Journalists are sneaking by road blocks and security in Tibetan areas. The videos and pictures coupled with eyewitness and interview testimonial provide concrete information about the ongoing events in Tibet. What we see does not represent a people who live in freedom.
Today March 10, 2012 53 years after the failed uprising in Lhasa took the lives of so many people and saw the final dismantling of Tibetan society as it was known for thousands of years; I want to thank the brave journalists who have borne witness to the military crackdown in Tibet. Please continue investigating and reporting on Tibet.
|From Phayul……….Breaking News: Three Tibetans self-immolate in Serthar|
It’s been nearly a year since Phuntsog set himself on fire and essentially kicked off the stream of immolations that have continuously escalated attention to the situation in Tibet. Mainstream media is finally carrying the story with more vigor than in the past 10 months. Potentially this could create an avalanche of support for Tibet in ways we have not seen in the past.
If you are willing to vocalize your support, contact your local and national government representatives and ask them to take a stronger stance toward China.
Below are several links to reports that highlight attempts by journalists to investigate one of the biggest and most ignored stories of last year; one that shows no signs of abating this year. Let’s spread the word and make sure that Tibetan‘s receive the attention and assistance they deserve.
Join your local Tibetan community on March 10th to commemorate the 1959 uprising and please attend prayer vigils that are being held February 8th around the world. Contact your local Tibetan organization for details.
Tibet TV Online - Tibetan Version
Lobsang Sangay- English Version
As Chinese everywhere were celebrating the first couple of days of the Year of Dragon on
January 23rd and 24th, 2012. Chinese police fired indiscriminatelyon hundreds of Tibetans who had gathered peacefully to claim their basic rights in Drakgo, Serthar, Ngaba, Gyarong, and other neighboring Tibetan areas. Six Tibetans were reportedly killed and around sixty injured, some critically.
Because of gruesome acts such as these and the systematic repression of Tibetans, the resentment and anger amongst Tibetans against (the) Chinese government has only grown since the massive uprising of 2008. Ever since the invasion of Tibet, the Chinese government has claimed that it seeks to create a socialist paradise. However, basic human rights are being denied to Tibetans, the fragile environment is being destroyed, Tibetan language and culture is being assimilated, portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are banned, and Tibetans are being economically marginalized.
Tibet is in virtual lockdown. Foreigners have been barred from travelling to Tibet now and the entire region is essentially under undeclared martial law. I urge the Chinese leadership to heed the cries of the Tibetan protestors and those who
have committed self-immolation. You will never address the genuine grievances of Tibetans and restore stability in Tibet through violence and killing. The only way to resolve the Tibet issue and bring about lasting peace is by respecting the rights of the Tibetan people and through dialogue.
As someone deeply committed to peaceful dialogue, the use of violence against Tibetans is unacceptable and
must be strongly condemned by all people in China and around the world. I call on the international community to show solidarity and to raise your voices in support of the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people at this critical time. I request that the international community and the United Nations send a fact-finding delegation to Tibet and that the world media be given access to the region as well. The leaders in Beijing must know that killing its own family members is in clear violation of international and Chinese laws, and such actions will cast further doubts on China’s moral legitimacy and their standing in world affairs.
I want to tell my dear brothers and sisters inside Tibet that we hear your cries loud and clear. We urge you not to despair and refrain from extreme measures. We feel your pain and will not allow the sacrifices you have made go in vain. You all are in our heart and prayers each and every day. To my fellow Tibetans, I request you not to celebrate Losar (Tibetan New Year), which falls on February 22 this year. However, please observe the basic customary religious rituals such
as burning incense, going to temple and making traditional offerings. To demonstrate our solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet, I
urge Tibetans and our friends around the world, to participate in a worldwide vigil on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. Lets send a loud and clear message to the Chinese government that violence and killing of innocent Tibetans is unacceptable! I request everyone to conduct these vigils peacefully, in accordance with the laws of your country, and with dignity.
Phayul Dec. 2, 2011
Fiery sacrifice by a Tibetan in Chamdo
By Tendar Tsering
Tenzin Phuntsok, a former monk in his forties, reportedly self-immolated in Chamdo area of Tibet on Thursday. Tenzin Phuntsok is believed to have survived the self-immolation and has been taken to a local hospital.
No other details are available at the time of reporting. Click here for full story
Almost every time I hear a speech given by a representative of the Tibetan Youth Congress or read a news article as I did today (Tibet Post) quoting a TYC member I get riled. From today’s November 15, 2011, Tibet Post an article quoted Dhundrop Lhadhar, the Vice President of the TYC as saying….
