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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."

TMFF: Dreaming of Tibet

October 14, 2008

Alex Crevar
Outside Blog
October 12, 2008

Tseten Phanucharas, a star of the documentary "Dreaming of Tibet,
"sat down with me after the morningly open-discussion breakfast on
the Taos Mountain Film Festival's final day.

Phanucharas was born in Tibet but her family left shortly before the
Dalai Lama fled in 1959. She now lives in L.A. and works with Los
Angeles Friends of Tibet.

Dreaming of Tibet follows several Tibetans, the lives they've made
for themselves away from their homeland, and the longing they feel
for their fading traditions and customs.

Outside: What are you most worried about with regard to Tibetan culture?

Tseten Phanucharas: One of worries I have is that now so many
Tibetans are immigrating to the U.S., Canada, and Europe [as opposed
to the groups that moved to India en masse during the late 50s and
60s]. It is much tougher when you are just one of a thousand
minorities. This melting pot is very dangerous for maintaining Tibetan culture.

O: What do you miss most about Tibet?

TP: What I value the most about my heritage -- especially putting it
modern context -- is the Tibetan value system. What my grandparents
and parents taught me: if you go down a path of materialism you can
never satisfy it. Overall the culture has a pervasive thing about
compassion. For example, I remember as a child, you never refused a
beggar ... and there were a lot of beggars.

O: How were you approached about this movie?

TP: They wanted to add a person for the story that would make it more
interesting for Americans. I was recommended because I've been here
for a long time and I've been an activist for many years.

O: What is your biggest fear with regard to Tibet's future?

TP: If some kind of a settlement [with China] is not reached within
His Holiness' lifetime it will be very tough to reach a peaceful
result because the younger Tibetans are not as patient. It could
potentially turn violent ... and His Holiness recognizes that would
be suicide. The population in Tibet is six million and China has an
army of four million.

O: What is your greatest hope?

TP: That the Chinese leadership finally recognizes that the Dalai
Lama is the best friend they could ever have in the world. No person
gives them more credit and is more amenable to dialogue than he is.
Because the Dalai Lama is not asking for independence. He's asking
for autonomy: control over internal affairs for people to be able to
practice their religion freely, to preserve their cultural
traditions, and not make some kind of mockery of it. Currently they
are turning Tibet into a Disney Land for the sake of tourism dollars.
Tibetans live in constant fear. Things are so bad you wouldn't even believe.
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