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Contributi teorici - 4 Aprile 2005 - BEWARE THE DRAGON  

 


 Tibet Autonomy Issue Goes Beyond Dalai Lama
 -Tenzin Tsundue*
 TIMES OF INDIA            
                                                                              April 4, 2005


BEWARE THE DRAGON


When Vamana Avataar asked for three strides of land from Bali Raja, the generous king granted it but didn't know that this avatar of Lord Vishnu would grow up to be so big that his two strides would cover the earth and the rest of the universe, and he would be left with nothing to offer for the third stride but his own head. The Dalai Lama is the trying just that in 21st century. Of course, without any offer from Beijing. Beijing may not be familiar with this lesson from Hindu mythology, but it has witnessed the collapse of the former Soviet Union and become very, very cautious. Like the USSR, the People's Republic of China is a conglomeration of nationalities: Mongolia, the Islamic country, East Turkestan now called Xinjiang, Manchuria and Tibet. With great tension th communist government is struggling to keep things under control as "One China". The last thing they would want is the entry of the Dalai Lama into Tibet, knowing his simple presence could unite the people and reinvigorate their desire for freedom.
This March during the 46th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, the Dalai Lama once again announced that he does not seek Independence and is willing to settle for "genuine autonomy" within the framework of the People's Republic of China. Though this doesn't come as a shock to Tibetans as it does to non-Tibetans, it further disappoints many
of us who continue to stand for an independent Tibet.
For the Tibetan community, the Dalai Lama is not only their leader but also the Buddha who knows the past, present and future. Even when you reason and prove that "genuine autonomy" isn't a viable solution as we negotiate with Beijing, the majority of Tibetans would say, "There must be something His Holiness has in mind which is beyond our understanding".

This leap of faith makes the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama, however, doesn't go unopposed within the Tibetan community, especially among the youngsters who do not cow down to say: "We beg to differ, your Holiness". On the stand for independence, for example, the biggest Tibetan NGO - the Tibetan Youth Congress with 20,000 members in 77 different chapters all over the world - makes its goal of independence clear to the Dalai Lama. There is, however, pressure from the older generation to conform to his directives.
I am a second generation Tibetan, born and brought up in India on stories of our freedom struggle and the wonderful dream of a free Tibet. We were anxious to grow up fast to take part in the freedom movement. Today, when we are ready to shoulder responsibility, the goal posts are being shifted. I can never think of being party to the corrupted Communist China, which has brutally massacred her own children on Tiananmen Square when they demanded freedom and democracy.
The Tibetans who emerged from isolation behind the Himalayas in 1959 - marvelling at the sight of even a bicycle - have made a fast forward journey into modernity. It was a youthful Dalai Lama who introduced democracy into the Tibetan community in 1960 and slowly passed most of hi temporal powers into the hands of the prime minister of the exile government. Today we have a functioning democracy, which can change the whole tradition of leadership.
The process of finding a negotiated solution to our impasse with Beijing was passed as a resolution by the Tibetan Parliament in 1999, making it the official stand of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The idea originated way back in 1979 when Premier Deng Xiaoping offered to discuss anything other than Independence with the Dalai Lama. Twenty five years later, with Deng dead, diplomacy with China has reached nowhere. Three delegations have visited China and Tibet since the reopening of the diplomacy exercise in September 2002, yet Beijing is not even willing to give official recognition to the delegations sent by the Dalai Lama.
 China too wants to solve the Tibet Issue, preferably before the 2008 Beijing Olympics to have the Dalai Lama seated alongside Beijing leaders at the opening show. But for this, the Dalai Lama has to declare to the world that Tibet and Taiwan are historically a part of China. In fact, this has been the precondition for negotiations, which Beijing repeated again recently while refuting the Dalai Lama's March 10 message. From the Tibetan side, this is something no one can agree to - no, not even the 14th Dalai Lama - even if China is promising autonomy in exchange.
 The Dalai Lama always maintains that history is history; let's talk of the future, he says. The way the exile government is practising the policy of appeasement - banning all protest expressions to create a "conducive atmosphere" for negotiations - it doesn't look too implausible for the delegations to strike a deal for a lesser autonomy. If this happens the Dalai Lama and the exile Tibetans could return home, wrapping up the exile government. It would be difficult for us to accept Chinese citizenship, but that would be the beginning of the true freedom struggle while being inside Tibet.
 Behind the Himalayas, six million Tibetans are living under the repressive Chinese rule, resisting, waiting for their leader to return from exile. Here in exile, we will again protest, when China's prime minister visits India in a few days, braving arrest and lathi charge. We will not keep silent; this is our right.

 

 *Tenzin Tsundue is a writer and activist for free Tibet. He can be contacted at:

tenzin@friendsoftibet.org


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