Declare Tibet an independent country

This year, on 10th march, the 45th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, Delhi will see the biggest-ever gathering of Tibetans and Tibet supporters in a free Tibet protest rally. We hear that the Tibetans are planning to flock to Delhi in buses, trucks and trains. Many are coming from foreign countries too. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will address the gathering in New Delhi, and will declare Tibet as an independent country. For this the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Tibetan NGOs have been working together all this time.

NO, this is not happening this Sum-Chue Dudren. I wish this happened. New Delhi has perhaps ever seen such a gathering where more than five thousand Tibetans have come together. The biggest ever gathering for Tibet in Delhi had been the 1998 hunger strike unto to death where Pawo Thupten Ngodup self immolated. Organized by the Tibetan Youth Congress, it brought such an emotional bonding amongst the Tibetans that volunteers and donations were literally pouring.

Our struggle needs such an impetus that could create what we do not have — a freedom movement. It doesn’t happen with the “project and programme” mentality we have been working with. It has to be strategised, should fall into a grand strategy to see a free Tibet in the end. Last year, on the 10th March, Tibetans and Tibet supporters were in divided minds — The Kashag had urged to “refrain from expressing any anti-China sentiments in body and speech.” Dharamsala was evidently under influence. We saw a snake of 10th march ritual protest rally, silently moving down the hill station. No anger, no protest, just limpid body of humanity in a single file. The “appeal” was supposed to be till the deadline, i.e. June 2003, within which “we make positive gestures in order to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue with the Chinese leadership.” But no! They were not impressed. Our deadline died eventless, so did our little blind faith that they may listen to our god-leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. China recently slammed against us again the same three unacceptable pre-conditions for a possibility of any dialogue. Our third delegation has been readied since last August, so said the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE) waiting for China to accept our proposal to visit China.

Dialogue, like a clap, must happen with the willingness from both the sides. The Middle Way approach, though philosophically a wonder, isn’t practical with China. His Holiness accepted this way back in 1994 Sum-Chue Dudren speech. We have been pushing on like this until now in 2004, because in our opinion poll of 1997 referendum, we returned our responsibility of choosing the goal of our struggle back to His holiness when he asked us to look for an alternative. The 12th assembly passed a resolution and the Kashag adopted the policy. Though the policy of dialoguing in resolving the issue has a longer history since 1979.

The 24-year-old attempt and hopelessly hoping for leniency from China has made us sit and wait. And the wait has been long and eventless; our people have lost the sense of urgency and immediacy in the struggle. Common people wait for the exile government; the government for the delegation and the delegation in turn waits for the Chinese. The key is in Beijing not in Dharamsala. And meanwhile our hosts are showing signs of change in mind. The recent lathi-charge by the Dharamsala police on the 80 Tibetans marching to Delhi shocked people world over. The support we have banked on India was found wanting. The order to block the march came from ‘the centre’ was an obligation even to the Dharamsala policemen who are friends with the resident Tibetans. Nepal has been hosting the Tibetans most unwillingly. The Himalayan Kingdom doesn’t allow any free Tibet activities. Even the display of HH the Dalai Lama’s photos at public gatherings is seen as an offence. So does Bhutan. Is this an antic by the Indian government of the day’s infamous China appeasement policy? Will India too melt down following suit as Nepal and Bhutan?

On the other hand if we could lead a public movement after declaring Tibet an independent country, we will begin with a policy of non-cooperation with China. The re-establishment of Independence as the goal of our struggle will once again rejuvenate our people. The complicity in which all Tibetans both inside and outside, supported by the Tibet lovers will create the freedom movement. This will train us in the much needed community sense and participation in nation building. The culture of democracy will have acquired in the process. In the long run such a community will remain strong from inside and independent.

Our struggle has been weakened by our own sense of competition and divisions within the community. That maturity of understanding where each individual or a group works in synchronicity in a larger public movement, working in co-ordination, is still to be achieved in our community. Because of this, the strength that we are spread in all parts of the world has become our weakness.

Today we find the exile community divided between the conformists who agree with the TGIE’s stand and the non-conformists, who even today say Independence should be the final goal of the struggle. The non-conformists are looked at as a rival to the government’s stand. What is missing in the discourse is the understanding that no matter what political stand one chooses, one does it sincerely for the good of Tibet, and that one has all the freedom and rights to do it.

Though the Losar is over, like the westerners if we make a personal resolution on the 45th Sum-Chue Dudren, what would be yours? As we remember the sacrifice of more than a million Tibetans for a dream called Free Tibet, we re-commit ourselves for the cause. An old man, who fought the Chinese for many years both in Tibet and from Mustang guerilla base, still living at 85, said to me, “The freedom struggle we started must end with you the youngsters taking His Holiness back to Tibet in dignity.” Pointing to his fellow freedom fighters living in the Jampaling Tibetan Refugee camp in Nepal he said: “If this doesn’t happen, tomorrow when we are dying, we won’t be able to take our last breath.”

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