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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."

Dalai Lama's elder brother Gyalo Thondup speaks out in Dharamsala

November 21, 2008

"There is no choice about engagement with China"
ICT report
November 19, 2008

The Dalai Lama's elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, a former resistance
leader whose meeting with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 began
a series of contacts between Tibetans and the Chinese leadership,
spoke publicly today in Dharamsala, India, to urge a continuation of
engagement with China "because we have no choice". Thondup, who no
longer serves in an official capacity, said that he also wanted to
counter Chinese representations of the discussions following his own
conversations with the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979.

Eighty-year old Gyalo Thondup, a former chairman of the Tibetan
cabinet (Kashag) in Dharamsala, was prompted to give a rare and
detailed address to the media today after hardline comments by a
Chinese official last week denying that Deng Xiaoping had said that
"except independence all other issues can be settled through
discussions". The Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyari had reminded
the Chinese side of Deng's statement during the most recent eighth
round of dialogue in the first week of November, but later his
dialogue counterpart Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice Minister of the
Central United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party,
said: "Comrade Deng Xiaoping had never made such a statement. It is a
falsehood made by Gyari and is a complete distortion of Deng
Xiaoping's statement." Gyalo Thondup said today that he was "shocked"
by Zhu's comments, because "it was myself to whom the late paramount
leader, Deng Xiaoping, said that "except independence all other
issues can be settled through discussions" on March 12, 1979.

Gyalo Thondup speaks fluent Chinese and resides in Hong Kong. He was
educated from the age of 14 in a Chinese school in Nanjing under the
Nationalist Chinese regime (Guomindang), and said today that ever
since then he has been studying China. He said today that he had met
representatives from the Chinese embassy in Delhi last Friday
(November 14, 2008) because he felt compelled to convey the message
that "there is no choice" but to talk to each other. "As a Tibetan,
I'm convinced that we must all live together. Therefore it is very
important for the Tibetan people not to lose hope and to keep a good
relationship with people in China. We are sandwiched between China
and India, both very important countries. I was always critical with
the Chinese face to face in Beijing, and now I'm desperate, that's
why I told people in the Chinese embassy in Delhi that there's no
choice [but to talk]. We must face the reality that we have to deal
with China. The people of China will eventually realize that what we
are asking is legitimate."

Gyalo Thondup expressed deep concern about the lack of progress of
the dialogue and said he had challenged Chinese officials in Delhi
about their representations of the process. "I told them that the
dialogue is in no way the personal issue of the Dalai Lama. As soon
as the 14th Dalai Lama was chosen he belonged to the people of Tibet
and to the state of Tibet. He's completely a servant of the Tibetan
people. They say the Dalai Lama has no right to talk about Tibet. I
say to them, do you have any right to talk about Tibet? What the
Dalai Lama is asking for -- a unified Tibetan area and a genuine
autonomy -- is our legitimate right."

Gyalo Thondup accused Beijing of following failed colonial policies
under the Manchu and Qing dynasties, and said that now the PRC must
"abandon these policies". "Since the Manchu empire, the Chinese
leadership has been hankering after military conquest, and this
imperialistic policy [similar to that] of the Qing and Manchu leaders
must now absolutely be abandoned... [When China invaded Tibet] the
Tibetans were supposedly under imperialistic influence, but there was
no imperialistic influence but for a handful of foreigners that were
in Tibet when the Chinese invaded in 1949-50."

Gyalo Thondup thanked the international press corps for traveling to
Dharamsala to cover the Special Meeting: "We are thankful to you all
for taking the initiative. You must pay attention to what is going
on, not only in Tibet but also in Central Asia, China and India.
China and India are very powerful and, therefore, Tibet is very
important for the future. It is necessary to pay attention to what is
going on, and very important to discover what is going on in Tibet on
the ground. So many things are going to develop over the next 50
years. This area is still half asleep, slowly it is waking up."

In the 1950s, Gyalo Thondup recruited Tibetan fighters for training
with CIA instructors on the Pacific island of Saipan. The Tibetans
were trained in communication and weapons skills and guerilla
warfare. When questioned a few years ago about why he changed his
approach in 1979 from leading a resistance movement launched with his
initiative to engaging with the Chinese, Thondup said support from
India and the United States would be insufficient to solve the
Tibetan problem; real progress required talking with the Chinese.

Gyalo Thondup said he had been "very surprised" to see the attacks on
the Dalai Lama by the Chinese side over the past two years and, to
put the current hostile approach into perspective, he detailed his
contacts with the Chinese leadership from 1979 onwards. He was
studying in Hong Kong under British rule because it was not possible
for him to study in China, when he was contacted by the director of
the Hong Kong branch of the official news agency, Xinhua, who
suggested that he meet Deng Xiaoping in China. Gyalo Thondup
described Deng Xiaoping as "a straight-talking person...and quite
interesting." It was during Gyalo Thondup's first visit to China in
1979 that Deng told him that "except independence, all other issues
can be settled through discussions," which Zhu Weiqun denied last
week. The then Chinese Premier Li Peng reiterated the message on May
19, 1991, according to a document released at the press briefing in
Dharamsala today.

During the briefing, Gyalo Thondup was not prepared to give details
on his last contact with the Chinese leadership but said: "My purpose
is pleading the case of Tibet, and hoping that the government of
China will adopt a more reasonable approach and treat us equally." He
acknowledged that: "Yes, there has been no result [from the current
round of dialogue since 2002], but even if there is no result we are
not going to lose hope. Things are changing, the world is changing.
Look at the recent election in America. Have you ever dreamed? China
is changing,- the world is changing. I'm quite optimistic."

