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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

CCP's Increased Control Over Tibet

September 18, 2008

An Interview With Florian Norbu Gyanatshang
 
By Maria Zheng
Epoch Times Germany Staff Sep 16, 2008
 
InterviewGerman
 
Florian Norbu Gyanatshang at his arrival at the Frankfurt Airport following the Olympic Games. (The Epoch Times)
Repression in Tibet
 
"Free Tibet," and "Tibet is not part of China," were shouted near the Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing, on August 20, 2008, by Florian Norbu Gyanatshang. Thirty-year-old Florian comes from Stuttgart, Germany, and was born to a German mother and Tibetan Father.
 
After the shouts, he, Jeremy Wells, and John Watterberg from the United States, unfurled the Tibetan flag. They erected their fists in memory of the two Black athletes who had raised their fists during the 1968 games in Mexico-to raise awareness of human rights in the United States. The three were arrested within seconds and taken away. They did not have to serve the ten-day sentence and were deported four days later.
 
When the first media blitz had subsided, Maria Zheng spoke with Florian.
 
ET: How did you become actively involved in Tibetan causes? Did your Tibetan father experience suppression at the hands of the Chinese regime?
 
FNG: I was urged from an early age to keep informed of Tibetan matters. My mother brought this near to my heart. By contrast, my father spoke little or not at all of his life before he fled. I don't know much from him. As I got older, I became more and more aware of the importance of Tibetans to intervene for Tibet because it is unconscionable to simply sit back and let others do our work for us.
 
The Tibetans' revolt in March had sent a clear sign to Tibet that this is simply not a [momentary] movement or that the efforts are merely Tibetan organization-based, but that there is more involved here: the Tibetans' wish for change, for us to gain freedom and that our human rights should be respected. That was a deciding point for me to say yes to a trip to Beijing. I wanted to make my point.
 
ET: Were your parents aware of your plans? 
 
FNG: No. I merely informed my sister prior to my leaving, who then informed my mother that evening. As far as I could tell, they all took the news with great composure and were proud of my undertaking.
 
ET: Does your father practice Buddhism?
 
FNG: My father is a Buddhist, and my mother a Christian. I want to clear up some things about me that have been floating around in the media, about my travels to Beijing; a person who had gone to China to demonstrate and protest. It is important for me to point out that this is not about me, but about human rights and freedom for Tibet. I went because I had a visa and the possibility for a protest there.
 
Many Tibetan exiles would have been ready at the drop of a hat to demonstrate there but could not do so for lack of a visa. I was not the only one who stood there [in Beijing] and demonstrated-two Americans did likewise. Many Western activists who had demonstrated were present all throughout the games. It was not about me, but to make a point for Tibet; others would have done the same.
 
ET: How do you visualize a basic solution for the problems Tibet is facing? And how do you find the direction the Dalai Lama had first suggested?
 
FNG: I intervened for a free Tibet, for an autonomous nation, and I think this to be the best solution for Tibet. But the best solution is not always the most realistic. I think the way His Holiness suggested-real autonomy for the whole Tibetan region-is a more realistic solution than an independent Tibetan nation.
 
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the only one who could accomplish this compromise with all Tibetans. That is why I think now is the time for the Chinese regime to begin serious dialogue with His Holiness. That would represent a compromise between both positions-for Tibet to be an independent nation, and on the other hand to recognize Tibet as a part of Chinese territory that cannot be severed.
 
His Holiness is growing older, and after his death, there will be no one who could manage to affect this kind of compromise. Many among the Tibetans question the probability of genuine autonomy under Chinese rule. But any attempts to achieve this would be progress in the right direction, compared to what exists now.
 
Although I wish for a free Tibet and will continue my efforts in this regard, I believe the middle way-autonomy-would be most welcome. I know we cannot always get what we want, but it would be excellent if the Tibetans and Chinese rulers could reach a compromise, to agree in a few areas.
 
ET: As you might be aware, it's not merely minorities which are suppressed by the Communist regime. Aside from Tibetans, Uighurs and many believers such as underground church members and Falun Gong adherents are likewise persecuted because of their belief system. Do you really believe in the possibility of a genuine autonomous Tibet under the Chinese Communist regime?
 
FNG: This is a difficult question to answer-probably not under the current regime. Nevertheless, any attempt in this direction represents enormous progress, an enormous "coming together." Nothing would change unless there is open, honest dialogue.
 
