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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama Nephew Feared Growing U.S. Economic Ties to China

February 22, 2011

FRONT ROYAL, VA - During an April 2009 interview on an earlier walk to
raise awareness about ongoing human rights issues from the Chinese
occupation of Tibet , Dalai Lama nephew Jigme K. Norbu warned that
America "was feeding a sleeping giant". The reference was to America 's
increasing economic ties to China . On Feb. 14th Norbu was struck and
killed by a vehicle while walking along the southbound side of State A1A
near Palm Coast in northeastern Florida during his most recent Tibetan
freedom march.

"We have nothing against the Chinese people. They're human beings just
like us. It's the Communist policies we are totally against. And I think
the world should know clearly that this has been going on for so long
and that Americans should wake up and realize, even though I know
America deals with China, that we are feeding that sleeping giant,"
Norbu said in 2009 of America's growing economic relationship with
China. "So many products are made in China, as you can see. So, you are
actually making that country a superpower. And I've always said that if
my people are suppressed, one day our children, or our children's
children will wake up and will be under Chinese rule.

"So it's something that we have an obligation not only to protect our
Tibetan people, but the world. I think no country should experience what
we went through. So we have this opportunity to meet great people and
good people. To come in here and make new friends who give us support
and give us the strength to continue on with what we need to do to
accomplish our goal. And that goal is to hopefully one day to see our
country become independent. That's our determination and that's our goal."

The interview occurred in Front Royal during Norbu's 900-mile "Walk for
Peace, Human Rights and Tibetan Independence". The walk began in
Indianapolis, Indiana and would end at UN headquarters in New York City.

Norbu's fellow traveler during that 2009 walk, 66-year-old former
Tibetan Parliamentarian Wangchuk Dorjee, expressed mixed emotions about
potential results from the Dalai Lama's ongoing negotiations with the
Chinese for a return of some political, cultural and religious autonomy
for his people.

"There are positive signs. You know the last few years his Holiness's
envoys have had a dialogue with the Chinese government a few times. That
is kind of a positive, I feel that way. But at the same time while the
dialogue is there - not very much has become of it. The Tibetans have
tried to speak up about their rights and point of view. But when they do
that they are put in jail or are killed and all sorts of unbelievable
things are done. It is very, very bad."

"But we are a voice here in America where we can speak out and voice our
opinions and voice the truth to the public," Norbu added. "If Tibetans
in Tibet would do what we are doing today, they'd be executed or
imprisoned. They have no such thing as freedom of speech, or freedom of
religion, or freedom just to have their own identity and rights - that's
all being suppressed. So, as a Tibetan exile it is my responsibility now
as a human being to represent my people and let the public know what is
going on. - That Communist China can no longer illegally occupy our

Norbu said he was well received by average Americans during that 2009 walk.

"Especially out in the rural country where they come out and give me
water, food, even money, and the truck drivers along the way as well.
So, it has really showed me how kind American people are. And the people
out there, they know about Tibet; they clearly know about Tibet. They
know about the Dalai Lama. And the ones that weren't sure exactly about
Tibet, we'd give them a brief education and told them they can get more
on the Internet. They'd say it was great what we're doing. You know this
is not just for the Tibetan issue. We are doing it for the universal
issue of world peace and human rights."

A future without hope?

By coincidence as I edited our story on Norbu and his 2009 walk, I had
just finished a re-read of George Orwell's dark vision of a totalitarian
future, "1984". Norbu and Dorjee's observations about Tibet's current
plight mixed in my mind with Orwell's dark vision of mankind's future, a
future it seems the Tibetan people and others already experience on a
daily basis. I suggested to interviewer Shawn Patterson that we end the
story with a reference to the lasting warning to humanity Orwell gave us
in 1948, perhaps not coincidentally the transposed final two digits of
his book's title. Patterson agreed and to close that story on Norbu's
efforts to raise public awareness about Tibet we quoted from perhaps
"1984's" most frightening passage, as the Party spokesman O'Brien
explains the Party's view of the flow of history to Winston as he is
tortured into total submission to the state and its symbolic figurehead,
Big Brother.

"Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing
and constantly growing subtler. Always at every moment, there will be
the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is
helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping
on a human face - forever."

Jigme Norbu walked to remove that boot from the face of the Tibetan
people - and perhaps to make us all ponder how far our own faces are
from the sole of that boot as it is allowed to crush the spirit of
others we share this planet with.

On Feb. 14th Norbu's walk ended on the side of a dark, Florida highway -
or did it?

A version of this story first appeared on Warren County Report.
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