Petition 81392

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Tibet (81392-GM-R9999)

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Restore Freedom and Independence/Autonomy  
to the Land and People of Tibet

WHEREAS Isaiah prophesizes (Isaiah 2:4 (NIV)) that in the last days (see also Micah 4:3):
    He will judge between the nations
       and will settle disputes for many peoples.
       They will beat their swords into plowshares
       and their spears into pruning hooks.
       Nation will not take up sword against nation,
       nor will they train for war anymore.

WHEREAS The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church expounds in Part IV, SOCIAL PRINCIPLES, ΒΆ 165 (VI. THE WORLD COMMUNITY), that We commit ourselves as a Church to the achievement of a world community that is a fellowship of persons who honestly love one another...  The Church must regard nations as accountable for unjust treatment of their citizens and others living within their borders...  We affirm the right and duty of people of all nations to determine their own destiny. We urge the major political powers to use their nonviolent power to maximize the political, social, and economic self-determination of other nations rather than to further their own special interests... We affirm our historic concern for the world as our parish and seek for all persons and peoples full and equal membership in a truly world community.
WHEREAS Until 1951 Tibet was an independent country for over 2,000 years of recorded history, although it has suffered from Mongol domination during the fourteenth century and for 72 years (1720-1792) by the Manchu emperors of China.  The Dalai Lama was recognized as the political as well as spiritual leader of Tibet during the latter part of the 18th  century.  The British briefly invaded Tibet in 1904. Tibet was neutral during World War II. The People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1949 and defeated Tibetan military forces (who were essentially border guards) in May 1951.  During the National Uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama escaped on foot to India, after which Tibet was “annexed” into China.
WHEREAS The current (14th) Dalai Lama was born July 16, 1935 as Lhamo Dhondrub and was renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso - Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, Ocean of Wisdom - at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, and was enthroned on February 22, 1940.  On November 17, 1950, the Dalai Lama was recognized as Tibet’s Head of State.  He is still the leader of Tibet’s Government-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India.  
WHEREAS Since May 1951, Chinese military forces have ruthlessly suppressed personal freedom and religious practice in Tibet.  Over 6,000 monasteries, nunneries, and temples were destroyed in the late 1950’s and during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Tibetans are imprisoned at a rate 21 times greater than Chinese are in China.  Resolutions submitted in the United Nations calling for recognizing the independence of Tibet have not been voted on.  The Chinese government is moving thousands of Chinese into Tibet even as thousands of Tibetans are escaping into India each year.  
WHEREAS In 1987 the Dalai Lama proposed a Five-Point Peace Plan for the restoration of peace and human rights in Tibet. The plan called for:
Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of Ahimsa, demilitarized zone of peace and non-violence;
  • Abandonment of China's population transfer policy (currently (2007) 1.25 million ethnically Chinese people are being relocated into Tibet), which threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people;
  • Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms;
  • Restoration of and protection of Tibet's natural environment and abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste; and
  • Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese people. The new Middle Way Approach includes autonomy/self-government for the land of Tibet similar to the Special Territories of Hong Kong and Macau.
        WHEREAS His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989,
    Therefore be it resolved that The United Methodist Church recognize the independence/autonomy of the land and people of Tibet, the Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader and political head of State of Tibet, and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India as the legitimate government of the people and land of Tibet.  
    Be it further resolved that The United Methodist Church support the Dalai Lama's vision of a free and independent or autonomous Tibet as described in His Holiness's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture (and subsequent Middle Way Approach proposal) within the territorial limits of Tibet prior to the 1949 invasion of Tibet by Chinese military forces, by entering into official discussions the Central Tibetan Administration government-in-exile headed by the Dalai Lama.  
    Be it further resolved that The United Methodist Church support United Nations’ efforts to protect of human rights of all Tibetans and to preserve the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of Tibetan people.  
    And be it further resolved that The United Methodist Church through its General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC) and its General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) (1) seek the release and freedom of the 11th  Panchen Lama and his parents since they were imprisoned by the Chinese government in 1995 (he was six years old at the time), (2)  seek the release of Tibetan political prisoners (estimated to be about 200), including Buddhist teacher Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and independence activist Jigme Gyatso, (3) work with the United Nations Human Rights Commission to seek an end to the torture of Tibetan prisoners as documented by that agency and others, (4) work with the United Nations Human Rights Commission to seek an end to the mistreatment of Tibetan refugees in Nepal and that government’s recent program to forcefully return refugees to Tibet, (5) work with international organizations to help to protect the endangered Tibetan antelope (chiru) and its native environment, and (6) work towards peace in Tibet and Asia by supporting the continuation of the European Union’s arms embargo against China, implemented following the Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing in 1989 and supported by the United States and Japan, among others.