World Council of Tibetans for an Independent Tibet
In March 1959 the people of Tibet rose up against the Chinese occupation army to restore Tibetan independence and to defend the sacred person and honour of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Following the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese army in 1949-50 the Dalai Lama had attempted to prevent conflict between an angry Tibetan populace and the Chinese. His efforts failed to contain the tyranny and brutality of Chinese rule, the violence of which was finally directed even against His sacred person. But Tibetan freedom fighters succeeded in escorting the Dalai Lama unharmed to exile. There, He and the Tibetan refugee community were forced to observe their nation destroyed and their people murdered by the Communist Chinese, in a long series of savage campaigns that reached its crescendo in the Cultural Revolution but continues to this day, in varying degrees of violence and severity.
In the late 1970’s the Dalai Lama attempted to communicate with the leaders of Communist China to arrive at some negotiated settlement on the Tibetan issue. But the Chinese used Tibetan hopes for negotiations to gain time to accelerate Chinese population transfer to Tibet, to side-track the growing international support and activism for Tibetan freedom, and to suppress the independence movement which had taken root inside Tibet. In spite of savage and unrelenting repression by Chinese occupation authorities, Tibetans inside Tibet still defy Chinese rule and keep alive the cause for which hundreds of thousands of brave Tibetans have given up their lives. Risking imprisonment, torture and even execution, men and women in Tibet continue to struggle and to cry out for Rangzen.
Rallying to their call, Tibetans activists, intellectuals, professionals, artists and students world-over, who unwaveringly believe in an independent Tibet, have joined together to form the Rangzen Alliance to provide a common platform of action for all Tibetans who are prepared to struggle, whatever the cost, for the creation of a free Tibet.
- The restoration of Tibetan independence.
- The return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet as the sovereign head-of-state of a free and democratic Tibet.
- The establishment of a genuinely liberal and democratic Tibetan nation, based on the rule of law and humanist principles common to Buddhism and the enlightened philosophies of the world. (The goal of a democratic Tibet was first proclaimed by the Dalai Lama in his draft constitution of 1963).
THE SYMBOL OF THE RANGZEN ALLIANCE
The symbol of the Alliance is the Flaming Sword of Manjusri, Bodhisattva of Wisdom, which cuts through the chains of ignorance, fear and apathy – liberating all beings.
The convening members of the Rangzen Alliance are independent Tibetan scholars, doctors, teachers, lawyers, film-makers, artists, writers, executives, students, activists and others working successfully in the free world. We believe in Rangzen and cherish Tibetan culture, but we also realise the necessity of transforming our society for survival in a fast-changing and often harsh and unjust world, and for the successful undertaking of the freedom struggle.
Convening Members: Thupten Jigme Norbu (Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, USA), Sonam Wangdu (chairman USTibet Committee, NY, USA) Chuki Shakabpa (activist NY, USA), Jamyang Norbu (writer, India/USA) Thupten Tsering (filmmaker and organiser Students for Free Tibet, NY, USA), Yoden Thonden (lawyer, presently with Human Rights Watch, NY, USA), Tenzing Chounzom (Doctor, Tn, USA), Lhadon Tethong (organiser Students for Free Tibet, NY, USA) Lhakpa Tsering (former UN Human Rights official in Cambodia, presently exec-director of Tibetan Alliance, Chicago, USA) Jordhen Chazotsang (graphic designer, Toronto, Canada) Tashi Thundup (musician and performer, San Francisco, USA), WD Shakabpa (lawyer, USTibet Committee regional director, Washington DC, USA), Jampa Choephel (activist, Dharamshala, India), Kalden (social worker, activist, Dharamshala, India) Ganden Blattner (lawyer, former president Tibet Youth Association, Switzerland), Thundup Tsering (educationalist, Amherst, USA) Tenzin Wangpo (Historian, Switzerland)
Membership of the Alliance is open to any Tibetan who subscribes openly and unequivocally to the Three Goals of the Rangzen Alliance. A membership fee of US$25 annually will be charged per person to members in the West. To members in India, Nepal and Bhutan the membership fee will be Rs.50 (IC).
Membership to the Alliance is also open, on a “Supporting” basis, to all non-Tibetans who subscribe to the Three Aims. Supporting members will have the same privileges as those of a regular member except for voting and standing for elected office.
All members will receive a membership card and a newsletter
The Alliance is planning to hold a conference in the near future, mainly to put forward ideas and strategies on promoting the struggle, but also to discuss the manifesto and constitution of the Alliance.
All further procedural matters relating to the organisation (including those discussed above) will be discussed and finalised at the coming conference.
FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINE OF ACTION
The Rangzen Alliance believes that only an active, fearless and unwavering conduct of the Freedom Struggle by Tibetans is the road to the eventual achievement of this goal.
That the struggle will require the commitment and sacrifice of the Tibetan people for its success. That the struggle is not an intellectual pastime, a sinecure, a diversion or a charitable cause, but a revolutionary movement demanding courage and sacrifice.
That the Communist Chinese will not somehow be convinced merely by our goodwill, nor the friendly intercession of world leaders, nor even enlightened self interest to grant Tibetans a modicum of self-rule. Only and unless we can cause China sufficient loss or damage to its economy, image or security, will it ever agree to even the minimum of concessions.
