5th World Parliamentary Convention on Tibet - Introductory address by Matteo Mecacci
5th World Parliamentary Convention on Tibet
Italian Chamber of Deputies
Rome, 18-19 November, 2009
Introductory address by Matteo Mecacci, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Tibet
Nonviolent Radical Party, Trasnational and Transparty
“People have stopped talking about Tibet’. Perhaps my people expected too much of me. The whole world overestimated my forces. I have failed. I have not succeeded in regaining my people’s freedom. Here is the proof that I am not a god, and not even a political leader. I am just a poor political refugee, a Buddhist monk at the age of retirement with much bitterness in my heart...”
These are the words spoken by the Dalai Lama in an excellent interview by Pio D'Emilia published in the weekly L’Espresso this week.
It is precisely for these words of yours, Your Holiness, for your sincerity and humanity that we wish to welcome you today to Italy, to the Italian parliament, with an even warmer and stronger greeting.
We want you to feel that you are not alone and that we wish to stand beside you and support you in your struggle. We want you to know that we are ready to discuss the dramatic aspects of the situation you have depicted, allow me to say, speaking as a true political leader. Let us therefore endeavour to avoid hiding behind words of courtesy and circumstance.
We are many gathered here today, more than 220 MPs have agreed to attend from 28 countries. More than 150 are from Italy. We know that many others are with us in many countries but were prevented from being here today. In particular, from the United States, where a tough parliamentary battle is under way concerning the health care reform and well as coinciding with the visit to China by President Obama, whose strategy we must follow with great attention.
The request that President Obama made yesterday to the Chinese authorities for an early resumption of the negotiations between Bejiing and the representatives of His Holiness is a positive fact. It is a request that clarifies that we can and we must speak with China about Tibet. Anyhow, it is necessary to make sure that the reasons for which the dialogue has been interrupted are seriously addressed.
First of all, we need to re-establish the truth on the content of the proposals presented by the Chinese and the Tibetans. For many months the Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama for proposing independence, despite the fact that his envoys had formally presented first in Beijing, and then made public, a Memorandum on the Autonomous Status of Tibet that is clearly based on a request for autonomy. Furthermore the fact that those negotiations took place in a secret format, outside of any involvement of the International community, has blocked any involvement of International institutions to positively influence the Chinese Government.
I hope that, after this initiative of the US Administration the Italian Government, that 2 days ago met once again with all honours Khadafy (I believe it is the sixth time in one year if I am not wrong…) will also find the time to express in support of the reasons of the visit of the Dalai Lama in our country and to support the resumption of the negotiations in the context of a broader support, commitment and participation of the International community.
I also wish to thank the Speaker of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, who, although unable to be with us has transmitted a message that we will read later on.
However, allow me to say that today’s meeting was made possible above all by the speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, Penpa Tsering, by the International Campaign for Tibet represented here today by its Chairman Richard Gere, and also thanks to Marco Pannella, President of the Senate of the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty, and in particular thanks to the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini. I thank Gianfranco Fini because after the refusal in 2007 by the Chinese authorities to continue negotiations and political dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama regarding the proposed autonomy of Tibet, and after the 2008 demonstrations in Tibet were bloodily repressed, it was no easy matter, and by no means obvious, for the first international appointment after these events to be held in the Italian parliament, with the involvement of politicians and parliamentarians from all over the world who were called upon to discuss and undertake initiatives regarding the Tibetan question.
The sensitivity and political attention of the Speaker of the Chamber is the same that in this country is now giving rise to a free and open debate on issues that would otherwise be buried beneath conformism and socalled political realism.
I wish to emphasize this aspect because, in my country, as in many other western and democratic countries, politics and the institutions have since long ceased to accord priority to several fundamental principles of democratic systems, such as the respect of human rights, in the illusion that freedom and democracy can live and flourish within the narrow confines of national states.
If it is not understood that these principles are necessary to guarantee a peaceful global coexistence, if there is no understanding and compassion (in the sense of sharing suffering) for those today living under authoritarian regimes and dictatorships and who have been deprived of the freedom of worship or of expressing their thoughts, if there is no sharing of the freedoms and prosperity we enjoy with those who lack them – as unfortunately the FAO Summit in Rome has confirmed – the world, our world, is doomed to witness increasing violence, intolerance, racism, nationalism and the despair of several billion persons like ourselves. And I should like to emphasize how we should certainly welcome a small but revolutionary event such as the decision of the Secretary General of the FAO Diouf and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to go on a hunger strike, albeit only for 24 hours, in order to demand that Governments face squarely, without turning away, that silent holocaust in which every 6 seconds a child dies of hunger. When non violence penetrates as far as the rooms where decisions are taken, the corridors of power, it becomes a positive signal of hope but also of rebellion against conformism and cynicism, which we should today be willing to encourage and nurture, also as far as the Tibetan question is concerned.
