Today we mark the day in 1959 when the communist Chinese government carried out a brutal armed suppression in Tibet’s capital Lhasa. It was a part of an elaborate series of machinations by China which even included a plot on the very life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a situation impossible for the Tibetan people to endure. It was therefore inevitable that tens of thousands of Tibetan people from all the three provinces of the country, both lay and clerical, rose in a spontaneous upsurge of protests in Lhasa with the singularity of a common thought on the wellbeing of their nation in their minds. And today, we commemorate the 64th anniversary of that momentous, historic occasion. Today is also our Martyr’s Day, when we remember the patriotic valour of the men and women of our nationhood. And so, on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, I offer my tribute and obeisance to the patriotic men and women of Tibet who have sacrificed their all, including their very lives, for the sake of the religious, political, and ethnic identity of the nation with indomitable courage and deeds. At the same time, I also offer my sense of empathy and solidarity with the men and women in Tibet who continue to be subjected to this day to untold suffering under the oppressive rule of the government of China.
Tibet and China have since ancient times been nations renowned for their dominance and influence in the continent of Asia. They were neighbouring countries with their own separate histories of evolvement. Frequent incidents of armed conflict had occurred between them across their common borders. And in one of the border peace settlements between them, the two countries concluded a peace treaty which established “a great era when Tibetans shall be happy in Tibet and Chinese shall be happy in China”, a situation which shall never be changed. A stone pillar bearing the inscription of this treaty in both Tibetan and Chinese languages could still be seen standing in front of the Tsuglakhang Temple in Tibet’s capital Lhasa as a stark evidence of that event. Nevertheless, the communist government of China, being inspired by an evil design to seize the territory as well as the human and natural resources of the Snowland of Tibet, proclaimed in 1949 an announcement of a pretext to carry out what it called a peaceful liberation of Tibet. And so, it launched an armed invasion of all the three provinces of Tibet, during which it took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Tibetan people. Besides, the fact that the Tibetan people felt compelled to stage an uprising in Tibet’s capital Lhasa on the 10th of March in 1959 as a result of a rising crescendo of oppression under the domination of China remains an indelible mark in the history of the Tibetan nation.
In the year 1951, the government of China coerced a delegation from the government of Tibet to sign a so-called 17-Point Agreement. Over time, however, it kept on trampling on each and every provision of that agreement. Those actions eventually compelled His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the temporal head and spiritual leader of Tibet, to go into exile to India, along with his council of government ministers, to be followed by some eighty thousand ordinary Tibetan people. The history of Tibetan exile since then is now 64 years old.
After it completed its seizure of the entire territory of Tibet, the communist Chinese government unleashed a devastatingly devious series of policies aimed at the obliteration of the very identity of Tibet, including its ethnicity and culture. Under one such policy campaign alone, namely the Cultural Revolution, the entirety of the districts and estates, monasteries and temples, household corporations of lamas, and so forth that had histories dating back over a thousand years and which bore characteristic features of Tibetan cultural heritage, were targeted for destruction. From the ruins of these destructions, sacred and precious items that were emblematic of the body, speech and mind representations of the Buddha, other valuable religious items that were made from such materials as gold, silver, and copper; representations of body, speech, and mind of the Buddha and articles of worship as well as ornaments and jewellery belonging to households, and so forth were taken to China. In addition, abbots, lamas, and tulkus, as well as geshes; other monk leaders such as chant masters and discipline masters; besides government and district officials were sought to be humiliated by being capped with conical paper hats on which various types of gross criticisms were written. They were then taken around town and before assembled crowds of people. At such forced public gatherings, they were subjected to violent struggle sessions, with students being made to take on their teachers, and children being made to take on their own parents, as the former taunted the latter with violence and outpouring of criticisms as ordered. What is more, Tibetan women were subjected to sexual molestations. These and other manners of inhuman atrocities have become parts of the lore of the historical sequence of Chinese atrocities in Tibet and could never be forgotten.
Even to this day, China continues to carry out in Tibet policies of atrocities in the name of such campaigns as ‘education in socialist thought’, ‘education in patriotism’ and so forth with a design to obliterate the Tibetan national identity. To the Tibetan people, the endless sequence of such atrocities remains a struggle they have no choice but to endure day and night, utterly unbearable as they may be. Nevertheless, the Tibetan people in Tibet have stood their ground with indomitable determination borne of a feeling of common cause with their brethren, like the unassailable solidness of a mountain, to resist by direct, indirect, and other means the atrocities of the government of China. Even so, the Chinese government has remained just as unrelenting across the barriers of times past, present, and future, carrying out its political objectives by means of exerting political pressure on the Tibetan people, subjecting the Tibetan people to a range of discriminatory treatments that includes those in cultural, social, economic and other fields, with the intended purpose of effecting an ever-worsening trend of the human rights situation in Tibet. Corroborations of these fact have continued to appear in a number of international reports to this day.
