Independence for Tibet is the only solution!

Larry Gerstein
Statement of the International Tibet Independence Movement

The recent report concerning the visit to China and Tibet by the Tibetan Government In-Exile (TGIE) Delegation raises many important issues and concerns that will be addressed shortly. We are appreciative of the Delegation's efforts and timeless commitment and dedication to resolving the Tibet-China conflict. We are also appreciative of the response to the Delegation by the Chinese and so called "Tibet Autonomous Region" (TAR) officials. Such a conflict can only be resolved by openness, respect, directness, trust, flexibility, collaboration, cooperation, and a deep, honest desire to find an equitable and just solution. It is our understanding that the Chinese and TAR officials displayed a number of these qualities, and for this, we are grateful. We are especially grateful that the dialogue that transpired occurred in an environment of diplomatic equals.

It is with much respect, however, that we share some of our concerns and desires. First, while it appears some progress has been achieved in beginning to establish a relationship with representatives of The People's Republic of China (PRC), we must seriously question the authority of these PRC representatives to negotiate a solution to the Tibet conflict. The PRC and TAR officials involved in discussions with the TGIE Delegation had no authority to resolve the Tibet-China conflict. They also have minimal, direct influence on the seven to eight key PRC Central Government leaders who possess absolute authority in all "internal and external" matters to China. Having said this, we recognize the Chinese and TAR officials who met with the TGIE delegation clearly understand how decisions are made by the Central Government and also fully comprehend the procedures and policies necessary to make further progress in finding an acceptable solution.

More importantly, these officials appear to have the willingness and ability to help guide the establishment of working relationships with PRC Government leaders who have the power to shape and implement a negotiation process and structure involving high level decision-makers from The PRC Central Government. Therefore, it is critical the TGIE continue to regularly interact with the officials met by the Delegation. The TGIE must pursue the necessary and appropriate steps and channels to strengthen this relationship and develop the network and strategies to establish direct communication with PRC officials who have the authority to resolve the Tibet-China conflict.

Our second concern relates to the future of the Tibet movement. Right now the report of the TGIE Delegation is encouraging and suggestive of progress. This exciting development requires that Tibetans and Tibet supporters work even harder to help maintain the positive relationship that is developing between the TGIE and PRC. Our sustained efforts in the past and to date have contributed greatly to the reality of the dialogue that is currently in progress. We must strengthen our resolve and actions to make it even more apparent there is a dire need for an immediate solution to the Tibet-China conflict which is completely acceptable to the Tibetan people both in exile and inside Tibet. In other words, through our collaborative, strong efforts we must continue to stress the horrendous atrocities in Tibet, the truth about the history of Tibet, the crystal clear aspirations of the Tibetan people, especially Tibetans in Tibet, and the importance of boycotting Chinese goods and returning Tibet to the Tibetans. Further, we must continue to establish adaptive relationships with our Chinese brothers and sisters throughout the world not only to celebrate friendships and collegial relationships, but to collaborate so that democracy can eventually flourish in China and also so Tibet can be returned to its rightful rulers; that is Tibetans.

Our third concern deals with Tibetan political prisoners. We acknowledge that more Tibetan political prisoners have been released in the past year then in recent memory. This is encouraging. However, we were surprised that no mention was made by the TGIE Delegation of any dialogue with The PRC and TAR officials about the missing Panchen Lama, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, His family, and everyone involved in His discovery. The fact these individuals have not been seen in over 6 years is incomprehensible and unjustifiable. In all future conversations with The PRC and TAR, the release of these persons should be placed high on the TGIE priority list. Releasing these people will symbolize The PRC's evolving commitment to resolving the Tibet-China conflict.

Finally, the International Tibet Independence Movement speaks for tens of thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters who advocate independence for Tibet and no other solution. Therefore, we respectfully urge the TGIE to ask for nothing less then independence for Tibet. This desire of the overwhelming majority of Tibetans inside Tibet and Tibetans in-exile cannot be overlooked or minimized. As such, any negotiation discussions with The PRC should make it absolutely clear that independence is not negotiable. Instead, further discussions with The PRC should revolve around a negotiated acceptable time line and process of returning Tibet to the Tibetans. These discussions should also focus on a framework and policy for addressing the future needs and desires of Chinese citizens living in Tibet, and a solution to establishing a peaceful and open Tibet-China border. Lastly, such discussions should secure a diplomatic rapprochement between legitimate Tibetan government officials and Chinese officials concerned, for instance, with matters of State, security, commerce, information, immigration, and the environment.

Again, we are encouraged by the outcome of the recent meeting between TGIE and PRC and TAR officials. Their efforts represent some of the ideals cherished by a freedom loving and open society. We look forward to learning about the continued dialogue between such officials and the progress of implementing a decision to return Tibet to the Tibetans in the very near future.