March 12, 2003: Today, we commemorate the 44th National Women’s Uprising, for women who fearlessly fought and sacrificed their lives for our country. We take this grave occasion to pay tribute to the memory of all those courageous women who stood up to defend our nation against the forceful aggression of the People’s Republic of China.
The Tibetan women’s Association was formally reactivated in exile in 1984. Over these years, the organisation has positively contributed to our cause by participating in both political awareness and the community services. The Tibetan Women’s Association has gained much experience and success.
Since 1959, the Communist Chinese government continues to endure hardships, pain and suffering to the Tibetan people inside Tibet by deprivation of cultural rights, freedom of religion, free expression and movement, as well as restrictions on basic fundamental rights. Of special mention is their “Strike Hard” campaign – a patriotic re-education initiative – aimed at identifying, expelling and arresting monks and nuns who are unpatriotic to the Chinese establishment. Photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama have been banned in all public places in Tibet and ordinary Tibetans forced to denounce Him.
Taking advantage of Tibet’s sparse population and to perpetrate genocidal violence, China has introduced destructive family planning legislation targeting Tibetan women as its victims. Women are forced to follow the birth control policies set by the state and the child born above the official limit is treated as a “non-person”. He or she is denied basic rights such as a food ration card, education, health care or the land rights. Due to lack of proper medical care, many women have died after going through the birth control policies. Coercive birth control measures such as forced sterilization, contraception, abortion, requiring permits to have a child and monitoring of menstrual cycles.
The sinocisation drive is changing the face of Tibet; Tibet’s demographic pattern is in favor of Chinese settlers whose numbers have grown in the past decades. The most recent development the railway line from Gormo to Lhasa and the water dam project on the confluence of Drichu river. Through this programs the Chinese authorities aim to transfer a large number of Chinese settlers to Tibet that will eventually make the Tibetans minority in their own land. Tibet’s rich and unique cultural and religious heritage is on the verge of extinction.
The Tibetan Women’s Association firmly believes in the peaceful settlement of the Tibet issue through dialogue. It consistently continues to support the non-violent means to resolve the Tibet problem. In keeping with our peaceful stance, we have from time to time submitted appeals and petitions to the United Nations, the parliamentarians, governments and world leaders visiting China to pressurize Chinese government into resolving the Tibet-China crisis through negotiation. The Tibet resolution passed by the European Union in 2000 has boosted our spirit immensely and for which we express here our gratitude. However, we further call on the EU to execute this resolution effectively as and when the need arises.
In our sincere effort to speed up the process of dialogue between Tibet and China, a major event planned for 2002 was our Peace March for Dialogue on Tibet- last for two months from 2nd October to 10th December’ 2002. The march was planned to commence from Mumbai and to conclude in Delhi with the aim to promote the need for peaceful dialogue. Unfortunately, the long walk for negotiations had to be postponed abruptly owing to some important policy changes and political developments between the Tibetan government and the Chinese leadership. The visit of His Holiness’ special envoys to China and Tibet in September 2002 indicated a promise of some form of negotiations. Dharamsala-Beijing ties were re-established after nine long years. The Central Executive Committee considered that a Peace March at this time may be misunderstood and a detrimental effect on possible negotiations. As a result, the Peace March was postponed until March 2003.
TWA is aware of the Kashag’s statement to restrain from protest and demonstrations to foster the right atmosphere for further negotiations with China. It is also to promote the possible dialogue and if there is certain positive hope to bring the negotiation closer, then, we consider it important to contribute for the positive change.
TWA nevertheless remains strongly committed to the promotion of a peaceful dialogue on the Tibet issue and will continue to pursue all avenues to attain this goal. However, TWA is also conscious of carrying out any activity that would hinder any opportunity for dialogue between the Tibetan leadership and the Government of the PRC. However, if no concrete improvement in forthcoming from China we will carry out activities that we consider is best suited to achieving meaningful dialogue on Tibet issue.
On April 7,2002, Trulku Tenzin Delek, a highly respected religious teacher and his disciple, Lobsang Dhondup were taken into custody by the Chinese authorities for their alleged involvement in a series of bombing incidents in Chengdu city of Sichuan province. Following a trial that was shrouded with secrecy, both were held incommunicado for eight months and were subsequently given death sentence in December 2002. Lobsang Dhondup was brutally executed on January 26, 2003 without any fair trial or independent legal representatives. TWA strongly condemns and expresses anger at this heinous act. We call that the concerned China authorities be held accountable for the killing of Lobsang Dhoundup. We also earnestly call for the unconditional release of Trulku Tenzin Delek and others arrested in connection with the case.
Even after eight long years, the whereabouts of the world’s youngest political prisoner, the 11th Panchen Rinpoche recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is still unknown despite repeated calls from the United Nation Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) for access to the child prisoner. It is believed that the child Panchen Lama is held incommunicado along with his parents. TWA’s unrelenting campaign activities and cries for appeal to release Panchen Lama were met with deaf ears but our campaign will still continue. Time has come for the UNCRC and the international community to put forceful and unprecedented pressure on China to secure Panchen Lama’s release.
TWA deeply regrets the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to award China the right to host 2008 Olympics and believe that this decision goes against the lofty principles that this committee stands for Ironic as it may sound, but IOC hopes China to improve its human rights record after winning the Olympic bid. However, the events in Tibetan, especially the China’s ruthless demolition of the famous Serthar Buddhist Institute, and the recent execution of Lobsang Dhondup after a secret trial, are one of the many instances that sent a strong unmistakable message worldwide that human rights situation in Tibet had worsened over the years. We recall here IOC’s warning to China of the possibility of losing the Games rights if no improvements are made in human rights.
After 44 years in exile, the Tibetan culture and religion is thriving in all its uniqueness and distinctiveness. The success in preserving our rich culture is all because of HH the Dalai Lama’s untiring effort and vision. At a time when the Tibetan identity is under constant threat inside Tibet, we, as exiled Tibetans must continue to strive to maintain our culture and traditions. We must also continue to unitedly work for the freedom of our lost nation.
On this occasion, the TWA remembers the heroic sacrifices made by our brave sisters for Tibet’s freedom and reiterate firmly our unwavering pledge to work for Tibet’s liberation. We further pledge to continue our social development efforts aimed at improving the lives of women and children. Under the guidance and wisdom of HH the Dalai Lama, we are committed to the social, political and economic empowerment of Tibetan women in the diaspora community.
Last but certainly not the least, TWA acknowledges with gratitude the continued support and solidarity shown by the international community, Tibet support groups and individual supporters for the Tibetan cause. We hope to continue to receive the same well-meaning support in future until Tibet regains its freedom and there is a peaceful settlement of the Tibet issue.
Long Live HH the Dalai Lama!
May all return to a Free Tibet soon!