TIBETAN BUDDHIST SANGHA OF DUNEDIN
TIBETAN COMMUNITY OF DUNEDIN
FRIENDS OF TIBET, DUNEDIN BRANCH
DHARGYEY BUDDHIST CENTRE
and sent to all members of the Parliament of the government of New Zealand
* [This Web edition with some additions March 1997]
"... human rights issues are of concern to the world community; it is the responsibility of those whose circumstances permit them a free voice to speak out on behalf of those whose rights are suppressed. Tibet is an unfortunate example of a place where suppression prevails, making international attention essential."
Asia Watch Report, February 1988
"... serious, repeated and fundamental breaches of the basic norms of human rights have occurred and continue to occur in Tibet ..."
proceedings of The Permanent Tribunal of Peoples
Strasbourg, France, 16-20 November 1992
This dossier was compiled by
Until 1950 Tibet was a sovereign state inhabited by a people with a distinct language, culture, religion, history and customs. In 1950 Tibet was invaded by the army of The People's Republic of China. It is occupied by the Communist Chinese to the present day.
Escalating unrest among the Tibetan people in response to Chinese occupation culminated in the Tibetan Uprising of 1959. According to Chinese sources 80,000 Tibetans died in Central Tibet alone during and immediately after the uprising. It is estimated that since 1959, 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of Chinese incursion into the country. During 1959 many thousands of Tibetans, including the leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, sought asylum in India. The exodus of Tibetans from Tibet continues to this day.
In 1960 the International Committee of Jurists found that the Chinese had committed genocide in Tibet in the most flagrant violation of human rights. China has continued to do so.
Between 1959 and 1977 all but 12 of more than 6,000 monasteries were destroyed. Many of them were used as target practice by Chinese artillery. A thousand years' worth of priceless Buddhist literature, religious paintings and artifacts have fetched millions of dollars on the international market in an effort by the Chinese to raise foreign currency and to wipe out Tibet's rich heritage.
In the last decade the Chinese have stepped up their efforts to repopulate the country. Tibetans are now a minority in their own country -- there are said to be at least a million more Chinese than Tibetans in Tibet today. Inducements of higher pay and other privileges continue to bring a stream of Chinese settlers into the country. The aim of this is to forcibly resolve China's territorial claims over Tibet by means of a massive and irreversible population shift. In May 1993 the Chinese authorities proposed another massive population transfer as one element in what they hope will be a final solution to their "Tibetan problem".
Tibet, once a peaceful buffer state between India and China, has been transformed into a militarized zone. There are at least 300,000 Chinese troops stationed there at any time, as are at least one quarter of China's nuclear arsenal of 350 nuclear missiles at 5 different missile bases.
It is believed that approximately 3,000 religious and political prisoners are held in prisons and forced labour camps where torture is common. There are reports that Tibetan women are subject en masse to forced abortions and sterilization. Alexander Solzhenitsyn has described China's administration of Tibet as "more brutal and inhumane than any other communist regime in the world."
There are strong concerns, voiced internationally, that China is using Tibet as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. There were reports that China had made an offer to West Germany in 1984 to dispose of nuclear waste. The offer was not accepted. Recently Tibetan farmers have complained that "fertilizer" they have been forced to use on their fields is destroying crops and killing birds and animals.
Tibet's natural resources and ecology are being irreversibly destroyed. Wildlife, including the rare Tibetan snow leopard and the wild blue Tibetan sheep, has been decimated. Forests have been clear-cut and transported to China (since 1950, 68% of Tibet's forests have been felled, causing grave concern in Bangladesh and India, now both frequently devastated by flooding.)
China severely restricts the teaching and study of Buddhism, an essential core of Tibetan culture. The Communist Party regulates the admission of monks and nuns into the monasteries and "political education" is compulsory.
Discrimination is officially and openly practised. The best medical care overwhelmingly serves the Chinese population and the best medical facilities are located in Chinese areas. Education of Chinese children in Tibet is far superior to that available to Tibetans. 70% of higher educational places are reserved for Chinese. In all but elementary classes, Tibetans are taught in Chinese.
1949 China: Civil War between Nationalists and Communists ends. The People's Republic of China proclaimed.
Tibet: A fully sovereign state (as stated in a report of the International Commission of Jurists, 1959) sharing a common border with China. Tibetans know themselves to be a race with a language, culture, religion, history and customs entirely distinct from the Chinese.
