telling a lie myself.

Background to the Referendum

On 15 June 1988, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg surrendered the sovereignty of the Tibetan nation and in return requested China to allow Tibet to become an autonomous and democratic political entity within the PRC. Near the conclusion of his address the Dalai Lama said “… most Tibetans will be disappointed”, but he also gave this assurance “… the Tibetan people themselves must be the ultimate deciding authority… in a nationwide referendum.”

On September 23,1988 China issued a statement saying it was prepared to negotiate. The exile government made its first mistake by including Michael Van Walt, the self-styled “Dalai Lama’s lawyer” in its negotiating team. Beijing objected to the presence of a foreigner. It also objected to the team being “only young people”, and suggested the inclusion of the Dalai Lama’s older brother. Gyalo Thondup had already met Deng Xiaoping in 1979, Hu Yaobang in 1981, Yang Mingfu on October 17 1987 and other Chinese leaders on different occasions. Beijing further rejected Dharamshala’s proposal of Geneva as a neutral venue and insisted on Beijing or Hong Kong. Once Dharamshala had agreed to all the changes, Beijing refused to communicate with it any further.

In April 1993, following a performance at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (at which I was present) His Holiness made an unexpected political statement which hit the exile-community like a bombshell. He stated that “..the many efforts made by him and the Tibetan government to negotiate with China had made no headway. He also expressed his fears that Chinese overtures concealed a darkly insidious and long term plan for ensuring the end of Tibetans as a nation and people. He concluded that Tibet now faced its greatest danger in the ever-increasing migration of Chinese settlers.”[1]

My first story on this appeared in the September 15 ’93 issue of  MANGTSO (Democracy) the independent Tibetan language newspaper. I reported that earlier on 5th August “Gyalo Thondup had admitted to the Tibetan Parliament that all his discussion with the Chinese for the past fourteen years had achieved nothing. Furthermore, he added that he had been constantly browbeaten by Chinese officials, who never listened to anything he had to say.”

Later that year at the conference of the Cholkha Sum (Three Provinces) organization held at Dharamshala, His Holiness again spoke of the failure of his initiative. Somewhat unexpectedly and to the discomfiture of all present, he also publicly reprimanded his own brother Gyalo Thondup for telling him that Beijing was not only ready to negotiate but even prepared to settle all issues through discussion except for the issue of independence.

The kashag released all the documents and letters between it and China since 1979, and MANGTSO printed a special issue with a ten page supplement on October 31 1993. Other Tibetan journals as Tibetan Review and Sheja published these letters and also articles and commentaries. That same year “The Dalai Lama also released a statement, where in no uncertain terms, he stated that all the efforts by him and his government to negotiate with China had failed”[2] He repeated this in his 1994 March 10th statement. Then in his 10th March statement of 1995 the Dalai Lama declared:

Many Tibetans have voiced unprecedented criticism of my suggestion that we should compromise on the issue of total independence. Moreover, the failure of the Chinese government to respond positively to my conciliatory proposals has deepened the sense of impatience and frustration among my people. Therefore, I proposed last year that this issue be submitted to a referendum.

But vested interests within the administration and certain outside organization that funded the CTA (one being the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Germany) were determined to ensure that the Dalai Lama never raised the issue of independence again.

Planning the Referendum

A preliminary meeting was convened in Dharamsala on August 21, 1995, chaired by the speaker of the exile Parliament, Samdong Rinpoche, and attended by members of the Kashag, members of parliament and Secretaries of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to discuss the parameters and organization of the referendum.  The first two choices in the proposed referendum were Rangzen and MWA.  These were obviously the only two choices there were, and by any common-sense standard should have been the only ones. Even now, twenty years later, we only talk of the MWA/Rangzen debate. There is no other issue or party in this dispute.

But two other absolutely irrelevant options were added, almost certainly to downplay the stark and disquieting contrast between the two main choices, and muddy the waters of what now was evolving into a disquieting swindle. Samdong Rimpoche offered his own recondite pseudo-Gandhian doctrine of “Truth Insistence” (denpae utsu) as one further choice. If that weren’t bizarre enough someone else proposed “Self-determination” as a choice for the referendum.  “If you are holding a referendum, you do not include ‘do we have the right to hold a referendum’ as one of the choices” as someone on TSG-List observed. Self-determination is a right granted to all peoples in the Charter of the United Nations, and explicitly recognized in the case of the Tibetan people by the UN General Assembly in Resolution – 2079 (XX) in 1965. Chosing Rangzen or MWA in a referendum is exercising your right to Self-Determination, even if you do not choose the “Self-Determination” option.

On September 2, 1995 the Kashag issued a 12-page instruction to the heads of Tibetan Settlements outlining the four options: Rangzen, MWA, Truth Insistence and Self-Determination to be considered for the referendum. In August 1996 small teams of MPs traveled to various settlements to explain the four options to the Tibetan people and to conduct the actual referendum. They immediately ran into a minefield of controversy.

Conducting the Referendum

One of the first referendum meetings was held at Rajpur,  a settlement relatively close to Dharamshala. That same evening at the Amnye Machen Institute we received a phone call from a former reporter for MANGTSO who had attended the meeting. He told us that in their presentation, the MPs had dropped not very subtle hints that failure to vote for MWA would be tantamount to disloyalty to the Dalai Lama. The public became confused but also very angry. A former (very) senior Kashag minister, Mr. W.G. Kundeling [3], who had retired to Rajpur was the first to speak after the MPs. He flat out declared that he found the whole idea of giving up the goal of independence unacceptable but that he also had no desire to go against the wishes of His Holiness. He would therefore not take part in such a referendum. Others spoke up, saying much the same thing. A few also pointed out that since the Dalai Lama had openly declared that his MWA policy had failed in his last two 10th March statements how could he now be asking the public to vote for MWA?

It must be remembered that Rangzen or independence had been till recently the single sacred goal of every exile Tibetan, repeated ad infinitum in all the Dalai Lama’s 10th March speeches, in TIPA songs and performances, and in children’s education from kindergarten till college. Since Taiwan did not recognize Tibet’s independence and claimed Tibet to be an autonomous part of China, those Tibetans who took financial support from Taiwan were regarded as traitors. The fact that Taiwan was anti-Communist and actively anti-PRC did not matter. Entire exile communities were ostracized and a number of violent clashes, even a few murders happened because of this issue. It was devastating to Tibetans to be told they had to give up independence.

In Rajpur nearly everyone declared that they would not participate in the referendum. Some added that if the parliament and CTA wanted the Dalai Lama to continue with MWA, they should tell him so themselves and not “wipe their hands on the public” (mimang la lakpa chig). Words of the Rajpur meeting spread quickly throughout the exile world and in communities like the one in New York angry words were exchanged with CTA officials. Nearly everywhere people refused to participate in the referendum.

