The dagger revealed with the unrolling of the map
Translated by Andrew Clark, http://www.raggedbanner.com/, and written for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia
The eighth round of Sino-Tibetan talks was, obviously, a major turning-point. Beijing harshly declared that His Holiness the Dalai Lama “had absolutely no standing to negotiate with the Central Government.” The Vice-Minister for the United Front who was taking part in the negotiations declared at a press conference, without the slightest concern for etiquette, that His Holiness the Dalai Lama “was concealing his evil intent” and that his message was a “deceitful lie.” He even denied that Deng Xiaoping uttered that saying thirty years ago which people have since overused, namely, “Anything can be discussed except independence.” To these developments, one upright and much-respected Tibetan retorted, “This is precisely the way of hegemony!”
After their initial shock and repugnance, many Tibetans inside the PRC have recognized that this outcome was not wholly unanticipated. When Beijing sprang this on the world, like the dagger revealed with the unrolling of the map, it was accompanied by a murderous glance; but it was only the unmasking of their true face. And like a thunderclap it put an end to the last thread of illusion that still lingered in Tibetan hearts. It’s been known for a long time that little could be expected from talks with a high-handed adversary who was lacking in good faith, but it took the eighth round, and Beijing’s callous judgment, for Tibetans to lose hope entirely. One Tibetan said, “That moment of disillusionment is perhaps a new turning-point, and it could lead to a new breakthrough.”
While witnessing the enormous change in Sino-Tibetan relations and looking back on the turmoil in our world, we can see that history repeats itself. I’m referring to an essay by the founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong, directed at America and the Kuomintang [Chinese Nationalist government], or, as he called them, “Imperialism and its running dog.” He appealed to the Chinese people: “Cast aside illusions and prepare to fight.” I’m not exactly a fan of Mao, although the indoctrination of my formative years set him up – in my mind and countless other minds – as a god.
But on this point (prescinding from the others), we can discover in his essay a practical significance. We need only reverse the roles.
Mao says, “Imperialist elements will never repent and see the light until they are exterminated” To hope to persuade the imperialists to have a change of heart and reverse course is impossibility. The only way is to organize our forces and fight them…” Hence Mao demanded that clear-headed people “fulfill their responsibility to co-opt elements within the middle classes and centrist parties, laggards in every stratum of society, all the people who are still uncommitted… to use goodwill to help them, to criticize their indecisiveness, to teach them, to win them over so they will take a stand on the side of the masses, not to let imperialism draw them away: tell them to cast aside illusions and prepare to fight.”
But in our circumstances today, this ‘fight’ does not signify as it did for Mao something bloodstained and violent, an armed revolution, a class struggle. Non-violence is also a struggle, a greater and more enduring fight! For each individual, this fight starts with oneself, in the present moment, in each particular detail of living. Let us begin identifying ourselves as Tibetans, for this is our duty: any effort of daily life, however small, is still a kind of struggle. What must be clearly remembered is that the struggle is not irrational, but rational; not impulsive, but deliberate; not necessarily lofty and tragic, but reflected in practical action; bound up in the defense of the rights of every human being, the old and the young, children, men and women, clergy and laypeople: defending and protecting the rights of all human beings.
“Casting aside illusions” does not mean giving up our dreams. There’s a young Tibetan who says that November 4, 2008 was the most beautiful day in his life. Although he could not cast a ballot, he too wanted to celebrate Obama’s election to the American Presidency. For Obama’s victory was historic; it showed people that nothing is impossible. A dream that was once beyond belief can come true today; so why can’t our dreams of today come true tomorrow? But to reach that tomorrow will require a struggle. If you think you will get it as a favor from someone, if you think it will all come soon or easy, then those are the illusions you have to cast aside.
November 12, 2008
Woeser wrote this article for the Tibetan-language service of Radio Free Asia.
“United in our message, diverse in our methods”
Despite physical limitations, Tibetans in Tibet have remained intellectually engaged in the Special Meeting in Dharamsala, India. Comments left on Woeser’s blog highlight some of the proposals being circulated by Tibetan intellectuals and others in Tibet in relation to the Special Meeting.
While strategy proposals vary, Tibetans have remained resolute in their commitment to a non-violent solution and in their recognition of the Dalai Lama as the true representative of the Tibetan people. The Special Meeting has been recognized as a unique opportunity for the voice of Tibetans from across the political spectrum to be heard, while also presenting an opportunity to come together to forge a new way ahead.
Suggestions for the Global Tibetans Special General Meeting:
1. The Dalai Lama belongs to the world and he should be truly returned to the world. Comprehensively plan the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism around the world. Religion cannot be separated from politics, and it is advocated to maintain the Middle Way.
2. All responsibilities should be handed to the Tibetan Government in Exile. At the same time, plans should be drawn up as soon as possible for selection of the 15th Dalai Lama.