1950 Chinese Communists invade Tibet. Tibet's appeal to the United Nations is rejected.
1951 Tibetans forced to agree to Chinese occupation and annexation of Tibet to China.
1953 Communist reforms imposed in eastern Tibet. Chinese begin to indoctrinate Tibetan village people against Tibetan customs and religion.
1955 Full scale revolt begins in eastern Tibet.
1956-1959 Revolts continue in the east. Eastern tribesmen move west towards Lhasa.
1959 Tibetan Uprising takes place in Lhasa on March 10. The Uprising is ruthlessly crushed. H.H. Dalai Lama is persuaded by Tibetans in Lhasa to flee. He is followed into exile by many thousands of Tibetans.
Full Communist reforms are imposed on Tibet.
The International Commission of Jurists (1959 and 1960) judge the Chinese guilty of genocide in Tibet, "the gravest crime of which any person or nation can be accused ... the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group" and detail atrocities to which Tibetans were subjected. These include public execution by shooting, crucifixion, burning alive, drowning, vivisection, starvation, strangulation, hanging, scalding, being buried alive, disembowelling and beheading; imprisonment without trial; torture; forced labour; and forcible sterilization. Many people, including children under 15 years, disappear without trace. The United Nations condemns Chinese atrocities.
1959-1977 China closes Tibet to the outside world. Atrocities continue. During the Cultural Revolution there is wholesale destruction of significant buildings, artifacts, paintings, texts, etc. etc. Most of the monasteries, including the great monastic universities, are destroyed. China resettles large numbers of Han Chinese in Tibet. Chinese is the official language. Education is in Chinese.
1977-1986 Chinese regime in Tibet becomes more "liberal". Tibetans may rebuild some monasteries (subject to Chinese control) and openly practise their religion (though there are many restrictions). Significant buildings and some monasteries are opened to travellers as tourist attractions.
Tibetans, now a minority in their own country, suffer discrimination and withdrawal of opportunity. Most businesses are run by Chinese. Though the Tibetan language is reinstated, all but elementary education is conducted in Chinese. There is high unemployment and poverty among ethnic Tibetans (but not Chinese). The Tibetans in Tibet are marginalized.
1987 Continued suppression of free speech in regard to politics. Tibetans may not speak on the status of Tibet, the return of the Dalai Lama, or the presence of large numbers of Chinese in Tibet. Stringent restrictions on freedom of assembly. Dissident Tibetans arrested, imprisoned and subject to interrogation and torture. Amnesty International documents mistreatment of Tibetan prisoners in China: Torture and Ill-treatment of Prisoners. Birth control is implemented by forced abortion.
September 21: H.H. the Dalai Lama introduces a Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet at a Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington DC.
September 27, October 1 and October 6: Demonstrations in Lhasa against Chinese rule. Chinese react violently, firing into the crowd. Many Tibetans and some westerners are arrested. The westerners are later released. Western journalists are expelled and individual travellers and journalists are banned. Severely repressive measures are adopted. Hundreds of Tibetans are imprisoned.
October 6: In the wake of the uprising in Lhasa the U.S. Senate passes a motion to condemn Chinese actions in Tibet.
October 14: Two Foreign Affairs subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives hold a joint hearing on the question of human rights in Tibet; the issue is also raised in the European Parliament and the German Bundestag.
Late October: The Chinese government rejects a request by a U.S. Congressional group to send a delegation to Tibet.
China labels Tibetans who express themselves in favour of Tibetan independence as "criminals".
1988 March 5: Massive demonstration in Lhasa against Chinese rule. This is the largest demonstration since the Tibetan Uprising of 1959. (Eyewitnesses report the number of Tibetans demonstrating as 10,000 or more.) Hundreds - perhaps thousands - are arrested. There are reports of beatings and shootings.
March 6: Foreign journalists expelled from Lhasa and all telephone links between Lhasa and Beijing said to be out of order.
Many of the Tibetans arrested are subject to prolonged detention without trial, are denied access to lawyers or family members and are mistreated. China restricts contact between Tibetans and Westerners.
June 15: Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, H.H. the Dalai Lama proposes a specific framework for negotiations between Tibetans in exile and the Chinese regarding a peaceful solution of the Tibetan problem.
July: Beijing announces that it will alter its policy toward Tibet from "lenient to severe". It announces that "The Government of the region must adopt a policy of merciless repression towards all rebels."
December 10: Peaceful procession in Lhasa to mark International Human Rights Day quickly and brutally countered by Chinese authorities.
