Thursday, 28 June 2012
Ottawa Declaration on Tibet
Over the last couple of days the Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration—that is, the Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration—has been in Parliament House. Dr Lobsang Sangay, a 43-year-old Tibetan who was born in India of parents who had fled Tibet earlier, is a very well-educated gentleman. He has been Harvard trained and spent 16 years in the United States before deciding to stand for the election—the first election—of a Kalon Tripa. He has succeeded the Dalai Lama as the political head of the Tibetan movement. He is a very impressive advocate on behalf of the cause of Tibetans in exile. When we talk about displaced people in the context of other debates, there can be no more striking example of displaced people than the Tibetan people.
It has been quite a while since I have spoken in the parliament about affairs to do with Tibet, and I was reflecting on some of the things that I had highlighted in the past. I wish to go back to a statement made 25 years ago by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bill Hayden. He said:
Australia condemns abuses of human rights wherever and whenever they occur. While Australia acknowledges that Tibet is part of China, the Government and people of Australia remain deeply concerned that ethnic Tibetans should be treated according to internationally accepted standards of human rights. The concern of the Australian Government in all these aspects has been registered with the Chinese Government.
Now we find ourselves in the same position 25 years later. That is a disappointment. It is a disappointment in the context that the dialogues that had been set in place between representatives of the then Dalai Lama as not only the spiritual head of the Tibetan people but the political head of those in exile have not proceeded with Chinese PRC officials.
In April this year at the Sixth World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet, the Ottawa Declaration on Tibet was adopted. I wish to refer to some of the conclusions in that declaration. It was agreed that the participants:
Dispel the false accusation that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration is seeking separation from the PRC since the Tibetan proposals expressly formulate a solution within the constitutional framework of the PRC and therefore call upon the government of the PRC to cease to propagate such misinformation.
I think this is a very important point, because continually the PRC seem to want to adopt an argumentative stance that this is all about the separation of Tibet. This is not the middle way, as the Dalai Lama has been pushing. It is not the middle way that Lobsang Sangay used as his platform in being elected as the Kalon Tripa. Definitely, they are supportive of adopting an approach in which Tibet gets true autonomy within the constitution of the PRC and that ethnic Tibetans are given all the human rights that they should expect.
The Ottawa declaration also says it will:
Call upon the Government of the PRC to end the repression in Tibet, provide access to all Tibetan areas in the PRC, schedule the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' mission to China and especially to Tibet, and to resume the dialogue with the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the same positive spirit—
that is talked about earlier in the declaration. This is an approach to the People's Republic of China in the way that friends would approach problems. This is not something where, because we have a different approach, it means we do not have a continuing special relationship with the People's Republic of China. But within that special relationship we have an expectation that they will return to the dialogue that is necessary. I know that there is a small political hiatus as we await the new leadership in the PRC, and that is appropriate, but I hope that the PRC leadership does make sure that it is in a position to continue to discuss these matters.