The 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet was held in Washington, D.C. from June 22 to 23, 2022 with a virtual keynote address delivered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Washington,DC: 22nd June 2022: The two-day 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet (WPCT) hosted by the Tibetan Parliament in exile convened its inaugural session on Wednesday, 22 June in Washington, US. More than 100 members of parliament from 26 countries attended the convention in person and virtually including members of the Tibetan Parliament.
Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel of the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile delivered his inaugural speech at the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet on 22 June 2022.
The Speaker said “It gives me immense pleasure to welcome all the distinguished parliamentarians from across the world to this convention. It is certainly an honour for me to address this esteemed gathering on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. I would like to thank all of you for taking out time from your busy schedule to show your solidarity for the just cause of Tibet.
With the growing unethical and inhuman atrocities around the world in general and in Tibet by the leadership of the People’s Republic of China in particular, to have such a convention and bring all the like-minded decision-makers on one platform becomes pivotal. Till date, we have had seven World Parliamentarians’ Conventions on Tibet (WPCT) in various countries.
All the WPCTs had been possible with the co-host Parliamentary Tibet Support groups of those countries. The 3rd WPCT was held in Washington DC in 1997 with the strong support from Late Congressman Benjamin Gilman and his team including Honorable incumbent Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Likewise, this convention is possible with the unflinching support from Honorable Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Honorable US Representative Jim McGovern and many other friends in the US Congress who are friends of His Holiness and Tibet. Without their support this convention could not have been possible within a very short period of time.
Through such a convention we hope more and more nations come forward in following the footsteps of the United States in passing such acts to make differences in the lives of the suffering humanity and not succumb to the dictates of authoritarian regimes like PRC.
Speaker noted that the convention’s aim was to strengthen and coordinate support by parliamentarians from different countries to resolve the Sino-Tibet conflict through a mutually beneficial dialogue between both parties. The convention also aimed to seek joint support from attending parliamentarians to take active initiative in capacitating the resumption of Sino-Tibet dialogue.
This year’s convention was organized by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in continuation of the previous seven sessions of WPCT aimed to strengthen and coordinate support by parliamentarians from different countries to resolve the Tibet issue. The first WPCT was held in New Delhi (1994) honoring the foundational role India has played in the survival of the Tibetan identity after the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Subsequent conventions have been held in Vilnius, Lithuania (1995); Washington D.C.USA (1997); Edinburgh, Scotland (U.K.) (2005); Rome, Italy (2009); Ottawa, Canada (2012); and Riga, Latvia (2019).
Following Speaker’s address, a video message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama was telecast wherein he thanked the participants for their solidarity with the just cause of Tibet stating that their support indicates their compassion and faith one that is not induced by political interest.
“These issues don’t just concern Tibet. The whole world naturally seeks peace, and peace is rooted in having a good heart. This is true of all mammals, whose mothers take care of them with love and affection right from the moment they’re born. We all survive because our mothers nurture us with love and breastmilk. Like everyone else, Tibetans are human beings raised on the basis of our mother’s love and affection” added His Holiness. While he urged for a consolidated effort of gathering in the advancement of values of Tibetan culture.
Addressing the large turnout of participants from various countries, Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked their presence symbolized a show of power and support for truth and compassion that Tibet stands for.
Reviewing large-scale human rights assaults in Tibet, Speaker Pelosi contended the world has a moral duty to speak out with one voice against Beijing’s abuses and stand up for the Tibetan people while she applauded the participants for their effort to advance autonomy for Tibet.
“We know the truth and we cannot allow the government of China to weaponize the self-serving false narrative on Tibet’s history as means to deny Tibetans the right to fully embrace their cultural identity. It is important that we place diplomacy at the centre of our strategy for resolving the legal status of Tibet”, added Speaker Pelosi. As such, she informed of a new action plan to have Congressman Jim McGovern introduce the promotion of a resolution on Tibet-China Conflict Act, a new edition of bipartisan legislation that would state clearly the history of Tibet and encourage a peaceful resolution to the ultimate status of Tibet including the exclusive right of His Holiness’ reincarnation to himself and the Tibetan people. Under Chair McGovern’s leadership, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) will hold a hearing titled ‘Tibet barriers to settling an unresolved conflict’ tomorrow.
Speaker concluded her address with a strong affirmation of the US’s continued support for Tibet so long China continues to destroy Tibetan history and Tibetans’ way of life.
Following Speaker Pelosi’s remarks a screening of a documentary titled ‘Democracy: the gift of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Tibet’ was screened marking the commencement of the two-day sessions.
