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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

For the Record: 'Conference for an Independent Tibet' -- 2007

June 16, 2008

Conference Paper Submitted by Independent Tibet Network
to the: 'Conference for an Independent Tibet'
Organised by Friends of Tibet at Gandhi Peace Foundation,
New Delhi (June 23-24, 2007)


Since 1988 Independent Tibet Network has been actively campaigning on
the issue of Tibet and East Turkestan, our network operates
internationally and offers campaigning support to Tibetan and
Muslim-Uighur groups. Apart from providing political and financial
assistance we research and campaign on a range of human
rights/environmental issues, actions which have been recognised and
praised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the TGIE and Tibetan and
Uyghur organisations. Along with our colleagues at Optimus we have
exerted a positive and informative influence at various forums
including; the United Nations Human Rights Commission, World Human
Rights Conference UN Vienna 1994, Fourth UN Conference on Women 1995,
and Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, Strasbourg 1992. In addition to
lobbying and direct-action we also publish human rights reports, two
of which 'Children of Despair', Martin Moss 1992 and 'Orders of the
State', Martin Moss and Jeffrey Bowe 2000 document the harrowing
issue of coercive birth-control in Tibet, East Turkestan and
communist China. Indeed, within this field we have established a
reputation as an authoritative and independent source of information
and research. Our work has informed the US Senate, United Nations, UK
Foreign Affairs Select Committee Report on China 2000, the British
Medical Association, The Irish Government, Greenpeace, Friends of the
Earth, Women's Groups, BBC, Amnesty International, and many other
Non-Governmental Organizations.

Within the Tibetan movement, we have provided an articulate,
determined, and wide-ranging campaign. This has included establishing
the world is longest running vigil for Tibet outside the Chinese
Embassy in London, direct action events to lobby government and other
institutions, regular media briefings, an ongoing series of public
events, a political prisoner's campaign, which for 15 years has
supported Tibetans inside Drapchi. We also fundraise for orphaned
Tibetan children. In addition we have made innovative and creative
use of the internet, having launched in 2000
which pioneered many campaigns now taken up by others, including
online boycott of Chinese goods and direct faxing of politicians. In
2004 we launched, online, a 'boycott the 2008 Olympics campaign'. The
site receives a phenomenal number of visitors and offers a wealth of
information, online campaigns and news on Tibet, Central Asia and China.


Independent Tibet Network was formed to support the common political
aspirations of Tibetans for independence, a goal that once was
recognised by the Dalai Lama, and one which remains at the centre of
the struggle waged by those inside Tibet. Despite the overwhelming
desire for a sovereign Tibet, the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE)
now operates a policy that would surrender the birth-right of every
Tibetan in favour of 'autonomy'. Of course, political and military
history is strewn with the wreckage of well-motivated appeasement,
this fact urges against consigning Tibet to communist China's
bloody-maw, an act doomed to be a dangerous failure, and one that may
prove disastrous for Tibetan identity and culture.

Yet, as evidenced by the recent agreements reached by international
Tibet support groups, there are many enthusiastic and uncritical
advocates of 'autonomy', whose automata-like adoration of the Dalai
Lama over-rides any intelligent examination of the issue, while
ignoring the catastrophic hazards of complying to Beijing's demands.
Indeed, one wonders if the TGIE and its 'supporters' would have
championed 'autonomy' for France under Nazi occupation, whilst the
French resistance was engaged in a war of to regain their national
independence? Independent Tibet Network opposes this stealthy
surrender to communist China, which is damaging the Tibetan cause.
Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' states that "To fight and conquer is not
supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the
enemy's resistance without fighting". The appeasing drive to abandon
Tibet's rightful claim for territorial sovereignty is a breathtaking
affirmation of that aphorism.


Meanwhile, as Tibetans inside Tibet continue the struggle for
independence, in exile their campaign is assiduously transformed into
issues of human and cultural rights and development. This
reconstruction suits communist China's strategy enabling it to
manipulate an all too credulous United States and Europe that
`progress' in these areas is possible, whilst neatly allowing Beijing
to avoid the acutely sensitive matter of Tibet's and East Turkestan's
political status. Western states also benefit from this emphasis, as
such, issues can be used to appease and deflect domestic
public-concern yet avoid reference to territorial issues Beijing
insists are beyond foreign interference. Trade with China ensures a
lucrative compliance, and an adamantine silence on the Tibetan and
Uyghur people's desire for sovereignty and self-determination.