Spinning the Referendum

Back in Dharamshala this whole debacle was misrepresented and reinvented by the exile Parliament under Samdong Rinpoche, in a breathtakingly deceitful manner. An initial statement was issued claiming that the earlier public meetings organized by the MPs had not been to hold referendums but only conduct polls to collect “…suggestions and public opinions on whether the referendum was to be held …(also) many asked to extend the date for further discussion on the options. There are many suggestions that asked to add one more option ‘His Holiness the Dalai Lama to decide according to the prevailing situation and changing political environment from time to time’.” Then on September 18, 1997 during the fourth session of the 12th exile parliament, a unanimous resolution was passed.

Among the views received from the Tibetan public, following a preliminary poll, the majority expressed preference for dispensing with the referendum, leaving it to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to take decisions from time to time in accordance with the prevailing political situation and circumstance. Altogether 64.60 percent of the opinions received demanded that the referendum be not held and favoured for His Holiness and the Central Tibetan Administration to decide.

The “preliminary poll” referred to was the failed effort in August 1996 to conduct the referendum in Tibetan settlements and communities. The 64.60% is a complete invention. No one is certain whether the public refusal to participate in the referendum was expressed by a show of hands, paper ballots or walk-outs. Nearly all the meetings had ended chaotically. To expose the lie of the 64.60% claim I recall that my friend Lhasang Tsering la formally requested the Parliament to reveal what the remaining 35.40% of the opinions were for. No answer was forthcoming.

The Tibetan public had refused to take part in the referendum and had not said they were “… leaving it to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to take decisions from time to time.” Everyone, especially MPs, were aware of how counter-productive and unfair it was to His Holiness to force him to make purely political decisions like this on his own. About a decade earlier, in 1981, elections were canceled and it was decided to have the Dalai Lama select MPs through a kind of divinatory process called yeshe emche.[4] His Holiness’s choice of new MPs proved even worse than the earlier elected MPs. In 1987 a hitch developed in this novel system when everyone selected by the Dalai Lama for a new Parliament declined to serve. Tibetan democracy hit an all-time low.

The phrase “from time to time” in both the statements is a complete invention and also a case of what Shakespeare might call “gilding the lily”. The Parliament not only wanted to permanently establish MWA as CTA’s signature policy but also wanted to ensure that whatever changes developed in the future, they would have enough cover through the phraseology “from time to time” to make the necessary adjustments to perpetuate the status quo. It was low cunning but also prescient. No matter how much one may disagree with His Holiness on MWA it must be admitted that he does have the moral courage and honesty to accept and act on a truth, even one unpalatable to him, when those sycophants and time-servers surrounding him have not had the time to hide it from him or distort it to their advantage.

The Second Referendum Swindle

On October 25th 2008, following the brutal crackdown on the massive anti-Chinese protests in Tibet, His Holiness, speaking at the Tibetan Children’s Village declared that the lack of any sincerity from the Chinese government in the dialogue process and the worsening state of affairs within Tibet following the widespread anti-China protests had made it impossible for him to continue with his current policy. “I have now asked the Tibetan government-in-exile, as a true democracy-in-exile, to decide in consultation with the Tibetan people how to take the dialogue forward”, the Dalai Lama said. An “Emergency Meeting” was called for that November.

A news report from the Dalai Lama’s private secretariat quickly followed. “The future course of the Tibetan movement, including the possibility of a historic switch from demanding autonomy to a demand for full independence, will be the focus of a special meeting next month of around 300 delegates representing the worldwide exiled Tibetan community. ‘The only non-negotiable aspect is that the movement will still be non-violent. Everyone is agreed on that,” the Dalai Lama’s spokesman Tenzin Taklha told AFP.’”

Tibetans everywhere became tremendously excited and galvanized, far more than in ’95. In 2008 large-scale revolutionary protests had not only erupted throughout the Tibetan plateau, but the exile public and supporters had conducted what seemed like a never ending series of well-publicized demonstrations, actions and peace marches everywhere around the globe. Dharamshala became full to bursting with international TV crews and journalists for the Emergency Meeting.

But in spite of His Holiness clear call for a transformation of our fundamental policy. Samdong Rimpoche (now prime-minister) in an interview on Voice of Tibet said “We are committed to our Middle Way Approach and we will continue our efforts for a genuine autonomy within China’s framework, and that will not change.” Under Rinpoche’s aegis the Tibetan People’s Movement for MWA was organized and Samdhong Rimpoche delivered the principal address at its first conference in February 2008,

As prime-minister, Rinpoche made sure only MWA Movement leaders, officials, settlement heads and MPs, serving and retired, were invited and paid full travel expenses, including full airfare from USA, Europe and elsewhere. No one else received expenses or even invitations. The largest political organization in the exile world, The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), was only allocated two seats. All other Rangzen based organizations and individuals did not receive invitations. A number of us went anyway – on our own dime. We were a very small minority at the Meeting.

Members of Rinpoche’s MWA Movement – essentially the same mahjong playing, religious-right, yahoo politicians responsible for mob-attacking Tibetan journalists and scholars who disagreed with the establishment – had in previous months held public meetings in Tibetan settlements where they set about poisoning the minds of the older generation against the TYC and Students For Free Tibet (SFT)  whom they claimed had gone against the Dalai Lama’s wishes with their mass protests and peace marches earlier that year. They also exploited the ignorance and fears of the common people with scare stories, one being that the Government of India would deport all Tibetan refugees to China if they gave up MWA and adopted Rangzen.

On the second day of the Emergency Meeting it became clear what the strategy of Samdong Rinpoche and his followers was going to be. MWA Movement members and representatives of Tibetan settlements and centers in India and Nepal insisted that the written proceedings and resolutions of the public meetings they had earlier organized back in their communities, be included in the records and resolutions of the Emergency Meeting. These documents (completely unverified or unattested) overwhelmed whatever discussions had taken place in the Emergency Meeting itself. Practically no mention was made in the final resolution of alternative policy ideas and strategies that had been raised at the meeting by the few Rangzen advocates.

The concluding session of the Emergency Meeting created the distinct impression of near unanimous support for MWA. In his concluding speech Samdong Rinpoche’s declared victory claiming that over 90 percent of Tibetans clearly supported MWA.

This is a very brief overview of what happened at the Emergency Meeting and the events leading up to it. For those of you who want a more detailed account check out my two blog posts: Making The November Meeting Work and A Not So Special Meeting.

Another Minor Swindle

Getting back to his Holiness’s original Strasburg Proposal of 1988, it is clear that he had not consulted the Tibetan people or even the exile-parliament before making his proposal. In the original Proposal the Dalai Lama mentions that he and his cabinet had only solicited the advice of friends and concerned persons, and just the name of former US president Jimmy Carter is mentioned in the document. Even CTA brochures and publications made no claims that the Strasburg Proposal itself was adopted democratically. But recently I came across a statement in an official website where on Section D: Middle Way Approach was Adopted Democratically, this claim was made:

Before His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a statement in the European parliament in Strasbourg on 15 June 1988-a four-day special conference was organised in Dharamsala from 6 June 1988. This conference was attended by the members of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies and the Kashag, public servants, all the Tibetan settlement officers and the members of the local Tibetan Assemblies, representatives from the Tibetan NGOs, newly-arrived Tibetans and special invitees. They held extensive discussions on the text of the proposal and finally endorsed it unanimously.

