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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan Alternative: Reflections on a political solution, by Jamyang Norbu

December 5, 2007

This article has been requested to Jamyang Norbu to be published in the
French-language review Alternative Tibetaine (Tibetan Alternative), in
the framework of the International Forum for a Free Tibet held in Turin
(Italy) on 26 May, 2007.


DISCUSSING A RANGZEN STRATEGY

By Jamyang Norbu

I hope that in this conference we could initiate a discussion on
alternate and viable strategies that are clearly Rangzen oriented, but
are set out in incremental and manageable stages. The idea would be to
undertake a campaign whose success would provide the foundation for
another more ambitious campaign. For example:

Recognition of Tibet as an "occupied country"

One of the first steps that might be undertaken is to seek various local
administrative bodies, state legislatures, even national parliaments (in
countries sympathetic to Tibet) to proclaim Tibet an "occupied country".
Such initiatives have been successfully undertaken before but always as
one-off initiatives and never as a part of concerted campaign with a
specific over-all goal. Such a campaign could make use of the findings
and conclusions of the International Commission of Jurists of Geneva,
the Conference of Jurists in London, the International Law Committee of
the Bundestag, and the People's Tribunal of Strasbourg, which have all
unanimously concluded that Tibet is an occupied country and was de facto
an independent state before the Chinese invasion. The American Congress
passed a bill to this effect a number of years ago.

Even in countries that have no hesitation in proclaiming Tibet to be a
part of China, we could campaign for acknowledgment of Tibet as a
country that from 1912 to 1950 was a de facto independent nation that
was invaded militarily by China. It could perhaps even be presented as a
historical fact that requires of every civilized nation in the world a
basic minimal acknowledgement, such as that is given to the Jewish
Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking or the Tiananmen Massacre.

Recognition of the Government-in-Exile

A logical next step might be to seek governmental recognition of the
TGIE. This may appear to be a difficult even impossible task but have we
really tried? There are precedents for recognizing exile governments.
During WWII and the Cold War a number of exile governments, mostly
European, of occupied countries, were recognized as legitimate
governments and set up their headquarters in London and New York.

There might not be, for some time at least, a big power willing to offer
such recognition, but it is at least a perceptible goal to which our
supporters and friends in their respective countries could at least work
towards. Furthermore, while not relaxing the pressure on countries such
as the USA, India, Germany and so on, we should make a concerted effort
to get the recognition of smaller nations. Taiwan has used economic aid
to get nineteen countries not only to give it full recognition but to
also support its bid to get a seat in the UN (see below).

Getting even one small country (size doesn't matter in these things) to
recognize Dharamshala as the legitimate government of Tibet is extremely
important. For one, the usual Chinese argument that no country
recognizes Tibet is taken care off. And, of course, the deadlock is
broken. If one why not more? Tibetan morale will receive a boost.

Tibet in the UN

Of course Tibet could never become a member of the UN until there is
actually an independent Tibet state, but why not attempt to seek some
kind of other standing, such as "observer status" that the PLO received
in 1974, or something else. Of course with China in the Security
Council, even a symbolic position would be enormously difficult to
attain, but even initiating the process would be a tremendous step
forward. It would be a real challenge to China. But how could we even
get started?

Every year since 1993, Taiwan has put up its bid to get the General
Assembly to discuss UN membership, supported by nineteen countries:
Burkina Faso, Chad, Dominica, Gambia, Grenada, Honduras, Malawi,
Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
Senegal, Solomon Islands and Swaziland. China and its supporters have so
far managed to block the bill, but always after a long hard debate.
Taiwan is widely believed to win friends through development aid and
other economic blandishments.  Although the Tibetan Government could not
offer anything similar, we could perhaps in this matter position
ourselves in Taiwan's slipstream, as it were, to take advantage of the
situation. These governments obviously were not intimidated by China, a
politically powerful UN member, by supporting Taiwan. So there is every
possibility that they could be persuades to recognize the TGIE and even
sponsor or support our case in the UN.

Many of the leaders of these small countries are Western educated
lawyers and other professionals who might have international aspirations
and need for public recognition, than the politics of their small
countries alone could provide. There could also be genuine champions of
democracy and freedom in those countries.

These are just some random ideas that I am offering more as starting
points for  discussions on strategy, than as a fully worked out plan of
action.

J.N.
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