1989 March 5-7: Several initially peaceful demonstrations are violently quashed. Dozens of unarmed Tibetan demonstrators are killed and many more arbitrarily arrested in subsequent security sweeps by Chinese police and military. There are widespread reports of torture against Tibetan political prisoners, many of them monks and nuns. Several deaths are known.
March 7: Martial law imposed in Lhasa. Remains in force until 1 May 1990.
Because foreign observers have been expelled from Lhasa and the surrounding region, China's human rights violations in Tibet go largely unreported.
1990-1993 A steady stream of young monks and nuns leave Tibet and crowd into the monastic communities of the Tibetan refugees in India, seeking freedom to study and practise their religion without Communist controls. Both monks and nuns report their experiences of arrest, imprisonment and torture in Tibet.
1991 May 1991: The United States Senate passes a resolution declaring the whole of Tibet an occupied country whose true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in exile.
June 1991: The Australian House of Representatives passes a unanimous resolution condemning human rights abuses in Tibet and calling on the Chinese government to begin negotiations with the Dalai Lama.
23 August 1991: The United Nations, responding to the violent repression of political demonstrations in Lhasa, passes a resolution criticising Chinese policies in Tibet and calling on the Chinese "to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people".
November 1991: Australian Human Rights Delegation to China visits Tibet. Describes Tibet as effectively under Martial Law. It reports clear signs of anti-Chinese feeling among Tibetans. Ordinary Tibetans report lack of religious freedom and civil and political rights, lack of justice, education, employment and freedom of expression, and restrictions on movement. They fear arrest, interrogation and detention merely for conversing with foreigners. Monks speak of close surveillance. There is a large presence of military and civilian Chinese.
1992 November 1992: The second Australian Human Rights Delegation to China is denied access to Tibet. Officials in Beijing claim that the delegation's 1991 report, which had revealed human rights abuses in Tibet, had not been received favourably by Tibetan authorities. The delegation is also informed that the Chinese Government is unhappy that the Prime Minister of Australia and the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade had met the Dalai Lama during his visit to Australia in May 1992.
8-20 November 1992: The Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, meeting in Strasbourg, France, hears a case brought by representatives of the Tibetan People against the People's Republic of China. The Tribunal finds that since 1950 China has continuously deprived the Tibetan people of their right to self-determination and that this violation of basic human rights has been achieved through the violation of other human rights. The European Parliament unanimously passes a resolution in support of the Tribunal's findings and Tibetan human rights. It calls for the release of all political prisoners in Tibet and for China to allow prison visits by the International Red Cross. (See page 8 for Tribunal verdict and recommendations.)
1993 Tibetans continue to hold demonstrations against Chinese rule.
6-10 January 1993: Conference of International Lawyers on Issues Relating to Self-Determination and Independence for the Tibetan People, meeting in London, finds that Tibetans are a "people" for international law purposes and are thus entitled to the right of self-determination, but that they have been denied the right to self-determination "by reason of the act of aggression and military occupation" of the People's Republic of China. The conference finds that contrary to international law, China has violated the human rights of the Tibetan people. The conference also finds that significant settlements of non-Tibetans from China have occurred in the traditional territory of Tibet without the free consent of the Tibetan people, that these pose a serious threat to the survival of the Tibetan people, and that such population transfers do not conform to international law. The conference considers that population transfer should cease at once. The conference makes a number of recommendations to the international community regarding China's violation of international law in regard to Tibet. (See page 9 for a precis of findings and recommendations of this Conference of International Lawyers on Tibet.)
12 May 1993: Chinese officials hold a secret meeting in China to devise a "Final Solution for Tibet". In an introductory address, Fan Guoqing, former Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, tells the meeting that many nations "rallied against him" during sessions of the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights. He concluded that in the international arena, Tibet "has become a tough issue for China". The meeting laments China's lack of support in UN human rights meetings and describes as "a major blunder" its failure to win over Archbishop Tutu of South Africa. Stating that the European Community has been lost to "the Dalai Camp" it proposes that China must now put its hope for support at the UN in the developing nations of Asia and Africa. The meeting resolves to solve the problem of Tibet by the following means (which, if successful, will solve "the problem" invisibly):
1. Transfer of large numbers of Chinese settlers to Tibet with the aim of making it demographically impossible for Tibetans to rise, as is the case in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang.
2. Manipulation of renowned international figures and religious personages in Tibet for propaganda purposes. Breaking up the unity of Tibetans in exile and infiltrating the ranks of Tibetan religious figures.
