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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Put "complete" independence on the agenda again

November 13, 2008

By Tsewang Norbu
November 12, 2008

Berlin, Nov. 11 -- The 8th Round of the Sino-Tibetan Dialogue was
concluded on November 5, 2008. While the Tibetan delegation in a
short press release stated that they were advised by the Tibetan
Administration "not to make statements" about their discussions
before the special general meeting of the Tibetans beginning on
November 17, 2008, China has - according to an AFP report quoting a
Chinese Communist statement- admitted that their "contacts and talks
failed to make progress" and that they "will never make a
concession". As such it is now certain that the 8th Round of Talks
did not bring any breakthrough.

Although in another despatch Chinese authorities are reported to have
said that the door for dialogue is still open but now that the
Olympic Games are over, China wants the dialogue only under her
terms. Wang Lixiong is right in his prophetic statement, made in
January 2007 that "Beijing sees the talks as an end in themselves" to
fool the international community.

In the light of these pronouncements from China, the chance to reach
at a negotiated settlement of the Tibet Issue has completely
disappeared again. Given such developments, the Special Meeting of
the Tibetans in the free world, where even some Tibetans from the
occupied Tibet might be present, becomes really "historic" as it will
be the first such meeting of Tibetans as envisaged under Art. 59 of
the Exile Charter. Although the outcomes of this Special Meeting will
not be binding to the Government of Tibet in Exile but the
deliberations and recommendations of this meeting will send strong
signals, both to China and the world. Therefore, the pressure on the
delegates will be immense.

The Government of Tibet in Exile will do everything at her disposal
to win the support of the Tibetans to the Middle Way Approach at the
meeting again. The Tibetan Administration still hopes that such a
clear support will increase her bargaining leverage vis-a-vis China.
This is legitimate but it is an illusion and will further weaken her
position and is bound to prove futile. "Fatal" would actually be the
better word to describe such a scenario, if the majority of the
delegates would once again lend their support to the Middle Way Approach.

It is very honourable that the Tibetans are still prepared to explore
different options for the future status of Tibet. But let us be very
clear that there will and can be no solutions acceptable to the
Tibetans below those outlined in the Middle Way Approach which China
has consistently rejected in the past two decades.

The future status of Tibet as outlined in the Middle Way Approach may
be the only and realistic position at the level of policy objectives
but as a strategy to bring China to the negotiation table it was most
unfortunate and disastrous because the Tibetan side has given up all
her trump cards even before entering into any kind of negotiation.
Why should China feel the need to make any compromise?

Secondly, HH the Dalai Lama has mentioned in his public address on
October 25, 2008 at the TCV that 1993 the Tibetans were consulted to
give their views on the stalemated dialogue process. According to a
brochure, on the Middle Way Approach published by the Tibetan
Administration, nearly 65% of the Tibetans in that consultation
reinforced their faith in the Dalai Lama to continue with this
policy. I am not challenging the accuracy of the final figure for the
entire Tibetan exile populace but as far as the Tibetans in Europe
were concerned, the figure was just the other way round. During a
huge conference of Tibetans from all over Europe in March 1997 in
Switzerland on referendum with four options, over 67% were for
complete independence. I am mentioning this to set the record right,
as far as the views of Tibetans in Europe are concerned.

Unlike the past informal consultations of 1993 or 1997, the
deliberations and recommendations during this meeting may be more
representative and as such will have greater weight. A repetition of
such tragic error will be an act of high treason towards the future
generations of Tibetans in our Land of Snow.

Of course during the meeting in November 2008 the Tibetan
Administration under the leadership of HH the Dalai Lama will explore
possible options to resolve the Tibet Issue. However, let us all be
clear that there will be no solutions below those level as outlined
in the historic speech of the Dalai Lama to the members of the
European Parliament in 1988, now known as the Middle Way Approach. No
negotiated settlement is acceptable to the Tibetans below the
concessions already made in that Strasbourg Speech.

