Was The Dalai Lama’s Retirement A Capitulation To China’s Demands?

There are two recent developments, within the unique democracy that is the world of exiled Tibetan politics, that raise some troubling questions upon closer attention; one, which has already generated international debate, is the decision of the Dalai Lama to retire from his position as political head of Tibet. The other less well known. This concerns the redrafting of important elements of the Charter In Exile, almost a constitution for the exiled Tibetan community and its Administration, which has guided their governance for decades.

The retirement has been hailed by some as an astute and timely decision, others have counselled it may well put China on a defensive footing, ever suspicious, or applaud the move as another indication of increasing democracy. Many Tibetans naturally received the news with shock and a degree of unease, setting in motion various appeals and debates. Of course it has elements of all of these and no doubt the Tibetan people shall continue to assert their rightful cause and in exile manage their affairs under the stewardship of their newly elected leader, Lobsang Sangay.

One factor clearly remains unchanged, the schism between the political aspirations and resistance inside occupied Tibet, and the strategy being vigorously promoted by the exiled Tibetan Administration, which seeks to accept Chinese rule in exchange for an autonomous status under China’s regional and national laws. That divide looks set to widen, as Tibetans will have noted the remarks given by Lobsang Sangay during a BBC interview in which he insisted that the policy of seeking negotiation with China would continue, along with a demand only for so-called autonomy. Source Here

Returning for a moment to the proposed redrafting of the Charter, the exiled Tibetan Parliament, upon noting the decision of the Dalai Lama to step down, agreed the amendments to the Charter. One suggestion in particular is highly significant in that it proposes the term Tsenjol Bod Zhung (Tibetan Government-in-Exile) is replaced with Tsenjol Bod Mei Zhung Gi Drik Tsuk (Institution/Organization of the Government of Tibetan People in Exile).

As so ably pointed out by an essay from the Tibetan body, Youth For Better Democracy. “A government or an institution of and solely by the exile Tibetans cannot represent the six million Tibetans. Tsenjol Bod Zhung, though based in exile, is globally understood to be the legitimate political government of the entire Tibetan people. If the proposed name change takes place, this will undermine the issue of Tibet and our struggle in the long run. Hence, there is no way that we can support any proposal to change the name….” (Source)

Yet there maybe even darker considerations at play here, that could be linked to demands made by China regarding the ongoing negotiations on Tibet, if that is the case then both the decision of Tibet’s leader to withdraw from politics and the development to formally rename the exiled Tibetan Government, to a less politically sounding body, may not be entirely as they are presented or understood.  Such interpretation is supported by comments made by the Dalai Lama,  in which he seems to assert that there is no such thing as a Tibetan Government In Exile,  as in this video (albeit in Tibetan)

Is the way being paved for a complete surrender to China’s conditions? The Tibetan Justice Center, a body that specializes on the legal aspects of the Tibetan issue has issued a statement warning of the grave consequences, in terms of international law, should the Tibetan Administration go ahead with a formal renaming, which would be another nail in the coffin for Tibet as an international issue. Their statement may be seen Here

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