Likewise, the government of China continues to remain guilty of carrying out a devastating destruction without any sense of any limit the natural environment of Tibet. In Particular, in its attempts to make Tibet a part of China as an established fact, it has been distorting the national history of Tibet and misusing its historical artifacts by means of museum displays, publications in magazines, newspapers, on websites, and use of every other kind of media. Such false and utterly baseless propaganda publicity claims continue to be carried out by the Chinese government in countries across the world. Along with it, the government of China remains relentless in implementing in Tibet what is now a patently overt brutal policy of obliterating the unique cultural heritage of the Tibetan people, our traditions and customs, language, ethnic identity, and so forth. China’s current religious policy in Tibet says that “authorities at all levels should keep up the momentum of Sinicizing Tibetan Buddhism, led by the ideology of socialist core values, to ensure the success of this policy under the power of the excellent culture and tradition of China”. China is thus actively implementing in Tibet a policy to Sinicize the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. This is a total violation of the philosophical doctrines, the practice of the curricula of three trainings, and the Sutra and Tantra precepts of the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. China should not only put an immediate end to this policy but it also must respect the freedom of religious belief not only especially of the Tibetan people but also of all other ethnic groups who have traditionally been believers in the Buddhist religion. On this basis, the government of China should base its ideology on the values of compassion and non-violence as discoursed in the Buddhist texts. If the government of China redirects what it calls the China dream with the adoption of such Buddhist values and takes the lead, the results will be social harmony, stability, and peaceful coexistence. More than that, there is no need to say that it will have a corollary effect of bringing about peaceful coexistence among nations across the world. So, it is extremely important that the leaders of China make no mistake in what direction they take in steering the destiny of their country.
Likewise, it bears pointing out that the government of China has been continuous in interfering in and making abusive misuse of the unique Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the process for the discovery and recognition of the religiously important reincarnations of its Tulku figures. It has trampled on the customary Tibetan Buddhist practice of the discovery and recognition of reincarnations of religious leaders by passing regulations that are actually in direct contradiction with its previous assurances. It particular, China has already been carrying out preparations for the installation of its own candidate for the reincarnation of the present Dalai Lama. Through its official media, China has been proclaiming to the world the imperative of its claimed right to install its own choice of the reincarnation of the present Dalai Lama. To the government of China this is nothing but a matter of asserting of political power, for it keeps reiterating this assertion of right in a sort of mad tantrum while having no factual basis whatsoever to sustain its claim. The reality is that in the traditional Tibetan practice for the discovery and recognition of the reincarnations of tulkus, the decision resides in the concerned religious leader alone. Any claim of anyone else being entitled to interfere with it in a coercive manner is totally baseless in as much as there is no scope for any such meddling. In particular, in the case of the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, speeches have been given on successive occasions, clearly expressing his wishes. It goes without saying that these alone will be the basis on which Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile as well as the entire people in the international community will exercise their right of recognition of his reincarnation.
Last year China introduced what it described as standards and curricula of language education and test for primary and middle school students, which was a part of what it called its standard language education programme under its 14th Five-Year Plan. This in turn was a part of a policy plan introduced way back in 2009 by China’s ministry of Education and its Department of Language Application and Administration for making a switch to Chinese language the entire education programme in the primary and lower middle schools as well. This plan envisages that by the year 2035, the languages of all the other nationalities in the People’s Republic of China will have been eliminated and the common language – which is the Chinese language – will have replaced them. This action of the Chinese government is direct negation of the rights of minorities granted under China’s own Law on Regional National Autonomy. This policy is already being vigorously enforced in Tibet today to the extent that parents have been left with no alternative but to make efforts to reinforce their exertion on their children’s learning of Chinese language.
Today, under the rule of the Chinese government, a large number of new boarding schools are being built in Tibet. Unwilling parents are being coerced with intimidation and threats to enrol their reluctant children in these schools. Four Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council have determined in a report that the number of Tibetan children being kept in these schools number nearly a million. Among them are stated to be children who are as young as three to four years old. These children are being educated in an environment in which they are cut off from even a semblance of their ethnic and cultural identity and consciousness. The purpose is to try to mould these Tibetan children into a generation of people who would love the communist Chinese government and repose their loyalty to it. However, facilities in these schools are appallingly abysmal. And the extreme distress and feeling of loneliness of these children in such a situation is compounded by the fact that they are kept away from their parents and society and left without anyone in whom they can repose their trust. Such is the situation in which the Tibetan children are being subjected to beating, sexual molestation, discrimination, and other forms of ill-treatment, with reports emerging about them continuing to be distressingly numerous. And so, I take the opportunity of this occasion to especially highlight these efforts by the government of China to implement a policy of establishing so-called boarding schools as a means to obliterate the ethnic identity and culture of the Tibetan people. And I appeal to the United Nations as well as leaders of countries in the international community to request the government of China as well as bring pressure on it to bring to an end this ill-conceived boarding school project.
