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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

In conversation with Tsewang Rigzin, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress

September 24, 2008

Phayul
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The issue of Tibet was highlighted in every prominent newspaper and
newschannel after the March unrest. As a newly elected President, how
difficult was it for you to embrace all the attention and tackle grave
subjects?

The recent historic uprising by Tibetans all over Tibet beginning March
10th put the issue of Tibet on the world stage like never before. We in
exile are forever grateful for the continuing sacrifices for Tibet's
Independence by Tibetans inside and we must all promise and work towards
Tibet’s Independence so that their sacrifices don’t go in vain. At the
time, we did our best and as we continue to do so, to disseminate to the
international community the true aspirations of the Tibetans inside and
the horrible atrocities being committed on them by the Chinese Communist
regime. The most challenging was the Chinese propaganda covering up the
facts and not allowing international and independent media to report on
the ground reality which is why we still do not have an accurate number
on how many Tibetans are killed, arrested and imprisoned.

What changes or new strategies do you intend to bring about during your
term of office?

TYC being an organization with a deep rooted democratic setup, the
strategy guidelines are formulated and adopted as resolutions during the
Working Committee Meetings and the General Body Meeting. As an
organization, it is very important to review what was done in the past
and we must also be in tune with the current global situation and
accordingly formulate policies or campaigns to further strengthen our
movement and move ourselves closer to regaining Tibet’s Independence.

China's People Daily (Online) carried a report on April 18 claiming that
in an interview with Milanbased Italian newspaper, Corriere Della Sera,
you said for the cause of "Tibetan independence", the use of human bomb
for revenge is a direction of development. What is your response to the
allegation?

If you refer to the original interview in Italian it will become clear
that this allegation is completely baseless. TYC in the last 39 years
has never resorted to violence and it is clearly reflected in all the
campaigns we have organized so far.

Why did TYC join hands with other organizations for Tibetan People's
Mass Uprising Movement (TPUM) and now TYC did the hunger strike without
the other NGOs, why this on and off collaboration?

TYC joined hands with other organizations in organizing ‘March to Tibet’
under the banner of Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement. We feel that it
is important to work together for our cause where we can and this is not
the first time TYC joined hands with other NGOs. In a democratic set up,
each NGOs has to organize campaigns reflecting their stand and
resolutions. TYC organized the hunger strike on our own which is a part
of the Tibetan People’s Mass Movement. This campaign was organized per
our resolution. Also, there will be more times than not when each NGO
will initiate campaigns on their own and there is nothing wrong with
that. We need more campaigns and we all must be grateful to whoever is
working for our cause.

How different would you say was the second phase of Tibetan People's
Mass Movement from the first which began last year as a one year
countdown to the Beijing Olympics?

The striking difference I believe was in the fierce urgency of the
nature and timing of the campaigns. This year for the first time ever in
our struggle in exile, we organized hunger strike without food and water
participated by 18 Tibetan patriots in all. Also, a huge number of
Tibetans took part in the campaigns in Nepal led by TYC Centrex and
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress chapters there. But personally I felt
that it was the abiding similarities and not the differences that
brought us all together and promises to bring us all together under
different campaigns until Tibet is independent.

Do you believe TYC has achieved its goal with the Movement? Was the
organization successful in spreading its message and did it help in any way?

TYC will never have achieved its ultimate goal until we regain our
Independence from China. With this campaign, we have been able to
highlight the plight of the Tibetan people to the Indian public and
internationally as well. Also, the campaign has encouraged many young
Tibetans to be an active part of the struggle which we believe has taken
us closer to our goal. TYC has over the years contributed to our cause
in many ways and we will to continue to spread our message in different
ways.

Why was there very less participation from the masses this year as
compared to last year's phenomenal turn out?

Since the historic uprising inside Tibet in March this year, Tibetans
everywhere have voluntarily contributed their time and energy in
organizing as well as participating in numerous campaigns. I remember
addressing the crowd one time during the Hunger strike at Jantar Mantar
where I told them that the struggle of Tibet will be kept alive even if
there is only one Tibetan remaining on this planet. So, regardless of
how many turn out or not and when, the fact is that Tibet is still under
Chinese occupation and Tibetans inside are brutally suppressed everyday.
So it is the duty of Tibetans in exile to continue to be the voice of
the voiceless inside.

