November 9, 2010

Tibet: Outcome of the Sixth International Conference of Tibet Support Groups

The Surajkund Statement and Action Plan on Tibet Adopted by the Sixth International Conference of Tibet Support Groups

Below is an article published by Central Tibetan Administration:

Statement

The Sixth International Conference of Tibet Support Groups was held at Surajkund in the north Indian state of Haryana from 5 to 7 November 2010.  It was convened by the Core Group for Tibetan Cause - India, the apex coordinating body of the Tibet supporters in India, and facilitated by the Department of Information & International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The conference was attended by 258 participants from 57 countries and consisted of an opening ceremony, five plenary sessions and working groups on political support, outreach to Chinese, human rights, and environment and development issues.

During the inaugural ceremony, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was the Guest of Honour and the former Deputy Prime Minister of India, Mr. Lal Krishna Advani, the Chief Guest, while the Kalon Tripa, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, delivered the key note address.

Other international guests present at the inaugural ceremony included Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago from the Phillippines; Mr Rafael Gimalov, Member of Parliament from Russia; Major (Retd.), Vijay Singh Mankotia, former Minister of Himachal Pradesh in India; Mr. Javed Raza, National General Secretary, Janata Dal (United), India; Dr. Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China, T.N. Chaturvedi, former governor of Karnataka; Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary-General of the Indian Parliament; and Ms. Jaya Jaitly, a prominent socialist leader.

The purpose of the conference was to take stock of efforts in finding a negotiated solution to the Tibetan issue, discuss the current situation in Tibet and outline ways for the Tibet groups throughout the world, including Tibetan NGOs and Tibetan associations, to strengthen their work in the light of new developments in China and Tibet.

The previous conferences of Tibet Support Groups have been held in Dharamsala in 1990, in Bonn in 1996, Berlin in 2000, Prague in 2003, and Brussels in 2007.  A special TSG conference was also held in India in 2008.

The conference participants:

Reiterated their position that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration are the legitimate representatives of the Tibetan people;

Expressed their deep admiration for the unwavering determination and commitment to nonviolence of the Tibetans in Tibet despite the increasingly stringent controls being exercised by the Chinese authorities;

Recalled the courage of the Tibetan people who voiced their grievances and expressed their aspirations through public demonstrations throughout Tibet in 2008;

Demanded that the Chinese Government let the world know the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama and release him as well as all Tibetan political prisoners;

Expressed their appreciation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche, whose addresses during the inaugural session have greatly motivated the participants. The conference expresses its appreciation of Kalon Tripa’s many years of leadership and assistance to the TSGs;

Welcomed the reiteration by Indian leader Lal Krishna Advani at the conference of the Indian support to Tibetan aspirations irrespective of how the India-China relationship develops;

 

Applauded the extraordinary and continued support rendered by the government and the people of India to the Tibetan people, which has enabled them to establish a firm foundation for the preservation and promotion of Tibetan identity in exile;

Committed to work together to forge a strong international coalition that will pursue a common strategy for alleviating the plight of the people of Tibet and ensuring a political solution to the Tibetan issue, consistent with their United Nations recognised right to self-determination;

Welcomed the increased participation by Chinese delegates in the conference and regarded this as a measure of the growing understanding and support among the Chinese people about the reality of the Tibetan people and the Chinese people’s future role towards creating a solution;

Welcomed the noticeable increase in delegates from Southeast Asia;

Welcomed the democratic election process that is currently underway to elect the Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) and members of the Tibetan Parliament by Tibetans in the free world. We fully support the International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet’s initiative to facilitate and ensure that international election observers are invited to monitor the Tibetan election process in Nepal. We remain particularly concerned about Nepalese authorities’ interference in the Tibetan election process in October 2010. We urge the Nepalese Government to respect the Tibetan people’s right to participate in their democratic process;