1993: Tibetan tour guide Gendun Rinchen is released from prison in Lhasa following a world-wide campaign.
1993: The outcry against Beijing's 2000 Olympics Bid rings around the world indicating increasing awareness of human rights abuses committed in Tibet and China.
Despite Chinese Government threats to impose retaliatory trade embargoes, world leaders continue to meet the Dalai Lama with increasing frequency.
There are strengthening ties between the international Tibet support movement, Chinese pro-democracy and other human rights groups.
1994: United States President Bill Clinton signs into law the 1994-95 Foreign Relations Authorisation Act. Provisions in this Act build on those passed by both Houses of Congress in 1992-93 which declared Tibet an occupied country. The 1994 Bill recognises the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government-in-Exile as the real representatives of the Tibetan people. From now on in reports to Congress, Tibet will be listed alphabetically under its own state heading.
Population and Development policies have become a direct threat to the very survival of the Tibetan people. Beijing admits promoting migration of Chinese to Tibet (September 28, 1994).
President Clinton renews Most Favoured Nation trade status for China.
Lodi Gyari, President of the International Campaign for Tibet (ITC), said, "The Chinese would not have dared to issue these policy pronouncements prior to the president's MFN decision.
Now they feel they have nothing to worry about -- that the U.S. will turn a blind eye even if the government officially acknowledges they are increasing the population influx." China maintains its
commitment to developing Tibet and enforcing political "stability," with the main benefits of economic developments going to Han Chinese industries and businesses, and of continuing the influx of
[Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Fall 1994, Vol. 5 #4]
Chinese authorities ordered all Tibetan Communist Party members and officials who have sent their children for study to schools and institutes outside Tibet, run by the Tibetan government-in-exile, to recall them before December 27, 1994...The Chinese authorities have not only failed to provide quality education in Tibet, but are now curtailing the opportunity of those students who have, after taking all risks, travelled outside Tibet for education. The action also reveals the policy of discrimination being implemented by the Chinese authorities. Since the opening up of China to the outside world, thousands of Chinese students have gone, and are continuing to go, to the West for studies. Among these students are children of senior Chinese leaders.
[Bay Area Friends of Tibet, Fall 1994, Vol. 5 #4]
The human rights group Amnesty International criticized China for giving stiff sentences to five independence activists. The Tibetans were given prison sentences from 12 to 15 years on
charges described by government authorities as counter-revolutionary sabotage...The convictions are part of a renewed crackdown on dissent in Tibet and are totally disproportionate to the crime the
five allegedly committed...According to Tibet Television, the defendants put up posters containing Tibetan independence slogans, and removed the nameplate from a government building and then smashed
it to indicate they were overthrowing the local government.
[International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, Fall 1994, Vol IV #3]
1995: International Campaign for Tibetan representation at the 4th United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing
For further information on the Tibetan Womens movement and the situation in Tibet for women.
The Dalai Lama, head of the Tibetan Government in Exile and -- as reported by the 1991 Australian Human Rights Delegation to China -- still fervently acknowledged by Tibetans in Tibet as their legitimate leader, has consistently opposed the use of violence as an answer to the Chinese occupation of Tibet, seeking instead a peaceful solution through the medium of genuine negotiation.
In an effort to establish communication with the Chinese leadership the Dalai Lama in 1980 offered, via the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, to meet the then General Secretary, Hu Yaobang, during one of the latter's visits abroad. Again in 1991 he offered to meet Premier Li Peng when the latter visited Delhi. These overtures were to no avail.
In September 1987 the Dalai Lama introduced his Five-point Peace Plan for Tibet at a meeting of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington. This proposed that Tibet should be given the status of a 'peace zone' and that the Tibetan people should be granted self-determination in their own land.
1. Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace;
2. Abandonment of China's population transfer policy which threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people;
3. Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
4. Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste;
5. Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
In June 1988, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, the Dalai Lama elaborated on the Five-point Peace Plan. He proposed a framework for negotiations to secure the basic rights of the Tibetan people, in which China would remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy and maintain a limited presence in Tibet until Tibet was transformed into a neutral peace sanctuary. His stated aim was "to make it possible for China and Tibet to stay together in lasting friendship, and to secure the right for Tibetans to govern their own land".
In September 1988 the Chinese government issued a statement that China was willing to begin negotiations. It was agreed by both sides that a preliminary meeting would be held in Hong Kong, but the Chinese failed to communicate further and no meeting has yet taken place.
