With efforts of the Dalai Lama to reach a compromise settlement again formally rejected by China, the illusory hope of some improved autonomy for Tibetans is lying face-down in the water. After years of appeasing Beijing the strategy of seeking reason and understanding from the Chinese regime has singularly failed to realize the objectives of the exiled Tibetan Administration for a form of improved autonomy under Chinese rule. Not that Tibetans in Tibet desire that!
This policy has received the cynical support of western governments and parliamentarians, whose priority is the maintenance of commercial and political relations with China. They are indifferent towards the Tibetan resistance of Chinese occupation, and unconcerned with supporting Tibetan national identity. For such people the issue of Tibet is a political and diplomatic irritant that complicates and distracts relations with China. The ideal solution from their self-serving perspective is to engineer a ‘solution’ which would remove Tibet as a subject of international attention and concern. To achieve this end considerable political influence and ‘advice’ has been exerted upon the Dalai Lama over the years, often through supposedly supportive politicians, who have urged ‘realism’ and ‘pragmatism’, and no doubt with pledges of political and moral support, encouraged the Tibetan Administration to follow the path of compromise.
At its heart such solidarity is utterly disingenuous, it cares little for Tibetan freedom, and is intolerant of any discussion or advocacy of Tibetan national independence, or self-determination. Indeed its selfish motivations, which raise economic and political interest with China above the aspirations for a free and independent Tibet, has been covertly manipulating the Dalai Lama for decades. In this regard the viperous Chinese propaganda that the Tibetan leader is a tool of imperialist forces is tangentially correct, however the orchestration has not been to wrestle Tibet from Chinese control, but to effectively bury Tibet as an international issue, which ironically is a key objective of the communist Chinese Party. Diplomatically and politically Tibet gets-in-the way of relations with the Chinese Regime, how easier life would be if it no longer obstructed matters!
While such perfidy extends itself across the Tibetan scene, and as evidenced by the co-ordinated effort from parliamentarians and prominent Tibet support organizations, the message of reasonable accommodation and wise strategy (in reality the offer to surrender Tibetan national identity) has attracted many followers, mostly it must be said due to a deeply held reverence towards the Dalai Lama. Take the March 10 commemoration, a date of critical political and cultural import for Tibetans, marked with protests and events to honour the Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule and remember the countless numbers of Tibetans who have given their lives in the struggle for freedom. Instead of a common call for Tibetan independence, in solidarity with the aspirations of Tibetans inside Tibet, there were siren-voices promoting negotiation and political compromise, even though that has proved a vacuous and resounding failure. Others lobbied various political and government institutions, yet we maybe certain that absent will be any prominence to the defining heartbeat of the Tibetan cause, its right to independence, self-determination and its national identity. The focus was upon His Holiness, and the poisonous effort to exchange nationhood for meaningless autonomy.
Decent people who genuinely care about Tibet are moved to support events and actions for Tibet, in all good faith, and in the cause of assisting they may well add their name to a petition, take part in a lobby of Congress or Parliament, or raise a banner or placard outside a Chinese Embassy. Such generosity of spirit is rightly applauded and Tibetans are forever thankful for those who stand with them. Yet as that manifesto of desperation and capitulation, otherwise known as the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, (the Exiled Tibetan Government’s proposals scornfully dismissed by China on February 1 this year) is now considered for further compromising revision, it is perhaps important to recognize and understand the message we may be unwittingly endorsing and ask ourselves if our actions are in harmony with the Tibetan people. It is a troubling dichotomy that we may well be asking our Senator or MP to support negotiations between the Dalai Lama and China, which if resolved will extinguish Tibetan national identity and formalize the partition of Tibet, while inside Tibet people are facing bullets, prison and torture for their nation’s independence. Can we in conscience sanction petitions or protests which do not serve and represent the political aspirations of Tibetans for a free and independent Tibet?
The Tibetan cause has reached another Rubicon moment, China has demanded the Tibetan Administration give up the Tibetan regions of Amdo and Kham, it has also made clear that no form of improved autonomy will operate inside the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, and categorically dismissed the proposals offered by the Dalai Lama. Progress (in this context used advisedly) is possible only by submitting to these demands, thus the Tibetan Administration, should it again follow the counsel of its foreign advisers and press-on with efforts to negotiate will be signing an execution notice on Tibet as a distinct nation. So this March 10 the message and actions of Tibetans and supporters takes on an even greater urgency and importance, do we happily unfurl banners calling for talks with China, agree to a lobby which promotes the failed and rejected Middle Way Approach, or support actions which advocate negotiation? Surely the moment has arrived to stand with those inside Tibet and support their struggle for independence, to ensure their demands for an independent Tibet are displayed outside Chinese Embassies, presented to Senators and Members of Parliament and featured at events and upon literature. The days of mixed message and division are surely coming to a thankful end, we owe it to those in Tibet who cannot so freely speak to raise with one concerted voice that Tibetans desire freedom for their nation.
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