The following text is released on 27 July, 2009 - "A unique conference on Tibet, participated solely by Tibetan and Chinese scholars, writers, journalist, advocates and social workers, will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 6 -8 August 2009. Convened by the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association, the conference will be attended by over 100 Chinese and Tibetan delegates from all over the world.
"The objective of the conference is to create a better understanding between the two communities and to explore ways for a peaceful solution of the Tibetan issue," said Mr. Jonathan Sisson of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. "This is in the interest of both the Chinese and the Tibetan peoples," said Dr. Tashi Thaktsang of the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association. "In addition, it will serve the long-term development of China and contribute to peace and stability in Asia," he added.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give the keynote address. Mr. Yan Jiaqi, a leading Chinese liberal scholar who had served in the Political Reform Commission under the leadership of then Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang in the 1980s, will be a guest speaker. Mr. Yan Jiaqi also served as Director of the Institute of Political Research of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and has written several books, including "A Ten Year History of the Cultural Revolution".
For centuries, the Chinese and the Tibetan peoples have lived in close interaction with each other, collaborating and benefiting from one another - spiritually, socially, and economically. For the last fifty - sixty years, however, these relations have been overshadowed by serious political disputes.
As the demonstrations throughout Tibet in 2008 showed, there is widespread discontent among the Tibetan population toward the policies of the Chinese government in Tibet. To interpret these events as "anti-Chinese" agitation orchestrated by the "Dalai clique", as Chinese authorities have done, is to misunderstand the reasons of the demonstrations.
On numerous occasions, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said the Tibetans are not making any demands based on history. In his 10 March 2009 statement he said, "We need to look to the future and work for our mutual benefit. 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."
Therefore, the path towards the realization of those rights, however, does not lay in increased strife, but will require the cooperation of all the concerned parties. To this end, His Holiness has been calling for initiatives to increase the mutual understanding between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
Irrespective of where one stands on the political issue of Tibet, all of those who care about the future of China are concerned about the increased tension between Tibetans and Chinese. As primary stakeholders, representatives of Chinese and Tibetan civil society have an important role to play in the efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Tibet question. In the recent past, concerned Chinese and Tibetan individuals have taken steps to encourage a better mutual understanding. This has had a positive impact and a need was felt to have a larger gathering to be held in Switzerland given its history of hosting numerous reconciliation events."
There will be a Meet the Press with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the conference organizers on August 6, 2009 at Hotel Intercontinental, Geneva. For more information and accreditation click here: Meet the Press.