3. The direction of the Tibetan Government in Exile should be fixed by the outcome of discussions at the meeting. Because our government is in India, everything should be considered. United in our message, diverse in our methods.
4. All Tibetans and their social organizations in all countries of the world without exception support Tibetan independence. The question is not declaring independence, it is recovering independence.
5. Tibetans on the inside should study the UN Declaration on Human Right and the Chinese Constitution and according to law, struggle against the law to attain rights. Unite peaceful and other means.
6. The Tibetan Parliament and Government in Exile should jointly establish a long-term “Assistance Fund for Tibetan People in Tibet” to help people who have injured and persecuted in sacrifice for their people and country.
November 19, 2008.
November 20, 2008.
* * *
It is hoped that the meeting will formulate a long-term plan taking into account all aspects of the struggle. The Middle Way is still the best case, but careful preparations must be made beforehand for non-violent struggle because Tibet has always been in a position of weakness.
November 20, 2008.
* * *
We should not be put off Tibet’s course by the older generation. Now is the time for fiery young men to stand up for our country and for the next generation. Independence it is our only path.
November 20, 2008.
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Suggestions for the Global Tibetans Special General Meeting:
1. Identifying the goal is very important, limited resources must be united for the great and glorious pursuit of independence. We can no longer spend time infighting and wasting time, and should space for future generations to give play to their abilities.
2. While the Dalai Lama is with us we have resolve and wisdom. The Dalai Lama must himself affirm the process of reincarnation. It is only with the 14th Dalai Lama that this will have any prestige and legitimacy, preventing a period of vacuum in the reincarnation and the involvement of external forces. Another choice would be for the Dalai Lama himself to institute a new rational system allowing different Tibetan religious traditions around the world to select the outcome.
3. The Tibetan meeting cannot be once every 50 years, and there should be a meeting of representatives every five years to allow for the timely adjustment and reform of government and parliament’s functions and the allocation of resources.
4. The government in exile should strengthen its overseas offices and as a contingency make ample plans for the possible day when the Indian government prohibits Tibetan freedom activities.
5. The Tibetan freedom and liberation movement should arrange powerful and solid unions with international organizations, governments around the world, and grass roots people’s organizations.
November 20, 2008.
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“Five Suggestions to the Tibetan Special Meeting” from 108 Tibetan scholars within China.
As Tibetans within the borders of China, we have conscientiously and solemnly mulled and discussed the following several suggestions for the special meeting, and we ask that the meeting consider and bring our ideas to the attention of all the meeting’s delegates.
1. We demand that the central Chinese government immediately stop its demonization and slanderous attacks upon the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the revered spiritual leader and root teacher of all Tibetan people. Any insult and demonization of the character and spirit of the Dalai Lama is an insult and demonization of the character and spiritual beliefs of all Tibetan people.
2. We strongly oppose the propaganda and activities of criticizing the ‘Dalai clique’ being carried out in Tibetan areas and within the borders of China.
3. We strongly call upon the central Chinese government to release immediately all people connected to the March 14 incident, and to publicly apologize to them and offer compensation. There must be a formal, complete and transparent public enquiry into the whole incident, with full media access.
4. We demand freedom of expression in Tibet.
5. We call on all Tibetans to continue to maintain their support for “peaceful and non-violent” dialog with the central government in order to eventually attain the goal of political, economic, cultural and linguistic autonomy for the Tibetan people under Chinese law.
And finally, we bow to His Holiness the Dalai Lama! We hope you can return to Lhasa as soon as possible we love you!
108 Tibetan scholars
November 20, 2008.
The Tibetan parliament, courts and government in exile are all the products of democratic selection and represent the wishes of the people. Tibetan social organizations throughout the world are also democratically elected and are representative of the people’s wishes. Some of the people in parliament came out of Tibet in recent years. They are enough to represent all of the more than 6 million Tibetan people. I myself work in Tibet and have lived here for 40 years. Although I can’t participate in parliament, I wholly support them. The relevant media can watch videos of this latest meeting and understand. But then they should look at people from all three regions of Tibet since March of this year, and what does it say that they are not afraid of the sacrifices in raising the Tibetan flag?
The Tibet question is in no way a question of poverty. Never mind the Karmapa or Arjia Rinpoche, the former abbot of Kumbum monastery now in exile], there are many people whose lives when they were in Tibet were okay and even good; but nomads, traders, students, cadres, artists and so on and so forth, they risk being shot dead by border People’s Armed Police or being detained to escape to India. They do this for their people’s freedom and liberation, and so that our land will not be occupied by China’s fascist colonizers.
November 19, 2008
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A people must evince their own ability and determination to decide their own fate Tibetans must understand this!
Independence and freedom have never been gifts!
November 20, 2008.
“We have a huge responsibility. If we sit back comfortably, everything will be lost”
The following comments were made during a recent Radio Free Asia call-in show. The callers, a Tibetan student named Losang studying in China, and a Tibetan woman named Tsamla, both emphasize the need to take action in the face of China’s policies in Tibet.