In 1989 the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee said:
"In his efforts to promote peace the Dalai Lama has shown that what he aims to achieve is not a power base at the expense of others. He claims no more for his people that what everybody -- no doubt the Chinese themselves -- recognise as elementary human rights."
In 1991, in response to the Chinese government's failure to start negotiations about Tibet, the Dalai Lama proposed that he visit Tibet. He spoke of two purposes for such a visit: (1) to ascertain the true feeling of Tibetans in Tibet with the hope of helping the Chinese leadership to understand the true feeling of Tibetans, and (2) to persuade the Tibetan people in Tibet not to abandon von-violence in their struggle against Chinese oppression. Such a visit would require that he be completely free to meet with Tibetans in Tibet, and that senior Chinese officials, and the press, be present. The Chinese government did not respond.
In 1960, after reviewing accounts of Chinese atrocities in Tibet that included the widespread use of summary execution, torture and general abuse including the forced sterilization of women, the International Commission of Jurists found that the Chinese were committing genocide and that 16 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were being violated. According to the Commission the Chinese were guilty of "the most pernicious crime that any individual nation can be accused of, viz. a wilful attempt to annihilate an entire people."
In 1959, 1961 and 1965 three UN General Assembly resolutions were passed condemning China for "violations of fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people".
In 1987 Amnesty International, in China: Torture and Ill-treatment of Prisoners, documented mistreatment of political prisoners in Tibetan gaols. In October 1987, in the wake of the uprising in Lhasa, the U.S. Senate passed a motion to condemn Chinese actions in Tibet. A week later two Foreign Affairs subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives held a joint hearing on the question of human rights in Tibet; the issue was also raised in the European Parliament and the German Bundestag. In late October the Chinese government rejected a request by a U.S. Congressional group to send a delegation to Tibet.
In May 1991 the United States Senate passed a resolution declaring the whole of Tibet an occupied country whose true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. In June 1991 the Australian House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution condemning human rights abuses in Tibet and calling on the Chinese government to begin negotiations with the Dalai Lama. In August 1991, after the violent repression of political demonstrations in Lhasa, the United Nations again passed a resolution criticising Chinese policies in Tibet and calling on the Chinese "to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people."
In November 1991 the first Australian Human Rights Delegation to China visited Tibet and reported continuing human rights abuses there. In November 1992 the second Australian Human Rights Delegation to China was denied access to Tibet. Officials in Beijing indicated that the delegation's 1991 report, which had revealed human rights abuses in Tibet, had not been received favourably by Tibetan authorities. The delegation was also informed that the Chinese Government was unhappy that the Prime Minister of Australia and the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade had met the Dalai Lama during his visit to Australia in May 1992.
From 8-20 November 1992 the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, meeting in Strasbourg, France, heard a case brought by representatives of the Tibetan People against the People's Republic of China. After five days of deliberations the Tribunal found:
"That the Tibetan people have from 1950 been, continuously, deprived of their right to self-determination;
That this breach of a basic human right of the Tibetan people has been achieved through the violation of other basic rights of the Tibetan people, among others by depriving them of the right of the exercise of freedom of religion and expression, by arbitrary arrests and punishments without trial, the destruction of religious and cultural monuments and by resorting to torture;
That the population transfers from the People's Republic of China into the territory of Tibet of non-Tibetan peoples is directed towards undermining the ethnic and cultural unity of Tibet;
That the division of the territory of Tibet into two parts, one called the 'Autonomous Region of Tibet' and the other made up administratively of parts of various Chinese provinces, is also directed towards destroying the unity and the identity of the Tibetan people; and
That the Tibetan people were autonomously governed for many centuries; achieved a specific state structure after 1911 and that the basic Tibetan institutions are now represented by the Tibetan Government in Exile."
The Tribunal recommended the establishment of a Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on human rights violations and self-determination in Tibet; and called on the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to pursue separate investigations into involuntary sterilizations of Tibetan women as an act of genocide, and environmental destruction (particularly radioactive pollution).
The Tribunal proposed that non-governmental organizations convene an international conference in the next two years on the future of Tibet, with the participation of both the Tibetan Government in Exile and the People's Republic of China. (See page 8 for all Tribunal recommendations.)
Following the verdict, the European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Tribunal's session and Tibetan human rights, calling for the release of all political prisoners in Tibet and for China to allow prison visits by the International Red Cross.
