Bridging Nations and Rights: The Tibet Awareness Tour's Impact on India
East and South Asia Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defense
Recently, a two-week-long speaking tour took place across West Bengal cities. A group comprising the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and the Human Rights Desk at the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Central Tibetan Administration, along with the Tibet Museum, embarked on a mission to shed light on the critical issue of human rights violations in Tibet and its significance to India. This tour not only provided insights into the plight of Tibetans but also underscored the crucial role that India plays in addressing these concerns.
During this extensive speaking tour, DIIR staff members Tenzin Kunkhen and Lobsang Kyizom passionately addressed approximately 450 students and faculty members across multiple educational institutions, including Sanskrit College and University, Raiganj University, St. Joseph's College North Point in Darjeeling, and Sikkim University in Gangtok. They discussed a wide array of pressing issues, from the eviction and demolition of Tibetan Buddhist Institutes to religious repression, violations of cultural and linguistic rights, and even cases of self-immolation in Tibet. The tour culminated in a seminar at Sanskrit College and University titled "India and Tibet: History and Heritage," where the panelists explored the deep-rooted connections between India and Tibet. A subsequent exhibition at the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural School further highlighted the historical ties between these two nations. The speakers also delved into the Tibetan community's Middle Way Approach as a means of peacefully resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict.
The Tibet Awareness Tour had a profound impact on India, both in terms of its historical ties to Tibet and its role in addressing human rights violations. Here's why this tour matters:
Geopolitical Significance: Tibet serves as a vital water tower for India and neighboring Asian countries. The region's water resources are critical for India's sustenance, making it imperative for India to engage in issues surrounding Tibet. This importance aligns with Article 5 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, which emphasizes equitable and reasonable utilization of shared water resources among nations. India's involvement in Tibet-related matters is essential to ensure compliance with these international norms.
Cultural and Historical Connections: India and Tibet share a rich cultural and historical heritage, spanning millennia. These ties are deeply rooted in Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture. Recognizing and preserving these connections is of immense cultural value to India. Additionally, the preservation of cultural and linguistic rights is enshrined in Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the rights of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities to enjoy their own culture, practice their own religion, and use their own language.
Human Rights Advocacy: By raising awareness about the dire human rights situation in Tibet, this tour encouraged Indian college students to become advocates for human rights. Their voices, when united, can bring international attention to the plight of Tibetans and put pressure on the Chinese government to address these concerns.
Diplomatic Role: India's diplomatic role in addressing the Tibet issue cannot be overstated. Encouraging Indian parliamentarians to revisit India's Tibet policy can contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Sino-Tibet conflict and improve the human rights situation in Tibet. The right to self-determination, as recognized in Article 1 of the ICCPR and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is particularly relevant to the Tibet issue. India's diplomatic efforts can support the realization of this right for Tibetans, in line with international law principles.
In conclusion, the Tibet Awareness Tour not only brought attention to the ongoing human rights violations in Tibet but also emphasized the vital role that India must play in resolving these issues. It showcased the enduring cultural and historical bonds between India and Tibet, reinforcing the importance of preserving this unique heritage. As students and faculty engaged passionately with the speakers, the tour sparked hope for a brighter future for Tibet and highlighted India's significant role in achieving that goal.
Central Tibetan Administration. (27 September 2023). Available at < https://tibet.net/human-rights-desk-and-tibet-museum-completes-speaking-tour-and-exhibition-in-indian-universities-across-west-bengal-and-sikkim/>.