TWA 2004 Women Uprising Day Statement

March 12, 2004: Let us not forget, too, on this day to remember and honor the many women who soon after coming into exile, took initiative for the continuance and safeguardiing of Tibetan culture and identity against extreme odds in the early refugee life in India. Many of their pioneering projects immensely contributed to gainful employment of women and preservation of Tibetan arts and crafts. Their indomitable and exemplary courage reflects the original spirit of the Lhasa Uprising.

The re-founding of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) on 10th September 1984, with blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was a history in itself over which we all take great pride. since then we have come a long way with 44 regional chapters and over 12,000 members outside (in exiled Tibet) Tibet. Today, we are a major force in our exile community-be it the upliftment 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. Our actions in the run up to the U.N. World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995, was a case in example with that spawned unprecedented world attention.

TWA is a unique women’s association. Members of TWA are not against their men folk in society but are rather with them-hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder-to reassert our legitimate rights for a free Tibet. to keep up with our efforts, continuing tragic events within Tibet remained the focus of our attention. The most urgent and serious human rights violations within Tibet are forced mobile sterilization of women and rampant arbitrary imprisonment and execution of influential religious leaders like Tulku Tenzin Delek, Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok, and Geshe Sonam Phuntsok. The complete lack of international action regarding the release of Tibet’s prominent prisoners of conscience, Panchen Lama and Phuntsok Nyidron, has, intrun, motivated us in running vigorous campaigns for their rightful freedom.

Aware of the systematic desgns for destruction, we are watching with grave concern the ongoing western development project initiated by Beijing in Tibet. Let us all pledge to give a determined fight with all our will and action to avert such a catastrophe before it is too late. Negotiation is the only viable way to create our own future. We must mobilize all possible support internationally to pressurize Beijing for an uncoditional dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for it is also in the interest of Beijing.

Faced with such serious threat within Tibet, it hardly needs any calling for tibetans all over the world to come togeteher and be ever more resolutely united under the enlighted 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, and may the people of Tibet be soon reunited in a free Tibet.

B. Tsering Yeshi
President, TWA

TWA 2003 Women Uprising Day Statement

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!

TWA 2002 Women Uprising Day Statement

March 12, 2002: Today, we are gathered here to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the Tibetan women’s uprising Day. On behalf of all the Tibetan women both in and outside Tibet, I take this opportunity to salute all the brave women who have sacrificed their precious lives. It is sad to note that recently one of our such lady Ani Palchen Dolma passed away on the 2nd of February 2002. We therefore salute and observe one-minute silence to pay our respect to those who have laid their lives for the cause of our Nation.

Under the guidance of our supreme leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Women’s Association was re-instituted in exile in 1984. We truly appreciate all the wonderful work done by our brave women in the past and from our side we would give our very best in shouldering our responsibilities. With great respect and much sense of joy, we would follow the noble direction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Government-in-exile. We are here to preserve our cultural heritage and are determined to work harder than ever before in our quest to realize our national goal.

In order to bring up amicable solution to the Tibetan issue, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has drawn out a broadened and farsighted vision for both the China and Tibet in the principles of peace and non-violence. He has presented the Five Point Peace Plan through middle way approach. These are historical documents, which enshrine the working basis and the interest of both the Tibetans and the Chinese. These proposals are highly respected by many governments and individuals across the globe and consequently the support for the Tibetan cause has been growing year by year. With our continuous struggle and pressures from international community and governments that the Chinese Government has recently some thought to the political prisoners. Still our struggle has not yet finished and we should give great importance to pressure the Chinese authorities that the political prisoners such as Phuntsok Nyidon and Ngawang Sangdrol could be released. The most prominent among the prisoners of conscience under the Chinese thumb is the young Panchen Lama.

The International Commission of Jurists has clearly explained in its reports that Tibet was an independent nation with clear legal jurisdiction away and distinct from China. The august body has recognized both de facto and de jure independent status of Tibet. These reports also contain that the free Tibet conducted its foreign relations without any interference from any foreign nation. The Tibetan cause has now emerged as an international issue with close implications to the peace of Asia and the world at large.

When we review the Chinese policy on Tibet, it is obvious from the campaigns launched from time to time that in the ultimate analysis she has the evil designs to annihilate Tibet and the Tibetans. After destroying all the distinctive characteristics of the Tibetan people along with its religious and cultural heritages, the Chinese intend to merge them in the sea of Chinese. The most recent development concern the railway line from Gormo to Lhasa and the water dam project on the confluence of Drichu river. Through these programs the Chinese aim to transfer a large number of Chinese immigrants to Tibet which will eventually make the Tibetan people only secondary citizens in their own country. Male chauvinism has been a part of the Chinese Society and if you look from the cultural perspective it takes little imagination to understand the depressing life of the Tibetan women in Tibet. Their right to produce children has been strictly regimented and they have to pay high monetary penalty for breaking the Chinese rule. The Chinese authority has sterilized many Tibetan women against their will.

I also like to take this opportunity to call upon all our compatriots both in and outside Tibet that its high time that we put collective efforts and work united for the common cause. We are very lucky to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama as our supreme leader and should always remember his kindness and hard work for our nation and people. It is our responsibility to follow His direction and timely guidance. I can assure that we would be successful in our mission when our people follow the guidance of our beloved leader in words and sacrifice being made by our people in Tibet for the common cause. Our time in the free world should be used for the national cause by adhering to the advice of our kind leader. The Tibetan Government-in-exile is functioning within the framework of democratic principles. We should be steadfast and march from strength to strength defying petty politics and parochialism in our society.

We Tibetans are highly grateful to the Government and people of India for the timely assistance and kindness showered on us during our time of need by providing ‘a home away from home’. As the Government of India is fully aware of Tibet issue, we once again appeal for your concrete support to our cause and not to submit to the illogical and illegal assumptions of the Chinese authority. The Tibetans have also been lucky with much support from international communities, governments, NGOs and individuals and we would like to express our deep gratitude to all of them and request your continued support. Since we are looking for a peaceful solution to our problem, we appeal to you all to pressurize the Chinese government to respond to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s initiative and start the dialogue at the earliest.

The Tibetan women have a very important place in our society and so far we have a commendable record. Our sisters both in and outside Tibet have been working shoulder to shoulder with our brothers for the preservation and promotion of our culture and tradition. Since our Association has grown both in terms of its number and its socio-political activities. We are determined to work harder than ever before and pledge to continue our endeavor until we realize our national goal.

With this I conclude my profound prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and may peace prevail on earth. May the sun of Independence shine on Tibet and may peace prevail on our earth.