I was rather taken aback by this Stalinist style rewriting of political history and telephoned former MPs, and officials and asked about this meeting. One former MP who had actually attended the meeting did not remember any four-day confab. He claimed that a day or two before the Dalai Lama’s announcement, officials in Dharamshala including directors of TCV, TIPA, the Medical Center and MP’s were told to gather at the Kashag auditorium. They were told in strictest confidence that the Dalai Lama would be making the Strasburg proposal, and that Tibet’s independence was being given up for “genuine autonomy”. All the officials gathered were not asked for their opinions, but were told that after the Dalai Lama’s announcement there would most likely be anger and confusion within the community and they were to make sure that criticisms and negative talk did not spread. They were briefed on how to answer questions from the public. This was not a conference for democratic dialogue but a damage control briefing. The meeting was held in great secrecy and for just one afternoon. No representative of the Dalai Lama from Europe, USA, Japan or Nepal, nor the heads of the settlements, schools, monasteries and organizations outside of Dharamshala attended the meeting.

Tibetans have a nice saying about anyone overdoing something or gilding the lily as I mentioned earlier.”If the caretaker is too skillful with his polishing he might turn the gold (-plated) statue into brass.”

Ku-nyer chigda kheyna, serku rak la tang yong.


The Middle Way was not adopted democratically. Far from it. Instead the lies and swindles of officials and MPs led by Samdong Rinpoche, to foist a phony referendum on the exile public have undoubtedly undermined Tibetan democracy. They also effectively sabotaged His Holiness’s genuine attempts, in 1995 and 2008, to democratically consult with the Tibetan people and find a workable alternative to the Middle Way Approach.



[1] Edward Lazar, Tibet:The Issue is Independence, Parallax Press, Berkeley California, 1994 pp 26-27.

[2] Jamyang Norbu, Shadow Tibet: Selected Writing 1989 to 2004, High Asia Press, New York, 2004, pp 110-111

[3] Woeser Gyaltsen Kundeling along with Dronyer-chenmo Phala was instrumental in the Dalai Lama’s escape in 1959. In the PRC’s first proclamation on the Lhasa Uprising issued by Premier Zhou Enlai on March 28, 1959, Kundeling is prominently named – “Weisegeltsang (Kundelinchasa)”– as one the eighteen leading traitors. Some time after the meeting Kundeling was violently attacked at his home by masked intruders. He fortunately survived. Some have suggested that the attack might have resulted from his opposition to MWA. But that is conjecture.

[4] Jamyang Norbu, “Opening of the Political Eye”, Tibetan Review, November 30th, 1990

Originally published at

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SFT LHAKAR AWARD THANK YOU from Jose Esteve & Alan Cantos

posted Sep 14, 2014, 5:32 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Sep 14, 2014, 5:38 PM ]

(Click photo to enlarge)

17 August 2014

Dear friends of SFT and Lhakar,

Jose is unable to record his own message at this time so I will be talking on behalf of both. We are truly touched by this award and recognition that you are giving us.

It is almost 15 years ago now that Jose started his amazing work to study the legal history and status of Tibet in international law and wrote the first lawsuit. I was glad to help him. We submitted two criminal lawsuits to hold Chinese officials accountable for international crimes committed in Tibet. Our courts accepted and investigated the crimes of genocide, torture, crimes against humanity, war crime amongst others. We had no idea of the obstacles we were going to face.

We were able do it because from the beginning we focused on the victims and their families, we were inspired by their courage and example of resistance. The rest is noise, really. We want to be able to say Never Again! We have always thought that International Law is a peaceful and way to resolve difficult conflicts. It is also an excellent way of campaigning for truth and accountability, therefore we believe it has the elements of ACTIVE non-violent resistance based on truth and facing the opponent, that is of Satyagraha.

As we have seen in Cambodia, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina etc, International Law and Universal Jurisdiction, despite its imperfections, is a powerful tool to recognize certain crimes and stop impunity. It is a vital pillar of modern democracy. Your award will help us keep up the legal fight this time against our own government who in shameful and complicit submission to China has temporarily shelved the Tibet case by a brutal and sloppy reform of our law. Our government has massacred the vital independence of the judicial in Spain, and threatens to close all the other UJ cases.

We will not rest until this indignity has been reversed and the Tibet case and the judicial independence is restored. Other lawyers in other countries should take note of this, present lawsuits against rampant impunity in Tibet or Gaza or elsewhere and learn to say NO! Basta! to the perpetrators.

Thanks to your support as ACTIVE and courageous Tibetan campaigners, with this award it is easier to never give up. Thank you from Jose and I. It is a great boost to our work!

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Tibetan Freedom Struggle Reflects 'Polarity of Voices,' says Dalai Lama Aide

posted Sep 13, 2014, 8:42 AM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Sep 14, 2014, 5:29 PM ]

By Richard Finney (September 4, 2014, Radio Free Asia)

 The Tibetan exile community may have differences in views on the best approach to win freedom for Tibetans in China, but these can be accommodated within the community’s growing experience of democracy,  a key aide to the Dalai Lama says.

Divisions have long persisted in the Tibetan exile community over questions of how best to advance the rights and freedoms of Tibetans living in China, with some calling for a return of the independence lost when Chinese troops marched into the self-governing region in 1949.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, and Tibet’s India-based exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), have instead adopted a Middle Way Approach, accepting Tibet’s present status as a part of China while urging greater cultural and religious freedoms for the Tibetan people.

“There’s room for both [groups] to voice their views and express themselves,” said the Dalai Lama’s Representative to the Americas Kaydor Aukatsang, speaking on Tuesday—the 54th anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day—at the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), a Washington-based  advocacy group.

“Conventional wisdom would say that for a freedom struggle, it would make much more sense to have a unified position, a single view and a single voice,” Aukatsang said. “But in our society today, in Tibetan society, there’s a polarity of voices and positions.”

Following centuries of rule in Tibet by a line of Dalai Lamas, the present fourteenth Dalai Lama began in exile to slowly introduce democratic reforms, beginning in 1960 with the seating of representatives to an India-based Tibetan exile parliament.

This was followed by the drafting of a governing charter, by the introduction of universal suffrage, and finally by the election in 2011 of an exile Tibetan political leader, or Sikyong.  

And though the Dalai Lama has now transferred his political role and authority to the current Sikyong, his policy preferences and views still naturally dominate political debate in the Tibetan exile community.