Meanwhile, the commitment of democratic nations to human rights
merits questioning and is seriously undermined by the observable fact
that business, not ethical considerations, drives foreign policy.
When faced with such criticism the usual response of governments, and
the business community, is to link economic development with a goal
of improvements in civil and political freedoms. Yet, where is the
definitive evidence supporting that equation? The Bush
Administration, as it presides over the world's richest and most
advanced economy, should consider if the dispossessed native peoples
of America really have equality of employment, education, or the
political freedom to determine their own future?

The rights of people ultimately spring from the freedom of being able
to determine, without interference, their own civil and political
environment and it remains highly questionable if commerce with
totalitarian regimes really can produce such freedoms. One only has
to consider US and UK trade with Saddam's Iraq, in what way did that
commerce improve the human/political rights of Iraqis? Of course,
such posturing is no more than a smoke screen, a deception aimed to
deflect attention from the real game. A key element of this
trade-frenzy is the fact that a stable China is in the national and
economic interests of USA and Europe, and at any price. Do we recall
how easily the blood-stained memory of Tiananmen Square was exorcised
by the prospect of renewed business, as America reportedly dispatched
Brent Scowcroft and Laurence Eagleburger to Beijing within days of
the massacre.

The rewards are immense, $16.9 Billion direct US investment 2005,
while EU investment in China reached US$53.18 billion in 2006. A
significant, and sensitive, piece of this economic jigsaw is Tibet
and East Turkestan, with their largely untapped mineral and
fossil-fuel reserves. Should these regions embark upon a full-blown,
armed struggle for independence, the ensuing instability could
present serious commercial and political consequences for Beijing.
More importantly for western stock-markets, and corporations, the
fall-out from such turmoil could endanger their vast array of capital
and plant investments in China. Within this context a resolution to
the Tibetan issue providing an 'autonomous' Tibet is in the
geo-commercial and political interest of the 'More Economically
Developed Countries'. This would not only contribute to stability in
the region but also provide more secure access to an enormous source
of natural resources, only a fraction of which have been exploited by
communist China, adding considerable allure to China's market potential.


In terms of realpolitik therefore it makes sense for governments such
as the US and UK (and their agents) to encourage the Tibetan
Administration to abandon the cause of independence, in favour of a
political outcome which would maintain, and even strengthen the
status-quo. Have such approaches been made? We are often reminded
that the Tibetan cause has gained much international sympathy and
support (albeit symbolic). Certainly there has been a world-wide
increase in awareness and much has been achieved, but at what cost?
Foreign governments remain determined to present the Tibetan issue in
terms of culture, ethnicity, and religion, both the British Foreign
Office and US Co-ordinator on Tibet avoid any reference to Tibet's
political status and continues to recognise communist Chinese
authority over the region. This central position has remained
unchanged. So, what about the role of the Tibetan Government in Exile
(TGIE), surely the most critical factor in the presentation of the
Tibetan cause. The TGIE has lost faith in the goal of independence,
as reflected in the increasingly conciliatory contents of the 10th
March statements by HH the Dalai Lama.

It regularly dispatches envoys around the world carrying a message
that it's willing to enter into unconditional talks with China and
only "genuine autonomy" is being sought. More recently, it employs
language that concedes the distortion that Tibetans are an 'ethnic
minority' of China, as opposed to a distinct people with all the
right to self-determination that implies.

Yet, since the end of World-War-Two, some 100 countries have regained
their independence; with East Timor the latest to regain its
nationhood. Why should Tibetans expect anything less? This fact,
however, does not seem to inspire the TGIE who appear deaf to the
calls for independence from Tibet and within the Tibetan Diaspora.
Unless the TGIE facilitates a democratic and transparent debate on
this issue there is a genuine risk that its vacuous and inane policy
could increase already growing divisions. This would only benefit
those forces that welcome tension between Tibetans and their exiled
Government, rumours of which have long haunted Tibetan settlements in
India. Such concerns are definitely in communist China's interest.

