Bhuchung Tsering, Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, testified for a Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing on the human rights situation in Tibet (December 6, 2001).
Congressmen Mark Udall (D-CO) chaired the Briefing attended by Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Congressman Stephen Horn from California.
The purpose of the briefing was to highlight the dismal human rights situation in Tibet and to make certain that the United States Administration is committed to raising this with the Chinese government even as it builds up its international coalition against terrorism.
At the Briefing, the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mike Parmly, said the Administration will continue to raise the human rights situation in Tibet.
Statement by Bhuchung K. Tsering, Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, at the Briefing on “The changing World Order: The Human Rights Situation in Tibet” held by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on December 6, 2001:
I would like to begin by thanking the Congressional Human Rights Caucus for organizing today’s Briefing on Tibet. The Caucus has consistently put the spotlight on Chinese human rights abuses in Tibet and is a committed supporter of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people in our quest for a political solution. In fact, it was this Caucus, which provided the forum for the Dalai Lama to enunciate his now well known Five Point Peace Plan in 1987. That Plan and the subsequent Strasbourg Proposal by the Dalai Lama in 1988 laid the framework for a negotiated solution to the Tibetan issue. Therefore, this Caucus has played, and continues to play, an important role in bringing about a political solution to the Tibetan problem. I would particularly like to thank the two co-chairman, Congressmen Tom Lantos and Frank Wolf.
I have been asked to speak about the Tibetan human rights endeavor in the light of the reopening of U.S-China human rights dialogue, China’s entry into WTO and the fight against international terrorism. In his historic address to the European Parliament on October 24, 2001, the Dalai Lama said the situation inside Tibet “seems almost hopeless in the face of increasing repression, continuing environmental destruction, and the ongoing systematic undermining of the culture and identity of Tibet.”
The development following the September 11 tragedy has led to a realignment of international forces leading to the establishment of a coalition against terrorism. Under this changed situation some people believe that international pressure on China will be weakened, if not totally non-existent, in the quest to get Chinese cooperation for the coalition. While this could be true in the short run, in the long run it is important for the United States and the international community to realize that it is the absence of democracy and the authoritarian systems that countries like China implement, which are detrimental to international peace and stability. China today has established state terrorism and in fact tried to take inappropriate advantage of the international tragedy to suppress the voice of freedom of the people of Tibet and Eastern Turkestan.
One area in which Tibetans face great danger is the free practice of their religions. The Chinese authorities are implementing a policy of control and suppression. The 11-year-old Panchen Lama continues to be under some sort of detention. Several other Tibetan political prisoners, including Tanak Jigme Sangpo and Ngawang Choephel, remain in prison despite the frailty of their health.
ICT recently reported on the unfortunate developments in two Tibetan Buddhist encampments in eastern Tibet, namely in Larung Gar and Yachen. The abbot of Larung Gar, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok is incommunicado in Chengdu. Monks and nuns, including many Chinese disciples in these two institutions, have been expelled and faced persecution at the hand of the authorities.
Until the starting of the Tibetan language program of Voice of America, the people in Tibet did not have any direct access to an alternative source of information. Since then and the subsequent establishment of Radio Free Asia, Tibetans in Tibet are learning about many things, including the love and respect with which the Dalai Lama is received during his visits throughout the world, the support the United States is extending to the Tibetan people, and the democratic changes being implemented by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.
We believe the Tibetan language radio stations in the free world can play a critical role in providing the Tibetan people with factual information. Indeed, we have learned from Chinese official documents and policy statements that Beijing is set on a course to intensify considerably its propaganda campaign in Tibet and internationally. As part of their objective, the Chinese authorities are jamming the broadcast of VOA and RFA.
ICT has supported United States engagement with China as long as the interests of the Tibetan people are not sacrificed. In this connection, we applaud President Bush for raising the issue of negotiations on Tibet with the Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Shanghai in October. Also, when bilateral human rights dialogue began between the two countries some years back, we had cautious optimism. Today, as the re-established bilateral dialogue took place in October we can see that there has been no concrete progress. In the meanwhile, under the pretext of having bilateral dialogues with the United States and other countries, the Chinese authorities are trying to escape international censure in forums like the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
In light of the present situation in Tibet, we would like to make the following policy recommendations.
- The United States should follow up on President Bush’s commitment to encourage China to begin negotiations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve the Tibetan problem.
- The United States should make proactive efforts to have a resolution condemning China’s human rights abuses in Tibet in the forthcoming session of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Even though the United States is not a member of the Commission, it can encourage its allies to introduce such a resolution.
- The United States should take actions as are necessary so that China does not escape censure under the current climate of coalition against terrorism. The United States should continue to maintain that it will not tolerate Chinese abuses of the human rights of the Tibetan and Uighur people under the pretext of cracking down on terrorism. The U.S. should come out clearly in support of the nonviolent struggle of the Tibetan people.