Also Today, China is actively carrying out in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region a policy of compulsorily collecting their DNA samples. According to some researchers, China has been inconspicuously carrying out this programme from about the year 2013. And today, DNA samples are being harvested from Tibetan children as young as five years of age, as per a finding of a report by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch. To put it all in a nutshell, China has, since its occupation and annexation of Tibet, and to this day, been implementing a policy of colonialism, giving no consideration whatsoever to the wishes of the Tibetan people, and relying on nothing but a policy of violent repression. And this was the reason why in 1959 as well as in the years 1987, 1988, and 1989, there were a series of large-scale peaceful protests in Tibet. And then there was the large-scale peaceful uprising protests of the Earth-Mouse Year in Tibet in 2008. And since the year 2009, there has also been a series of protest self-immolations as well as various other forms of protests against Chinese rule across Tibet. And so it was that the Tibetan people have been continuous through the vicissitudes of time in protesting against the erroneous policies of the government of China. And this is a situation which cannot in any way come to an end so long as the just cause of the Tibetan people continues to remain unresolved.
As per the World Health Organization, the Covid-19 global pandemic has, since its outbreak from the central Chinese city of Wuhan towards the end of 2019 and spread to countries across the world, made a total of more than seven hundred and fifty-eight million people ill and killed a total of nearly seven million people worldwide as of the 25th of February in 2023. China has previously been implementing what it called a Zero-Covid policy, under which draconian measures were imposed on the movement of people. However, from about the end of November last year, strong protests against this policy erupted from various parts of the People’s Republic of China. These protests led to a defeat of the Zero-Covid policy and the government of China had no choice but to restore the people’s freedom of movement. However, this led to a massive increase in the spread of the pandemic infection. Although it remains difficult to find out the numbers in Tibet at that time, postings of pictures made on social media platforms have shown that there had been a severe lack of medical facilities which was compounded by a panoply of other serious problems, as a result of which there were sicknesses and deaths unprecedented in history. For all those victims, I take this opportunity to express grief as a way to empathize with them and to offer dedication of merit and prayers of aspiration as well as to express condolences to the surviving bereaved families.
The Tibetan people in Tibet have been resolute in never acquiescing to the policies of the government of China to obliterate their ethnic identity and its racially discriminatory oppression of them. Rather, they have remained indefatigable in reaffirming their determination to continue their campaign of peaceful resistance. These have certainly been not wasted efforts. In many countries across the international community, laws and resolution have been passed on successive occasions, proclamations issued, and speeches made to express support, sympathy, concern and so forth with regard to the issue of Tibet and the situation in the Chinese occupied territory. By these means, vigorous direct, indirect, and other efforts have been made in attempts to convince the government of China to end its policy of violent repression in Tibet. These efforts have also been directed at the realization of talks between the Chinese government and envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the purpose of achieving a negotiated solution to the issue of Tibet on the basis of a mutually beneficial middle-way approach of the Tibetan leadership in exile. On the issues of ensuring the improvement of the human rights situation in Tibet at present and achieving a negotiated solution for resolving the issue of Tibet, our determination remains resolute. Hence, we reiterate our call on the leadership of government of China to seize the opportunity that exists today to resume the Sino-Tibetan dialogue.
Following the holding of the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet in the United States Capital Washington, DC, last year, Tibet support groups have been newly established in the Chamber of Deputies of the parliament of Mexico in South America and in the Senate of the Spanish Parliament. These have been major achievements in the Tibetan struggle and we offer our appreciations to everyone who took responsibility for the success of these efforts. It is a matter of great significance that delegates of members of European Parliament, as well as from the parliaments of Mexico and Lithuania have especially arrived to take part in this commemorative event. Their support for the just and non-violent cause of Tibet is of great importance and I take this opportunity to offer them special words of gratitude.
It is an ongoing programme of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile to group its members into delegations to lobby for support for the issue of Tibet and our plan is to further expand this campaign effort in the new year. The most important thing about achieving a just solution to the issue of Tibet is that Tibetans ourselves should take the primary responsibility for it. As regards the Tibetan people in Tibet, their courage, selflessness, and determination remain solid as a mountain. And it is important that as far as the Tibetan people living in exile are concerned, they have a duty to prove their worthiness with regard to the struggle for the just cause of Tibet by being mindful of the gratitude they owe to the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and by means of a proper use of their democratic freedoms.
I also take the opportunity of this occasion on behalf of Tibetan people both in Tibet and in exile to offer greatest of gratitude to the government and people of India who have extended to us all facilities of rehabilitation and assistance, as well as to the other countries, organizations, and private individuals who have taken interest in and extended support on the issue of Tibet.
Ultimately, I offer prayers that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the master of all teachings of the Buddha and saviour of all beings, may remain with us for a hundred aeons, that, on this basis, all his sacred wishes may be seen fulfilled with spontaneity, and that the just cause of Tibet may be seen accomplished in all speediness so that the Tibetan people in Tibet and in exile may be reunited.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
10 March 2023
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* In case of any discrepancy between this English translation and its Tibetan original, the latter should be considered as authoritative and final for all purposes.