By Lobsang Sangay*
Tibet, famously called the roof of the world, a state in the Himalayas neighbored by India and China has for long been in a state of the tussle with Beijing. China lays the claim over the entire Tibet and calls it its own territory; however, Tibet has always strived for an independent existence. This is among the many conflicts currently brewing in South Asia, probably the worse as far as the power imbalance is concerned.
The water tower of Asia has for long witnessed the cold and dark nights under the communist regime of China. The process of democratization is merely a ghost only if that ghost exists. This makes it imperative for the powers across the globe to play their role in fostering a dialogue between Beijing and Tibet, and only recently we have seen some improvement on that front and some progress will hopefully be on its way.
Tibetan people have struggled under the mighty and brutal fist of Beijing and since the independence of China, we have been demanding our separate homeland. The division of Tibet into smaller units and segregating them from mainland Tibet is a typical example of engineering.
Tibet as known today is only a fraction of the historical mainland of Tibet. The Chinese have created a façade by giving the autonomous region of Tibet, which is what is left of Tibet after its repeated geographical divisions, an autonomy nonexistent in practice. People in Tibet demand the unification of all the parts, which were historically part of Tibet, and post that want complete political, economic and religious freedom.
People in Tibet have tried to resist the imperialistic control of communist China in Tibet and have always raised their demand for independent Tibet. The inspiration to the people of Tibet comes mainly from outer Mongolia and Bhutan, both countries are doing quite well in managing their affairs and their foreign policy. The other countries in the region enjoy the power over their own destiny while in the case of Tibet, the destiny of people is being meddled with and is mostly in the hands of Han Chinese, who have never been sympathetic to the people of Tibet.
The gross human violation in Tibet is not a new story and is not hidden from anyone despite the media ban and propagandistic approach adopted by the Chinese government to have control of one’s destiny is the luxury Tibetans don’t have. Young People are abducted from the tribal regions of Tibet and are inducted into PLA (People’s Liberation Army), who are then sent to various regions of mainland China wherein they go through the process of political re-engineering; approximately half a million people have already been inducted in PLA from Tibet tribal regions and they are being engineered to serve the agenda of communist China.
One of the major internationally recognized research organization has stated the conditions being equally worse as that in Syria. The excruciating pain shivers the spine when one sees that people are not even allowed to decide on the number of children they can have. The free and fair process of governance in Tibet is just a mirage and the reality, just the opposite.
The dilapidated condition of Tibetans is mostly being ignored and not reported, however, the reports which come out as Tibetans flee from Tibet in search of a peaceful asylum are very disturbing. The missing list of people from Lhasa and adjoining areas is growing and no political rival is left unmonitored. The accounts of the torture being administered to politically active workers in Tibet has seen no parallel.
The fear of losing identity is among the worst fears any community can encounter. The cultural identity and the religious identity of the people of Tibet is among the worst hit. Tibet and China are culturally diverse and have very little to nothing in common. The Chinese however are trying to impose their culture in Tibet, which would subsequently mean the lost Tibetan culture.
The freedom of religious expression is even more hit. The interference in the elections for Dalai Lama by China is not only protested against but the proxy Dalai Lama, which has been put in place in Tibet, is not even revered by the people of Tibet. Tibetans have a strong notion of being separated from their religion and fears of Chinese Buddhism taking over Tibetan Buddhism under the protection of communist China. This is one of the grave situations as far as the freedom to profess and practise religion is concerned.
The world needs to come together to solve this issue of gross human rights violation among other conflicts. USA, UK and India have been actively involved in resolving the long-pending issue of Tibetans. The USA and allied parties have actively participated in resolving the issues around the globe and the same needs to be done in the case of Tibet.
The democratic powers across the globe should come forth to rescue Tibet from this situation. The bills must be passed in their respective parliaments to put pressure on the Chinese govt. to secure rights for Tibetan people. Tibetans are peace and progress loving people, however, that has to come along with meaningful freedom.
The Tibetan Support and Policy Act of 2020 passed by the US Congress this year is a landmark victory for the People of Tibet and their struggle. This bill acknowledges the struggle of the people of Tibet against the brutal and oppressive Chinese occupation and is in solidarity with six million Tibetans who are suffering inside Tibet.
