Jul 30, 2002

Who is who in the UNPO: Linnart Mäll, Director of the Tartu, Estonia Coordination Office

I was born on June 7th, 1938. Educated as a historian, I graduated from the University of Tartu. From the very beginning of my scholarly activity oriental studies and Buddhist studies in particular became my special field of interest. After graduating I studied oriental languages (Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, Tibetan, Chinese et al) in Tashkent and Moscow.
From childhood I, like most young people of my generation in Estonia, shared the pro-independence and non-communist views. In Moscow, I created ties with dissident circles to which belonged many scholars and prominent persons of culture who were not part of the Communist Party. Dissident activities were expressed mainly through passive opposition to and non-collaboration with communist powers, but also in creating petitions against Soviet communist brutalities.

Thereafter I worked as a lecturer at the University of Tartu until 1973, when, on the wave of strengthening of the repression over all the USSR, I was forced to leave the faculty for my dissident background. Only ten years later I was partly rehabilitated and in 1985 finally allowed to defend my Ph.D. dissertation that had been frozen over a decade.

In the end of 1980s when the Gorbachov’s perestroika released fatal changes in the USSR and Estonian society and national movements made firm their position towards the re-establishment of the independence of Estonia, I joined active politics. The key moment in the process of the re-establishment of the independence of Estonia was organizing committees of citizens of Estonia, registering through them and creating the lists of the legal Estonian citizens worldwide. As the culmination of this movement the Congress of Estonia was elected in early 1990 as the representative body of all legal citizens of the Republic of Estonia over the world. I also was elected member of the Congress of Estonia and the Council of Estonia - the ruling body of the latter. In 1991-1992, after Estonia had become the independent state and recognized as such by the international community, I participated in the work of the Constitutional Assembly of Estonia, the body that elaborated the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia.

Currently I hold the position of the head of the Center for Oriental Studies at the University of Tartu. In the recent years my academic interests are concentrated on elaborating the concept of Humanistic Base Texts. Under this term the ground texts of the great humanistic religions - Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and partly Hinduism - are understood. According to my conception, these texts, created independently from each other in different cultural environments and different times share the common structure and message. During the last millennia their influence on human civilization and thought has been enormous not comparable with any other cultural phenomena. In 2001-2002 I took on the additional duties of president and professor of the Estonian Mahayana Institute, the independent organization of the Buddhist culture and education (see www.mahayana.ee).

The beginning of UNPO
The idea of creating UNPO matured in the spring of 1990 when the delegation of Tibetans in exile headed by Mr. Lodi G. Gyari visited Estonia. During the meetings with the leaders of the Council of Estonia the idea was discussed and Estonian side expressed its readiness to support the necessary organizational work. I was appointed as the main coordinator from Estonian side. From the very beginning Mr. Michael van Walt, later UNPO Secretary General for years, gave his enormous contribution especially in the area of international co-operation and building up the organizational and institutional base of the new organization.

The official decision to create such an organization under the title Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization was adopted by the meeting of the representatives of five peoples - Crimean Tartars, Estonians, Georgians, Tartars and Tibetans - on September 5-6, 1990, in Tartu, Estonia. The Preparatory Committee did enormous work very quickly, and on February 11th, 1991, the official date of the founding of UNPO, already 15 founding members signed the Covenant of UNPO in The Hague. In the Founding Assembly I was elected to the first Chairman of the UNPO, Mr. Lodi Gyari to the President of the Steering Committee and Mr. Michael van Walt to the Secretary General. Immediately the Secretary General Office started its work in The Hague.

Involvement in UNPO
The work in the regions has always been very important to me. Over the past 11 years UNPO TCO has organized over 20 regional meetings and conferences and two General Assemblies (fifth in 1997, and sixth in 2001) have also been held in Estonia. UNPO TCO has developed good relationships with Estonian politicians and as the result, Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) and Government have always been very supportive of the UNPO. Through the media, there is also a very positive public opinion towards the UNPO in Estonia.

UNPO TCO has co-operation with other UNPO members outside the CIS region as well. In the fall of 2000 World Uyghur Youth Congress was held in Tallinn, Estonia. In 1991 and 2001 UNPO TCO was one of the main organizers of the visits of H.H. The Dalai Lama in Estonia. During last visit H.H. hosted the meeting with delegation of the representatives of the UNPO members from the CIS region. H.H. was received by the vice-speaker of Riigikogu Mr. Tunne Kelam and Prime-Minister Mr. Mart Laar. As one of the result of the visit, the joint project of the publishing of the book on the crimes of the communism in Tibet and Estonia is running now; the author of the Estonian part is Mr. Mart Laar.

Many current activities of the UNPO TCO are focused on establishing tighter relations between Taiwan and Estonia, to make Estonian society more adequately aware on the Taiwan problem and help to open the Taiwan Mission in Estonia.

The future of UNPO and its members
I have always stressed that the viability of the UNPO may only be granted by regionalizing its work by the model of CIS region and Tartu Coordination Office. The main work must be done by the members themselves in the regional level. The more active participation of the supporting members in the UNPO would also be very welcome. I hope, the newly independent East-Timor will soon take his place next to Estonia as really active supporting member.

I also think that to continue the work with the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples is the task of greatest importance. This document was created as the result of the initiative of the UNPO CIS members and its Tartu Coordination Office. Finally, it was adopted by the UNPO VI GA in 2001. This document (in English and Russian) is available on the homepage of the UNPO TCO (www.unpo.ee).
This Declaration must be made public and respected as one of the base documents of the UNPO and international law. Without it even the terms “nation” and “people” are not defined with necessary exactness, not speak of their applyication in the international legal procedures. (See page 25 for the complete text of The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples.)

UNPO must be and remain an open forum for the nations and peoples who need it, and work through their legal representatives with full mandate from their nations or peoples.

Linnart Mall’s participation in UNPO:
1990 - one of the initiators of the idea to found UNPO;
1991 - Chairman of the UNPO Preparatory Committee;
1991-1993 - UNPO first Chairman;
1993- - UNPO Assistant Secretary General on the Eastern Europe and CIS regions;
1991 - present, Director of the UNPO Tartu Coordination Office.

Linnart Mall has published over 100 academic writings in Estonian, Russian, French, English, Japanese, German etc., and translated into Estonian several Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and other religious texts of the East.

In 1996 and 2001 he received the UNPO Superior Performance Award.
In 2001 he was decorated by President of Republic of Estonia with Order of White Star.