Which is why Beijing must be rubbing its hand with glee at the
current 'strategy' of the Tibetan Administration, which it knows is
causing anxiety and unease. One imagines those with commercial
interests in China will also be heartened by Dharamsala's willingness
to remain under communist-Chinese control. Under such circumstances,
it is little wonder that genuine friends of Tibet are baffled by the
spectacle of the Tibetan Government insisting it is not seeking
independence, mixed signals emerging from the Tibetan Parliament,
against overwhelming support for independence among Tibetans!
Confusion reigns supreme, and the device of `divide and rule' is
alive and well, a formula much to the liking of all enemies of Tibet.

However, as evidence continuing to emerge from Tibet documents,
Rangzen (independence) remains the people's choice, meanwhile
political prisoners are prepared to sacrifice their lives in
pro-independence demonstrations. Most tragically revealed through the
heroism displayed by Tibetans gunned-down inside Drapchi, an event
virtually ignored by Britain's Foreign Office. Aware of this
courageous mandate, and with a stated commitment to democratising the
exiled community, it is reasonable to expect the TGIE to reflect the
collective political expression of its people.

Instead one is left with a sense of bewilderment at an authority
which, in the scramble to promote 'autonomy', seems to have lost all
awareness of its original objectives. We are informed with, "words
clothed in reasons garb" that this is a negotiating strategy, and
that ultimately it is the wishes of the six million Tibetans, which
will take precedence. But what sort of strategic thinking is it that
at the outset asks for less than what is really demanded? The
policy-makers of Dharamsala seem oblivious to the universal law that
the less you ask for the less you get, while the political wishes of
its own people are trampled over, or dismissed as a minority radical view.


As a credible solution for Tibet, the whole concept of 'autonomy' is
flawed, particularly when one considers the numerous legal/political
definitions of this condition. Moreover, what guarantees does it
offer Tibetans? Those who support this policy ask us to accept the
highly improbable scenario that, in exchange for "genuine autonomy",
Beijing will give up Tibet's vast reserves of untapped natural
resources, its strategic military and economic importance, and the
vital living space it offers to those densely populated Chinese
provinces. Ask any Palestinian living under the shadow of Israeli
settlements, tanks and concrete bunkers about 'autonomy' and they
will tell you such thinking is political folly beyond any measurable scale.

In terms of eliciting a positive response from China the current
policy has been a spectacular failure, it may well have permitted a
cosmetic delegation to visit, but the terms, as demanded by Beijing,
remain 'surrender or nothing'. True, it has attracted the moral
support of some governments but as already outlined, the motivation
of these international `friends' is highly questionable and largely
determined by commercial interest. Most problematically, it has
generated disabling divisions and confusion within the Tibetan
movement and amongst Tibetans.

In reply to such criticism, it is often stated, that there is no
alternative, Tibetans and their supporters are fed a diet of
doom-laden despair, demanding urgent and realistic compromise, if
Tibet's culture is to be saved. This is not correct. What exists is a
choice, albeit one requiring courage and decisiveness; continue along
the fruitless and humiliating, path of conciliation, to the insincere
applause of foreign governments, or re-dedicate the Tibetan cause to
truth and justice and the heartfelt aspirations of its people. Such
action would bring much needed clarity, unity, and a new sense of
purpose to the Tibetan movement. More importantly, it would dispel
the confusion surrounding the objective of the Tibetan cause, and act
as a rallying-point for all those who support Tibet's rightful independence.

In contrast, 'autonomy' raises some very worrying questions: what is
its definition? which party defines it? And how would it be applied?
Some answers may be found in the tragedy unfolding for Palestinians
in Gaza (a virtual open prison surrounded by Israeli forces)
particularly the agreement, which proposed the notion of autonomous
Palestinian areas. With the applause of European diplomats, who
pushed the Palestinians into this concession, now a distant
memory,  the 'autonomy solution' has intensified social unrest within
those areas, generated frustration and bitterness within the
Palestinian community, isolated the Palestinian Authority from a key
section of its people, and left Israel in even greater control of
these territories. Meanwhile, their culture is being bulldozed and
bombed into oblivion under the shadow of expanding illegal Israeli
settlements. A similar cultural annihilation has been visited upon
Tibet and East Turkestan, by a regime characterised by a degree of
racism, brutality, and state engineered suffering not witnessed since
Hitler's Germany.