ET: Do you see the possibility of the Chinese Communist regime's downfall, as happened in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1989?
 
FNG: The Chinese regime appears stable by all outward signs, but Eastern Europe had likewise appeared stable prior to the collapse. Many Chinese are fed up with the system in China, making me think a collapse is quite likely. But I don't know how Tibet might profit from such an event. As far I could discern, most Chinese look on Tibet as part of China proper, even though they are critical of their ruling regime. Chinese ex-pats feel the same way.
 
Given these parameters, I would be astounded if another Chinese ruling regime would make concessions to Tibet, for independence, or if that new regime might not continue in the same vein as the present rulers are doing now. Besides, the present settlers' policy ascribes equal rights to the many Han Chinese living in Tibet as it does to ethnic Tibetans; that means even if there were elections in Tibetan areas, the results would not be in favor of independence.
 
ET: Many Chinese are of the opinion that Tibet is a permanent part of China and cannot be severed. Their mindset originates from indoctrinations in history classes and from Chinese regime-disseminated propaganda. Could you foresee a change in this attitude if Chinese people had access to genuine information from free nations? 
 
FNG: Looking back, everyone at one time thought the Earth was flat; and when they were eventually told the Earth was round, they did not just change their mindsets overnight. That is how I see a Chinese citizen-no quick change of mind if Western sources affirm Tibet to be an autonomous nation, because all his life he was told differently. A piece of information will not change one's mind. Only after having contact with it over a long period of time is one able to comprehend the total picture and can draw individual conclusions. 
 
I had an interesting coversation with one of the officials who interrogated me after my arrest-how he sees the Tibetan conundrum through Chinese eyes. He was eloquent about it, and told me much that spurred my thinking. Though I don't share his opinions, I have gained a greater understanding of the Chinese thought process. They are told, for instance, that China subsidizes and builds the Tibetan economy. That is to the Chinese regime's credit.
 
ET: Is this true?
 
FNG: Revitalizing the Tibetan infrastructure is definitely a positive. But the problem is that those primarily benefiting from this effort are the Han Chinese and not ethnic Tibetans. Those are things the greater Chinese population does not know.
 
ET: Isn't that precisely the chief propaganda theme the Chinese regime disseminates? They proclaim constantly how much they have invested in Tibet, and what wonderful care they take of the Tibetans. However, their true, hidden motives are to reaffirm their power base, and exert additional controls.
 
FNG: Since you said, "control of Tibet," I must tell you-I received information this morning that the Chinese regime has stationed additional troops in Tibet, to the extent that they outnumber those who were present at the invasion of Tibet. Tibetans are forbidden from reading their E-mails and to access the Internet. All telephone conversations are monitored. The suppressions since the March revolt are becoming ever more stringent. It seems that media censure is effective, because none of these are publicized anywhere. 
 
ET: What do you think the Communist Chinese regime fears so much about Tibet?
 
FNG: One reason could be the manifold ethnicities that comprise the Chinese population in the nation of China. The regime fear that once they make concession to Tibet, the Uighurs will be next, and then the next, and the next, not leaving much. On the other hand, Westerners see Tibet as a small mountainous region at China's borders, but are unaware of the enormous area Tibet comprises. If my information is correct, Tibet represents one-fifth of China-administered land, looking from Tibetan-inhabited regions, and not from the standpoint of an autonomous Tibetan area.
 
Strategically viewed, Tibet's high elevation, bordering the Himalayas, is an easily defendable, optimal locale for rocket launching, also having many raw materials which China is unwilling to give up access to.
 
ET: What are your present plans? What more do you wish to do for Tibet's freedom?
 
FNG: I had been engaged on behalf of Tibet long before the Olympics, and will do so now that the games are over. I am on the board of directors for the German division of "Youth for Tibet." We attempt to foster Tibetan culture, to engage ourselves politically for the benefit of Tibet-through demonstrations, informational meetings, and other actions. We endeavor to facilitate exchanges among Tibetan youth, so they might better inform themselves, to build a network, and to know each other better.
 
That is how I see my work to unfold. Just because the Olympics are over does not mean everything comes to a halt-just like the revolt in Tibet does not come to a halt while we have this interview; and just like during the Games, people are capriciously arrested while we hold this interview; people disappear, are tortured or murdered-that is why it is so important to continue, and not rest, or simply stop.
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