Though the struggle will require the support and sympathy of people and countries world-over, no patron-state or non-Tibetan organisation of any kind can conduct the freedom struggle on our behalf. Therefore the future of Tibet and the direction and conduct of the freedom struggle must be decided upon by Tibetans, taking into account the interests of the Tibetan people and nation. These interests need not, and should not, be narrow chauvinistic ones, but they must first and foremost reflect the fundamental concerns and genuine aspirations of the Tibetan people
The Rangzen Alliance is convinced that China is an anti-human, totalitarian state bent on the eradication of Tibetan identity and people. Unlike other tyrannies that inevitably fall when the life span of its dictator or ruling ideology runs its course, China is especially dangerous as it seems to be the only one that has the historical ability of evolving its tyranny into acceptably contemporary forms, capable of seducing not only politicians and businessmen in the free world but even intellectuals and scholars. China’s development of this new “Market Fascism” could prove to be a more subtle threat to democracy and individual freedom than the Communism of yesteryear. Hence, through the struggle for Tibetan Independence, the Rangzen Alliance will be making a genuine contribution to the safeguarding of world peace and freedom.
PROGRAM OF ACTION
– The Rangzen Alliance will constantly seek opportunities to directly challenge China’s occupation of TibetThe Rangzen Alliance will join hands with independence movements inside Tibet and world-over, to bring about Tibetan national unity, harmony and effective united action for Tibetan independence.
The Rangzen Alliance will create within Tibetan society, an awareness-building program of Tibet’s long history and its Freedom Struggle.
The Rangzen Alliance will work to instill a democratic culture within Tibetan society.
The Rangzen Alliance will especially focus its efforts to bring into play the talent and energy of Tibetans and supporters through the encouragement of independent action and creativity within the Freedom Struggle.The first initiative of the Rangzen Alliance is a global campaign of DIRECT ECONOMIC ACTION against China. ( See…)
VISION OF A FUTURE TIBET
It is vital that from now we are able to instill a strong moral content in the conduct of our struggle and our vision of a future Tibet. We must make absolutely certain that Tibetan commitment to democracy never wavers, or becomes corrupted or perverted, and that humanism, liberalism and progress do not get pushed to the sidelines once Rangzen is achieved. Many independent nations in Asia, Africa and South America which started off with great promise and fanfare have ended up as petty tyrannies, permanent war-zones, economic basket-cases, family businesses, or victims of international business interests or religious fundamentalism. As a nation where the vast majority of us are Buddhists who cherish our faith, we must ensure that our politics are uncompromisingly secular, and that religion is not misused by vested interests as a vehicle to political power, or an instrument to persecute minority groups or vulnerable sections of society.
We must absolutely ensure that an independent Tibet will not be a cause of regret for those who fought for it; and that this future Tibet will be a just and equitable nation in which people will not only elect their own government and lawmakers, but where citizens will have their individual rights protected by the rule of law, which will apply to everyone.
We can only realize this vision if there is transparency in political life and accountability in our leadership, especially in the leadership of the struggle. The struggle itself must have a clear ethical basis and be grounded on the principles of courage, action, austerity, tolerance and selflessness. There must not be even a suggestion of ostentation or arbitrariness in the way the Rangzen Alliance conducts its activities. The Alliance must also be based on complete financial probity; and not just to ensure the trust of its members and supporters. Financial subversion has been the most effective weapon that Beijing and Taiwan have used to undermine the integrity of Tibetan national institutions, both political and religious.
The Rangzen Alliance salutes the courageous freedom fighters inside Tibet, the Tibetan Youth Congress and other patriotic organisations in exile, Support Groups world-wide, and the Tibetan government-in-exile which have under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama kept up the struggle for Tibetan Freedom all these many years. The Rangzen Alliance assures them of its genuine friendship and sincere co-operation.
The Alliance appeals to all Tibetans and friends who share our goal of Tibetan independence to come forward and join us in the great struggles to come. Let us all enter this new millennium cleansed of our cynicism, doubts and fears, and begin a new and heroic age in our history; each of us imbued with the renewed commitment to the unquestionably just struggle for Tibetan independence and the freedom of oppressed people everywhere.
MESSAGE FROM SENIOR CONVENING MEMBER
It is heartening to see, time and again, that in spite of all that has happened to us since China first invaded Tibet, the overwhelming majority of Tibetans, young and old, stand firm for the simple goal for which so many of our countrymen laid down their lives: the restoration of Tibet’s rightful place as an equal member of the community of free and independent nations. For many years I have said that only Tibetan independence can serve as a safeguard for the preservation of our heritage, culture and national identity. Talk of “autonomy” masks a sad defeatism and an acceptance of the inevitability of China swallowing our country; it is unworthy of the descendants of the great Dharmarajas who made Tibet a powerful and enlightened state.
The enthusiasm that has greeted the first announcements of the formation of the Rangzen Alliance is inspiring. I call on all Tibetans to read the manifesto of the Rangzen Alliance and to join with us and with all of our brothers and sisters in the pure and sacred struggle to free our country.
Our time has come!
Thubten Jigme Norbu/Taktser Tulku