'Many voices'

This may someday change, said National Endowment for Democracy senior director for Asia and Global Programs Brian Joseph, also speaking at the Washington forum.

“Looking forward, you are unlikely to have one voice dominate as it does today,” Joseph said.

“Including different voices, allowing for dissent, and recognizing that there are going to be opposition voices who disagree with you vociferously but still support the cause, is the essential change that will have to take place for the Tibetan community.”

In other modern freedom struggles, “there were many, many voices,” Joseph said, adding, “These were geared toward the same objectives, but with different policies, different tactics, sometimes slightly different desired outcomes—but in essence a commitment to the same goals.”

“You can have people pushing for autonomy, or people pushing for independence, in a manner that reinforces each other even if they’re not coordinated,” Joseph said.

Candidates for election as Tibetan leaders have so far run as individuals supporting the Middle Way Approach. “[But] there’s nobody that’s stopping anybody from establishing any kind of an entity or a body that would represent their views,” Aukatsang said, speaking at ICT.

“Whether as an individual or as a group of like-minded people, you can start something.  So there’s an opportunity.”

“If you want to run as a party, and you want to have candidates that are part of that party, you can put that out there to the electorate and say I’m so and so, and I represent this party, and my party stands for x, y, and z.”

“You can test that and see how much of a buy-in you get from people,” he said.

Copyright © 1998-2014, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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"Conflict & Resolution: A Response to Liu Juning"

posted Sep 11, 2014, 6:16 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

By Shokjang (June 7, 2014)

 High Peaks Pure Earth has translated an article by Tibetan intellectual, writer and blogger Shokjang (aka Druklo) on June 7, 2014. It was posted in Chinese and Tibetan on Woeser’s blog on June 30, 2014.
Shokjang’s piece is a dense rumination on China’s ethnic policies and his is a rare outspoken Tibetan voice in this debate that has been taking place amongst Chinese intellectuals for a few years now. Shokjang’s article was written as a response to Chinese liberal scholar Liu Junning whose March 2014 article “Rethinking the Policy of Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Light of the Kunming Incident” is available online in Chinese here.

The Kunming Incident named in the title took place on March, 1, 2014 at the main train station in Kunming and in which at least 28 people were killed in knife attacks. According to Chinese state media, the attacks “have clearly indicated a despicable trend that separatists are targeting civilians out of Xinjiang.”

Chinese government policies towards minority nationalities, inherited from the former USSR, have been debated amongst Chinese intellectuals such as Liu Junning, Wang Hui and Ma Rong with many of them advocating different types of reform. Wang Lixiong also wrote an article “The Elephant and the Mouse” published on the Chinese pages of New York Times, in response to Liu Junning which was published in English and Tibetan translation on Woeser’s blog.

For a much more in-depth overview on ethnic policies and these debates, see the 2013 publication from the East-West Center, “Ethnic Policy in China: Is Reform Inevitable” by James Leibold.

High Peaks Pure Earth would like to thank Palden Gyal from Merabsarpa Journal for the impressive translation from Tibetan to English.

 The article, “Rethinking the Policy of Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Light of the Kunming Incident” by Liu Junning is undoubtedly a thoughtful piece, and likewise, the policies enunciated regarding ethnic autonomy are clearly different from that of Ma Rong’s radical views. Although many intellectuals and educated individuals in Tibet are stunned by Liu’s policy proposals, I think it is not really that inconceivable or undreamed of on mature reflection. My first reading of this article called to mind Ma Rong’s essay and his views. As a regular reader of Liu’s writings, I am aware that Liu’s views on the ethnic autonomy policies are quite incompatible with that of Ma Rong. This is undeniably clear from reading their articles in a comparative manner. Recently, I have translated two articles proposing quite different views by Liu Junning and Wang Lixiong respectively. My sole objective was to present their contrasting views on the issue to the Tibetan public with the hope of stimulating some serious discussions, reflections and responses of critical and constructive commentary. As it calls for, I am going to share some thoughts as a reflection or response to Liu’s piece, and I apologise for the much-delayed response.

Generally, I think the ethnic autonomy model of administration is not the cause of conflicts among nationalities in China. As Liu puts it, despite the fact that this model is a relic of the Soviet Union, employed by Stalin to achieve the ends of a totalitarian regime, it does not follow that it is the origin of conflict and consternation among nationalities in China. On the contrary, I think the model of ethnic autonomous administration would function more efficiently if it was based on the provincial administration of ethnic autonomy. As we all know, the recent years saw an upsurge in internal conflicts and disquiet in China, and I also think that the only way out to resolve these conflicts is the implementation of autonomous administration of provinces. This invites us to convert the existing ethnic autonomy model to autonomous provinces model. I think this is significant in terms of answering the problem of conflict and strife between nationalities in China.

In recent times, China saw a series of alarming ethnic frictions especially in the Tibetan and Uyghur regions as matters of pressing ethnic issues. These conflicts and contentions are not engendered by the system of the ethnic autonomous administration model, but are prompted by a historical consciousness. It is not easy to expunge a history of collective memory of these nationalities. Liu’s suggestion for the deletion of the term “ethnicity” [Ch:民族, minzu / nationality] is not just futile as a point of solution; it in fact might induce an unprecedented feeling of fear and threat to the existence of nationalities in the people who might see it as a final nail to the coffin of their ethnic group. As Liu acknowledges, the present government is striving hard to implement as well as amplify the policy of mass migration of Chinese population to regions of autonomous ethnic provinces inhabited by ethnic minorities, and at the same time the government is also claiming to invest a lot in the preservation of language and culture of its ethnic minorities. One day, if the model of autonomous ethnic administration is utterly eliminated and when the question of “ethnicity/nationality” on the identity cards and personal documents are erased in a universal egalitarian manner, it is plausibly predictable that the unique cultures and traditions of ethnic minorities are doomed to be assimilated to the point of complete disappearance. When that happens, undoubtedly, it is going to leave an inconceivable wound of loss in the hearts and minds of all the ethnic minorities.

In reality, the current model of ethnic autonomous administration is merely a print on the paper. The true nature of “autonomous administration” of these autonomous nationalities could be seen from the number of government officials from the regions themselves in their own local governments. An essential component of the ethnic autonomy system is that the people of these nationalities exercise self-rule with a certain degree of independence from Beijing. And thus these nationalities can protect and preserve their language, culture, and religion. Today one of the most alarming concerns of the educated individuals of most ethnic minorities is the predicament of their language and culture with its fate nearing the precipice of extinction. If there is any veracity to Beijing’s commitment to real autonomous administration of these nationalities, then the implementation of policies concerning the protection and preservation of language and culture of ethnic minorities must be upheld seriously. On the contrary, if we blame all the internal conflicts and acts of hostility among ethnic groups on the system of ethnic autonomous administration, then as Wang Lixiong suggests, isn’t it “the destruction of the ultimate armour of ethnic minorities?”

