Send independent organisations to know condition of Tibetans

Dharamshala: Accusing the Chinese government of punishing Tibetan intellectuals and public figures for articulating the aspirations of their people, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Thursday advocated sending of representatives of independent global organisations to the region to know the living conditions of the people there.

He said if representatives of the global bodies found that people in the Tibet Autonomous Region in China are happy, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile would readily accept it.

"We would encourage sending of representatives of independent international bodies, including parliamentarians.

If they were to find that Tibetans in Tibet are happy, we would readily accept it," he told Tibetans here in his address on the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day.

The spiritual leader also called on China to ensure "greater transparency" and said the 1.3 billion citizens of the People`s Republic of China have the right to know the truth about the state of affairs in their country and the world at large.

"If citizens are fully informed, they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Censorship and the restriction of information violates basic human decency…China must earn the international community`s respect and trust. In order to earn such respect China`s leaders must develop greater transparency, their actions corresponding to their words," he said.

To ensure this, he said, freedom of expression and freedom of the press are essential and added that transparency in governance can help check corruption.

He also noted that in the recent years, China has seen an increasing number of intellectuals calling for political reform and greater openness.

"(Chinese) Premier Wen Jiabao has also expressed support for these concerns. These are significant indications and I welcome them," the Dalai Lama said.

Many Tibetan intellectuals, public figures and environmentalists have been punished for articulating the Tibetan people`s basic aspirations and they have been imprisoned for "subverting state power", he alleged.

"Such repressive measures undermine unity and stability. Likewise, in China, lawyers defending people`s rights, independent writers and human rights activists have been arrested. I strongly urge the Chinese leaders to review these developments and release these prisoners of conscience forthwith," he said.

He said as the Tibetan Government-in-Exile was able to send fact-finding delegations to Tibet in the late 1970s and early 1980s from among Tibetans in exile, "We propose similar visits again."

Noting that the spirit of realism that prevailed under Mao`s leadership in the early 1950s led China to sign the 17-point agreement with Tibet, he said a similar spirit of realism prevailed once more during Hu Yaobang`s time in the early 1980s.

"If there had been a continuation of such realism, the Tibetan issue as well as several other problems, could easily have been solved. Unfortunately, conservative views derailed these policies. The result is that after more than six decades, the problem has become more intractable," he said.

The Dalai Lama said in efforts to solve the issue of Tibet, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile has consistently pursued the mutually beneficial Middle-Way Approach, which seeks genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People`s Republic of China.

"In our talks with officials of the Chinese government`s United Front Work Department we have clearly explained in detail the Tibetan people`s hopes and aspirations. The lack of any positive response to our reasonable proposals makes us wonder whether these were fully and accurately conveyed to the higher authorities," he said.