Taipei: - Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association (TTWA) held the 2013 International Seminar on Tibet discussing Tibet issues “from Tibetans Self-immolation analyzing the human rights and religious freedom in Tibet” on November 11, 2013 at National Taiwan University Alumni Club (NTUAC). Scholars and experts, including Tibetan exiles, were invited to the seminar publishing.
Distinguished guests, moderator, and invitees include: Li-xiong Wang, Chinese intellectual, the author of Yellow Peril and The Destiny of Tibet, Yi Liu, Chinese artist, Jian-li Yang, founder of Initiative for China, Biao Teng, Chinese Human Rights defense lawyer from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Yong-mei Cai, Executive Editor of Open Magazine, Hong Kong, Dorothy Hui, activist of Hong Kong, Dan Li, Dongjen Center for Human Rights Education, Beijing, Kelsang Gyaltsen, member of Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration, Geshe Jampa Gyatso, the first preacher of the Tibet Religious Foundation of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Taiwan, Chang-zhen Yang, chairman of Center of Social Empowerment, Thinking Taiwan Foundation, Jian-yuan Zeng, associate professor of Department of Public Administration at Chung Hua University, Da Qian, former legislator, Secretary General of Chinese Alliance for Democracy, Xian-hong Yang, chairman of Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Zhi-ben Sun, president of Sino-Tibetan Friendship Association of Taiwan, Jia-hong Su, professor of Fooyin University Center for General Education, Xian-long Zhu, professor of Social, Economic and Public Policy Research Center at Macau Polytechnic Institute, Yeau-tarn Lee, professor of Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University, Xing-jian Wu, researcher of Chinese Integration Association of College of Social Science, NTU.
“In the seminar, I hope Sino-Tibetan relations can be more peaceful with discussion and mutual communication so that we won’t repeat the same mistake made in the past 50 years,”Dawa Tsering, head of Tibet Religious Foundation of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Taiwan, said at the beginning of the seminar.
Chang-zhen Yang, the first moderator of the seminar, suggested that Tibetans self-immolation has a peculiar meaning in the sense of martyrdom. Tibetans immolate themselves not only because of suffering and desperation resulting from the ruler, whom we should not trust and rely on, but also to try to make people understand their pain through such desperate form. “The more profound the silence is, the more monstrous the evil gets”, and “such resistance (self-immolation) is the ultimate defense for self-esteem for them,” he said.
“The Middle Way Approach is a peaceful, non-violent movement for the freedom of Tibet; for a monk, observing the principle of non-violence is as much about observing his/her precepts,”Geshe Jampa Gyatso said. He also suggested that the main reason why Tibetans immolate themselves stems from the suppression from the Communist Party. Not only do they force Tibetans to accept their education of their own ideology and forbid us from Buddhist studies, they also coerce us into hatred for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whom we greatly revere. Other than that, large immigration of Chinese on their homeland has made them a minority.
When speaking of Tibetan self-immolation, Dr. Jian-li Yang said that Tibetans’ condition in China have been suffocating because of the government, and self-immolation is the result of repression rather than what the authority blame, neither “excessive drinking” nor “domestic problems.”
He considers self-immolation more of an action of hope, awaking people’s consciousness, rather than desperation and urges that grassroots movement speak out for justice.
MP Kelsang Gyaltsen also suggested that self-immolation wouldn’t have happened if the Party had listened to the people’s voice. He blames the patriotic re-education started by Tse-Ming Chiang since 1995, when Chinese has been immigrating into Tibet and pushing out Tibetan culture from then on.
Jian-yuan Zeng, associate professor of Department of Public Administration at Chung Hua University, moderated the second part of the seminar. Chinese human rights defense lawyer Biao Teng and Quan-zhang Wang respectively expressed their attitude on governmental infringement on Tibetan human rights.
Teng’s law license was revoked in 2008, owing to providing Tibetans legal services. A Tibetan was shot to death by the police because of reading articles about His Holiness in 2012. “Repression on Tibetans far outweighs that on Chinese people,” he said.
Quan-zhang Wang shared his experience in Tibet in May, 2013. A Tibetan youth brought a disk with information about self-immolation and wrote those martyrs’ names on scripture flags, praying for their souls. Including some of his friends, he was consequently arrested just for that.
“Chinese people regard Tibetans from a nationalist point of view; therefore, Tibet issues must concern national security and independence for certain,” Wang said.”Tibetans are not beneficiaries from economic development; Chinese people should help and fight for Tibetans’ humans rights, alleviating conflicts between both sides.”
The seminar was continued until the evening. As the Dawa Tsering said, many of the invitees signify figures on Tibet issues. These distinguished guests include two Chinese human rights defense lawyers, professors from Taiwan and Hong Kong, a Chinese artist who made portraits for each Tibetan who staged self-immolation. Also, there are Chinese students who asked some acute questions.
The Middle Way Approach is not only the proposition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but also that of the Tibetan Parliament in exile. “The ultimate result and accomplishment do rely on support and universal efforts from both Tibetans and Chinese,” Dawa Tsering said. “To accomplish that, we need people who attend to the issue to share more ideas and wisdom with us, so that one day we can reach real peace and harmony.”