In January 1993, the Conference of International Lawyers on Issues Relating to Self-Determination and Independence for the Tibetan People, meeting in London, concluded
"That Tibetans are a 'people' for international law purposes and that the principles of national unity and territorial integrity on the one hand and the right to self-determination on the other hand are compatible in the particular case of Tibet and having regard to its long history of separate existence [and that therefore] the Tibetan people are entitled, in the manner and to the extent allowed by international law, to the exercise of the right to self determination;
That by reason of the act of aggression and military occupation, the Tibetan people's right to the exercise of self-determination has been denied. Since the military action of 1949-50, Tibet has been under the alien occupation and domination of the People's Republic of China and has been administered with the characteristics of an oppressive colonial administration;
That significant settlements of non-Tibetans from China have occurred in the traditional territory of Tibet without the free consent of the Tibetan people. These pose a serious threat to the survival of the Tibetan people, and such population transfers do not conform to international law. [The conference considered that] they should cease at once.
[That the Tibetan people have suffered violations of their human rights and] that such violations are contrary to international law. The People's Republic of China is required by international law to ensure the respect of the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people. It cannot evade that legal requirement by an appeal to its domestic jurisdiction. On the contrary, the violation of human rights is an additional justification for the demand by the Tibetan people for the exercise of their right of self-determination.
The Conference concluded by making 13 recommendations very similar in nature to those made by the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples, among them urging the UN General Assembly to renew its call for the respect of human rights in Tibet, urging the UN Commission on Human Rights to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Tibet, requesting the International Commission of Jurists to conduct a new high level mission to Tibet, and calling on the government of the People's Republic of China and the Tibetan Government in Exile, without delay and without conditions, to commence genuine negotiations to facilitate the exercise of the Tibetan people's right to self-determination. (See page 9 for precis of Conference)
In November 1993, at the first APEC Summit, President Clinton of the United States issued an ultimatum to the Chinese Government: if China's "Most Favoured Nation" status were to be renewed, China must, within the next twelve months, fulfil a number of requirements in the area of human rights, among them to allow the International Red Cross to visit prisons in China (which at present also includes Tibet), to release jailed dissidents, and to start a genuine dialogue with the Tibetan Government in Exile about Tibet.
Permanent Tribunal of Peoples: Session on Tibet
DECISION For the reasons established, the Tribunal decides:
1. That the Tibetan people have from 1950 been, continuously, deprived of their right to self-determination;
2. That this breach of a basic right of the Tibetan people has been achieved through the violation of other basic rights of the Tibetan people, among others by depriving them of the right of the exercise of freedom of religion and expression, by arbitrary arrests and punishments without trial, the destruction of religious and cultural monuments and by resorting to torture;
3. That the population transfers from the People's Republic of China into the territory of Tibet of non Tibetan peoples is directed towards undermining the ethnic and cultural unity of Tibet;
4. That the division of the territory of Tibet in two parts, one called the "Autonomous Region of Tibet" and the other made up administratively of parts of various Chinese provinces, is also directed towards destroying the unity and the identity of the Tibetan people; and
5. That the Tibetan people were autonomously governed for many centuries; achieved a specific state structure after 1911 and that the basic Tibetan institutions are now represented by the Tibetan Government in Exile.
1. Copy of this Verdict, shall, as soon as possible, be provided by the Secretary General of the Tribunal to the Government of the People's Republic of China, the Government of Tibet in Exile and the Secretary General of the United Nations. It shall also be provided to other interested States and international, national and regional bodies. The Government of the People's Republic of China is called upon without delay to conform to the findings of the Tribunal, to cease human rights abuses, to punish those found responsible and to afford the Tibetan people the exercise of their right to self-determination.
2. To break the impasse of derogations from international law and further grave violations of human rights found by it the Tribunal appeals to the Secretary General of the United Nations to establish appropriate machinery to permit the conduct within Tibet of an act of self-determination to determine the future political arrangements of Tibet and its association, if any, with the People's Republic of China. As a preliminary step to this end, a Special Rapporteur for Tibet should be appointed to investigate and report to the organs of the United Nations and the world community of allegations of human rights abuses in Tibet and the desire for, and exercise of, the Tibetan people's right to self-determination, guaranteed by the Charter.
3. The Secretary General of the Tribunal shall call to the particular notice of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and other relevant international agencies, the complaints received by the Tribunal of forced involuntary sterilization of women of child-bearing age as a deliberate programme of ethnic genocide, with a recommendation that this complaint be the subject of immediate special investigation. Similarly, an international expert group should be established to investigate the charges made during the hearings of the Tribunal of radioactive pollution allegedly resulting from uranium mining, nuclear installations, and toxic and radioactive waste disposal in Tibet.