As a liberal, Liu Junning must appreciate the right to self-determination of the nationalities in China. Do we ever ask for the reasons why China deprives Tibet, Uyghur and others of this right? Let alone the question of right to self-determination, these minorities are dispossessed of their rights to protect and preserve their culture, language and religion. I find it disappointing to realize and reflect on why someone so progressive like Liu Junning manages to sweep these issues under the carpet. Recently, a Uyghur book dealer was persecuted for selling a large number of religious books, while Tibetans are prohibited to display photos of their most revered religious leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in their own homes. These examples are illustrative of the status of our “rights” laid down in the administrative model of ethnic autonomy. In reality, we are dispossessed of these basic rights.

I have read Liu Junning’s article, “Freedom of Association” which greatly influenced and stimulated me. In an attempt to introduce it to the Tibetan audience, I translated the piece into Tibetan. As Liu states in the article, freedom of association is an essential component of liberal democracy. The French political thinker, Alexis de Tocqueville, once remarked that the significance of freedom of association in American democracy is incomparable. The fact that there is no right to freedom of association in China seems to indicate that either we are ill-suited and incompatible with freedom and democracy, or because we have this “special system” of ethnic autonomy. It is true that the general level of education of the populace in these regions is relatively low, but could this be a stumbling block for democracy? As Liu states, an independent democratic system will provide conditions for improving the general education of the masses. If this is so, then why are we stripped off our rights to protect and preserve our language and culture? And why are those who attempt to do so are persecuted? I think I understand what Liu is trying to say. We share the belief that a well-functioning system of autonomous administration of provinces, based on the fundamental ideals of human equality, can be established. I too detest these events of death and violence in China. I believe this is the mainstream opinion of Tibetans, and quite conceivably, it might also be the dominant public opinion of Uyghurs. However, to establish such a new administrative model, do we have to utterly liquidate the current system of ethnic autonomy? I think this is an irrevocable mistake. In this regard, I tend to agree with Wang Lixiong. Tibetans and Uyghurs have a very different concept of national consciousness and value system from their Chinese counterparts. The idea of destroying the system that supposedly sustains the distinctive cultural and ethnic characteristics of these nationalities in achieving the political purpose of assimilation overlooks some grave implications. First, as a result of differences in our individual values system, cultural conflicts and clashes are bound to prevail. Obviously, the attitudinal as well as differences in lifestyle are quietly strikingly different.

In the last few decades, many Tibetans have been striving for either independence or autonomy, and this is clearly one of the most pressing internal problems of China today. As we all know, over a hundred Tibetans have sacrificed their lives for this cause. As an issue that arrested the world in complete shock, this is not an ordinary event in the history that easily bypasses the public memory in a short span of time. Even though the system of ethnic autonomy could be replaced by a federal system of autonomous administration of provinces, how could Tibetans simply erase this episode of historical resentment and rancour from their memory? However, Tibetans do not wish or aspire to create conflict and violence among nationalities in China; they solely aspire for an autonomous Tibetan nationality within China. I would hazard that the same applies to Uyghurs too. So, the strategy of annihilating the rights of nationalities is a seriously harmful and a thoughtless scheme. On the contrary, with the current model of autonomous nationalities as a basis, if a federal system of autonomous administration of provinces based on the principles of liberty and equality is established, which I think is feasible, internal conflicts between ethnic groups would simply subside and disappear.

Since the early 1980s, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been advocating for autonomy for Tibetans. One must appreciate that this is a resolution that is beneficial to both parties. I am aware that Liu Junning proposes a policy that claims to treat Han Chinese and other ethnic minorities equally in an effort to establish an egalitarian Socialist society. However, there are a few risks with his proposal. First, many Tibetan intellectuals and educated individuals read his proposal as similar and/or suggestive of Ma Rong’s thoughts. This is detrimental to both sides, because this seems to support the idea that there is no difference of viewpoint on the issue between the Chinese intellectuals and the government. I think it is imperative that we reconsider Wang Lixiong’s concerns on the matter. With the basic principles of liberty and equality at its foundation, we are all striving towards the project of creating an ideal socialist society for future. I write this reflection with the great concern that it would be extremely disappointing and remorseful if little differences of opinion and misunderstanding were to eventuate a departure between the Chinese and Tibetan intellectuals. Even though I am still left with a feeling of lacking or an inability to express some of my own views here, my pure intention and goodwill in writing this response should suffice.

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Statement of Tibetan National Congress on 54th Anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day

posted Sep 6, 2014, 8:38 AM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Sep 7, 2014, 5:11 PM ]

By Tibetan National Congress (September 2, 2014)

Fifty-four years ago today, the first democratically-elected Tibetan representatives took their oath of office in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. At that time, Tibetans in exile hoped that the forced separation from their beloved homeland would be a short one. Over half a century later, we are still in exile, and our brothers and sisters in Tibet still live under foreign occupation. And yet, it is more certain than ever that the tide of freedom cannot be stopped, and freedom will soon come to Tibet.

Moreover, the democracy that we Tibetans celebrate in exile is equally the right of our brothers and sisters in Tibet. Democracy is a universal value that none of us in exile has the right to abandon on behalf of our brethren in Tibet. On this Democracy Day, TNC pledges to work tirelessly until democracy is brought to a free and independent Tibet.

The critical importance of democracy has been spoken about eloquently elsewhere; we believe it is self-evident, so we will not belabor the point. Instead, we would like to make two simple observations, and to announce the release of an important document.

First, democracy depends on the people electing good representatives. On the 40th anniversary of Democracy Day in 2000, the Kashag stated that “it is of utmost importance for all of us to ensure that the people we elect to the [Parliament] are learned, able, dedicated, honest, and unfettered by regional prejudices. Only such people will be able to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of the Tibetan community as a whole.”

Second, democracy is a continual process that requires constant engagement by the people. The people’s role does not cease when they cast their ballot. Democracy requires a constant dialogue and respectful debate among the citizens and their representatives.

In this spirit, TNC pledges to do our utmost to contribute to a strong Tibetan democracy. As part of this pledge, TNC is pleased to announce the release of a document entitled “Tibetan Independence is the Only Path Forward: Fifteen Basic Questions and Answers.”[1] We hope that it will allow the Tibetan people to better evaluate the facts and arguments surrounding the most important issue facing the Tibetan nation. We believe that the Tibetan people will find this document useful as they exercise their democratic rights and obligations.

On this 54th Democracy Day, we pledge to put first and foremost the interests of the whole Tibetan people. We pledge to play a constructive role in Tibetan elections, and in Tibetan governance. And we pledge to ensure that the principal mandate of the Tibetan government-in-exile — the struggle for an independent Tibet — is carried out with unwavering integrity and determination.

Long live His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Long live a free, democratic, and independent Tibet.

Bhod Gyalo!