In more than 20 years China has not reciprocated positively to the
far reaching concessions made from the Tibetan side. It is in this
light that I fail to understand the position of Dr. Lobsang Sangay
that the Tibetans have to "be more flexible". I only hope that our
young and bright intellectual was wrongly quoted. No Tibetan
leadership can come up with positions below the policy outlined in
the Strasbourg Speech. Anything less than that will amount to
complete surrender and this is exactly what the Chinese want that the
Tibetan leadership choose voluntarily and wash clean China´s blood
stained hand of invasion and occupation. Chinese are very history
conscious people and this in fact is their motivation for keeping
dialogue going. What China wants is not dialogue but complete
voluntary surrender.

Looking at the opinion poll of the Tibetans living in Germany I am
scared of the special meeting in Dharamsala. In Hamburg, Berlin,
Cologne-Bonn, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich Tibetans have met to
discuss over various option. I was shocked to learn that over 80% of
the total participants support the Middle Way Approach. Although over
60% of the Tibetans in Berlin demand complete independence, but in
Munich there is a hundred percent support for the Middle Way
Approach. The only new thing is, even those Tibetans in Munich,
demand that TYC should be represented in the Tibetan delegation for dialogue.

It is for this reason why I call upon all participants of this
special meeting to stand up for complete independence. Senior members
of the Executive Organ are expected to recommit themselves to the
Middle Way Approach. This will be for certain members of the
Executive rather a question of steadfastness than following their
conviction. For the members of the Parliament in Exile it will be
their last chance to redeem their past errors and I expect both from
the incumbent and former members of the parliament to stand up this
time for complete independence.

The unfortunate role of the Exile Parliament on the Middle Way
Approach in the past two decades has exposed the weakness of our
parliamentary system that has no political parties. In a
parliamentary democracy you have a ruling party or coalition party of
two or more parties and an opposition party or parties. We do not
have that. I am not implying that multiparty parliamentary system per
se is better than one or no party parliamentary system. But our
parliamentary system does have certain structural pitfalls which has
become very apparent in connection with this particular issue.

Unlike my friend Robbie Barnett I am convinced that the majority of
the Tibetans in Tibet still retain a strong commitment to full
independence for Tibet. Nevertheless, with the Dalai Lama leading the
Tibetan struggle, they can be convinced to accept a genuine autonomy
as a compromise. Once the extremely charismatic present Dalai Lama is
gone, no Tibetan leadership in future will be in a position to
convince the Tibetans to accept a solution of genuine autonomy as
outlined in the Middle Way Approach.

I completely agree with Kalon Tripa, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, and
Tenzin Taklha that the non-violence is non-negotiable. On this point
Tibetans as a people are completely united, at least during the life
time of the XIV. Dalai Lama. I bet that even the TYC will agree on
this, although China and her friends try to project the TYC as an
organisation having terrorist leanings. This is a great thing and the
special meeting is an excellent occasion to convey this message to the world.

Of course self-determination as a right of the Tibetan people will
definitely come up as an option during the upcoming meet as was
explicitly recognized even by the UN in her Resolution No. 1723
(1961). The Tibetan struggle for complete independence was aimed at
the right for external or the highest degree of self-determination.
Since the historic address of HH the Dalai Lama in Strasbourg in
1988, the Government of Tibet in Exile has voluntarily given up the
demand for independence and is prepared to remain within the
territorial boundaries of the PR China amounting to the lowest degree
of rights derivable from self-determination. Whether you can find
during the special meeting other interesting options or not to
resolve the Tibet Issue, the Tibetans as a people have this right to
self-determination and we should not forfeit this right.

Whatever recommendations might come out of this Special Meeting, less
than Middle Way Approach will amount to high treason to the future
generations of Tibet. I earnestly hope that the Tibetan leadership is
now convinced that no negotiated settlement would be reached with
China. It is, therefore, high time to come back to square one and put
Rangtsen on the agenda again. At least we will keep the options open
for our future generations to decide themselves. No Tibetan and for
that matter, no delegate at this Special Meeting would want to go
into history as complicit of such high treason.

The author finished his school in 1969 from the Central School for
Tibetans, Mussoorie, and did his B.A. (Hons.) from St. Stephen´s
College, Delhi. He has been living in Germany since 1973. He can be
reached at
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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