March 12, 2005: The Central Executive committee of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) was re-established in exile in 1984, with blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The main aim of TWA was to keep alive the memory of sacrifices made by those brave sisters and to carry on the pledge taken by them to achieve freedom in Tibet. Since then we have come a long way with 45 regional chapters and over 12,000 members outside community-be it the empowerment of women or creating awareness about the plight of Tibet in general, and human rights issues faced by women in Tibet, in particular, at various international forums.
In March 1997, the members of TWA unanimously resolved to follow the Middle Path approach, the path shown by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to pragmatically solve the issue of Tibet with the government of People’s Republic of China. TWA welcomed the renewed contact with China in 2002 after a lapse of 9 years because we believe negotiation is the only viable way to create our own future. We must mobilize all possible support internationally to pressurize Beijing for an unconditionaly dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for it is also in the interest of Beijing.
There are reports of serious human rights violations within Tibet of rampant arbitrary imprisonment of Tibetans for merely expressing their opinions and allegiance to the Dalai Lama. If anything, the Chinese authorities have become more paranoid than before and clamped down hard on Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights. Tibetan writers, reporters and artists were censored and detained without trial. October 2004 saw a young and promising Tibetan writer named Woeser losing her job and benefits for mentioning the Dalai Lama in her book. A Tibetan singer named Ghangshun has never been seen since his arrest in February 2004. A monk from Magar Dhargyeling Monastery was arrested for merely possessing a photograph of the Dalai Lama. In January 2005, five monks from Dakar Treldzong monastery in the Tsolho area of Qinghai were arrested and received 2-3 years jail terms each for ‘politically sensitive contents’ in their newsletter. In September 2004, the Chinese authorities forbid the delegation of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to interview some prisoners in Lhasa’s Drapchi Prison. Such moves show Beijing’s seriousness and openness in dealing with the issue of Human Rights.
TWA is relieved to know that the conversion of execution sentence of Trulku Tenzin Delek to life imprisonment has spared his life. However, his conviction in the first place is legally unjustified, as his alleged involvement in bomb blast has never been proved with concrete evidence. Moreover the life imprisonment of Trulku is a dangerous prospect when studying the case of Bangri Rinpoche who health has deteriorated considerably since his arrest in 1999 and suspended death sentence in 2001. The conversion of death sentence to life imprisonment in 2003 did not make things better for Bangri Rinpoche who is now reportedly suffering from jaundice and paralysis of torso.
Tibet today is in shambles: the people are silenced violently; there is no freedom of faith; the developmental plans mooted by the State are irrelevant to the Tibetan people; the once serene and rich environment is fighting for survival; and the cultural, linguistic and religious identity of a people is under threat. The restoration of free and peaceful Tibet as envisioned by His Holiness the Dalai Lama will benefit the whole of Asia politically and environmentally. This could only be achieved through mutually beneficial and constructive engagement with the government of PRC. In order to garner proactive support for an actual meeting between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leaders, TWA is flaggings off an All India Peace March today participated by its members who will tour almost all of India.
The apparent waning of international action regarding the release campaign of Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama and Tibet’s prominent prisoner of conscience, has in turn, galvanized us in declaring 2005 as the International year of the Panchen Lama. This year will see us in running vigorous campaigns for the freedom of Tibet’s spiritually legitimate Panchen Lama.
Considering the seriousness of the situation in Tibet, TWA calls on Tibetans all over the world to come together and be ever more resolutely united under the enlightened leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in complete solidarity with his “Middle Path” approach. Under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to be torn into divisive forces to weaken our collective synergy given the size of our population.
With affirmation of our full faith in the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and prayers for His long life, may the people of Tibet be soon reunited in a peaceful Tibet.