Saturday, March 27, 2010
Brussels: During the Mini-Plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday, the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) held a debate on the current situation of Tibet reviewing the peaceful protests by Tibetans inside Tibet in 2008.
During the debate EU Commissioner and Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr. Maros Sefcovic said: "We have real concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet, about the fact that Tibet has remained largely closed to international media, diplomats and humanitarian organisations and also about the lack of progress in talks between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities."
"The EU position does not leave any room for misinterpretation. Therefore, let me stress: the EU respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China, including Tibet. We respect the ‘one China’ policy."
*However, we have always supported peaceful reconciliation through dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the representatives of the Dalai Lama. This dialogue has to be constructive and substantive, addressing all core issues such as the preservation of Tibet’s unique culture, religion and traditions and the need to achieve a system of meaningful autonomy for Tibet within the Chinese Constitution."
"The dialogue should also address the participation of all Tibetans in decision-making. For the EU, Tibet is a human rights issue. We have consistently passed this message on to our Chinese counterparts and listened carefully to their views, and we make every effort to understand their position in a spirit of mutual respect."
"But human rights are universal, and the situation in Tibet is a legitimate concern for the international community, a point that we regularly make to our Chinese interlocutors."
"In the Sino-Tibetan dialogue, the Tibetan side has recently submitted an updated memorandum on genuine autonomy for the future of Tibet. We welcome that the Tibetan side has reiterated its firm commitment not to seek separation or independence."
"We are also pleased that the Dalai Lama remains committed to the middle-way approach and to dialogue as the only means for achieving a mutually acceptable and lasting solution."
"The EU welcomes the fact that both parties continue to hold talks even if we note with regret the lack of results and the lack of momentum."
"Let me conclude by appealing to the representatives of the two sides to continue and intensify the dialogue with an open spirit and with a view to achieving a durable solution in Tibet. From our side I can guarantee the EU's wholehearted support to such a process."
MEPs Call For Appointment of EU Special Envoy For Tibet
While expressing concern over the current situation in Tibet the MEPs called for the appointment of an EU Special Envoy for Tibet, a meeting between High Representative Baroness Ashton and His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to send an investigation team to Tibet.
Monk Accused Of Leaking Information To Outside World
Sources in China say a 39-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment after a secret trial.
Tibetcustom.com reports that the monk, Ngagchung, has been held incommunicado since his arrest in July of 2008. The Web site quoted the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
The monk was tried by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province.
No details were available on the trial. His family members have not been allowed to see him.
He was arrested on suspicion of leaking information about Tibet outside China. He is believed to be held in a prison near Chengdu.
Friday, March 26, 2010
The post-Dalai Lama era is likely to be fraught with uncertainty and has profound security implications for both India and China. While China is afflicted with the Tibetan unrest, India has worries about the future of Tibetan refugees spread across the subcontinent. Relations between the two Asian giants are also greatly entwined with the Tibet factor. While India is yet to evolve a strategy to deal with the fate of the Tibetan refugees after the present Dalai Lama passes away, China is incrementally preparing to confront the Tibet problem in the post-Dalai Lama phase. Thus, Hu Jintao’s reconfigured Tibet policy based on promotion of Buddhism and creation of a new monkhood is aimed at confronting the security situation in the post-Dalai Lama era. It is also geared towards weakening India’s manoeuverability on the Tibet issue and bilateral border negotiations.
China’s latest move towards incremental preparation for the post-Dalai Lama era came on February 28, 2010, when it nominated its designated Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, to the Parliamentary advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) as one of the 13 new members. Prior to this, on October 18, 2008, the Chinese government formulated plans to set up the first-ever academy of Tibetan Buddhism in southwestern China. Construction for the $11.7 million project began in October 2008. The purpose is to train “patriotic and devotional religious personnel”. In other words, the attempt is to build an officially approved cadre of monks in order to dilute the influence of defiant monks in Tibet, who have faith in the Dalai Lama. In fact, the signs for the creation of a new monkhood subservient to Beijing was witnessed in July 2007 when in a major diplomatic move the government in China passed a law on reincarnation -- Order No. 5 of China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs, Management Measures for the Reincarnation of ‘Living Buddhas’ in Tibetan Buddhism -- which required all reincarnate lamas to be approved by the state. Through this major tactical step China asserted its right to manage and select all reincarnate lamas of Tibetan Buddhism and thereby sought to choose its own Dalai Lama after the present one passes away. This is based on the assumption that with the exit of the present Dalai Lama the Tibetan problem would inevitably end.