The main objectives of holding the World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet are for parliamentarians to take a leading role in the international area on the question of survival of the Tibetan identity and its rich cultural heritage which has the potential to contribute to a more peaceful world. Likewise, parliamentarians to join the world leaders in expressing concern over human rights violations and religious repression in Tibet and consider initiatives in their respective countries to support an early resumption of dialogue between the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the People’s Republic of China, for a negotiated solution on Tibet.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration addressed the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet on 22 June, underscoring various issues from Sino-Tibet dialogue to the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Highlighting initiatives taken by the government of the United States on Tibet issue and the anticipation of a similar move by like-minded countries in their respective parliaments, Sikyong said the changing world’s perspective on China following the Ukraine situation and subsequent changes in global politics made Tibetans along with Uyghurs, Mongolians, Hong Kongers and Taiwanese vigilant for the emerging opportunities and challenges in the new global order and China’s role in it.
While appreciating the active involvement of parliamentarians and their expression of interest in leveraging and forwarding the movement in their respective national parliaments during the ongoing convention, Sikyong stressed the continual of the conference to build correlations, share the best practices and network between parliaments to parliaments in order to create a common platform for all those who are supportive on resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict. In addition, Sikyong informed the gathering about discoursing thoroughly the changing narratives on Tibet in another session, given China’s strong and pervasive self-serving propaganda and its possible misdirections.
Speaking about the propagation of China, Sikyong reiterated that Tibet was never a part of China which reverberated in the findings of researchers like Michael van Walt van Praag, Professor Lau Han Shiang and others. However, Sikyong mentioned His Holiness the Dalai Lama led Tibetans unanimously adopted Middle Way Approach as a viable solution for resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict based on ground realities.
Despite abundance of evidence established by the historians to proof Tibet as an autonomous country in the past, Sikyong recollected China’s preconditioning of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to accept Tibet as a part of China since time immemorial, to which, His Holiness wisely answered saying “I am not a historian, let us leave history to historians. What is more important for us is the future of the Tibetan people.”
Unraveling the objectives behind China’s constant claim of Tibet as its part, Sikyong said, “China knows its lack legitimacy over Tibet and they are trying to get this legitimacy from the international community. But, unfortunately, the international community will not be able to give legitimacy to China over Tibet,” he continues, “the only people that can give legitimacy to China are the Tibetan people or His Holiness the Dalai Lama”.
Furthermore, he dissuaded international communities from calling East Turkestan Xinjiang rather than Uyghur to avoid China’s sinicization attempts, given the world’s unacquaintance with the name Xizang for Tibet. At the same time, he acknowledged the presence of Uyghur politician and activist Dolkun Isa, Tibet’s friends from Hong Kong and Mongol at the convention with whom Tibetan delegates will discuss on making concrete proposal to challenge a common opponent with shared efforts.
With these remarks, Sikyong specifically pointed out the issue of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation saying the responsibility and authority over His Holiness’ reincarnation solely lie in the hands of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.
Before concluding his address, Sikyong Penpa Tsering appreciated everyone in the gathering for their participation.
On the second day of the two-day legislators’ conference on Tibet, Taiwanese Legislator Hung Sun-Han, Member of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, and Research Fellow Dechen Palmo, Environment & Development Desk of Tibet Policy Institute, Central Tibetan Administration spoke on ‘Significance of Asia & Tibet in Global Warming and Climate Change’. While Tibetan MP Tenzing Jigme chaired the session.
Indian MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Member of Lok Sabha and Former Indian Minister of State for External Affairs; Canadian MP Arif Virani, Chair of Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet (PFT); Prof. Michael Van Walt Praag, Professor of International Law and Executive President of Kreddha; and Prof. Hon-Shiang Lau, Retired Chair Professor, City University of Hong Kong spoke on ‘Narratives on Tibet: The Need for Change’ in a panel discussion chaired by Kalon Norzin Dolma of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), CTA.
Chaired by Member of Parliament John Tennant Wright Sol, El Salvador, many lawmakers from numerous countries shared their views during the panel discussion on ‘Sharing Experiences, Collaborations, Networking & Action Plans amongst like-minded countries’. Member of Parliament Nicolas Walder from Switzerland, Co-President of Switzerland Parliamentary Group of Tibet; Member of Parliament Balthasar Glättli from Switzerland, Member of Swiss Parliamentary Group for Tibet; Member of Parliament Collette Stevenson from Scotland, Member of Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group for Tibet; Member of Parliament Laima Liucija Andrikienė from Lithuania; Members of Parliament Tim Loughton & Chris Law from the UK, Co-Chairs of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet; Member of Parliament Sir Iain Duncan Smith from the UK, Co-Founder of IPAC; Member of Parliament Uffe Elbæk from Denmark; Indian MP Sujeet Kumar, Convener of All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet; and German MP Michael Brand, Chair of the German Parliamentary Friends of Tibet gave their remarks virtually.
The 8th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet organized by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile concluded on 23rd June 2022 with the successful revival of the International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet (INPaT) and adoption of the Washington Declaration and Washington Action Plan.
