Declaration of the 6th International Rangzen Conference
The vast nation of Tibet has a recorded history of reaching soaring heights of religious and political civilisation and advancement. Despite the ebb and flow of power, Tibet remained an independent country marked by its distinct language, culture, history, leadership, and international relations.
The Communist China began invading Tibet from the east in 1949 and on May 23, 1951, under duress, Tibet was forced to sign the so-called “17-Point Agreement”. China’s increasingly colonial and draconian policies in Tibet led to the national uprising of Tibetans from all the three provinces of Tibet on March 10, 1959 in the Tibetan capital Lhasa. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government was forced to escape into exile. Soon after reaching the safety of exile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke to a large contingent of international media on April 18, 1959 in the Indian city of Tezpur. His Holiness declared that the free and independent country of Tibet was invaded and brutally occupied by the Chinese government and officially repudiated the so-called “17 Point Agreement”.
As a direct result of China’s invasion and continued occupation of Tibet more than a million Tibetans have suffered untimely deaths and more than 6,000 monasteries have been razed to the ground. China’s policies are causing an existential threat to Tibet’s language, religion and cultural heritage, and leading to irreversible environmental destruction with unsustainable mining practices and misuse of Tibet’s life-giving rivers. China’s violent and inhuman oppression of rights and freedom in Tibet led to the large-scale 2008 protests on the Tibetan plateau. Since the self-immolation of Tapey on February 27, 2009, 157 Tibetans from all three provinces of Tibet have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese government. In exile, 10 Tibetans have self-immolated. These fiery protests are symbolic of the Tibetan people’s aspirations for a free and independent Tibet and for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten and remain as an inspiration for the struggle for Tibet’s rightful independence.
Over the past decade, under the guise of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, China has been leading a new wave of economic imperialism laying debt traps for borrowing governments. The world has begun to realise China’s aggressive maneuvers to steal intellectual property, threaten global security with their espionage and counter-intelligence operations, and peddle official propaganda through their network of “Confusion Institutions” in educational centres. This realisation of China’s threat to global peace and security was further exacerbated by the spread of Covid-19, the deadly clashes on the India-Tibet border, brutal suppression of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, and growing tensions with Taiwan. This rise in global antipathy towards China’s leadership and belligerent policies has provided an invaluable opportunity for the Rangzen movement.
The 6th International Rangzen Conference brought together representatives from Uyghur and Mongolia with more than 80 Tibetan Rangzenpas from India, Canada, Australia, the US, and Nepal. A joint declaration was issued by the Tibet, Uyghur, and Mongolia representatives, and strategies to strengthen the Rangzen movement and alliance were discussed during the four-day Conference.
A brief chronological account of the International Rangzen Conference
In 2012 in Dharamshala, a Rangzen conference was held following which a number of Tibetan freedom fighters and activists continued to hold concerted dialogues and consultations. In the course of the discussions, it was found urgent and vital to organize an international Rangzen conference. A few Rangzen activists based in Dharamshala took responsibility and organized an International Rangzen Conference in the Indian capital of New Delhi from May 23-24, 2015.
In 2016, Rangzen activists based in the United States organized the 3rd International Rangzen Conference in New York, and in 2017 Rangzen activists based in Europe organized the 4th International Rangzen Conference in France’s capital city of Paris. In 2018, the 5th International Rangzen Conference was successfully held in Dharamshala from May 23-25, 2018. Based on the decision of the last conference, an organizing committee of Rangzen activists based in India was formed and the 6th International Rangzen Conference is being held in Delhi from 16th-19th August 2023.
Significance of the 6th International Rangzen Conference
The 6th International Rangzen Conference is convened to unequivocally condemn the Chinese invasion of Tibet and to commemorate the Tibetan freedom movement, which stems from the proud legacy of Tibet’s sovereign empire. We remember and pay our deepest homage and tribute to the sacrifices made by Tibetan martyrs in our fight for freedom and justice. The conference takes advantage of the growing global antipathy towards China and condemns the continued occupation of Tibet. Furthermore, the conference brings together Tibetans who firmly believe in and are fighting for the resurrection of an independent Tibet, and discuss new strategies for the Rangzen movement and work together to achieve our common goal of Tibetan freedom.
It is evident without reservation that the struggle for the independence of Tibet is one between the oppressor and the oppressed, bearing the hallmark of a people’s right to self-governance and self-rule. Despite the suffering we have endured under China’s oppressive rule, Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet remain committed to our fight for freedom. We remain true to the “will of the dead and hope of the living,” determined to resurrect a free Tibet and ensure that the torch of the independence movement is relayed unfailingly to the generations that follow. We will never forget the sacrifices of those who have died for our cause, and we will continue the Rangzen movement at all cost.
1. The Conference unequivocally condemns China for its illegal occupation and continuing brutal occupation of Tibet which has caused the deaths of thousands of Tibetans. Moreover, the Conference notes its distinct lack of trust in the Chinese government.
2. To conduct advocacy campaigns for the Rangzen movement with Indian and world leaders, and establish cordial relations with regional Tibetan freedom supporters inviting them to Tibet-related events.
3. It is important for advocates of independence for Tibet to remain firm and steadfast in our fight for Tibet’s freedom. Senior advocates of Rangzen should encourage and nurture the younger generation of Tibetan activists to continue the struggle for the independence of Tibet. Attempts should be made to introduce the Rangzen movement to Tibetan students participating in summer camps. Also, attempts should be made to organize Rangzen camp.
4. Tibetan Rangzen activists should jointly observe February 13 every year as Rangzen Day with campaigns and events. During the Tibetan general elections, Rangzen activists should consider voting and campaigning for candidates with known support for Rangzen and create online platforms to discuss the struggle for independence.
5. Representatives of Tibetan NGOs advocating for Rangzen and elder generation of Tibetan freedom fighters should be invited to attend future Rangzen conferences. Moreover, opinions and suggestions of Rangzen activists who are not able to attend should be collected in advance and presented at the conference.
6. To establish a core committee to study and review the effectiveness and viability of establishing a new Rangzen political party. The committee will interact with stakeholders, carefully review opportunities and challenges, assess effectiveness and viability, and present a report with recommendations at the 7th International Rangzen Conference.
7. To improve and strengthen collaboration amongst Rangzen activists and organizations, events including musical evenings, reading events, and poetry reading should be organised with Rangzen advocates.
8. To request the Central Tibetan Administration’s Department of Education to include the factual history of Tibet’s Independence and biographies of Tibetan martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for Tibet in Tibetan school textbooks for schools in India and Nepal. In addition, request the Department to allow equal access for Rangzen advocates to visit and give talks in schools.
9. Learning from Hong Kong’s experience and Tibet’s present reality, the Conference expressed its explicit lack of faith in the Chinese government and implored the Central Tibetan Administration to review the middle-way approach.
10. The Conference impresses upon Tibetan media houses on the importance of remaining impartial and unbiased in their reporting and coverage of all issues related to Tibet.
11. This Conference further requests the Tibetan Youth Congress to consider withdrawing its 2013 resolution with regard to not working with the Tibetan National Congress in the spirit of promoting understanding and collaboration among Rangzen individuals and organizations.
With resolute conviction in the imminent reunion of the Tibetan people in a free and independent Tibet and the glorious return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Potala Palace.
International Rangzen Conference
August 16-19, 2023 New Delhi, India
Victory to Tibet! Victory to Tibet’s independence!