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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?"

'China distorting Tibetan autonomy proposal'

November 21, 2008

By Pema Thinley
Tibetan Review
November 18, 2008

The envoys of the Dalai Lama have accused China of distorting the
substantive contents of their memorandum on genuine autonomy for the
Tibetan people presented by them during their Nov 4-5, 8th round of
talks in Beijing. Referring to statements issued by the Central
United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, with
whose officials the talks were held, the envoys said in a statement
Nov 16 that they distorted the position and proposal outlined in the
memorandum. The envoys said they therefore decided to release the
memorandum in an apparent move to straighten the record.

Contrary to China's claim that the Tibetan proposal sought to dilute
the PRC's "national unification and territorial integrity" with an
alleged demand for "half independence" or "covert independence", the
envoys have said in their memorandum that the Tibetan aspiration
could be fully met within the terms of the existing Chinese
constitution. The memorandum says: "The Constitution of the PRC
contains fundamental principles on autonomy and self-government whose
objectives are compatible with the needs and aspirations of the Tibetans."

The memorandum points out that the Chinese constitution gives
significant discretionary powers to state organs in decision-making
and on the operation of the system of autonomy. It asks that these
powers be exercised to facilitate genuine autonomy for Tibetans in
ways that would respond to the uniqueness of the Tibetan situation.

The memorandum emphasizes the Tibetan side's genuine interest to live
under Chinese sovereignty by noting: "As a part of the multi-national
state of the PRC, Tibetans can benefit greatly from the rapid
economic and scientific development the country is experiencing."

The envoys have justified their demand for the reunification of all
Tibetan populated regions that make up the three traditional
provinces of Tibet by noting that Tibetans belong to one minority
nationality and respecting the integrity of this unity "is (within)
the spirit, the intent and the principle underlying the
constitutional concept of national regional autonomy as well as the
principle of equality of nationalities." The memorandum cites the
historical and geographical basis for this demand by pointing out:
"The Tibetan nationality lives in one contiguous area on the Tibetan
plateau, which they have inhabited for millennia and to which they
are therefore indigenous."

The memorandum says the current administrative divisions, by which
Tibetan communities are ruled and administered under different
provinces and regions of the PRC, promotes the fragmentation of the
Tibetan nationality and disregards the spirit of autonomy.

The memorandum also makes some suggestions for making the
constitutional provisions on autonomy real and effective within the
terms of the principle, such as introducing a clear division of
lawmaking powers and responsibilities, and streamlining laws and
regulations that at present restrict or negate the autonomy of the
autonomous regions. Regarding the former, the memorandum suggests
that Tibet, like other autonomous regions, be granted powers of
self-governance with regard to the following subjects: Language,
Culture, Religion, Education, Environmental Protection, Utilisation
of Natural Resources, Economic Development and Trade, Public health,
Public Security, Regulation on population migration, and Cultural,
educational and religious exchanges with other countries.

The memorandum rightly points out that encouraging and allowing large
scale migration and settlement of the majority Han nationality and
other nationalities in a supposedly autonomous region would
"fundamentally change the conditions necessary for the exercise of
regional autonomy since the constitutional criteria for the exercise
of autonomy, namely that the minority nationality 'live in compact
communities' in a particular territory is changed and undermined."

Nowhere in the memorandum is there any suggestion or implication that
the Chinese constitution be revised "so that this separatist group
could actually possess the power of an independent state" or that
some form of "ethnic cleansing" be carried out in the Tibetan
regions, as alleged by Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the
United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China
(CPC) Central Committee, in an interview with the BBC News Nov 10.
Besides, China contends that Tibet is more than 90 percent Tibetan;
hence, no basis arises for making or interpreting any ethnic
cleansing intentions on the part of Tibetans. Zhu had been leading
the talks with the Tibetan envoys.
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