Earlier from April 13 to 16, 2006, China organised for the first time a World Buddhist Forum in Hangzhou to espouse its leadership of the Buddhist world. It also provided an international platform to China’s own Panchen Lama to bolster his legitimacy both internally and globally. It may be recalled that China hand-picked Gyaincain Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995, rejecting Gedhun Choekyi Nyima selected by the Dalai Lama. Since then, China has been steadily raising his profile. The Dalai Lama was not invited for this international forum in which over 1,000 monks and experts from thirty-seven countries gathered to participate in the discussion on building a harmonious world, because he was seen as “splitting the motherland and sabotaging the unity of ethnic groups.” As such, his participation would have caused “disharmony”, as reported by Xinhua.
More importantly, the Fifth National Conference on the Work of Tibet held in Beijing in January 18-20, 2010 indicates China’s policy direction on Tibet. This was convened especially keeping an eye on the future of the Dalai Lama. Evidently, the 2010 Work on Tibet came after the March 2008 Tibetan uprisings. The last Conference was held in 2001. During the 2010 Conference, Chinese President Hu Jintao made a very important statement on the need for lasting stability in Tibet, implying that Deng Xiaoping’s strategy of creating economic prosperity to mitigate separatism alone could not tame the restive Tibetan population. Identifying that “Tibet faces a special contradiction between people of all ethnic group and the separatist forces led by the Dalai clique,” Hu Jintao emphasised on the need for “leap frog development” and “lasting stability” as the major themes of the work of Tibet. The emphasis on “lasting stability” is particularly striking. The Work Report talks about adopting substantial measures to ensure “normal order of Tibetan Buddhism.” This perhaps signals the need to promote and preserve Tibetan Buddhism, which has hitherto been stifled or controlled in Tibet. Also, perhaps there is the realization on the part of the Chinese leadership that the forces of identity and nationalism cannot be eliminated through repressive measures. Conspicuously, this means that along with Deng’s policy of economic development in minority areas, Hu Jintao adds a major policy decision of promoting Tibetan Buddhism, which in some sense would mean upholding the Tibetan identity. Arguably, China is incrementally preparing for the post-Dalai Lama scenario. This momentous decision also has ominous implications for India.
First, it would certainly blunt Western criticism about China’s repressive policy in Tibet. Second, it would discredit the Dalai Lama’s criticism of cultural repression of the Tibetans as well as invalidate his demand for ‘Greater Tibet’ to promote and preserve Tibetan identity. Third, it would weaken India’s Tibetan card or in other words weaken the threat of re-opening the Tibet question as a kind of pressure tactic on China.
In the light of these developments, it is pertinent to ask how India is preparing for the post-Dalai Lama era. The presence of the Dalai Lama in India along with 120,000 Tibetan refugees spread across 39 settlements is leverage for India. But India has so far steadfastly avoided using the Tibetan card. In fact, while China has shown eagerness for the Dalai Lama’s return to China, it has categorically refused to take back the exiled Tibetan population based in India. Of course, the Dalai Lama has refused to go back to Tibet leaving his exiled-people behind. Quite clearly, China is not interested in resolving the Tibet issue. By constantly disparaging the Dalai Lama as a ‘splittist’ and involving his representatives in fruitless talks, China is simply buying time till the Dalai Lama passes away, after which, it hopes, the Tibetan movement would naturally fizzle out. In the meantime, through several measures, China is incrementally consolidating its hold on Tibet. Consequently, China’s Tibet policy is geared towards weakening India’s bargaining position on the border negotiations as the Tibet factor is entwined with the disputed India-China border.
In this scenario, India needs to raise with China the issue of the future of the exiled Tibetan population in India. This is pertinent since the long-term presence of Tibetans in India could prove to be troublesome in terms of internal peace. The 1999 Manali disturbance in Himachal Pradesh bears testimony to the fact that the growing presence of Tibetans and their engagement at times with illegal trade and business has brought them in collision with the local population. With time Tibetans are only likely to strike deeper roots in India, and a future Gorkhaland kind of a scenario could well become a reality.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010
Lhasa, March 24 (IANS)
Two earthquakes measuring 5.7 and 5.5 on the Richter scale jolted the Tibetan Autonomous Region in southwest China Wednesday, the Earthquake Networks Centre said.
The first quake, magnitude-5.7, occurred around 10.06 a.m., while the second temblor, magnitude-5.5 occurred about 30 minutes later, both in northern Tibet's Nyainrong county, Xinhua reported.
The epicentre of the first quake was 32.4 degrees north latitude and 93.0 degrees east longitude at a depth of about eight kilometres.
The epicentre of the second quake was 32.5 degrees north latitude and 92.8 degrees east longitude at a depth of about seven kilometres.
The quakes hit a sparsely inhabited mountainous area, said Zhu Quan, director with the seismological bureau of Tibet. There was no report of casualties or damage after the quakes.