Dharamshala: - September 25, 2012, over four hundred delegates from 26 countries, including top officials of the Central Tibetan Administration, gathered in Dharamshala to discuss the increasing tragic self-immolations in Tibet and how to seek a strong support in the worldwide community for solving the Tibet problem.
Fifty-one Tibetan national flags hung from the surrounding balcony in the auditorium of the TCV school as a mark respect for the self-immolators while the four day long meeting is being held. This special meeting follows the first which was also held following the spring 2008 Tibet protests which led hundreds of Tibetan people were reported to have been killed by Chinese security forces.
In his opening speech, Mr Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, said: “The main reason for holding this Second Special General Meeting of the Tibetan People is how and in what ways the Tibetans living in exile should respond to the tragic situation in Tibet today.”
“Over the past sixty years, the Chinese government has continued to pursue a policy of assimilation designed to obliterate the ethnic identity of the Tibetan people,” he said.
He said the Chinese government has pursued a policy of massive Chinese population transfer into Tibet and the systematic repression of Tibetan people’s political freedom and their language, religion and culture. “Because of it, the situation in Tibet became so severely unbearable that to our knowledge, 51 Tibetans have been driven to sacrifice even their lives by setting themselves on fire. Forty-one have died,” he added.
“A state of undeclared martial law continues to remain in force in Tibet, he said adding, “China has converted Tibet into a territory resembling a prison camp, denying permission for visits by independent journalists as well as by governmental and non-governmental delegations seeking to investigate the real situation in the Tibetan areas.”
He said the tragedy of the situation, under which Tibetans suffer in immeasurable sorrow and misery today is also an opportunity for us to come together, consolidate our capabilities and respond to the challenge that confronts us.
In his opening remarks, the Tibetan political leader, Dr Lobsang Sangay spoke about the efforts made by the Kashag (excutive cabinet) to highlight the grim situation in Tibet and the tragic self-immolations by Tibetans in the international community. He said statements and resolutions of support came from governments and parliaments of different countries such as Australia, Canada, Taiwan, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, South Africa, Poland, Switzerland and the US. The issue of Tibet was raised and resolution adopted in the US and EU parliaments, he added.
The Kashag has made every possible efforts to get the international community’s support to end the tragedy in Tibet, Dr Sangay said, expressing hope that the four-day meeting will come up with new and concrete action plan. He expressed hope the delegates will discuss ways to fulfil the aspirations of the self-immolators for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.
The political leader also underlined the need for deliberations on how to garner support from Asian countries such as India and China by raising awareness on the significance and impact of Tibet, its stability and conservation of its environment on Asia.
Dr Sangay thanked governments and parliaments for expressing concern over the prevailing situation in Tibet by issuing statements and adopting resolutions. He also appealed to them to take concrete action to press the Chinese government to open up Tibet to fact-finding delegations and the international media to assess the real situation in the Tibetan areas.
He stated the Central Tibetan Administration is committed to the Middle-Way policy to resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue with the Chinese government. Echoing similar position, Tibetan Parliament Speaker Penpa Tsering also said that there would no discussion during the special meeting on adopting new policies other than the Middle-Way policy.
Dividing the delegates into ten groups will come up with a final action plan on the final day of the meeting. On Friday morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will attend a long life prayer service to be offered by the Kashag and Parliament on behalf of the Tibetan administration and its people.
“The fact that Tibetans after fifty plus years are still protesting and in the drastic form of self-immolation clearly indicates that they are protesting against the occupation of Tibet and repressive policies of the Chinese government,” Dr Sangay, told reporters during a press conference.