Jigme Ugen



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TCHRD call for internationalization of democratic culture

posted Sep 5, 2014, 8:57 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

By Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (Sept. 2, 2014)

TCHRD calls for internalization of democratic culture on Tibetan Democracy Day

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy Day. On this important occasion, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) would like to extend greetings to the Tibetan people living in and out of Tibet. Fifty-four years ago, on 2 September 1960, under the leadership of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the first Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies (CTPD) took their oaths of office in Dharamsala, India. This ushered in, for the first time in our history, a system of political governance based on the principles of liberal democracy. The CTPD is now known as the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

In the decades since the first CTPD was sworn in, Tibetan democracy in exile has evolved. The exile Tibetan leadership and public became progressively more active and took many important decisions. In 1963, a constitution for future Tibet was adopted. This constitution established the rules for how the Tibetan government-in-exile would function. It was followed by the adoption of the ‘Charter for Tibetans in exile’ in 1991, which paved the way for more direct representation in the exile Tibetan government. This led to the direct election of Kalon Tripa (head of the exile Tibetan administration) in 2001, a profusion of non-governmental organizations, including TCHRD, and most significantly, the devolution of the Dalai Lama’s political authority to an elected leadership in March 2011.

TCHRD would like to acknowledge that such momentous changes in our exile democratic system would not have been possible without the inspiration and the determination of the Tibetan people, both in Tibet and in exile, who have shown tremendous resilience in the face of Chinese assault on Tibetan culture, civilization and way of life.

However, the process of creating a completely fair and representative democracy requires constant work and attention. Even the world’s oldest and largest democracies still can improve. Through sacrifice and perseverance there have been key democratic changes since 1960, such as the division of power among the legislature, executive and judiciary, and the direct election of Sikyong or the political leader of the Tibetan people. We must build upon these sacrifices to continue to strive for a more democratic society.

On Democracy Day, we must remember not only to look back at how far we have come but also look forward to see what more we must do. We must strive to internalize a culture of democracy that embraces diverse social, political and religious ideas. We must constantly maintain a society that encourages and rewards people with creative and constructive solutions to the varied problems that beset our community. We must build upon the sacrifices of the past to deepen the entrenchment of secular, human values such as openness, compassion, mutual respect and tolerance for diverse opinions and dissent.

Looking at the so-called village election process organized by the Chinese government in Tibet, it is clear that democracy entails more than the practice of holding periodic elections or building institutions. Democracy must become the guiding principle of our daily lives, based on the twin pillars of freedom and social justice. We must strive to ensure that all Tibetans have equal access to political, civil, economic, and social rights. We must strive towards the decentralization of power and redistribution of resources, especially towards those people who live on the margins of the community.

The treatment of Tibetans inside Tibet and the unwillingness of the Chinese government to resolve the issue of Tibet must be a call to action and not a cause for despair. History is witness to the fact that ideals sow the seeds of creative revitalization of societies, and those that have given up on the ideals of humanity eventually suffer from stagnation and death. Our greatest source of strength, both inside and outside of Tibet, is our commitment to our values—our determination to constantly strive and advocate for improvement.

Under such circumstances, a restoration of faith in the ideals of democracy, combined with our ongoing efforts to rebuild our culture and religion in exile, and the inspiration of our brothers and sisters in Tibet who stand firm in their non-violent resistance to the Chinese onslaught despite grave and violent consequences will give us the much-needed strength and hope to restore our long-deserved freedom and dignity.

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Statement of the Kashag on 54th Anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day

posted Sep 5, 2014, 8:46 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

By the Kashag (September 2, 2014)

Today, as we celebrate the 54th anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day, the Kashag extends its warm greetings to all fellow Tibetans in and outside Tibet. On this joyous occasion, we express our heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for granting the Tibetan people the precious gift of democracy.

His Holiness’ vision of democracy has been a transformative experience for Tibetans. It fundamentally changed how we Tibetans in exile live our lives and is an inspiration for those in Tibet who live under repression on a daily basis. This historic change is second in importance in its transformation of Tibet. The first having taken place more than 1,000 years ago when Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from India. Buddhism became rooted in Tibet from the 7th to the 11th century thus deeply influencing Tibetan worldview and the social order of the time. Monasteries established during that period made Tibet a centre of learning for High Asia and beyond, as well as a wellspring for Tibetan Buddhist civilization.

The gift of democracy given to us by His Holiness the Dalai Lama has provided us with a voice and the power to influence our own future. We must ensure our compatriots in Tibet enjoy the similar rights to live in freedom and with dignity. In this struggle, we will never lose hope and will continue our non-violent struggle till His Holiness the Dalai Lama can be once again reunited with our brothers and sisters in Tibet.

While we strive to realize freedom for our fellow Tibetans in Tibet, we must strengthen our democratic institutions in exile to effectively support our political struggle. One way to nurture and promote Tibetan democracy is to cherish and practice and not by abusing the rights granted. The hallmark of democracy is unity in diversity in its various forms. Unity does not necessarily mean uniformity but basic civility is a must. As a young democracy, Tibetan community in exile must tread carefully and be all the more mindful of ensuring that public discourse is constructive and conducted with civility. It should enhance unity and not create further division within our society. As Tibetans hold their political leaders accountable, they are entitled to exercise this right by questioning but with civility. The Tibetan political leadership is entrusted by the people to make decisions and take a firm position on a range of issues varying in complexity and sensitivity for the greater common good.

Having said this, I draw your attention to the grim and worsening situation in Tibet. Last month, the Chinese police fired upon peaceful protestors in a village in Karze, Eastern Tibet. The demonstrators were calling for the release of their village leader who had been arrested for criticizing Chinese authorities’ mistreatment and harassment of Tibetans. Two Tibetans died in the police shooting. According to reports, apart from children and the elderly, the majority of the 700 inhabitants of Shugpa village were detained by the local Chinese authorities.

Clearly, the recently held “2014 Forum on the Development of Tibet, China” and its so-called “Lhasa Consensus” were a premeditated or orchestrated Chinese Government propaganda to paint an extremely pleasant and peaceful picture of Tibet, and yet again, a shot at concealing the reality of ongoing Chinese political repression on the larger number of Tibetans at the grass-roots level in Tibet. The dreadful events such as Chinese police firing on a group of Tibetan demonstrators in Shugpa Village voice the denial of basic human rights, and that the statements in the consensus were misrepresented and inaccurate.

In the face of such brutality, we cannot remain silent. The police brutality in Karze is only a fragment of the repression imposed on the people of Tibet. To express their outright rejection of such repressive policies, 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire and 112 of them sadly passed away, in an attempt to draw attention of the international community on the suffering of the Tibetan people under Beijing’s rule. To our brothers and sisters in Tibet, particularly the families and friends of the self- immolators, the sacrifice of their lives is forever imprinted in our collective memory and history for future generations to know. We will galvanize our efforts, carry forth and echo your aspirations until they are realized – restoration of freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his homeland. That is our sacred goal.