4. Respected non governmental organizations (such as the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, LawAsia and the Minority Rights Group) shall be provided with copy of the Tribunal's Verdict. They will be urged to continue their vigilant scrutiny of the situation in Tibet. The will be asked to explore ways of reaching beyond the formal structure of State machinery to the peoples of China and Tibet so that a just, peaceful and lasting relationship could be established between those peoples on the basis of mutual respect, recognition of the rights of peoples and faithful compliance with international law.
5. To further process of reconciliation proposed in the preceding paragraph, the Tribunal urges relevant non-governmental organization to convene, in 1993 or 1994, an international conference on the future of Tibet. Such a conference should consider this Verdict and the record of the proceedings of the Tribunal. It should explore concrete ways of working towards reconciliation between the Tibetan and the Chinese peoples. These ways could include the appointment of human rights monitors and the posting of United Nations volunteers in a Tibetan Zone of Peace. Representatives of the Tibetan Government in Exile and of the People's Republic of China should be invited to take part in such a conference and in such measures towards reconciliation.
Conference of International Lawyers on Issues Relating to Self-Determination and Independence for the Tibetan People: London, 6-10 January 1993
The Chairman of the conference was Hon Justice Michael Kirby (Chairman, Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists, and President, New South Wales Court of Appeal, Australia). Thirty international lawyers from Africa, Australasia, Europe and the United States were present together with Advisors (including Tibetans) and an Observer from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The conference began with the submission and consideration of written and oral evidence. Special reports had been prepared before the conference on all relevant aspects of the situation in Tibet. They explained clearly the Chinese position (regrettably China declined to be directly represented at the conference), and then other reports and views. His Honour Judge Peter Grogan was Chairman of one Committee to consider this evidence and Hon Justice Marcus Einfeld was Chairman of a second Committee.
The conference then considered matters of relevant international law, on the basis of papers submitted from distinguished experts and plenary discussion, and in the light of the conclusions on evidence. The participants approached these issues rigorously and with neutrality and professionalism.
The conference concluded that Tibetans are a 'people' for international law purposes and that the principles of national unity and territorial integrity on the one hand and the right to self-determination on the other hand are compatible in the particular case of Tibet and having regard to its long history of separate existence. The conference therefore concluded that the Tibetan people are entitled, in the manner and to the extent allowed by international law, to the exercise of the right to self-determination.
The conference also concluded that by reason of the act of aggression and military occupation, the Tibetan people's right to the exercise of self-determination has been denied. Since the military action of 1949-50, Tibet has been under the alien occupation and domination of the People's Republic of China and bas been administered with the characteristics of an oppressive colonial administration.
The conference also found that significant settlements of non-Tibetans from China have occurred in the traditional territory of Tibet without the free consent of the Tibetan people. These pose a serious threat to the survival of the Tibetan people, and such population transfers do not conform to international law. The conference considered that they should cease at once.
The conference also considered the evidential reports concerning violations of human rights and considered that such violations are contrary to international law. The People's Republic of China is required by international law to ensure the respect of the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people. It cannot evade that legal requirement by an appeal to its domestic jurisdiction. On the contrary, the violation of human rights is an additional justification for the demand by the Tibetan people for the exercise of their right of self-determination.
The conference concluded by making 13 recommendations. These included
* An urgent invitation to the UN General Assembly to pass a resolution renewing its call for the respect for human rights in Tibet, in particular renewing its call for the implementation of the right to self-determination of the Tibetan people, as contained in Resolutions 1353, 1723 and 2079;
* Urging the UN Commission on Human Rights to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Tibet as a matter of urgent priority;
* Requesting the International Commission of Jurists to conduct a new high level mission to Tibet by independent experts of unquestioned integrity; and
* Calling on the government of the People's Republic of China and the Tibetan Government in Exile, without delay and without conditions, to commence genuine negotiations to facilitate the exercise of the Tibetan people's right to self-determination.
Since the resolution of the German Federal Parliament passed on 15 October 1987 by all Parliamentary Groups in common, the human rights situation in Tibet has not improved, but has further deteriorated. This became particularly clear at the hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tibet held on 14 June 1995.