It has been 61 years since the aborted uprising of 1959, which lead the Dalai Lama and his faithful people to flee Tibet and arrive in Dharamshala, which has since served as their place of refuge.
Saying that it’s been 61 years since the 1959 uprising is..well mathematically impossible. If you want the world to take you seriously then build ethos, also known as credibility. First of all get your dates straight. Know what you’re talking about, get your facts straight, know your history and for the sake of all Tibetans do some in-depth research on what it takes to build a viable campaign for freedom. Start with geopolitics as a framework for your understanding and then move on to study Gandhi, and ML King and as a further suggestion check out Gene Sharp’s volumes on the politics of non-violent action, he’s a bit of a genius in this realm.
Secondly, related to the dates please, please get this right. I’ve heard Tibetan’s saying during impassioned speeches, 52 years of occupation, 61 years, and all in this year of 2011. The occupation began the minute PLA soldiers stepped foot on Tibetan soil on October 7, 1950, so don’t under any circumstances let them off the hook for one minute. It was their intent then and in the months leading up that day to occupy Tibet for their very own. So the occupation began 61 years ago. And it wasn’t long after the Chinese made their way to Lhasa which was long before 1959. For some reason many Tibetans seem to think that Lhasa was free of Chinese troupes prior to 1959 which is not the case. Additionally the signing of the 17-Point agreement on May 23, 1951 signaled for China the success of their Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. Tsering Shakya’s book The Dragon in the Land of Snows, is chock full of dates and in-depth information on the events leading up to and after the initial invasion and serves as an excellent resource for this information, and it’s published in Tibetan.
The Tibet Post article also has this quote from Lhadhar saying in reference to the immolations, “These extreme actions indicate a renewed grassroots pledge calling for all Tibetans to stand united to collectively end Beijing’s draconian rule”……..”a painful cry from across the mountains to accelerate efforts to restore Tibet’s independence”.
While this sentiment is aimed at pulling Tibetans together it misses the fact that there is indeed a very visible contradiction within the Tibetan diaspora. This contradiction stems from HHDL’s Middle Way plan which in November of 2008 was upheld by the Tibetan community in a vote that reflected their split in ideology. The problem is that the community is itself divided on these two paths of Autonomy under China or all out Independence. How can a community stand united in anything when there is this strong divide? This is not a small matter and in fact can make or break a movement. Yes people can disagree and that’s normal, but this divide is akin to having a split personality. There is no way to gain traction for a Free Tibet when the leaders or representatives of the exiled people of Tibet are holding to the Middle Way. These are the people who are the recognized voice of Tibetans across the globe. They are speaking for Tibetans and unfortunately seem not to be truly representative of the overall population.
When Lobsang Sangay meets with members of U.S. Senate or any other political leaders and he is advocating for dialogues with China, but outside on the streets groups of Tibetans are yelling Free Tibet and holding signs saying China Lies, this looks ridiculous! There is not a shred of credibility from the viewpoint of any world leader. And it is exactly why China can legitimately say that the Dalai Lama lies and is a splittist. They hear him saying one thing, but see his people saying and doing the polar opposite.
I have said several times on this blog that Tibetans need to regroup, restrategize their forward movement and come together in a cohesive voice. The international community will not back a split personality. No way. You can march in the streets till your feet fall off and that is all very noble and important, and there has to be more to the strategy. Most of the time Tibetans are preaching to the choir, meaning they are protesting with and to each other, my question is how are you involving non-Tibetans in your immediate community?
How are you partnering with the communities you live in to gain increased support? What is your message and how is it being delivered? A true grassroots movement starts with people not government and in most cases it aims to change government. Start with changing the platform of the CTA on Tibet’s status. If the majority of Tibetans want freedom and independence then the CTA should be in alignment with that desire regardless of what His Holiness thinks. The Dalai Lama handed over the reins of political office to ‘the people’, so take the reins and change the accepted position from Autonomy to Independence. Shake things up. Then you can move forward united. Just make sure you get the dates and facts right.
Recently Lobsang Sangay paid a visit to D.C., likely with the hope of generating support from the U.S. in dealing with the most current issues in Tibet. Garnering an informal meeting with senators was no big deal, but the folks that mattered, from the State Department and the White House were unwilling to see him. This is no surprise as the policy of every administration is that the U.S. recognizes Tibet as part of China and thus meeting with anyone representing the ‘exiled’ government is a big no no. Meetings with the Dalai Lama are barely allowable and conducted on the basis that he is a Spiritual leader not a political leader.