Caller from China Male Losang
Since a long time ago, the Tibetans outside of Tibet have been striving for the freedom and rights for the Tibet issue and many have died along the way.
Right now, a lot of us younger Tibetans inside Tibet feel that we need to do something too to stand up. So, I would like to ask how can we stand up more, even if it can’t be called Rangzen straight out, how can we help support a results-based dialogue between China and Tibet?
And while this Special Meeting is going on, I would like to ask if they have any hopes and messages for us in Tibet.
I am a student in China, and I could have an easy life if I just go to school and not pay attention to politics. But we are a people that are oppressed by another, and little by little, pieces are being cut off and destroyed. So I feel that those of us inside Tibet and China, especially need to work as much as we can in a peaceful way. The March 14 incident wasn’t all good but we need to know that there were farmers, ordinary people and also some Chinese disguised as Tibetans in the masses. This incident lead to a lot of bad publicity and the Chinese portrayed this incident to show a biased view of Tibetans causing tremendously bad feelings. But then when the May earthquake happened, outside world leaders called Chinese leaders to express their sympathy and I heard the American President mention that the Tibet issue is a Chinese issue and should be paid attention to. This made me realize the importance of the March 14th demonstrations, because even under the state of emergency due to the earthquake victims, this world leader mentions Tibet. So I feel we should do this [protest] again, but first we need to look back at the March 14th event and learn from the experience. And this next uprising should be the intellectuals and the educated people. Those of us inside Tibet need to start actions like peaceful marches, even if it means giving up our lives then there will be some affect.
Other than this, others talk about improving the economy, improving our life style, but this is not the time for that.
I feel that the people inside Tibet need to ‘start the fire’, so to speak.
The Chinese are deceiving not only the world, but their own Chinese people with pictures of a peaceful Tibet.
We need to work not only for the Tibetan people but for democracy for the whole of China. We cannot sit back and wait for support; we have to make sacrifices ourselves, first.
Caller from China Female – Tsamla
This past August, during the Olympic Games, I sincerely thought there would be some outcome in the dialogue process but there has been no progress on that. And inside Tibet now, our culture is being destroyed and so many things happening. I always felt that for Tibet and our culture to survive, we need to strive for independence, but about a month ago, I came across acha [sister] Woeser la’s husband Wang Lixiong’s book ‘Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet’ and this had a profound affect on changing my thinking.
Lets say we are on the path towards complete independence, then we will find Tibetans have to be ready to die, wage war, ultimately even if we get independence, then those of us striving for our independence and the Tibetans outside Tibet and the government in exile, need to be prepared to change our society immediately from one based on communism to one based on capitalism. Are we preparing for this? We need to establish 2/3 political parties and forms of thought. As a nation wedged between India and China, what will be the best prospect for us? And as we move in this direction, from establishing a nation to running it, we should also be prepared for the economic challenges that the people will face when changes in society take place. Have we considered these factors?
The exile Tibetan government has worked hard for the last 50 years if we didn’t have this then we would have ended up just like the people in Inner Mongolia these days. They were Buddhists from the Yuan dynasty but there is no trace of it now. Right now, inside Tibet, there are no human rights, no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech; but they do pay us high wages and provide some economic benefits. But at the same time, they are slowly cutting the roots of the basic differences between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. If there isn’t a strong movement to counter this, it won’t be long before the Tibetans become completely sinocized. And I worry that then there’ll be no one paying attention to the Tibet issue. Right now, His Holiness is with us, the exile government is strong, and a lot of world nations are supporting us. So we are in good shape.
But working everyday inside Tibet, the high officials in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), whether Tibetan or Chinese, do not speak the truth. It’s another matter if Chinese officials don’t speak the truth, but Tibetan officials should strive to speak the truth. Maybe they fear for their lives.
Then there is the March 14th incident. A lot of those involved were farmers who are very poor and very religious, but they were frustrated and they put their lives on the line to express themselves. The Tibetans sitting in high Chinese posts, even while they light up their butter lamps, incense and recite prayers, in reality, play along with the Chinese and they are the ones who open and shut their eyes and even write discriminatory notes against the Dalai Lama just to safeguard their good lifestyle. This is the worst. If you can denounce your own root Lama then there is nothing else you won’t do. The Tibetans inside Tibet not able to fulfill their part in this way.
No matter how hard the Tibetan government-in-exile works, the Chinese are getting stronger and more powerful. So those of us who are living under the Chinese, we need to act and retain our culture and strive not to become sinocized. We have a huge responsibility. If we sit back comfortably, everything will be lost.
We need to think about starting organizations inside, like the Tibetan Youth Organization inside Tibet with connections to outside organizations. It may be for Rangzen [independence], the Middle Path approach, or maybe something new but unless we have new forces like this, the Tibet issue will not be solved easily.