We have raised this before and are not afraid to do so again, ‘Do exiled Tibetans and in particular their Administration, not have more in common with Palestine and its cause, than with Israel?
An oppressed, brutalized people are denied, by overwhelming military force, their human rights and national freedom, that must sound familiar to Tibetans, right? But we are referring here to the Palestinians, who as Tibetans read this post are being subjected to a massive air-strike, maiming and killing women, children and men. This genocidal crime, and that is surely what it is, to rain down high explosives upon civilians who are effectively within a prison (Gaza) would not be possible without the military, economic, moral and political support of the USA. The very nation to whom Tibetans in exile appeal to for support in their own struggle for human rights and freedom. Surely, it is time that people stepped beyond the harrowing limits of their own plight and expressed solidarity and active support towards those who also are violently denied their independence and basic human rights. Come on Tibetans show some unity with Palestine!
There remain a number of unresolved conflict issues, territorial disputes, and illegal occupations. Cases where a people are oppressed, under the unforgiving rule of a major military power, denied civil and political freedom and the right to self-determination and independence. Tibet being one such example. Would it be reasonable to imagine that other oppressed peoples would have a profound commonality with the plight of Tibet, an experiential understanding and empathy that could express a solidarity? Equally do Tibetans have a natural sympathy towards other nations who suffer similar injustices and violations? No doubt there are many that do, seeing within another political struggle and refugee experience natural allies. Are we though challenged by less clearly understandable associations?
Asker Palestinian Refugee Camp Nablus
Image: Travel Adventures
Take for example the Jewish-Tibetan exchange program. By all accounts a very worthwhile endeavour that affords considerable mutal benefit and cultural understanding between younger generations of the two cultures. A positive and welcome project. Yet its establishment did raise questions of a difficult nature, these have not been aired, touching as they do upon thorny ethical issues. However it is timely to give some exposure to such debate.
It is well known that within Israel there are many voices of dissent towards policies and actions which are denying Palestinians a range of basic freedoms, respected human rights activists and academics who champion greater rights for Palestine and its people. However, though the exiled Tibetan government, and the Dalai Lama, have rightly spoken-out on the historic suffering of Jewish peoples, and asserted the importance of learing lessons from the experiences and response of the Jewish community to such catastrophe, it seems to have offered only silence on the circumstances of the Palestians.
There is no Palestinian-Tibetan friendship association, nor expression of political or moral solidarity with the countless thousands of displaced Palestinians, who suffer the most appalling conditions inside refugee camps, denied any prospect of returning to their homeland. Yet beyond the obvious distinctions, not least a willingness by the Palestinians to engage a campaign of armed resistance, there are parallels between the situation of the two peoples, most importantly the desire for an independent state and the free expression of their cultures. Similarly too both have experienced the hardships of exile and the considerable challenges of refugee-life, although it may be argued that Tibetans have to some degree secured a greater degree of improvement, albeit achieved with fewer numbers of refugees and not hindered by conflict, military subjegation, enforced partition and other erosive pressures.
A conspicuous reason for the apparent reluctance of the Tibetan adminstration to establish links with Palestinian people could well be a desire not to associate itself with armed aggression and the subsequent tragedies which surely follows such actions. The Tibetan cause after all has been defined by the Dalai Lama and his government as being non-violent. During the cordial discussions between Jewish and Tibetan religious and community figures one wonders if all forms of violence are rejected, are the courageous actions exercised by the Jews of Warsaw Ghetto dismissed as a form of terrorism to be distanced from? Perhaps Dharmsala’s indifference towards the sufferings of fellow refugees has more a prosaic explanation, in that the international financial support received by the exiled Tibetan Government maybe comprised in part of donations from Jewish supporters?
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Lebanon
Whatever the reasons, the Palestinian children of the refugee camps continue to suffer a range of privations, what a shame that they, unlike Jewish students, are not allowed an opportunity to experience the educational and social successes of the exiled Tibetan community and its cultural riches.
What’s your view on this? Should the exiled Tibetan Government encourage contact betwen Tibetans and Palestinians? Or do you feel such an association would be counter-productive to Tibetan interests?