The strategy of the exiled Tibetan leadership has for the past 6 decades relied on relationships with world leaders and urging them to intervene on behalf of Tibetans. This reliance is as faulty now as it was in the late 40’s when the Tibetan government was busily soliciting help from India, Great Britain and America. They didn’t get the help they needed then and they won’t get it now. That is the unfortunate nature of geopolitics, foreign policy and economics. America will elicit the usual warning without consequences that China should respect human rights in Tibet and negotiate with the Dalai Lama. They will go to great lengths to investigate and report rule of law and human rights infractions, but will do nothing to back up these warnings with sanctions, changes in trade policy or anything more forceful. It’s not because China is so powerful as many people have been fooled into thinking, there is enough evidence to show that there are significant holes in China’s system to be of concern. The issue has more to do with who in the west is doing business in China and their potential to earn billions of dollars is motivation to influence government leaders to stay out of China’s way. Human rights be damned economics are more important! It’s not that governments don’t know what’s going on, they very much do. It’s just a very difficult and delicate diplomacy issue that could have negative ramifications on a large-scale well into the future. This is of course a horrendous attitude that foreign policy makers negotiate with on a daily basis.
If history has taught anything it would be that this strategy comes at a very high cost with every potential to eventually disrupt our own cozy safe lives. As Martin Niemöller pointed out with his famous oft quoted ode to the importance of speaking out for the persecuted; eventually the silent will end up as the persecuted. I’m not suggesting that China will come knockin on our door or try to invade Europe, the truth is they lack the military power to do so at this point. However, the question I bring up is, why would anyone in good conscience want to do business with a regime that routinely violates the human rights mandates set forth by the U.N Commission? Never mind the U.N. what about values, and conscience, what about morals and human life? What kinds of people ignore these atrocities in order to make a billion or two?
Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay, shouldn’t bother with Capitol Hill sell outs and in effect is barking up the wrong tree in terms of creating movement and change. Instead he could appeal directly to the people of America and Europe and wherever he can reach. Many citizens across the globe continue to remain uniformed of the continuing egregious acts against humanity that are committed routinely in China. Tibetan information networks are not considered a reliable enough sources for news outlets and so what little news does leak into mainstream media is meted out by the Communist Party and is stripped of all contexts and often seeks to implicate the Tibetans as problematic.
A grassroots effort to educate the masses would therefore have potential to create the pressure on governments needed to then compel China to make drastic changes to their policies. Tibetans in general have a tendency to hide in the shadows and are far too polite in pushing for their needs to be addressed. Additionally there has been historically far too much reliance on His Holiness to “fix” the problem. We have seen that over the past several decades, though he has gained a tremendous following and respect as a world renowned spiritual leader, his attempts at garnering true support leading to changes have been ineffective. Freedom from persecution for Tibetans is now up to the Tibetan people themselves. Their voices must unite and find traction in an effort to rile up more supporters than they currently have. Supporters who then can demand justice and action from world leaders and government’s on their behalf.
|Another nun burns herself to death in Tibet|
Since HHDL announced his retirement from his political duties with the Tibetan Exiled Government (CTA), I’ve been reading with interest the various news articles, blogs and blog comments that have been appearing in abundance over the past few weeks. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the short-sighted knee jerk reactions, the gnashing of teeth and crying as His Holiness takes a back seat, the fearful speculation about the fate of the Tibetan Exiled Government and the hoopla surrounding its name change.
In particular I am annoyed with the Dalai lama bashing from Christope Besuchet entitled “Decapitated, then Emasculated: the Programmed Termination of the Tibetan Nation”; which for some reason Jamyang Norbu found credible enough to post on his blog Shadow Tibet. First off the title alone suggests a high level of paranoia and mistrust and even the evisceration of what Besuchet apparently sees as a masculine Tibetan Nation. As if by removing himself from the political arena His Holiness has somehow taken away the masculine strength of the Tibetan people.
While Besuchet seemingly makes a sound argument vilifying the actions of Tibet’s spiritual and former political leader, in fact there is little to substantiate his arguments. Officially changing the name from government in exile to Tibetan Administration is actually in keeping with the CTA’s long running status as an administration not a true government. Transferring power from the Dalai Lama to the Kalon Tripa is a move to fully democratize the Tibetan people preparing them for his eventual death, as well as I believe to take China’s finger pointing away from His Holiness. Rather than go into great length about each point made in Besuchet’s diatribe I’d rather spend my time looking at this situation from a wider perspective.
His Holiness is no fool. He’s been around the block a time or two, has met with some of the greatest and most powerful world leaders available today and I believe he is actually quite shrewd in his calculations. He knows the Chinese and what motivates them and he knows that China will never willingly surrender Tibet. His Middle Way Approach, if the CCP could move past their paranoia long enough, is actually in their best interest. Unfortunately they are not enlightened enough to see this.