You see, and I would like to make this quite clear, this is not an anti-Chinese convention. This is a convention that above all aims at re-establishing the truth regarding the conditions in which the Tibetan people have had to live for more than 50 years under Chinese occupation, at situation that cannot continue to be ignored by the international community.
The coexistence between the Tibetan people and the Chinese people, now in its third generation, can and must be viewed as an enrichment for everyone, although it cannot continue to be based on the imposition of an authoritarian ideology by one ethnic group on another. It must be based on the sharing of rules and laws that recognize rights embodied in the universal declaration of human rights. These rights are as valid for the Tibetans as they are for the Chinese.
I believe that the tasks that befall us certainly include the re-establishment of the truth concerning the years of negotiations focused on Tibet’s status conducted by the Dalai Lama and his representatives with the Chinese authorities. These negotiations were carried on in secret at the explicit request of the Chinese authorities and without the involvement of any international institution. Talks came to a standstill after the Chinese government refused to recognize the autonomy of the Tibetan people.
On this issue it will be of fundamental interest to hear the words of those who participated directly in this process, such as the Dalai Lama’s envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen this afternoon, so as to explore in depth and grasp more fully the possible and actual role of the international community, national parliamentarians and the European parliament in support of the relaunching of a non violent political initiative to reiterate the truth about the events of these years.
Twenty years ago the Berlin wall came down. We have all commemorated this in the past few days in view of the positive fall-out this event had on hundreds of millions of persons. However, also 20 years ago, more or less at the same time, another important event occurred: the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then the Dalai Lama has acted as a messenger of peace, tolerance and non violence, persevering in his work in the face of the terrible difficulties he, and his people, have encountered.
These are some of the many reasons why the institutions of countries that call themselves democratic, starting from their governments, are politically obliged to acknowledge this message, to revitalize it, enhance it, and thus not give in to patent and banal political blackmail.
You see, one of the cornerstones of the foreign policy implemented for many decades by the Chinese government is that of the non interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. If this is the case, and no one can deny that it is, then we must acknowledge that we are facing a great contradiction in the Chinese government’s attitude.
Indeed the only way that the outright global intimidation campaign conducted by the Chinese government against any institution that dares speak about or actually meet the Dalai Lama can only be defined as “interference in the internal affairs of other states”.
And if it is accepted that China may interfere in the foreign policy decisions taken by our countries how it is possible to remain silent in the face of massacres in Tibet or East Turkestan which represent violations of international law? It cannot and must not be accepted also because the principle of “non interference in the internal affairs of a State” has now been challenged and deemed obsolete at the theoretical level also by the international organizations of which also China is a member.
Indeed, the consensus enjoyed in the UN General Assembly by the principle of the Responsibility to Protect has taken a further quantum leap ahead of the development of international law governing the defence of human rights, by attributing to the United Nations, to the international institutions and governments, not just the socalled “humanitarian interference” in the internal affairs of a sovereign state in the case of serious breaches of human rights but indeed “compulsory intervention”, the socalled “responsibility to protect” populations that are oppressed or not defended by national governments.
Nevertheless, we are well aware that for the time being this is a merely theoretical advance as the very countries that have been promoting the responsibility to protect, starting from the European Union, actually succeeded in splitting also over the decision by the rotating President Sarkozy to meet with the Dalai Lama in December 2008, after the violent repressions of March 2008 in Tibet. This decision led Beijing to cancel the China-EU Summit without the subsequent European Council being able to find some way of reacting.
One of the gravest difficulties of the process of European integration towards the creation of a truly federal Europe, was disclosed with the handling of the Tibetan dossier. Twenty-seven European countries with twenty-seven foreign policies that weaken any possibility for Europe to further those principals that should constitute its foundations outside of its own confines.
After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, His Holiness stated: “I feel honored, humbled and deeply moved that you should give this important prize to a simple monk from Tibet I am no one special… I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of non-violent action for change Mahatma Gandhi whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much… I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means might appear different the ends are the same.”
Therefore, we welcome the Dalai Lama. It seems clear to me, in fact, that in order to conquer freedom, China and Tibet need his message of peace, of non-violence, tolerance and secularism that has endured for decades, but surely the free and democratic future of our country and of all Europe does too. With this, his failure will be above all our own failure, and the failure of the free world, his victory will be the victory of all of us, China included.
Members and contributors 2013
|Giuseppe R. Roma||590 €|
|Salvatore P. Capistrello||200 €|
|Giancarlo B. Torino||30 €|
|Marco B. Merano||20 €|
|Davide B. Prato||50 €|
|Giuseppe P. Grottammare||50 €|
|Maurizio T. Roma||1.000 €|
|Rosa A. Firenze||590 €|
|Giuliano G. Sondrio||590 €|
|Sergio Pasquale R. Cremona||500 €|
|Total SUM||326.746 €|