Finally, Deputy Speaker Dolma Tsering Teykhang of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile gave the vote of thanks speech wherein she extended her gratitude to the parliamentarians for their participation in the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention of Tibet whose presence at the conference has sent a strong message to Beijing. At the same time, it will boost the morale of Tibetans inside Tibet.
Alerting of Chinese communist government’s deceitfulness which has now become evident with the advent of Covid-19 that originated in China, she stressed that the freedom, liberty, and human rights enjoyed by the people living in a free world cannot be taken for granted with leaders having expansionist mentality like Xi Jinping holding the power.
Expressing solidarity with the Chinese citizen under communist rule, she said that the common people of China are equally victimised as Tibetans by the iron-fisted Chinese leadership. The Deputy Speaker called for the collective effort of the Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, inner Mongolians, and other like-minded people by staying connected to navigate the common suffering in the international arena.
She concluded by thanking participating parliamentarians, organising committee, ICT, Sikyong-led Kashag, DIIR Kalon, offices of Tibet, NED, NDI, drafting committee, and others for their valuable contribution to organising the conference.
Declaration of the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet
The Washington DC Declaration
8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet
22-23 June 2022, Washington, D.C
Parliamentarians from 28 countries participated in the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention in Washington D.C. from 22 to 23 June 2022 in person and virtually, to review and discuss the situation in Tibet and efforts to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict, caused by the PRC’s invasion of Tibet in 1950 and its illegal occupation since then. They thanked their hosts in the US Congress and commended them for the pathbreaking legislation adopted in recent years on Tibet.
The meeting took place as the war in the Ukraine, caused by Russia’s invasion of that independent country on February 24, was about to enter its fourth month and triggered striking comparisons to Tibet’s invasion decades earlier. These invasions, constituting flagrant violations of the most fundamental norms of international law, highlight the urgent need to enforce international law and prioritise safeguarding the rule of law and the promotion of freedom, democracy, self-determination and human rights throughout the world above short-term economic gain.
The participants committed to take action to ensure collaboration among parliaments and with the Tibetan Parliament in Exile on matters related to Tibet. This includes collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and with other interparliamentary organisations and bodies. The International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT) will be revived, and where possible parliamentarians will create parliamentary groups in countries where they do not yet exist.
The participants call on parliaments to adopt legislation, resolutions or motions, hold hearings and investigations at national and sub-national levels to advance the Tibetan cause in line with this declaration.
The participants call on all parliaments to take coordinated action, and to hold their governments accountable for upholding international law in regard to Tibet, including by fulfilling their States’ obligations and responsibilities under international law to
- respect and promote the inalienable right of the Tibetan people to self-determination,
- refrain from expressly or implicitly recognising the PRC’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet
- treat Tibet as an occupied country and not as a part of China, and
- take coordinated action, with other like-minded governments, to achieve a resolution to the Sino-Tibetan conflict through dialogue and negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.
The participants call on parliaments to take coordinated action to affirm and endorse the exclusive right of the Dalai Lama and the Gaden Phodrang, the Tibetan people, and the Tibetan Buddhist community to select and appoint the incarnation of the next Dalai Lama and other senior Lamas and firmly reject the PRC’s declared intention to do so as a violation of religious freedom.
The participants reject the false historical narratives propagated by the PRC and CCP, which claim that Tibet has been a part of China since ancient times, to attempt to justify the PRC’s invasion of Tibet and current occupation of Tibet. They call on parliamentarians and parliaments to take coordinated action to expose and counter these false narratives.
The participants call on parliaments to take coordinated action to prohibit corporations from benefiting from forced labor and the exploitation of the natural environment of the Tibetan plateau.
The convention noted the massive environmental degradation occurring on the Tibetan plateau because of mining resulting in toxic waste, water pollution, deforestation and the destruction of mountains. Further, more than two million Tibetan nomads have been removed from their traditional lands to allow for this exploitation and resettled in culturally destructive villages.
The impacts of environmental mismanagement in Tibet extend far beyond Tibet itself with over 50 mega dams planned on the 10 major rivers that rise on the Plateau, threatening the water supplies of over 1.5 billion people in countries downstream.
Tibet’s situation as the world’s Third Pole results in global heating occurring at rates more than twice the world average, which will result in the majority of the glaciers on the plateau gone by 2050, with global repercussions.
The participants express solidarity with the Uyghurs and Southern Mongolians under PRC rule, the people of Hong Kong and the people of Taiwan under PRC threat, as well as with the Chinese democracy movement, all of whom seek common ground to face common challenges.
The Participants expressed their continuing support for the democratic achievements of the Tibetans, their commitment to non-violence and their efforts to seek a resolution of the conflict with the PRC through the Middle Way Approach.
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