Commencing with the Chinese invasion in 1950 and its inhuman military actions, the forcible oppression of Tibet and of its striving for political, ethnic, cultural and religious self- determination has persisted until today. The continued Chinese policy of repression in Tibet has resulted in severe human rights violations, environmental destruction as well as massive economical, social, legal and political discrimination of the Tibetan population and ultimately in the sinisation of Tibet. Thereto it must be added in particular the denial of equal education opportunities for the Tibetan population.
One example for the obstruction of the religious life of the Tibetans is the kidnapping of the boy who was designated by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama and the installation of a second Panchen Lama by the Chinese authorities.
The Dalai Lama has been striving for years to obtain a peaceful dialogue with the Chinese government.
The German Federal Parliament
1. In view of the fact that in its entire history Tibet has preserved an independent ethnical, cultural and religious identity,
2. deeply concerned that this independent identity has been threatened by destruction since the Chinese action by brutal force of arms in 1950,
3. taking into consideration that in the hearing of the German Federal Parliament on 19 June 1995 the status of Tibet, according to international law, has remained contentious among the experts,
4. considering that it is the policy of the Federal Republic of Germany to support the realization of the right to self- determination worldwide and that Tibet's legitimate claim for autonomy arises from its historic-legal situation,
5. in view of the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany has to follow the policy not to accept the unlawful use of force as well as massive human rights violations, and the fact that human rights violations in Tibet are nevertheless continuing,
6. deeply concerned about the reports according to which a six- year-old Tibetan boy, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, as well as his parents were abducted by the Chinese authorities only a short time after the Dalai Lama had designated him as the most recent reincarnation of the second most important leader of Tibet, the Panchen Lama, deceased in 1989,
I. condemns the policy of the Chinese authorities which, especially concerning Tibet, leads to the result of the destruction of its identity, particularly by way of the settlement and influx of a great number of Chinese newcomers, forced sterilization of women and forced abortion, political, religious and cultural persecution and the subordination of the country under a Chinese controlled administration;
II. requests the Federal Government to increase its efforts to the affect that
- the Government of the People's Republic of China respect the human rights which are accepted worldwide and stop the human rights violations against Tibetans,
- the Chinese authorities see to it that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family are released forthwith and permitted to return to their home village,
- the Chinese Government discontinue any policy that may lead to the destruction of the Tibetan culture, such as the systematic settlement of Chinese in great numbers in order to push back the Tibetan population, and the persecution of representatives of the Tibetan culture,
- the Government of the People's Republic of China react positively to the efforts of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile for a constructive dialogue and negotiate about more rights for the Tibetan people,
- the economical, social, legal and political discrimination of the Tibetan population be abolished,
- all political prisoners in Tibet be released,
- Tibetans living abroad may be allowed to return freely,
- the situation of the human rights in Tibet be the subject of particular attention and critical discussion at the meetings of the UN Human Rights Commission also in the future,
- the means of development cooperation used in Tibet benefit the Tibetans, and the Tibetan people be granted appropriate education opportunities,
- a stop be put to the environmental destruction in Tibet,
- increased attention be paid to the desire of the Tibetan people to preserve the Tibetan culture and religion, and the domains be ascertained where the German people and the Federal Government can render assistance,
- in consultation with the United Nations Commissioner's Office for Refugees there be investigations to see which relief actions are required to preserve the cultural identity of the Tibetan refugees in particular,
- an effective contribution be rendered to the education of Tibetan trainees, particularly by granting an appropriate number of scholarships for German training and education institutions,
- the aforementioned principles and measures be accepted and implemented also within the European Union.
My Land and My People, H.H. the Dalai Lama, 1977
In Exile from the Land of Snows, John Avedon, 1984
New York Times, 14 June 1987
Human Rights in Tibet, Asia Watch Report, February 1988
Evading Scrutiny: Violations of Human Rights After the Closing of Tibet, Asia Watch Report, July 1988
Physicians for Human Rights Report, Boston 1989
Freedom in Exile, H.H. the Dalai Lama, 1990
Tibet, Behind the Ice Curtain, Vanya Kewley, 1990
Merciless Repression: Human Rights in Tibet, Asia Watch Report, May 1990
Report of the Australian Human Rights Delegation to China, 14-26 July 1991, Commonwealth of Australia, 1991
Tibetan Bulletin, November-December 1991, September-December 1992
Report of the Second Australian Human Rights Delegation to China, 8-20 November 1992, Commonwealth of Australia, 1992
Tibet Brief, Journal of the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, January 1993
Tibetan Review, issues of July, September and October 1993
BBC World Service news reports, 21 November 1993