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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."
<-Back to WTN Archives IS TIBET A LOST CAUSE
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Sunday, July 6, 2003



4. IS TIBET A LOST CAUSE


THE PIONEER (SUNDAY) 6 JULY, 2003

COLUMN : DIALOGUE TOPIC : TIBET : LOST CAUSE ? Participants :VIJAY
KRANTI, Print and Tv journalistPRAFULL GORADIA, Political Commentator
(Former BJP Member of Parliament and former editor of BJP TODAY)

Alive and kicking
Vijay Kranti, Print and TV journalist

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China has once again brought
Tibet on to the centrestage of Asian politics. On the one hand, the Chinese
are claiming to have succeeded in getting India to recognise, for the first
time in an explicit way, the Tibet Autonomous Region as part of China's
territory. On the other, Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha claims there
is no change in India's policy on Tibet.

Irrespective of the degree of truth of the claims on each side, the bottom
line is that more than 50 years after the forcible occupation of Tibet,
China's communist leaders are desperate to get India's stamp of approval on
their claim. It only exposes their sense of insecurity and guilty
conscience.

With Vajpayee's historic Beijing visit behind us, it would be worthwhile to
see if Tibet still holds any chance as a nation or if it is a lost cause.
Going by the Indian Government's record since Mao unleashed his People's
Liberation Army on a hapless Tibet in 1949, there has never been any
meaningful political or military support from New Delhi to Lhasa or to the
exiled Dalai Lama after his escape in 1959. In the aftermath of the
humiliation at the hands of the Chinese army in 1962, India did support the
UN General Assembly's third resolution (1965), condemning Chinese atrocities
in Tibet. But New Delhi had refused to lend support to the earlier two
identical UN resolutions (1959, 1961).

However, the most significant Indian contribution to the Tibetan cause has
been its liberal help and support to the 120,000 Tibetan refugees in
settling and reviving their national cultural identity in India.

Despite lack of Indian political support and Beijing's 50-year-long efforts
to destroy Tibetan identity, one can't escape the fact the Tibetan struggle
is alive and kicking. Tibetan resistance has been in various shapes, with
varying power and from many directions.

Starting with the situation inside Tibet, China has scooped out and
assimilated two Tibetan provinces-Kham and Amdo-into the adjoining Chinese
provinces of Sichuan, Ganzu, Yunnan and Quinghai. Despite a two decade-long
cultural revolution plus a five-decade long chain of suppression that took a
toll of over 12 lakh Tibetans and over 90 per cent of their monasteries,
Beijing keeps sending hundreds of Tibetans to jails every year for defiance.

Acts of defiance include public demonstrations, pro-independence wall
posters and carrying pictures of the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese have been
trying to paint as a serf owner, divisionist and gang leader of bandits. An
average 2,000 Tibetans flee to the free world every year via Nepal, risking
Chinese bullets to mark their protest against colonial masters. In exile, a
handful of 150,000 refugees under the Dalai Lama's leadership have organised
themselves into one of the most disciplined and outstanding refugee
communities since 1959.

Today they run a government-in-exile in Dharamsala, which has its own
constitution, an elected parliament, nearly 20 Embassies and almost all
departments a government can boast of except its own rail, mail, jail and
currency. The Dalai Lama, who used to be refused visas in 1960s by Sri Lanka
and Thailand, is today a celebrated and respected statesman receiving
standing ovations in some of the world's most powerful parliaments. Nearly
20 countries-including EU members, the US, Germany-have over 40 resolutions
supporting his Tibetan cause. There have been occasions when more than 800
city mayors of prominent world cities have put the Tibetan flag on top of
municipal buildings to express support for the Tibetans.

Nearly 400 Tibet Support Groups with over 1,000 branches in almost every
prominent city and university of the free world have come to take on the
Chinese challenge on Tibet. These TSGs have proved their people's power in
so many forums, including the World Bank which was forced to ask the Chinese
to withdraw a loan application for projects in parts of Amdo. Scenes of
irritated visiting Chinese leaders confronted by pro-Tibet demonstrators in
dozens of countries have become common news in the past two decades.
Similarly, official threats from Beijing to Governments permitting the Dalai
Lama's public receptions have made the Tibetan issue popular.

With global support building up for Tibet, push can come to shove for a
China suffering from internal turmoil, corruption, regional aspirations and
political instability. A repeat show of the Soviet collapse in the People's
Republic of China will surely see a free Tibet.

