Press Release
November 5, 2010


His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled religious leader and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, together with Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, both called for peace and non-violence at the inaugural session of the Tibet Support Groups Conference near New Delhi on Friday morning, 5 November 2010.

Santiago, last year's nominee to the International Court of Justice, spoke on "The Principle of Non-Discrimination in International Law," and pleaded for autonomy to preserve the culture and religion of Tibet.

Santiago was invited in her personal capacity as an authority in international law, and does not represent the view of the Philippine (PH) government.

The PH government, conscious of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, prefers non-involvement in discussions on Tibet.

The PH foreign affairs department discourages private meetings between PH government officials and the Dalai Lama.

Santiago said that China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, refused to vote for her as nominee to the ICJ, because of her personal position that Tibet should be given more autonomy.

"I do not dispute that China has sovereignty over Tibet. I simply plead for higher respect in favor of Tibetan culture and identity," she said.

Santiago said that the principle of non-discrimination is laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as under the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention.

The senator said that since the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, he deserves support from the PH, in the context of interfaith dialogue and of human rights law.

Santiago said that Article 27 of the ICCPR pertains to the peculiarity of the Tibetans' religious, cultural, and linguistic identity. Article 27 of the ICCPR provides: "In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion or to use their own language."

The senator also said that the rights of the Tibetans are protected under the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention. Under this Convention, they have the right to (a) retain their own customs and institutions if not incompatible with fundamental rights defined by the national legal systems and with internationally recognized human rights; (b) recognition and protection of their social, cultural, religious and spiritual values and practices; and (c) due regard to their customs and customary laws applying the national laws to them.

Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1949, the United Nations, international organizations, and foreign governments have criticized human rights violations committed by China in Tibet, and expressed their support for the Dalai Lama and his Middle Way Approach.

The official webpage of the Dalai Lama defines his Middle Way Approach as follows:

"The Tibetan people do not accept the present status of Tibet under the People's Republic of China. At the same time, they do not seek independence for Tibet, which is a historical fact. Treading a middle path in between these two lies the policy and means to achieve a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People's Republic of China. This is called the Middle-Way Approach, a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all concerned parties-for Tibetans: the protection and preservation of their culture, religion and national identity; for the Chinese: the security and territorial integrity of the motherland; and for neighbours and other third parties: peaceful borders and international relations."

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