HH the Dalai Lama Visits the Regional Autonomous Governments

November 17th 2009

South Tyrol & Trento, Italy, 17 November 2009 (OT-Geneva) - "Welcome to our country, city and home, Your Holiness' said President Luis Durnwalder of South Tyrol. His Holiness the Dalai Lama today visited Bolzano and Trento, the capital cities of the Regional Autonomous Governments of South Tyrol and Trento, in Northern Italy.  His Holiness expressed his appreciation for the support from the people and governments of the two autonomous regions.

President Durnwalder asked about the situation in Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the situation inside Tibet was worst. After 10 March 2008 demonstrations across Tibet, he had hoped that the Chinese government would address Tibet's real problem. Unfortunately this hasn't happened.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama showed President Durnwalder the map of Tibet showing all the places where peaceful demonstrations took place in 2008. While looking at the map President Durnwalder asked where Lhasa was. After showing where Lhasa was, His Holiness pointed on the map where he was born in Amdo.

Despite the grim situation in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said things are changing. More Chinese scholars were showing sympathy and understanding of the Tibetan struggle. Over 800 articles in Chinese have been written on the Tibetan issue and many were written from Mainland China.

While in Bolzano as part of the Series 'Meet the Nobel Laureates' organized by European Academy Bolzano, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in questions and answers session spoke about his childhood, reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism, non-violence and the Tibetan issue.

After meeting President Lorenzo Dellai of Trento in the afternoon, His Holiness addressed the round table discussion on Autonomy of Tibet. Both President Luis Durnwalder and President Lorenzo Dellai also spoke at the conference. The two days conference was organized by Autonomous Province of Trento in cooperation with Department of Legal Sciences, University of Trento and European Academy in Bolzano. Kindly see the Resolutions of Autonomous Regions in Support of Tibet below.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his appreciation on such conference being organized on autonomy. He said that this kind of conference sends a strong signal to China that the Tibetans issue will not go away.

'We also want autonomy in People's Republic of China. You enjoy all the rights mentioned on paper. In our case, even though the (Chinese) constitution mentions these rights but nothing is implemented,' he said.

The Tibetans have few 1000 years old history. 'We have developed our own language and script, civilization. It is not from China,' said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

'Not a single Tibetan consider themselves as Chinese,' he said. 'Wherever I go, people say Dalai Lama of Tibet and not Dalai Lama of China.' His Holiness the Dalai Lama also made reference to Tibetan Buddhism and it is not called China's Tibetan Buddhism.

However, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said we (Tibetans) are not seeking independence from China. And there has not been any change in Chinese government's position. They fear that if they give more freedom, it will bring more trouble.

Tomorrow, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will address the 5th World Parliamentarians' Convention for Tibet on 18 November in Rome. Over 200 Parliamentarians from 28 countries including over 100 Italian MPs will attend this important convention. The two days convention will be held in the Lower House of the Italy Parliament organized by the Italian Parliamentary Intergroup for Tibet.

Resolutions of Autonomous Regions in Support of Tibet

In March of 2008, the world was shocked about the violent repression by the Chinese Government of demonstrations and uprising in Lhasa and many other parts of Tibet, in which Tibetans protested against the violation of their human rights and for freedom. In the run-up to the Olympic Games, the issue of Tibet therefore once again entered world public opinion. Shortly after the Games, representatives of the Tibetan Government in exile presented to their Chinese counterparts the 'Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People'.

In this memorandum, the Tibetan side agrees to accept Chinese sovereignty in exchange for real autonomy. Furthermore, the Memorandum calls for the respect of the Tibetan identity and culture, while respecting the framework of the Chinese constitution.

The Memorandum provides a basis for discussing the implementation of a right that has formally been recognized by the Chinese Government first in the 'Seventeen Point Agreement' of 1951 and then with the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, but actually denied since 1959, after the complete Chinese take over and the induced settlement of Han Chinese, which is reducing the Tibetans to a minority in their own territory.

The autonomy of our Regions and Provinces we represent is the best proof that conflicts can be settled in a nonviolent way, fully respecting the rights of both sides, and that it is possible to preserve the culture and identity of a people, even minority, through forms of autonomy and self-government. It has especially shown that the rights of minority groups and peoples are fully compatible with the sovereignty and unity of the state.

For these reasons we support the decision of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government and Parliament in exile to pursue internal self-determination instead of independence. The proposals contained in the 'Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People' is the most effective way to achieve recognition of the rights of Tibetan people to self-government in all regions of Tibet and for the preservation of their language, culture, and religion, as well as for the protection of their environment and natural resources.

Considering the experiences of the many autonomous regions around the world, which have shown that conflicts can be prevented or overcome by respecting the fundamental rights of distinct peoples and ethnic and linguistic minorities and enabling them to exercise the right to self-government while  respecting the territorial integrity of state.

We call on the Chinese Government to:
* Consider the existence and experience of these autonomous regions and their capacity to overcome conflict and maintain constructive institutional dialogues between respective central governments and the autonomous authorities;
* And to engage in negotiations with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government and Parliament on basis of the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy.

We call on the Chinese Government, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government and Parliament in exile to:

* Speed up the negotiation in order to ensure the implementation of genuine autonomy by the Tibetan people as soon as possible and to prevent the aggravation of the conflict.

Finally, we ask the United Nations and the governments of its member states to support the objectives of this resolution which is entirely in conformity with international law.

As territorial entities which enjoy autonomy and self-government, we offer our support for the achievement of a just and genuine autonomy for the regions of Tibet which is in the interest of all parties.

We offer our expertise and lessons learned from our history, our statutes and our legal systems which may provide useful examples on how to accommodate different territorial and ethnic identities within different national constitutions in ways that  serve the interest of all parties in resolving their differences.
We offer our legal and administrative resources to support the search for and development of normative and legal provisions and structures for the realization of autonomy in keeping with the specific and complex situation in the Peoples Republic of China.

We call on all autonomous regions to sign this resolution and to appeal to their respective national governments to support the quest for a just and mutually acceptable autonomy, which enables the Tibetan people to enjoy genuine self-government and peace within the framework of the Chinese constitution.

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