Monday, January 4, 2010

“Hope and Encouragement in times of hardship and adversity”

The year 2009 has been an extremely difficult one for the people of Tibet. Harsh repression marked the life of the Tibetan people inside Tibet under Chinese Communist rule. Since the Tibetan protests in 2008 there has been a massive presence of military and security personnel in Tibetan areas. Political campaigns such as the “Strike Hard” or “Patriotic Re-education” are regular features of life in Tibet. On a nearly daily basis we hear of new arrests of Tibetans, heavy sentences handed down on Tibetans for peaceful expression of their grievances and aspirations and according to our information four Tibetans have been executed in October this year.

The year 2009 has also been a year without any face-to-face meetings between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and officials of the Chinese leadership. This is the sad state of affairs of the Tibetan people one year after the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Despite this gloom and grim reality, I remain optimistic on the issue of Tibet in the long run. The spirit of the Tibetans - inside as well as outside of Tibet - is stronger than ever. There is also growing awareness of and concern about the Tibet issue in China and intense internal discussions about minority issues are taking place in PRC.

On the international level there is greater recognition of the seriousness and urgency of the issue of Tibet. As a result – irrespective of the increasing political clout of China and her aggressive posturing on the issue of Tibet – many governments, political leaders, parliamentarians and diplomats are refusing to make the political sensitivity of the Chinese government the sole criteria in judging and dealing with the cause and aspiration of the Tibetan people. We are grateful to all those leaders and officials who remain committed to the universal values of justice and truth and human rights and dignity.

The most encouraging fact is that the tragedy and the cause of Tibet continue to touch and move the heart of many ordinary people throughout the world. For an increasing number of individuals, non-governmental organizations, media people, artists etc. the case of Tibet has become a cause of the heart. Friends of Tibet and supporters of the non-violent Tibetan freedom struggle are active across the globe. The more governments are pressured by China on the issue of Tibet, the more ordinary citizens and the media are becoming alerted and concerned about the lack of principles and values in dealing with China.

The importance of public gestures and expressions of sympathy, support and solidarity has been clearly demonstrated by different movements in the past. The cases in point are the movements against Apartheid, the Vietnam War etc. In Europe, the important role of such gestures and expressions in sustaining the hope, courage and vision of those oppressed is well-documented by testimonies of human rights and democracy activists in former Communist countries in Europe.

Irrespective of the current very grim situation inside Tibet and the deadlock in the dialogue process between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership, there are sufficient reasons for hope and optimism that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond mistrust and enmity to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and recognition of common interest. This process and development can be encouraged, enhanced and accelerated significantly by sending the right kind of message and signal to the Chinese government by members of the international community, the world public and media. In this context each individual can contribute and make a difference by speaking out and acting on Tibet. There is no doubt that the continued expression of concern about and support for Tibet worldwide will, in the long run, have a positive impact and help create the necessary political environment for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet.

It is in this context that I wish to express today my appreciation, gratitude and heart-felt thank to all of you who have extended to me your support, cooperation and friendship in the past year. I am deeply indebted you for it. It is my sincere hope and request that you will continue to remain engaged on the issue of Tibet and contribute in whatever way possible in bringing about a just resolution of the Tibetan problem through dialogue and negotiations.

In this spirit of deep appreciation and gratitude, I would like to wish you happy holidays and a time of reflection and for 2010 good health, happiness and success.

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