This weekend the talking circus, otherwise known as the International Tibet Support Group Network (ITSN) is reportedly to descend upon the good soil of Éire, to discuss various strategies and issues relating to Tibet. A curious assemblage of individuals, some of whom’s bureacratic greyness would sit well within the pages of a Franz Kafka novel, relieved by the colorful participation of a sprinking of Tibetans, most automata-like supporters of the Tibetan Government in Exile’s surrender/autonomy ‘policy’. Why, the event may even witness Samdhong Rinpoche, that arch-betrayer of Tibetan nationhood, sloping off to the nearest bar in search of enlightenment, and there’s loads of that available in any bar in Ireland! Is there a Buddhist-Dialectical argument that can match the Guinness vs Beamish controversy which remains after a century unresolved?
Will the delegates, through some process of osmosis absorb the pulse of nation and independence which lies beating still in every hill in Ireland? Can the grim-faced capitulation, which no doubt will once more be agreed by the Dalai Lama supporting delegates, be replaced with a forceful solidarity with the political hopes of the Tibetan people? Too much to ask we hear you cry. You may well be right, when looking back at the unfinished business of the ITSN and its previous statements there is little room for optimism. But come-on, don’t be too down about this, after all its a great opportunity to network and harmonise on such key issues as, how to promote autonomy and friendship with China. No doubt Tibetans inside Tibet will be crying with unrestrained appreciation for those efforts!
The cynicism and critique which the ITSN attracts is authored and justified by its troubling and hypocritical record on some central issues, namely Tibetan independence, and also its virtual silence on the subject of coercive birth-control inside Tibet. Let’s take a peek at one of its statements on the former issue. Ten years ago the ITSN Conference in Berlin agreed through democratic process that:
“We endorse the proposal made by some members of the Parliament to urge His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile to seriously consider demanding full independence for Tibet, or the holding of an internationally supervised referendum on the issue if no progress has been made in negotiations with the government of the PRC on proposals for genuine autonomy for Tibet in thenext three years. In that event we should fully support such a stand and should launch a major campaign for international recognition of Tibet’s claims” (Berlin Statement An Action Plan Third ITSG Conference Berlin May 14, 2000)
Editor’s Note: curiously a diluted and revised form of this statement subsequently replaced the statement quoted here. There was considerable controversy surrounding this matter (and a report which took over 17 months to be made available to delegates) which was brought to the attention of the Dalai Lama in a letter from Independent Tibet Network
In the years that followed, which witnessed a complete lack of progress on negotiations for so-called genuine autonomy, including most recently Beijing’s forceful rejection of the TGIE’s treacherous ‘Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for Tibet’ has anyone noticed the ITSN honouring the agreed determination of its delegates, as formulated in that final conference statement? Did we witness a forceful and international campaign by the ITSN to press the TGIE to change its stance to support Tibetan independence? The predictable inaction which followed exposed the hollow words of such meetings revealed the ITSN, for all its pretentions to beeing seen as dynamic and organised, as little more than a talking-shop whose main function was to endorse whatever instruction received from the TGIE.
Certainly with its singular lack of support for Rangzen (Tibet’s Independence) and consistent refusal to either condemn or actively campaign against China’s coercive birth-control program that includes the forcible sterilization of Buddhist Tibetan and Moslem Uyghur women, this meeting cannot be truly said to be standing with the people of Tibet, nor supporting human rights, which by definition are not selective.
Éire is a beautful land with a tragic and violent history, its freedom and sovereignty, still only partial, paid for with the blood of untold numbers of Irish lives. It’s a nation whose political and cultural history offers much to Tibetans, most acutely in their dangerous attempts to seek negotiations, sadly the delegates will perhaps be too busy enjoying the pleasures of plate and bottle and articulating the further abandonment of Tibet’s freedom to notice.
Erin Go Bragh!