With regard to the current Special Meeting, he said: "Within a few
days time, you will know how people are going to approach [the issue]
but, in my mind, I am confident we must continue to plead our case to
the Chinese government. And I have complete faith in the people of China."

He concluded his comments by saying to the international press that
he would like to take the opportunity to ask them "to please convey
my thanks to the people of your countries for their support for the
Tibetan people."

Perspectives from inside Tibet

November 19, 2008

Voices from Tibet - suggestions and opinions for the November Special Meeting

A young Tibetan from Tibet, with the pseudonym 'envoy of peace',
spoke to a group of friends and compiled the following memo for
delegates at the Special Meeting on Tibet's future called by the
Dalai Lama in Dharamsala this week. ICT has withheld identifying details.

As called by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a Special Meeting in
November is to be held with all the Tibetans from around the world
participating in it.

Therefore, we Tibetans from inside Tibet also collected a few
suggestions and opinions from Tibetans with different backgrounds,
and the result of the discussions below are three main topics that
were brought up:

1. Follow independence;

2. Stick to the way of struggle under the leadership of the Dalai Lama;

3. It is the unanimous overall opinion that every Tibetan should
unite towards the goal of inviting His Holiness the Dalai Lama to
Tibet as soon as possible.

Almost all people support the approach proposed by His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, and many intellectuals have done thorough research and
analysis on it. The details as follows:

It is one of the greatest achievements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
that unlike the Manchurian culture and tradition that's almost
vanished, Tibetan tradition and cultures are blossoming around the world.

Other than someone stupid, or someone who is with the enemy's side,
who would dare deny the achievement of Middle Way approach.
Therefore, if we give up the Middle Way approach and choose another
way of struggle, that would be giving up a way that is going to yield
some results while turning to another way that is yet to be settled
and is baseless.

One of the reasons that Chinese communist government does not want to
face the issue of Tibet is that China is still a country where there
is no democracy. And the Communist Party is afraid that if they allow
genuine autonomy for Tibet achieved through the Middle Way approach,
it would also be the beginning of democratization in China, thus
weakening the Communist Party's power in China.

Based on the Chinese Constitution and laws, we should be openly and
clearly advocating the goal of meaningful autonomy by means of the
Middle Way Approach espoused by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Therefore, the Tibetan government in exile and each and every Tibetan
should work hard towards clarifying for people around the world the
essence of the Middle Way approach, especially to the Chinese people
so as to let them know what it really is and to get their support.

To unite the Chinese people, including all Chinese in China or out of
China, such as Chinese officials, businessmen, ordinary Chinese
people, students, etc, and in particular to unite those political
organizations of overseas Chinese in order to promote and accelerate
the process of democratization of China.

Cooperation between Tibetans inside Tibet and outside of it, and try
any means of communication to basically better the understanding
between Tibetans inside and out of Tibet in order to ultimately
achieve our goals through the Middle Way approach.

To reduce the burdens on His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness
the Dalai Lama should not be bothered by all manner of concerns,
which should instead be appropriately considered according to the
seriousness of the matters. For example, it should not be necessary
to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to various inauguration
ceremonies for schools and monasteries, with lengthy teachings, and
visits foreign countries or accepting visits from foreign dignitaries
to His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be more carefully handled. This
should be very seriously considered by those in charge.

Inviting His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet:

It is 100% the wishes of all Tibetans in Tibet to invite His Holiness
the Dalai Lama to Tibet as soon as possible, and If possible, His
Holiness could hold a Kalachakra teaching somewhere in Tibet. Even if
a Kalachakra teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not possible,
a visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is something that could be
clearly defined by the Chinese government: If the Chinese government
doesn't want Tibet to be separated from China or for any independence
activities to be carried out, they should invite His Holiness and ask
him to give a speech to Tibetans in Tibet, clearly stating that he
does not seek the separation of Tibet from China, nor does he support
independence activities on Tibet. This would be a compromise that
would be of benefit to the Chinese as well as the Tibetans.

Support for independence "not a rejection of His Holiness"

A group of nearly 400 Tibetan students at a Chinese university shared
their views on the current meeting last week, saying that most of
them with in favor of independence. In a Skype communication with a
Tibetan exile, the Tibetans conveyed the following message: "When we
say that we support independence, we don't mean this as a rejection
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Our concern is that if we go for the
Middle Path, if the Chinese accept it, later they will not keep their
word and throw out our religious and cultural tradition. Also, we
believe that it was correct not to choose independence at the
beginning. If this had been the path followed by His Holiness, we
believe the oppression would be even worse now, and now it is
terrible. But a majority of us feel that independence is now the way
to go mainly because of what happened since March 14 [the protests in
Lhasa and beyond, and subsequent crackdown]. Patriotism has increased
among the Tibetan people. But we want to stress that just because the
majority of us want to go for independence, we are not in any way
against His Holiness, and this is very important for people to know."

Calls for freedom express a sense of desperation and need to end the crackdown

A monk from Lhasa who is now in exile, but who retains strong
connections with Tibetans inside Tibet, told ICT this week: "Since
March, we have witnessed many Tibetans calling for freedom and
independence. My impression is that there is a sense of desperation
and a need to end the current crackdown and the suffering. So I think
that for some, what they mean by calling for a free Tibet is for an
end to the oppression."

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
In India during the Special Meeting
Tel: +91 97 1768 7756
Tel: +44 7947 138612
email: press@savetibet.org
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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