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Seminar on "Crossing the Line: China's Railways to Lhasa, Tibet"

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2005/1/6; January 6, 2005.]

January 06, 2005

India Tibet Coordination Office (ITCO) in collaboration with the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), Washington D.C. organized a seminar on China's railway line to Tibet, one of China's most premeditated strategies with regard to Tibet. A panel of speakers shared their views on China's ongoing railway project, the consequences that Tibet would face and also Indian's security concerns.

The seminar was held at Dr. Rajendra Prased Bhawan, New Delhi on 5 th Jan 05 Mr. George Fernandez did the honours of releasing the translated version of railway report in Hindi.

A book release function was held along with the seminar that was graced by eminent Mr. George Fernandez,(former Defence Minister), Mr. Brahma Chellaney, (Research Professor at the Center for Policy Research and an expert in International Diplomacy and Arms Control), Mr. Vijay Kranti, (Tibetologist, Photo journalist & Editor of Tibbat Desh Magazine) and Ms. Kate Saunders, (Communication’s Director of ICT)

Mr. Vijay Kranti who was the moderator, started off the function by narrating the first hand experience that he acquired during his recent trip to Tibet as part of the media group that was invited by the Chinese Government. Expressing his anxiety over the implications that the new railway would bring to India’s security, he said, "Once the railway lines starts functioning, it would become easier for the Chinese to transport arms and ammunitions, many of which are transported in dismantled state, to its borders."

Mr. Brahma Chellaney, the key speaker, opened his speech by terming Tibet's resistance movement as one of modern history’s most successful resistance movement, a movement that has kept itself alive even under the most adverse situations. Calling China's railway project a typical colonial pattern and a conscious effort to colonize Tibet, a process that has been going on for five decades or more, Mr. Chellaney outlined the four-fold objective that China has in mind,

* Consolidation of the whole of the ethnic minorities
* Rapid military deployment on the borders
* Acceleration of the exploitation of Tibet's mineral and natural resources
* Sinicization of the minority areas

He also emphasized that the railways project would have adverse effect on Tibet's fragile ecosystem and would also accelerate the influx of Han Chinese into Tibet.

The Chief guest of the function, Mr. George Fernandez expressed his apprehension and said, "India is facing challenges in its Northern frontiers and the completion of the railway project would only increase the scale of the challenges." Against the backdrop of the release of the book, Mr.George Fernandez emphasized the need to make the campaign for Tibet an effective one. He said, "India has to be more forthcoming and more courageous, not in terms of violence but in insisting that China give Tibet what His Holiness the Dalai Lama has proposed." He also appealed to the people present at the seminar to make a unified commitment to move forward with the Tibetan issue.

Ms. Kate Saunders in conclusion thanked the speakers for their informed and inspiring speeches and for "excellently summarizing the situation of Tibet and the implications of China's Railways project."

The copy of railway report was later distributed among the audience.

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