The Beijing Olympics has come and gone. So has the second phase of the
Tibetan People's Mass Movement. What is next on the cards for TYC?

Beijing Olympics was an important opportunity but that was not the last
opportunity for our struggle. We still have the opportunity and the duty
to struggle until Tibet is Independent and this was reflected by our
protest at the Chinese Embassy on August 25th. We know the road to
Independence is a marathon and not a sprint and requires sacrifices for
which we are prepared and will continue with the same courage and
determination. The situation inside Tibet is worsening after the recent
historic uprising inside Tibet and it remains a cause of great concern
for us. TYC has always believed that Tibetans outside Tibet should be
able to represent the true aspirations of our brethren inside Tibet and
TYC will endeavor to do justice to the sacrifices that they continue to
make for our cause. We also have many resolutions to implement.

China Tibetology Research Center (CTRC)'s Senior Tibetologist Liu Hongji
has accused TYC of actively engaging in training its armed forces and
reserve troops as well as seeking mutual support from international
terrorist organizations such as AlQaida and East Turkistan groups. He
even labeled the group as a terrorist organization. Your reaction?

For China observers and people who have dealt with the insecure nature
of the Chinese government, such baseless accusations from the CCP are
nothing new. After CCP began its latest round of denouncing His Holiness
the Dalai Lama it was but natural that TYC was its next target. All
these are nothing but fallacious allegations and attempts to disrepute
TYC by the CCP. We have issued official statements on April 24th and
July 16th to refute the baseless allegations and they are posted on our
website www.tibetanyouthcongress.org. China will never succeed in their
goal to denounce and destroy TYC and TYC will continue to lead our
nonviolent struggle for Tibet’s Independence.

Do you think talks between China and Tibetan envoys will ever yield
result or is China only keeping up appearance to save face?

China has effectively used the talks so far to save face diplomatically
but for how long is the question. We haven’t seen any tangible result
since the talks began in 2002 and I do not see any hope of result
oriented talks due to Chinese insincerity. Even after the seventh round
of dialog, Dong Yunhu, the director general of the Information office of
the China's state council said “The central government will never
discuss the future of Tibet with the Dalai Lama”. And he further said,
“I don't think he is qualified to represent Tibet. If he ever did, it
was before 1959”. TYC vehemently condemns such irresponsible statements.
His Holiness is still the undisputed leader of the Tibetan nation and
its people and the issue of Tibet is an issue of the six million Tibetan
people.

How restless are the Tibetan people today?

Everyone who carries Tibetan blood should be restless until we regain
our Independence but that doesn’t mean you get out of control. Having
said that, the fact remains that it has now been almost sixty years
since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, almost fifty years of separation
for Tibetans and decades of immense suffering of Tibetans inside Tibet,
so naturally Tibetans in general are restless and more so the younger
generation. This is evident from the recent historic uprising inside
Tibet led mostly by the younger generation.

What in your opinion will happen to the dissidents now that attention
has shifted from China? What awaits Tibetans inside Tibet?

For the last almost sixty years, Tibetans inside have lived a life of
fear, tears and blood under Chinese occupation. Since the uprisings in
March followed by the Olympic torch relay in Lhasa and the Olympics in
Beijing, the situation in Tibet has systematically deteriorated. All the
while when the Olympics were being played in Beijing, Tibet was
transformed into a virtual prison with Chinese police and security
personnels guarding the streets, homes, monasteries and keeping a check
on the movement of the Tibetans. Those brave Tibetans who stood up
against the Chinese regime knew the consequences that they would face
and we fear the worst for them. TYC will continue to lend our eyes, ears
and heart to the Tibetans inside and will always stand up for them.

Were all activists who were arrested for protesting in New Delhi this
month released from judicial custody? If not, what is TYC doing to
secure their release?

Yes, all our activists have been released.
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