Dharamshala — “What we are saying is, ‘These are the provisions in the Chinese constitution that say what Tibetans are entitled to. That’s your law. Implement that and we’ll take that as autonomy,’ said the democratically elected President, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, during his visit to Australia where he is meeting with the International Commission of Jurists.
“Essentially, what we’re saying is that if the Chinese government implemented their own laws, we would [accept them] as genuine autonomy.
“The Middle Way Approach has a document called the Memorandum of Genuine Autonomy. Essentially the document is based on Article 4 of the Chinese constitution and Article 12 of the Minority Nationality Act, which grants autonomous arrangement for minorities in general and Tibetans as well.
“What we are saying is, ‘These are the provisions in the Chinese constitution that say what Tibetans are entitled to. That’s your law. Implement that and we’ll take that as autonomy’,” he said.
“From 2002 to 2010, envoys of the Dalai Lama, our representatives, did meet with Chinese government representatives and they had nine rounds of dialogues. So all is not lost,” the President said.
“The Chinese did talk to us, but there was no breakthrough. What we hope is that [if] the Chinese president Xi Jinping wants to solve the issue of Tibet and leave a major legacy in the world, then he will see Tibet is a low-hanging fruit.”
The President referenced a number of reports published by the ICJ about the situation in Tibet from as early as the 1960s. China invaded Tibet in 1950 and the Dalai Lama, with some other 80,000 Tibetan refugees, subsequently fled from the country in 1959, including his own parents.
“The International Commission of Jurists published two reports in the 1960s, and then another report in 1998 of which I was part of... The ICJ concluded that Tibet was an independent country and a de facto independent from 1911 to 1951 when Tibet was occupied by China. The report made the case that Tibet was independent because historically it was, according to the definition of a state having a population and government and territory and sovereignty,” he said.
Going on to discuss the suffering of Tibetans presently living under occupation and the oppression they face, he added, “Just this year, four Tibetans burnt themselves inside Tibet and, recently, two Tibetans in exile.”
“Even though we discourage self-immolation – and we have categorically and consistently discouraged self-immolation – it continues even today. The blame of self-immolation lies with Beijing, that’s what we say,” he said.
“The provision of Chinese law on language says that not only should Tibetan language be used, but it should be encouraged, and bilingual education should be used. These are [China’s] own laws and what we are saying is ‘Let us use our own language’. But at the moment in Tibetan primary, middle and high school, the curriculum instruction is Chinese,” he said.
“This is where the ICJ report alleges cultural genocide taking place in Tibet because they want to wipe out Tibetan culture, Tibetan language and Tibetan identity.”
The Sikyong concluded with a call for supporters in Australia to support Tibetans, noting the support of the United States under the previous administration, saying, “Barack Obama did not see a conflict between One China and the Middle Way Approach. Hopefully, the Australian government will also support the same proposal."
“I think more governments, intellectuals, activists and supporters can raise this issue and put a bit of pressure on the Chinese government to support the win-win proposition of the Middle Way Approach. We are worth your friendship because the resilience and the determination and the hardworking nature of the Tibetan people is to be seen.”
The Sikyong will be in Australia until next week.