Speech by Dr. YANG Jianli at the Tibetan Rally in Front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for asking me to speak on this important occasion. Today marks the 58th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising; it is a day on which we recall the struggle of the Tibetan people against Chinese occupation and oppression, and it is a day on which we draw the world’s attention to our ongoing struggle for freedom in Tibet. I do not need to tell those of you gathered here just how dire the situation is in Tibet. You all know.
The recently released Freedom in the World Report for 2016 issued by Freedom House sums the situation up well: Tibet is ranked the second worst “Not free” country in the world; the only country worse in terms of lack of political and civil freedoms and liberties is Syria. Even North Korea is ranked higher than Tibet.
What is to be done? We, the Tibetans, Chinese and the freedom-loving people around the world, should be more united today than ever before in our worldwide truth campaign, exposing more and more Chinese to the truth, confronting the world democratic leaders with truth, urging them to collectively apply pressure on the Chinese government over Tibetan issues. As the Dalai Lamaalways says: “Never give up!”
Today, I do have messages to the US government and the Chinese Government as well.
- First, I want to echo Congressmen Smith and MacArthur in urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help facilitate a US visit of a Tibetan women soccer team to attend an international tournament in Dallas.
- Appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, someone with relevant background and experience, as soon as possible and retain this position at the Under-Secretary level.
- President Trump should meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the White House as soon as possible to signal the US’ continuing support for Tibet and the cause of the Tibetan people, and to underline the importance of religious freedom in Tibet for the stability of the region.
- As soon as a Special Coordinator is named, he or she should continue working with “like-minded” countries on Tibet-related issues, including a multilateral effort to encourage the Chinese government to re-engage in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as well as working towards the common position on HHDL’s reincarnation that the decision regarding his reincarnation is reserved to the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the Tibetan people.
- Commit to continued engagement with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The US involvement has been instrumental in many advances in human rights and processes at the Council. The Council and its various mechanisms have played a key role in defending human rights and religious freedom in Tibet. The most recent example: a group of six Special Rapporteurs (representing different rights, including cultural rights, sustainable environment, peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, etc.) condemned China’s violations of religious freedom and cultural rights in its demolitions and expulsions at Larung Gar and Yachen Gar in what is now Sichuan province.
- When meeting with Chinese counterparts, the President and his Administration should call for the release of Tibetan political prisoners which number in the hundreds, if not thousands. These prisoners include the popular blogger and writer Shokjang, who was sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting separatism” in February 2016, and Tashi Wangchuk, an entrepreneur and Tibetan education advocate, who was detained in January 2016 and indicted in January 2017 on “inciting separatism” charges.
TO THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT
The Dalai Lama recently commented that the Chinese hardliners have parts of brain missing. I hope they will regain the missing parts so as to look at the Tibetan issue with common sense and compassion. Here you are.
- Cease suppressing the right to religious freedom in Tibet, and cease the demolitions of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, and the expulsions of monks, nuns and other Tibetan Buddhist adherents from these very important Buddhist centers of learning and worship.
- Stop vilifying the Dalai Lama and misusing “security” concerns to further trample on the rights of Tibetans. Cease restrictions on right to freedom of movement of Tibetans both internally and internationally; return the passports of those taken from Tibetans who recently traveled to India for HHDL’s teachings, and were punished upon their return.
- Release political prisoners now, without delay, including Shokjang and Tashi Wangchuk, and allow an independent observer from an international organization to meet with the long disappeared Gedun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama recognized by the Dalai Lama in 1995.
- Re-engage in the dialogue process with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to negotiate a durable and mutually beneficial outcome for both sides.
- Respect the right of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and Tibetans to decide the issue of his reincarnation. There is no role for the Chinese Communist Party or Chinese government in this process.