The Rights of Tibetans

To the Editor The New York Times:

I do not wish to respond to the entirety of Nicholas D. Kristof’s Aug. 7 column, “An Olive Branch From the Dalai Lama.” Mr. Kristof himself says that both sides will surely flinch at some terms, and he is correct about that.

The one point that needs immediate clarification is on the autonomous rights of the Tibetan people. The way it is presented, the reader may get the impression that the Tibet issue is only one of education, culture and religion.

Even according to Chinese law as spelled out in the White Paper on the Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet issued by the Chinese government in 2004, Tibetans are entitled to the following rights: full political right of autonomy; full decision-making power in economic and social development undertakings; freedom to inherit and develop their traditional culture and to practice their religious belief; and freedom to administer, protect and be the first to use their natural resources, and to independently develop their educational and cultural undertakings.

Lodi Gyari
Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Washington, Aug. 7, 2008

Reproduced from the online edition of The New York Times, published 8 August 2008.