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Tibetan National Congress (TNC) Inaugural Statement on 13th February 2013

posted Feb 14, 2013, 6:18 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Feb 14, 2013, 6:19 PM ]
By Jigme Ugen, Tibetan National Congress

The following inaugural statement was given by Jigme Ugen at Tibet House, New York City on February 13, 2013

On this day a hundred years ago, His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama declared the restoration of Tibet’s status as a free and an independent state. Two years earlier the Manchu Qing army had unleashed a reign of terror in Lhasa, forcing His Holiness to escape to neighboring India. From exile, the 13th Dalai Lama dispatched his officials to Lhasa to take charge of the resistance. After a year of hard and brutal fighting, the Manchu Qing army surrendered and Tibet re-asserted its historical status as an independent state, a status it had enjoyed for more than a thousand years.

Today, on this day of February 13th, 2013 we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the declaration of Tibetan Independence as an auspicious and joyous occasion, reminding us of a time in our history when we lived on our own land as free people, spoke our own language, and peacefully worshipped in our temples and enjoyed our ancient way of life under the sovereign rule of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Ganden Phodrang government. We engaged with other nations such as Bhutan, Nepal, Britain, Mongolia, China, India and even the United States as equals and entered into treaties and trade agreements with a number of them.

Today, we also commemorate this occasion with sadness. Though Tibet remained a free nation for nearly forty years after the 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration, our independence came to an end in October 1950 when Communist China launched a major military invasion defeating the Tibetan army at Chamdo. Since then China has systematically destroyed Tibet’s ancient way of life. Over a million Tibetans have been killed or died of starvation and many more imprisoned or deported to Slave Labor Camps (Laogai).

Nearly all buildings and monuments of historical, cultural and religious importance were demolished and their treasures and art objects looted and shipped to China for their precious metals or for sale on the Asian art market. The mineral wealth, forests, water and other natural resources of these lands have not only been systematically exploited to benefit China, but have also been thoughtlessly wasted and devastated.

Right now China’s population transfer policy has flooded Tibet with Chinese colonists, threatening to marginalize the indigenous population and make them a minority in their own homeland. Native craftsmen, small businessmen, workers and even laborers have been near completely displaced by Chinese colonists, causing tremendous social problems, and economic and psychological distress among the native population. The nomads of Tibet are being forced to leave their traditional grasslands and relocate to so called “settlements”, with their concentration-camp like rows of cinder block huts surrounded by high walls. What is unmistakable is that Tibetans as a distinct people and identity are being relentlessly pushed to a kind of functional extinction.

Yet today is also a day of hope and courage, of iron will and truth tested in fire. Although the informers, the torturers, the executioners, the various organs of State Security and the brutal “People’s Liberation Army”, are relentlessly going about their task of spreading terror throughout the land, the Tibetan people continue to resist and continue to call for an “independent Tibetan nation” and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a free Tibet. These have been the principal rallying demands of the 106 brave men and women who set themselves on fire to illuminate the truth of Tibet’s cause to the world.

Therefore today, on this momentous day, we resolve to dedicate ourselves to the commitment made by our martyrs to ensure that the “declaration of independence” made by the 13th Dalai Lama 100 years ago this day transcends its historical function and becomes a living document and blueprint for the coming revolutionary struggle for Tibetan freedom, and the vision and the legacy of democracy instilled by H.H the 14th Dalai Lama be preserved and flourished; and that His Holiness himself be reunited with his people inside a free Tibet.

To this end, those of us gathered here and in other venues in India and Europe have, in the great tradition of freedom movements the United States of America, India and South Africa, come together to form the Tibetan National Congress (Bhod Gyalyong Rangzen Lhentsok) as a national freedom movement dedicated to reestablishing the sovereign independent state of Tibet, in which a democratic system of government will be established based on free elections, the rule of law and the primacy of individual freedom.

We call upon all freedom loving nations and peoples of the world to stand with us in support of the Tibetan people’s inalienable right to self-determination, their right to dissolve the bonds of oppression, and their right to determine their own political destiny as a separate and equal nation

We stand shoulder to shoulder in unwavering solidarity with our brave Tibetan brothers and sisters in occupied Tibet, resolute and assured in the knowledge that the day is fast approaching when we will all be reunited in a free, independent, and democratic Tibet.

Bhod Gyalo! Bhod Gyalo! Bhod Gyalo!


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