ISSN 2330-717X

Tibet’s Independence Flames Burn Bright In 2017 – Analysis


By Dr Subhash Kapila*

Tibet’s independence flames burn still bright, in 2017 too, notwithstanding that the fires of unceasing Tibetan self-immolations in China Occupied Tibet escape global notice.

On the 58th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising on 10th March 1959 against China’s brutal ethnic and cultural genocide inflicted on Tibet, the global community including the United States and India must bow their heads in remorse that China for reasons of geopolitical expediency has been allowed to perpetuate its military shackles on the spiritual kingdom of Tibet..

The United States and the West have in recent decades gone-in for military interventions on humanitarian grounds in countries ranging from the former Yugoslavia to Iraq and Syria to protect human rights and democracy. They maintained that they resorted to these humanitarian military interventions as their consciences were pricked by the inhuman atrocities inflicted by dictatorial regimes.

Strangely, the collective consciences of the United States and the Western countries have never been pricked in the last seven decades of ethnic and cultural genocide that China has incessantly inflicted on China Occupied Tibet. Why are their consciences stands so benumbed that beyond muted protest utterances, the United States and the West continue to subordinate their moral consciences to China’s strategic sensitivities?

The United States and the West which hold the Tibetan undisputed leader, HH The Dalai Lama in great esteem have never taken public swipes at China for “demonising” the exalted spiritual personality of The Dalai Lama.

In 2017, the picture in Tibet presents two dismally contrasting spectacles. The first is that despite the global amnesia on Tibetan independence, the peace-loving Tibetans residing within China Occupied Tibet true to their Buddhist faith continue to peacefully struggle and protest by ‘self-immolations’ for The Dalai Lama’s return and the independence of Tibet.

The second spectacle is that China fearful that the Tibetan independence movement may with external stimuli burst at the seams into something more violent have resorted to renewed suppression of Tibetans with severe restrictions on their movements including to Tibetan holy places within Tibet.

The Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile speaking on the 58th commemoration anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising remarked that the new US Secretary of State, Tillerson had assured that the Trump Administration would continue their policies of support. What support? Not just the US President dropping-in in one of the White House offices where the Dalai Lama is visiting. It is hoped that President Trump would be more forthcoming in stronger US responses on the issue of China’s illegal military occupation of Tibet.

India has made a beginning in a more assertive policy on Tibet and not being apologetic about its hosting the Tibetan Government –in-Exile in India. India is also not restricting the movements of The Dalai Lama in response to Chinese dictates. But that is not enough. India has to make-up for decades of Indian policy apathy on Tibet arising from Nehruvian mindsets that China should not be ruffled on the Tibet issue and that the easiest course is China-Appeasement.

Concluding, it needs to be said that all right-thinking people all over the world who value human freedoms say a silent prayer on the 58th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising against China, and that Tibet emerges as a “Free Tibet” and that may peace descend on the souls of hundreds of Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet who have laid down their lives for Tibet’s independence.

*Dr Subhash Kapila is a graduate of the Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley and combines a rich experience of Indian Army, Cabinet Secretariat, and diplomatic assignments in Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and USA. Currently, Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at [email protected]


SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.

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