Diplomacy and deterrence

I have never been hated by anybody more than this dog: this dog barks at me with extra enthusiasm and aggression, making me a villain in front of the people lazing around in the neighbourhood. The dog never forgets the kick I gave on its nose when I was nearly bitten by him once. So now I avoid that road.

For 45 years, we in exile have been dogging the Chinese for illegally invading Tibet and continuing to maintain their colonization with so much repression and human rights violations. Our protests have worked. Today, the Tibetan struggle in exile receives favourable media coverage, though the various governments keep their own national interests first and still recognise Tibet as a part of China. We do not have China’s military, political or financial strength, nor do we have the strength of their propaganda industry and still we have won the hearts of the people of the world.

Around this time, two years back, the Tibetan Government in Exile issued a “request” to all Tibetans and Tibet supporters to ‘refrain from anti-China protest’. This has divided our strength. While a good portion of the population took their democratic rights and continued with the protests rallies, a part is confused and doesn’t know what to do. The community is still in its learning process in democracy and so, no wonder it still takes the government’s “request” as order, and it is too much to expect the common people to take the “request” as a request and not an order.

This has caused confusion within the community for the past two and half years. The protest rallies, the one thing any Tibetan can do as their personal contribution to the struggle, are discouraged. Those who went ahead have been looked at as rebels. Yes, I am making a case against the “request”. TGiE is executing the parliament’s policy to find a negotiated solution, so the effort to find one will take its own course. It must do just this and not act deterrence in the works of those who struggle for an independent Tibet, especially when these protest rallies are working. Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche may be executed next month if we keep silent and do not protest just because we are still hopeful of a negotiation and that confidence-building measures are under way. Tibetans inside Tibet have risked so much and done whatever possible to save him, now it lies on us to stop the execution.

Recently, the Tibetan delegation returned after visiting China and Tibet. Mr. Lodi Gyari, while addressing a press conference in Dharamsala on the 10th October, again said for the third time, that the Chinese and Tibetan officials he met showed good gestures, and promised further confidence building. I got a seat among the journalists at the back of the hall. Through heads, shoulders and flash bulbs, I saw Mr. Lodi Gyari talking with his right hand, his thumb and the index finger met many times to mean contact building. He pronounced very clearly that negotiation is nowhere near and that we have fundamental differences with China.

Mr. Gyari Rinpoche, former monk and son of Khamba chieftain, spoke with much confidence and flair as a diplomat. Mr. Kelsang Gyaltsen interjected from time to time in controlled speeches. Mr. Bhuchung K. Tsering la was missing; Mr. Dagpo S. Norbu maintained the rules, “one question per person”. The question that was most earnestly asked at least by five journalists on the content of their “free and frank” discussion with Chinese officials, was left unanswered. So one is left only to guess what must have transpired.

However hopeful and unreasonably excited we were about the delegation returning from China, the Beijing government seems as hard as ever on the Tibetan issue. Mr. Gyari while answering a question, reported that China is basing its policies on the “white paper” they issued on May 23rd this year. This is China’s policy document on Tibet, which was rejected unequivocally by exile Tibetans, who called it a “black paper”.

While the delegation was in China, some news reports and speculation from various Tibet supporters both in the west and India indicated the return of His Holiness to Tibet could be soon. Looking at China’s desperate call for His Holiness to return to Tibet for their Olympics PR, and the TGiE’s compromise policy on Tibet, it looks as if His Holiness could wrap up the grand exile story in a few years before the Beijing Olympics. If His Holiness returns to Tibet, I am sure 80% of the exile Tibetans would return too.

Early this year, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche gave a public talk on the Middle Way Approach at the Youngling school in Dharamsala at a programme organized by the Tibetan Women’s Association. I saw him on television saying that for the Tibetan Government In Exile, “Genuine Autonomy” is the end goal and not a step to Rangzen. I grant he is most sincere here, doing exactly what he is saying, given the Gandhian that he is.

Now I think the problem would be once such a resolution, if at all, happens: for the Tibetan community, which supports the Middle Way Approach, Genuine Autonomy is only to get to Tibet, and unfold a freedom struggle once we get there. This is no great secret, and we should not underestimate China’s intelligence in seeing through this loaded policy. And even if by default we are able to reach Tibet by this way of arrangement with China, without solving the basic China-Tibet conflict — Han China’s racist claims over Tibetans, Mongolians, Islamic Turks and the Manchus — there will be no peace in China and Tibet. We may be entering into an Israel-Palestine type of situation.

The proposal to accept autonomy within one China may be making Tibet practically a part of China without declaring Tibet as a part of China as given in their pre-conditions to negotiate with His Holiness. China’s claims of rule over Tibet refer back to the Yuan Dynasty, when we paid tributes to the Mongol emperor who also controlled central Asia including Tibet and China. The Yuans lost power to Chinese Ming dynasty; thus the claim. This time around, as we make this compromise, are we not repeating history? Will the children of tomorrow’s China not claim that the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet acceded sovereignty to China?

As opposed to this, I have been advocating for an international campaign for a free Tibet. China responds with desperate moves when they are losing face or money because of the occupation of Tibet. After the systematic campaign and much hard work by the Tibetans and Tibet supporters in Canada, we have been able to beat China, even when they threatened serious repercussions for Canada if the Prime Minister met His Holiness. In the end, the Canadian government was forced into this meeting because of the overwhelming pressure of popular public opinion, despite their long-standing policy of bowing to China’s economic influence.

China today is responsible for much of the suffering in Asia. If we could make an international coalition of forces for freedom and democracy in China, I am sure we can topple this corrupt, colonial and communist regime that sits on the heads of more than a billion people. The Chinese democracy seekers in Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, the US, Canada and Europe, independence seekers in Taiwan, East Turkestan, Mongolia, Tibet and Manchuria and Falung Gong practitioners everywhere, would be our allies. Is freedom and democracy in China possible? I believe it is.

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