Appreciated the sympathy and support of the people and Government of Nepal towards the humanitarian needs of the Tibetans-in-exile so far, as well as, expressed serious concern about the changing attitude of the Government of Nepal towards the Tibetan refugees in recent times;

Expressed condemnation of China's continued abuse of the human rights of the Tibetan people in general, including its violation of China's own constitutionally-mandated rights, its violation of international treaty obligations concerning the Tibetan people's religious and monastic administration, and its violation of the Tibetan people’s rights to use the Tibetan language as the medium of instruction in the education system. The Tibet Support Groups resolved to closely monitor the situation and develop appropriate actions to highlight these abuses and make China respect these rights;

Expressed concern that the People's Republic of China's ill-conceived developmental activities in Tibet are negatively affecting the fragile ecology with grave implications for the region and the world as a whole and demanded that these activities be stopped forthwith;

Resolved to make the protection of the Tibetan environment a central part of campaign work for the coming years;

Urged the governments of conference participants, as well as the United Nations and other international agencies, to recognise His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile as the legitimate representatives of the Tibetan people and take tangible action towards a political solution in Tibet, reminded the governments and parliaments, including the European parliament, of their past commitments to support Tibet and urged them to take effective steps to fulfill them;

Agreed, therefore, to the following Surajkund Action Plan to focus attention of Tibet Support Groups on a number of areas of major importance.

ACTION PLAN

POLITICAL SUPPORT

I.  OBJECTIVE:  To build up Tibet as a constituent issue in parliaments and governments.

We will develop a training program and resource materials to support the creation of a broader network of Tibet Groups capable of advocating in local and national governments on the Tibet issue. Tibet Groups will be encouraged to participate in coordinated Lobby Days to build relationships and support.  We will liaise with the International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet, involve Tibetan Parliamentarians and officials in our outreach, and coordinate closely with Tibet Groups already engaged in advocacy in governments.

II. OBJECTIVE:  To build support for fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit in Tibet.

We recognize the deep desire of the Tibetan people to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit them, and firmly believe that His Holiness is a positive force for bringing about a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan issue.  Therefore, we will launch a campaign towards fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet based on the fundamental rights of freedom of movement, of association, of religion and of free speech.

HUMAN RIGHTS

I.  OBJECTIVE:  To reverse the Chinese Government's efforts to weaken the status of the Tibetan language.

We will create and sustain international outrage at policy decisions intended to weaken if not eliminate the Tibetan language in Tibet, through a campaign that uses a variety of new and creative communication channels to educate and persuade key audiences who can influence the Chinese Government.  The campaign will also use methods to convey to Tibetans inside Tibet the worldwide support for their right to use and enjoy their own language.

II. OBJECTIVE:  To increase awareness of human rights abuses in Tibet through a simple grassroots campaign.

We will wear, and encourage others to wear, a white armband on Wednesdays with the word "TIBET" on it.  Everyone who wears the armband will become an ambassador for Tibet as people ask why we are wearing the armband.  We will publicize the campaign through a variety of means, including at the Kalachakra in Washington D.C. In July 2011. 

ENVIRONMENT & DEVELOPMENT

OBJECTIVE:  Create an alliance with effected communities and build public awareness at the grassroots level in order to stop the damming of the Mekong/Zachu River.

Using people to people connections at the local and village level, we will help build the capacity of communities to challenge damming projects on the Mekong/Zachu River in Tibet.  We will create greater understanding of the ways in which decisions affecting rivers in Tibet produce significant consequences in China and other countries.  As the campaign takes root we will consider expanding it to address other rivers flowing from Tibet.

CHINESE OUTREACH

OBJECTIVE:  To foster greater understanding between Chinese and Tibetan people through the exchange of personal stories and experiences.

We will open up channels of communication by using personal stories to highlight issues and concerns that Chinese and Tibetan people share, such as the environment, freedom of speech and religion, etc.  We will create positive and simple messages to initiate conversations and then create spaces for the conversation to continue, including in local cultural events, friendship groups, and in on-line spaces such as Common Ground.