We, Tibetans are not alone in our freedom struggle. 25 years ago, the whole of China shook when millions of Chinese in over 100 cities throughout China called for freedom and democracy. That yearning for freedom has not died with the tragedy on 4 June 1989. This spirit is most aptly represented by Liu Xiaobo, China’s imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate. Sooner or later, Beijing must listen to the voice of its people.

Another important responsibility, which we call upon China to shoulder diligently and with urgency, is the protection of Tibet’s fragile ecosystem. This responsibility should not be perceived as a concession to the Tibetan people, but a duty owed to the Chinese people and the rest of Asia given the strategic environmental importance of the Tibetan plateau. Nowadays, global scientists including many leading Chinese environmentalists, refer to Tibet as the Third Pole, the repository of the largest concentration of ice and glaciers outside of the Arctic and Antartica. These glaciers feed the ten river systems in Asia which flow all the way to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. The Yellow and Yangtse rivers which flow to China both originate in Tibet and bring fresh water to more than a billion people in China, South-East Asia, and South Asia.

Clearly, what happens to Tibet’s environment has become a critical question impacting populations well beyond the Plateau. It will affect the existence of millions of people downstream whose livelihoods are dependent on agriculture and fishing. Scientists also predict that the global climate change impact on the Tibetan plateau will lead to millions of forced migrations in the downstream countries. On this score, we feel that it is in the interest of all Asian countries to persuade the leadership in Beijing to adopt policies integrating local traditional knowledge of the Plateau. For thousands of years, Tibetans have successfully served as the natural stewards of the fragile Tibetan ecosystem. Beijing must acknowledge and respect this.

The Middle Way Approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the only way forward to resolve Tibet issue and it is a win-win proposition to both sides. The 14th Kashag once again reiterates its firm commitment towards the Middle Way Approach. In this regard, we have successfully completed visits by Kalons and Secretaries to Tibetan settlements to educate and raise awareness of the Middle Way Approach among general public at the grass-roots level.

In dedication of 2014 as the year of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama by the 14th Kashag, we have invited Nobel Peace Laureates to Dharamsala to observe the 25th anniversary of conferment of Nobel Peace Prize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The event will be held on October 2, 2014 – the day on which, champion of peace and father of India, Mahatma Gandhi was born.

To conclude, on this 54th anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day, the Central Tibetan Administration re-affirms its resolve to fulfill the aspirations of Tibetans inside Tibet. We call upon all Tibetans to join us in this effort. On behalf of the 14th Kashag, we thank all our friends across the world for their unwavering support particularly the great land of India and it’s generous people.

Together, we carry forth with resolve and hope.
Long live His Holiness the Great Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

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Resolution of Tibet issue relevant to China's future

posted Sep 2, 2014, 5:51 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
28 August 2014

Finding Common Ground - Sino-Tibetan Conference 

Hamburg - The Sino-Tibetan Conference «Finding Common Ground» starting on 26 August 2014 concluded this afternoon in Hamburg, Germany. The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamshala (India) convened the conference. Over 70 participants and observers from 15 countries from Europe, the USA, Australia, Asia and Mainland China attended the conference. «Finding Common Ground» is a Tibetan initiative to set in motion a process of exchange, interaction, cooperation and joint efforts between Tibetans and Chinese stakeholders in the pursuit of a peaceful and just resolution of the Tibet issue.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama met the participants of the conference and made clear that he had always encouraged Tibetans to reach out to Chinese brothers and sisters. In his address at the meeting, he expressed his hope to serve Mainland Chinese Buddhists through Buddhist teachings and the promotion of secular ethics. He also reiterated his longstanding wish to go on a pilgrimage to Wu Tai Shan - a sacred mountain in China for Buddhists.

Welcoming all participants, Kalon Dicki Chhoyang, Head of Department for Information and International Relations of the CTA, elaborated on the basic features of the Umaylam - the Middle Way Approach - adopted democratically by the Tibetan people as a policy in seeking a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet. In his keynote address, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the democratically-elected Tibetan political leader, stressed that "in the long history of peaceful and harmonious relations between Tibet and China, the present tragic state of affairs represents an aberration and exception. This aberration is the consequence of the military occupation of Tibet. The Middle Way Approach represents a realistic and pragmatic way to re-establish genuine friendship and peaceful coexistence between Tibet and China."

Chinese participants expressed their respect and deep appreciation for Tibetan culture, Buddhism as well as for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. According to them "a peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue is not only the concern of the Tibetans but that it has great relevance in which direction China as a whole moves forward." Consequently, unanimous support for the Middle Way Approach was expressed in a separate statement issued by the Chinese participants. Moreover, Chinese participants stressed the importance of making more information on Tibet in Chinese language available and using modern communication more effectively in reaching out to a wider Chinese audience.         

The statement of consensus of the conference listed several points including the need to hold the conference «Finding Common Ground» annually.


Statement of Consensus 

"Finding Common Ground" - Sino-Tibetan Conference 

26 - 28 August 2014, Hamburg, Germany


More than 70 participants from 15 countries and regions including among others from Europe, the Americas, Australia and China took part at the Sino-Tibetan Conference "Finding Common Ground" from 26 - 28 August 2014 in Hamburg, Germany.

In conjunction with His visit to Hamburg, His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the participants with an audience and said, "I give special attention to contacts between the Chinese and Tibetan people and strongly support it. In the 1950s, I had expressed my wish to go to Mount Wutai Shan for a pilgrimage which has not yet materialized, but I still have the desire to go there for a pilgrimage". His Holiness the Dalai Lama further said, "President Xi Jinping said that Buddhism has an important role to play in reviving Chinese culture. Being a Buddhist I can definitely make my contribution to this."

Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay, elected political leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, in his keynote address, said that historically Tibetan and Chinese people have existed peacefully with each other but today's grave situation is an unprecedented one. He recognized that Middle Way Approach and mutual understanding would help dispel the misunderstandings, mistrust and misleading things between the two sides.

Ms Dicki Chhoyang, Kalon for Information and International Relations, in her welcome address, said the Tibet issue is related with the survival of a nationality and the preservation and promotion of its unique identities. The resolution of the Tibet issue is directly related to the interest of China.

Ms Li Jianglin, scholar on history, in her presentation, delineated the evolution of the nationality policy of the Chinese Communist Government. In the beginning the Chinese Communist accepted and supported the right of people to self-determination. They had the right to choose to join the Federation of China. But gradually they have changed this policy, disregarded the right to self-determination and deleted these from official documents.

