Yay! The circus has come to town! Well, not yours but Brussels in Belgium, but we are not talking acrobats, jugglers or tight-rope walkers. Not even clowns. Although there will be an ironic element of slapstick present in the gathering otherwise known as the International Conference of Tibet Support Groups, the seventh of which convened on September 8th to discuss various strategies and issues relating to Tibet. It’s a serious business, yet its colorful assemblage of individuals, comprised virtually exclusively of supporters of the Tibetan Administration’s surrender/autonomy ‘policy’, play the fool with a rare talent!
As the tone of this post ably demonstrates we are not fan of these events, why so? Well as an entirely volunteer network of individuals who are passionate in their support of Tibet we oppose any betrayal of the struggle for Tibet’s independence inside occupied. Make no mistake this conference. like its predecessors, seeks a very different objective to that so courageously struggled for by Tibetans living under the tyranny of Chinese rule. The very mention of ‘independence’ is off-the-menu, instead the focus is seeking compromise with the Chinese regime to secure rights for Tibetans under its meaningless laws on local and regional autonomy. Sure you may hear talk of Tibetan freedom around the dining tables but such comments mask an agenda of surrender, described of course as ‘political realism’!
That such treacherous capitulation, for that is what it is when contrasted with the common political aspirations of Tibetans who dream of regaining their national freedom, is applauded and endorsed by those who describe themselves as supporters of Tibet is deeply disappointing. It also begs the question as to what in truth they are actually ‘supporting’. Is their allegiance instead towards Buddhism and His Holiness the Dalai Lama? Would that explain their willingness to advocate the exiled Tibetan Administration’s political suicide note (otherwise known as the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy For Tibetans) the core document that appeases the communist Chinese regime.
So embedded is the conformity on parade at such meetings that few have the political or ethical integrity to express any dissent against the surrender being proposed, hardly a surprise when looking at the unfinished business of previous International Tibet Support Group Conferences, which permit little room for optimism. Determined action in solidarity with the Tibetan people’s struggle is certainly not on the agenda, instead delegates will be distracted by the opportunity to network and harmonize 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!
Image via @tibettruth
The cynicism and critique which International Tibet Support Group conferences attract is authored and justified by its troubling and hypocritical record on some central issues, namely Tibetan independence, but 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. 16 years ago the International Tibet Support Groups 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 the next 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)
The years that followed witnessed a complete lack of progress on negotiations for so-called genuine autonomy, including most recently Beijing’s forceful rejection of the exiled Tibetan Administration’s ‘Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for Tibet’. Has anyone noticed the International Tibet Support Groups honoring the agreed determination of its delegates, as formulated in that final conference statement? Where was the forceful international campaign by those groups to press the exiled Tibetan Administration to change its stance to support Tibetan independence? The predictable inaction which followed exposed the hollow words of such meetings and showed International Tibet Support Groups conferences, for all their pretensions to being seen as dynamic and organized, as little more than a talking-shop. Whose main function is to endorse whatever instruction received from the exiled Tibetan Administration.