It is therefore totally unrealistic to expect any moderation from
communist China, should an `agreement' on autonomy be reached with
the TGIE. There are of course other models such as the Basque Region;
which, significantly was visited by the Dalai Lama. Yet, those who
champion this example fail to take into account the nature and scale
of cultural genocide that China has inflicted upon Tibetans and
Muslim-Uighurs, that cannot be erased through partial and cosmetic
improvements in civil rights or token parliamentary freedoms. Tibet
and East Turkestan have been in chains for decades, autonomy may
arguably remove the shackles, but the prison door will remain bolted
and firmly shut!

The Six Truths of Tibetan Independence

Independent Tibet Network supports independence for Tibet and East
Turkestan and respects the rights of the Tibetan and Uyghur peoples
to determine the nature and course of their struggle for national
liberation. We submit to the Conference the following declaration in
support of those aims.

1. The legitimate authority of Tibet's exiled administration derives
from the Tibetan people of Kham, Amdo and U-Tsang who, under the
leadership of the Dalai Lama, aspire for nationhood.

2. This licence springs from Tibet's historic territorial and
political sovereignty, and the common desire for complete independence.

3. Tibet is an independent country under illegal occupation and the
ultimate deciding authority on Tibet's future status, as acknowledged
by the Dalai Lama, are the 6 million Tibetans

4. The Tibetan people have the right and freedom to determine the
nature and course of their struggle.

5. The Tibetan cause is not simply an issue of human rights or
religion. Neither should it be restricted or determined by the
Tibetan Administration, it is a political struggle for national
liberation and identity reflecting the Tibetan people's right to independence.

6. The Tibetan Administration's current policy of appeasement towards
Communist China conflicts with the political aspiration of ordinary
Tibetans and should be abandoned in favour of a strategy, which
promotes Tibetan independence.


The Conference called for recognizing Tibet as a colony and that the
United Nations and other bodies of the International community be
compelled to remove the last vestiges of colonialism, and grant
demand of Independence for Tibet. It cited the Resolution number
"49/89 Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of
Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples" of 7th February 1995
adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations as follows:
"Having examined the report of the Special Committee on the Situation
with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting
of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 1/Recalling its
resolution 1514(XV) of 14 December 1960, containing the Declaration
on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,
and all its subsequent resolutions concerning the implementation of
the Declaration, most recently resolution 48/52 of 10 December 1993,
as well as the relevant resolutions of the Security Council,
Recognizing that the eradication of colonialism is one of the
priorities of the Organization for the decade that began in 1990,
Deeply conscious of the need to take, speedily, measures to eliminate
the last vestiges of colonialism by the year 2000, as called for in
its resolution 43/47 of 22 November 1988 ."

The above-cited resolution, ratified even by China, makes it the
moral responsibility of the UN and the member nations of this body to
call a special meeting of the General Assembly and impress upon China
that in view of this Resolution, China must restore full independence
to whole of Tibet i.e. all the three provinces and its people.

The Conference adopted a four-point resolution, which will guide its
call for Independence of Tibet and its plan of action in the coming years:


"Realizing that Complete Independence (Poorna Swaraj) under the
leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with the help of India
and other members of the freedom-loving world community is the only
hope for Tibet, the Conference RESOLVES:-

1) To call upon the Government of India to recognize the Tibetan
Government-in-Exile as the sole legitimate Government of Tibet and
the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama as its sole
political and spiritual leader.

2) To call upon the United Nations to fulfill its obligation in view
of its 1993 UN Declaration that there should remain no colonized
country in the world by the year 2000.

3) To call upon every member of the international community to
recognize Tibet as one of the last remnants of colonial rule in need
of decolonization.

4) To call upon all Tibet Support Groups around the world to put back
Complete Independence as their main agenda in their campaigns and
observe 22 November every year as "Anti-Colonialism Day" and to run
signature campaigns reminding the United Nations to implement its
resolutions on Colonialism."
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