4 June 2010
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister:
I am writing to express the gratitude of the Canada Tibet Committee for the past attention that Canada has given the issue of Tibet and to respectfully request that you raise the following issues related to Tibet with President Hu Jintao at June’s G20 Summit through their inclusion in the official agenda and side discussions.
Middle Way Approach
The Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach seeks to secure genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the scope of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, based on the mutual benefit and long-term interest of the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
The protection and development of the unique Tibetan identity in all its aspects serves the larger interest of humanity in general and those of the Tibetan and Chinese people in particular. And it represents a solution to the Tibet issue that is compatible with the pre-existing principles on autonomy as defined in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.
Since 2008, seven members of the G8 have publicly indicated their support for the dialogue between the government of China and the Dalai Lama, or his designated representatives, to resolve ongoing differences based upon the Middle Way Approach.
With this overwhelming support, the G20 Summit offers a unique opportunity to rally these and other voices into a common statement encouraging the government of China to avail itself of the opportunity presented by the 2008 Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy.
Human rights in Tibet
The Canada Tibet Committee is deeply concerned about the protection of human rights in Tibet, including but not limited to freedom of religion, expression and due process.
We believe it is essential that G20 leaders make unambiguous representations to President Hu over China’s use of the death penalty, lack of fair judicial process, religious repression and continued human rights abuses against the Tibetan people.
We wish to underline that Tibetans are forced out of the provisional government of their own territory unless they espouse ‘correct’ political ideals. Any real dissent can be perceived as “splittest” in the eyes of the Chinese government. Furthermore, all positions in the government require Party membership, and “membership and religious belief are considered to be incompatible by Party ideology.” In a region where Tibetan Buddhism forms a core part of their culture, this presents a significant barrier. Real decision-making power in Tibet rests solely with the Chinese Communist Party.
Exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources
As an occupied territory, the exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources is to the detriment of the Tibetan people, having been undertaken without their consent or any meaningful consultation.
Article 55 of the Hague regulations states that: “The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.”
Usufruct does not confer upon the occupier any rights of ownership, including the right of disposal.
It is a logical extension from the rules of usufruct that there would be a prohibition against natural resource extraction, since given its nature it would be impossible to undertake without permanently damaging or altering the property. This is especially the case given that ninety per cent of raw materials produced in Tibet are shipped to other parts of China. It would seem that the occupation administration is exercising its authority in order to meet the needs of its own population, also in contravention of the laws of occupation.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) notes that “profitable returns to the state are generated by high profit levels of monopoly state enterprises reliant on Tibetan raw materials as their primary inputs, obtained at prices below market rates . . . Transfer pricing is a systematic feature of the extraction of Tibet's resources for Chinese use."
The situation in Tibet is one where China is clearly in contravention of international law.
What is needed is meaningful consultation in which the people of Tibet are given adequate information, including all environmental assessment reports, on which to base an informed opinion as to whether the project is in their best interests. Consultations, for example in the form of public hearings, should engage all stakeholders and people should be free to express their dissent free from coercion.
The free, prior and informed consent to proceed must rest with the Tibetan people themselves.
Tibet, which China considers its “number one water tower,” provides water to ten downstream nations and is central to a global climate change solution. In addition to providing river water and monsoon rains to much of Asia, Tibet’s grasslands, if properly repaired, will serve as a carbon sink.
We urge G20 leaders to consider the following proposals:
1. Undertake independent, international scientific assessments of the changes in the Tibetan Plateau's ecosystems, water resources and land use policies. The participation of scientists and relevant stakeholders from Tibet and those nations that depend on Tibet’s water is necessary for examination, analysis and interpretation of conditions on the plateau. This will facilitate an equitable and durable approach to adapting to and mitigating the affects of climate change in the region, including ecosystem restoration and management of the plateau’s grasslands and forests.
2. Integrate the participation of Tibetans, especially nomads, in the decision-making and management of the plateau’s natural resources. Their experience is essential not only for understanding ecosystem changes, but also for addressing the threats of desertification and erosion. Government policies removing nomads from the grasslands are a misguided attempt to reduce desertification. There is scientific evidence that nomads’ management of the grasslands facilitates ecosystem stewardship and helps restore areas already degraded.
3. Encourage multilateral collaborative decision-making and governance of the Tibetan plateau’s water resources, including all regional and local stakeholders. Such cooperation will enhance the effectiveness of mitigation policies and promote equitable adaptation strategies that can reduce the risk of conflict over competition for water resources.
Tibet is indispensable to China’s ability to successfully implement global climate change solutions. We urge summit leaders to ensure that strategies to address climate change include stakeholders in Tibet, particularly nomads.
It’s time for G20 leaders to move beyond pro forma statements of support for Tibet in order to make real progress toward a fair and lasting resolution for the Tibetan people, their resources and environment and to make Tibet a substantive and results-oriented part of the agenda at the G20.
President Jacob Zuma
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President Felipe Calderón
President Barack Obama
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
President Lee Myung-bak
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah I
European Union Commission President Herman Van Rompuy
President Nicolas Sarkozy
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
President Dmitry Medvedev
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
President Hu Jintao