2000 Action of Immediate Witness

Scope: Continental

On April 26, 2000, the exiled Tibetan government issued a report on Environment and Development Issues since the invasion of Tibet by China in 1949, documenting widespread environmental damage from mining, deforestation, colonization, development, permanent military and nuclear installations, and hazardous disposal of nuclear waste, which is increasing at an alarming rate. Unchecked hydro-power development and pollution threaten rivers in ten neighboring countries. The local religion and culture have been suppressed and sacred places have been desecrated and destroyed. Tibetans are an indigenous people with their own unique religion, culture, language, and writing. They have protected the environment of their homeland for two thousand years.

On May 24, 2000, the United States House of Representatives granted China permanent most-favored-nation status, and a bill is pending in the Senate. China's admission to the World Trade Organization will inevitably follow, increasing pressures on the Tibetan environment and natural resources to further China's economic growth.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has long been an advocate of recognizing The People's Republic of China as a full participant in the United Nations and in world affairs, but it is critical that such recognition require certain responsible actions by China as a world leader.

Prosperity and reforms can result from China's expanded trading status, but the resulting tensions from the continued presence of China in Tibet will make it difficult to fully realize the potentials of existing and pending free trade agreements with the United States and other countries.

The 2000 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association acknowledges the rights of the native people of Tibet to independently guide their own destiny with full autonomy; and we support the efforts of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues appointed by the United States Secretary of State to promote negotiations between the Dalai Lama and China.

We call for immediate confirmation of the well-being of the eleven-year-old Panchen Lama and his release.

We request immediate withdrawal of all nuclear weapons and installations from Tibet and immediate cessation of dumping of nuclear waste there.

We request that the World Bank stop plans to fund Chinese resettlement projects in Tibet.

We call for a return to the pre-1949 relationship of an independent neutral Tibet and an independent People's Republic of China with full withdrawal by China from Tibet and full management of Tibet's ecological resources and development returned to the indigenous people and their freely acknowledged leaders.

We affirm that such a relationship will enable Tibet and China to co-exist peacefully and prosper and is in the best interests of the world community.

We ask our member societies in the United States and Canada to work with local Tibetan refugee support, and we ask independence groups to ease the pressures on the refugees and help preserve their culture.

For more information contact socialjustice@uua.org.

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