Hope doesn't float
Prafull Goradia, Political commentator

Though under duress, Tibet signed a treaty with China in May 1951, conceding
the latter's sovereignty over it. This gave China complete control over
Tibet's trade, communications system and external affairs. As stated by
Nancy Jetly in her book, India-China Relations 1947-1977, the treaty brought
Tibet formally into the fold of China. This formality, as distinct from the
treaty, was sealed on January 1, 1950, when Mao Zedong's China made it
publicly known Tibet's 'liberation' was a basic task of the People's
Liberation Army. Prime Minister Chou En-Lai reiterated his Government's
determination to liberate the Tibetans and make them stand guard at the
Chinese frontiers.

On October 7, 1950, Beijing launched a massive attack on Tibet. India's
reaction was shock and disbelief, but also helplessness. The Nehru
Government acted as a good samaritan, cautioning that China's military
action in Tibet would jeopardise its admission in the UN. China accused
India of obstructing the exercise of its sovereign rights. As Jetly says, it
also criticised India for making its domestic problem out to be an
international dispute.

Told to mind his own business, Nehru made a statement in Parliament on
December 6, 1950: Tibet was outside the area of Indian influence. But it was
different from China; the wishes of the Tibetans should matter and not those
of Indians. It could be said suzerainty or sovereignty of another was the
tribute cowardice paid to a bully. The clear implication: Nehru's
Government, too weak to intervene, saw discretion as the better part of
valour. It was a wholesale de jure sell-out because de facto action was
beyond his Government.

In May 1954, Nehru signed the Sino-Indian Agreement on Trade and Intercourse
between India and the Tibet region of China. As described by Jetly, India
agreed to withdraw within six months its military escorts at Gyantse and
Yatung and hand over to China the post, telegraph and public telephone
services as well as 12 rest houses. It formally abandoned its traditional
position it was the inheritor of British Treaty rights on Tibet. The
preamble of this agreement contained the enunciation of Panch-sheel. Acharya
JB Kripalani later described Panchsheel as born in sin: A seal of approval
on the destruction of an ancient nation associated with us spiritually and
culturally.

Nehru offered an extraordinary defence: Although the world community had
looked upon Tibet as autonomous, it was under China's suzerainty. He added
that India's extraterritorial rights in Tibet in the British times were
unjustified after attainment of Independence. An Opposition member pointed
out the Dalai Lama had signed an agreement with China in 1951 on India's
assurance, that the agreement had since been violated and the Dalai Lama,
along with his followers, had to take shelter in India. Nehru rejected his
suggestion that a complaint be made to the UN for violation of human rights.
His specious argument was that, since China was not a UN member, there was
no point.Not only Nehru but the world community was indifferent to the fate
of the Tibetans.

Tibet's fate is therefore sealed. It can no longer be free. Not only has its
culture been significantly replaced by the Chinese ethos, but people of the
Han race, who comprise 91 per cent of China, have been settled in. The
demographic profile is changing. There is remarkable consistency in Chinese
policy. What is true of the Xinjinag Uygor Autonomous Region holds for the
Tibet Autonomous Region. It is not widely known that between 1925 and 1948,
the writ of Chiang Kai-Shek's Kuomintang did not run in western China.

In January 1945, the Muslim province of Xinjiang seceded from China as the
Eastern Turkistan Republic. Since the Muslim community could not aspire to
Islamise the country, it thought it expedient to separate. For years, its
leaders thought they had succeeded. But when Mao unfurled the communist flag
in Bei-jing in 1949, the province's return could not be far away. Its
leadership, bitterly opposed to the communist regime, was invited for talks
to the mainland. The delegation never returned home. Its plane mysteriously
crashed on the way.

That was the end of the Xinjiang League for the Protection of Peace and
Democracy. Burhan and Saiffuddin, leaders of non-Chinese origin, came
forward to sign an agreement with Beijing. Saiffuddin was appointed the
first Governor of what was called the autonomous region. Sinicisation or
assimilation has been China's consistent policy. Hong Kong has been taken
back and now the pressure is on Taiwan. What hope can there be for Tibet?


Articles in this Issue:
  1. Dalai Lama celebrations blocked
  2. Nepal Police Relent, Celebrations Go Ahead
  3. Old rivals search for common ground
  4. IS TIBET A LOST CAUSE
  5. Tibetan journalist seek permission to cover Tibet
  6. SEEING THE TIBETAN WORLD:



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