Independence! A Dirty Word For Lobsang Sangay



It’s official! The exiled Tibetan Administration does not equate ‘freedom’ with independence. So dear Tibetan brothers and sisters when in future you hear either Doctor Lobsang Sangay or any other exiled Tibetan official refer to Tibetan freedom be warned that what they mean is not Tibet’s independence but something far less, the subservient condition of autonomy!

We have been trying to inform people of the distinction between the meaning and application of the terms independence and freedom for some time Article HERE and so are most grateful to Doctor Lobsang Sangay for his authoratitive recent confirmation that the two terms are indeed distinct, with ‘freedom’ covering a range of interpretations that are less emphatic or singular than ‘independence’.

In a recent New York Times interview in which Doctor Sangay appeared, the journalist Gardiner Harris, originally made the following opening comments:

“The cause of INDEPENDENCE is not hopeless, Lobsang Sangay, leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile, said in an interview on Thursday” (Emphasis Added)

Now firstly you should be aware that these words were comments not attributed in quotation to Lobsang Sangay, so could be open to interpretation and uncertainty as to whether they are an interpretation of the reporter, or a remark made by Doctor Sangay but not formally quoted. However that literary confusion apart the main controversy here is reference to  ‘independence’ a word which is taboo to the exiled Tibetan Administration and one which anyone familiar with the Tibetan cause would never associate with Lobsang Sangay or his colleagues who consistently avoid any mention of it. They have no such reservations however with employing the term ‘freedom’, reason being that it is open to a varierty of interpretations, less emphatic and can of course describe a condition of ‘autonomy’, which by coincidence happens to be the objective sought for Tibetans by Lobsang Sangay and the CTA!

The degree of appeasement towards the Chinese regime by Doctor Sangay is such that the mere association of Tibet with independence sets in motion various levers of denial, censorship and evasion, while always carefully reassuring China that ‘we are not seeking independence’. So what does the Harvard trained lawyer do on realizing that he has been attributed as affirming Tibet’s cause for independence is not without hope? Why he calls upon the New York Times to immediately issue an amended, restrospectively edited version, expunging any reference to ‘independence’!

“The cause of Tibetan FREEDOM is not hopeless, Lobsang Sangay, leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said in an interview Thursday.” (Emphasis Added) SOURCE

Not only that but any former trace of the original version of the story vanishes from the internet! Just to make sure that his good friends in Beijing are not unduly upset Lobsang Sangay arranges the revised version of the NYT interview to feature on the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration.

So desperate is Lobsang Sangay and his colleagues to convince China that the exiled Tibetan Administration in no way endorses independence that they attach to the revised interview the following addendum:

Correction: December 1, 2012

The first sentence of this post originally read: “The cause of Tibetan independence is not hopeless…”Tibetans are fighting for an autonomous state, not independence.”

So there we have it! In a panic to ensure that China’s pathological sensitivities concerning Tibetan independence were appeased  Lobsang Sangay has the word ‘independence’ removed and replaced with ‘freedom’ from comments attributed to him by a reporter. Remember dear Tibetans that if he and his fellows in the Central Tibetan Administration regarded the two words as having the same meaning, in terms of politics and international law, then he would have felt no need to insist on the New York Times issuing an emergency revision! Truth is that he felt compelled to arrange the substitution, because he and the exiled Tibetan Administration know very well that ‘freedom’ is not equivalent to ‘independence’ and were desperate too that China be offered an immediate reassurance that Lobsang Sangay had not been supportive of Tibetan independence.

The next occasion Lobsang Sangay appears on Al Jazeera and talks of ‘freedom’ remember carefully this latest episode and know that while he sits and offers what on the surface seem words of support for Tibetans in Tibet  he is hiding behind a phrase that is a smokescreen, concealing the reality that he is not committed  to the cause that Tibetans are sacrificing so much for, but to securing a condition of autonomy under Chinese rule. That is what the Central Tibetan Administration means when it says ‘freedom for Tibetans’!

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