Geopolitically Tibet is important to China because it provides a strong line of defense from India, the most densely populated country nearest to China. By making it a peace zone HHDL hopes to assuage China’s fears of attack from what the CCP believes to be an imperialist influenced India. With strong ties to the U.S. and the U.K., India is a thundering blow knocking on China’s back door or at least that’s how China sees it. By possessing Tibet they have control of the second most insecure region on China’s borders. Though the rugged Himalayas provide a certain amount of protection there are still weak areas along the southern edge shared with India and China wants ultimate security on those borders. China has already subdued Mongolia, and Russia is an ally so the northern border is secure. Kazakhstan to the west does not pose a threat to China nor does Pakistan at this point which is too caught up in its own games with India and the U.S. It is the Eastern and Southern border’s that the PRC has most to be concerned about. Procuring Tibet was always about holding off the threat of imperialist forces and never about Tibet having historically been part of China; that was merely the rhetoric used to justify their brutal occupation. Mao’s initial intention was to create allies in the Tibetan’s and when that proved impossible, force was exerted to gain control of a region valuable to China’s ultimate border security. Whether Mao’s foresight was long enough to realize that Tibet provides the water source for all of Asia is doubtful but you never know. And all that water provides an excellent tool for leveraging and controlling anyone on the southern border with China. Turn off the water supply and China wins whatever it wants from India.
How does this relate to HHDL’s retirement? On the one hand it doesn’t but on the other it does. China simply put does not trust India, nor does it trust HHDL and his “clique”. Because India provides safe harbor to Tibet’s leader and the Tibetan exiles, China regards them all as being in cahoots against the PRC. Possibly His Holiness feels that by removing himself from political power he sends a message to China that they no longer have to contend with him. However, it is more likely realism that drives his decision to retire. Better to remove himself now while he is still alive, hand the reigns over to others while he can still hover in the back ground as a mentor and advisor and ultimately force the Tibetans to fully democratize themselves taking charge of their own destiny. This is the key by the way. Tibetans must take charge of their own lives and stop waiting for HHDL to tell them what to do, the old ways no longer work in the modern world in which they now find themselves. He knows what the Tibetan people in and outside of Tibet are up against. I believe it was prudence not a traitorous streak that motivated HHDL to abandon all out freedom for Tibet. The Middle Way is/was an attempt to bridge the divide between two very different ideologies. Those that rightfully want Tibet to be free from Chinese rule and China who will under no conditions return the nation of Tibet to its rightful owners; which is a lose-lose proposition, with the Communist Party and the Tibetans constantly at odds with one another. As a Buddhist I see the Dalai Lama trying to genuinely assert an approach that attempts to offer a compromise that everyone could live with, if the Middle Way were accepted and executed as rendered. That’s a mighty big if given the tactics of the current CCP leadership.
When two sides of an issue engage in a tug-of-war the side with the most power wins, right now that side is definitely not Tibet. Nor is it the Tibetan Youth Congress or Students for a Free Tibet, or the Rangzen Alliance nor any western activist like Christope Besuchet or Richard Gere.
Will Tibet be free? Probably someday, however what will Tibetans have once the land is free? Once the remaining Tibetans are no longer under Chinese control? Tibet of 60 years ago no longer exists, only in memory, photographs and old home movies. What exactly is it that Tibetans are fighting for?
Some of the strongest proponents of freedom for Tibet have never even been to Tibet, it is merely a fairytale told to them by the elders, it is a romance of the heart and mind. Statistically Tibetans in exile especially those in the U.S., Canada and Europe want to go back to Tibet to visit, but don’t want to live there. What good has come from these free Tibet movements in exile? How have Tibetans in Tibet fared better because of your activism? Have they been harmed more or less? What good does burning effigy’s of Mao and Hu in McLeodganj actually create for those of your brethren in Tibet?
To be sure there are holes appearing in China’s governance, big ones that will only get bigger and cannot be contained no matter how many secret police squelch demonstrations and arrest people. Economically China will eventually hit a wall and they will need propping up by western allies when that happens. All the money being pumped into Tibet for tourism will be for naught and there may be an opportunity then for a wide scale well organized internal movement but that’s a ways down the road. Essentially the conditions must be ripe for change and now is not that time. Wait till China is hemorrhaging and be ready to move, maybe 5 or 10 years from now.
The retirement of His Holiness is a signal to Tibetans all over to step up and be responsible for their own welfare, make their own decisions, direct their government as best suits their needs. It is not an end to the Tibetan nation and is instead an opportunity for Tibetans to finally unite under one banner, work to maintain a semblance of their culture and ready themselves for changes yet to come.