After having direct and open discussions and exchanges, the participants came to the following consensus: 

- to support the efforts of the Central Tibetan Administration for dialogue with the Chinese Government; the participants gave high appreciation to the ongoing contacts between the Chinese and Tibetan people and considered it important for their aspirations; 

- to make efforts that Sino-Tibetan people-to-people dialogue should not be limited to the political sphere, but also include areas of religion, culture and arts;

- to acknowledge that the issue of Tibet is not just the problem of Tibetans, but it has also relevance to the future of both the Chinese and Tibetan people; 

- to express grave concerns about the serious human rights violations in Tibet and the deteriorating legal system, democratic development and human rights situation in China; 

- to unanimously express recognition and support for the policy of the Middle Way Approach; 

- to acknowledge the conference "Finding Common Ground" very meaningful and express that such meetings should be convened annually. It was agreed to form a working group of Tibetans and Chinese for that. 

Hamburg, 28 August 2014

This document has been translated into English from the Chinese original. In case of any discrepancies, the Chinese original is the final and authoritative document.

Original Chinese Version:

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Leaked internal document shows China used machine guns to kill Tibetans in March 2008 protest

posted Sep 2, 2014, 5:45 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) presents an analysis of a secret Chinese document on Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces during the March 2008 protests in Lhasa. The document, obtained recently by TCHRD, was written in Chinese by the Lhasa Public Security Bureau (PSB) based on the autopsy reports prepared on 21 March 2008 by the medical department of Lhasa PSB.

TCHRD has obtained exclusive information that provides irrefutable evidence that Chinese security forces used disproportionate force including live ammunition and machine guns to kill Tibetans during the March 2008 protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The document obtained by TCHRD contains the list of the names of Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces and whose dead bodies were kept at Lhasa’s Xishan mortuary. The official document also consists of autopsy reports of four Tibetans. Li Wan Zhan (李文展) and Wang Zhi Xue (王志学), both heads of criminal and medical examination department of the Lhasa Public Security Bureau performed the autopsy.
This internal document was prepared on 21 March 2008 and is titled “Document of the criminal and medical examination department of the Public Security Bureau, Lhasa.” Despite official Chinese pronouncement on the contrary, the document serves as concrete evidence that Chinese security forces killed Tibetans in different localities in Lhasa city during the initial protests in March 2008 that ignited the 2008 Uprising in large parts of the Tibetan plateau.


TNC Condemns China's ‘Lhasa Consensus”

posted Sep 2, 2014, 5:40 PM by The Tibetan Political Review


By the Tibetan National Congress

August 21st, 2014

Tibetan National Congress (TNC) is deeply concerned about the participation of at least 100 foreign politicians and dignitaries in a recent propaganda event by China. China said that the attendees at this event signed and agreed to a document (the “Lhasa Consensus”) that attacked His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for presenting a “distorted and incorrect” picture of Tibet and claimed that Tibetans were happy and enjoyed religious freedom. The Lhasa Consensus also claimed Western media were biased in their reports about Tibet.

The 2014 forum on Development in Tibet took place in Lhasa from August 12-13 and was organized by the Chinese Government. China claims that over 100 foreign politicians and dignitaries attended this event, but there was no foreign media coverage. At the end of this conference, China released the Lhasa Consensus and said there was unanimous consensus to this document. However, while attendees were enjoying a conference in Lhasa, at least 10 Tibetans in Kardze, Kham (Ch: Ganzi, Sichuan Province) were shot by Chinese police during a peaceful protest. Of the 25 arrested, least five Tibetans have died due to untreated gunshot injuries, one committed suicide to protest the torture. The foreign attendees to this conference seemed to have been oblivious to this event.

A China Central TV (CCTV) reporting on this conference showed interviews of Pat Breen (Irish Parliament), Peter Wittman (Australian State Council), and Victor Trappl (Director, Confucius Institute, Vienna). Other participants included: Sir Bob Parker, former mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand; Robert John Parker, Chairman of Huaxin International Ltd from New Zealand; Kondo Shoichi, Secretary General of the Nonpartisan Sino-Japan Friendship Parliamentarians’ Union and former Japanese Senior Vice Minister of the Environment; N. Ram, Chairman and Publisher of the Hindu Group of Newspapers; and Kulasri Kariyawasam, Secretary of the Sri Lanka China Social and Cultural Cooperation.

Sir Bob Parker later disassociated himself from the Lhasa Consensus. In response to a question about whether he was aware of the content of the Lhasa Consensus, Sir Bob Parker responded: “Not at all. I’m aware that the statement was made but I certainly haven’t signed up to it. I think a number of people who were there were a little surprised to hear about that statement. Certainly the conference that I’ve been attending has been focused on sustainable development and there were no real political themes running through it at all.” Reportedly, Pat Breen (Irish Parliament) has refused to sign the Lhasa Consensus.

However, not all Western attendees were as forthcoming about their involvement. UK Labour politician Lord Davidson reportedly said: “It’s very clear that the investment that has been put into Tibet has raised the standards of living of people here quite remarkably. I was hearing about the doubling, more or less, of the longevity of the population. These are remarkable accomplishments achieved in a very short time.” But Lord Davidson refused to answer any media questions about his participation in this Tibet conference, according to the BBC. For more information about the Lhasa Conference see reports by Radio Free Asia and International Campaign for Tibet.

“While Western and other foreign dignitaries were enjoying a conference in Lhasa and talking about how much China has developed Tibet, Chinese police were shooting and killing unarmed Tibetans,” said Jigme Ugen, President of TNC. “The Lhasa Consensus claims Tibetans are happy, enjoy religious freedom and economic development, and that news about Tibet has been distorted by His Holiness and a biased Western media. But the shooting deaths of unarmed Tibetan protestors prove the false nature of the so-called Lhasa Consensus and China’s claims about Tibet.”

The UN, United States, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all documented the severe human rights violations in Tibet. The Lhasa Consensus said: “Seeing is believing. Participants express the aspiration to introduce the real Tibet to the world.” Yet, China refuses to allow UN human rights investigators into Tibetan areas and bans foreign journalists from Tibet without special permission accompanied by government minders. “If China wants to introduce the real Tibet to the world, then why do they refuse to allow foreign journalists and independent human rights investigators into Tibetan areas? The lack of free access shows that China’s claims about Tibet ring hollow” said Jigme Ugen.

TNC makes the following recommendations:

TNC calls upon all foreign attendees to the 2014 Tibet Development Forum to publicly explain why they participated and whether or not they actually endorsed or signed the Lhasa Consensus. They should disavow the Lhasa Consensus and speak about the real human rights situation in Tibet;

TNC calls upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to thoroughly investigate the August 2014 shootings in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi TAP, Sichuan Province) and to visit Tibetans areas in order to fully assess the human rights situation for Tibetans;

TNC calls upon the Chinese Government to open up Tibet to free access by the UN, foreign journalists and human rights investigators;

TNC also calls upon democratic governments around the world to host or participate (without Chinese interference) in a multilateral conference on Tibet that explores all subjects concerning Tibet, including human rights, economic development, environment, nomad re-settlement, cultural/social issues, and self-determination.


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