Washington has always fought the non-democratic forces and stands firm hand in hand with the Tibetan brothers and sisters and their freedom struggle. Washington DC has always supported the justice of the Tibetan people and will continue to pursue and support the cause. This is also the recognition of the legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his earnest efforts towards justice for Tibetan brothers. This will be a major boost to the Tibetan freedom struggle and is thus of historic importance.
It is not an easy task to fight evil and rise up against the fascist and dictatorial regimes. The manifestation of fascism as a democratic country won’t be tolerated and has to be fought against. We Tibetans are fighting for our rightful cause and in this regard, we have knocked at the doors of conscience of every major global player. Getting the laws enacted is a gigantic task that too when it is against one of the most brutal powers of the world.
We took to lobbying for enacting the bill as a law for recognizing the govt in exile for Tibet and giving Tibetans the right for their own representation in the world; all the Tibetan associations in America including the Tibetan Youth Congress, SFT and so on are involved in getting the justice for Tibet. Tibet has to be on the agenda of every Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s business meeting for the world to know the importance of this grave matter.
We the Tibetan diaspora want to be the representatives of Tibet which have been largely ignored on the world stage until recently. We have been trying hard to get the bill passed despite knowing the fate of the Hing Kong and Xinxiang bills. We got the major breakthrough when the Tibet bill was taken out of all other major bills. This would mean a lot of focus on the agenda of Tibet.
The Xinxiang bill didn’t get out from the Senate Foreign relation committee. We managed to get the bill out of the staff members and the senators agreed to attach it to the Appropriation Bill. That is how it got passed. Thanks to his Holiness the Dalai Lama and all the monasteries who prayed for the Tibet cause. It wouldn’t be fair if we overlook the struggle and the hardship His Holiness the Dalai Lama went through.
Policy Bill of 2020
The Tibet Policy Act Bill 2002 and Tibet Support and Policy Bill of 2020 are actually one. The latter one is actually the improvement, amendment, and addition to the previous bill. The 2002 bill addresses the situation inside Tibet as occupied Tibet, gross human rights violations, and the appointment of a special coordinator to help in pursuing dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese representatives.
The bill also calls for the opening of a US office in Lhasa that will help in providing funds, scholarships and other things, this will help the Tibetans to develop an understanding and get a formal education in developing fields of science which would further strengthen the existence and survival of independent Tibet.
In addition, the Tibet Support and Policy Bill of 2020 strongly call for the religious freedom of the Tibetan people i.e. securing the religious freedom for the people of Tibet. The Chinese government should not interfere in the reincarnation process, if they, sanctions will be imposed on them.
On the environmental matters, Tibet being a “water tower of Asia” and anyone who invests in Tibet must follow the US guidelines on development, etc. The bill specifically says that the US consulate should be allowed to open in Lhasa (Capital City of Autonomous Region of Tibet). If the Chinese government doesn’t allow that, they cannot open any consulate in America. So, this is a very strong condition.
And one great legacy of His Holiness is the democratic system or democratization of the exile Tibetans. It also acknowledges that Tibetan people participating in elections in 30 plus countries to elect a member of parliament in Sikyong and it also clearly says that the CTA reflects and represents the aspirations of the Tibetans in the diaspora and Sikyong is the President of CTA. For the first time, CTA is legally acknowledged by the US Congress and now through this law, by the US government. I am glad that the Tibetan Policy and Support Act is a major political statement for Tibet.
The Chinese stand and Chinese Foreign Ministry stand on Tibetans government-in-exile is that of a separatist organization insisted ‘no one should support it; no one should meet with their officials’. This bill counters the Chinese stand and the bill acknowledges the CTA and the Tibetan freedom movement thereby sending a message all over the world. The fact that Washington DC is acknowledging the Tibetan movement so; it is a huge political statement, particularly, to the Tibetans inside Tibet.
Yes, this bill will be read and heard all over the world particularly by Beijing and I am glad that six million Tibetans inside Tibet will get to hear the positive development and support for Tibet. So, it recognizes the Tibet Issue as an international issue. I am glad that the next Sikyong will have an easier path and will get enough time to focus more on political activities. He/she can double the funding or alleviate the legal recognition of CTA by other governments around the world. A lot can be done. I just feel I have fulfilled my task politically.
I am very grateful to Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has been a rock-solid supporter of Tibet and a good friend of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I am thankful to all others who contributed immensely towards the cause of recognizing Tibet as a human rights issue and as a territorial occupation.
*The author is President of the Tibetan-government-in-exile, called as Central Tibetan Administration.