Solidarity With What Exactly?

Image:graphic by @tibettruth via original photo from mogru tenpa

In an interview in today’s Times of India  the political leader of the exiled Tibetan Administration, Doctor Lobsang Sangay, when asked if  he did not wish to break with China offered the following response:

“We are not challenging China’s sovereignty or territorial integrity. We seek genuine autonomy within the People’s Republic of China. That they refused.”  See Here

Such comments are to be expected from an individual who has been advocating the surrender of Tibet’s nationhood since his appointment to office, a similar appeasement was on display during last week’s meeting in New Delhi, promoted as the ‘Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign’. The event, featuring prominent Tibetan and Indian speakers, drew several thousand people and  launched a series of events across India and beyond, including a march lead by  Doctor Sangay and his colleagues.


It attracted the uncritical support of Tibetans and has been widely promoted across the Internet on social sites such as Facebook, yet a closer look at this campaign reveals it to be not entirely what it seems. No one publicly has even questioned with what exactly is the outpouring of solidarity dedicated? Is it directed towards the Tibetan struggle inside occupied Tibet? An action offered unreservedly in support of the demands made by the Tibetan people for independence? Does it have an altogether different purpose? Although hidden in plain sight, and thankfully invested with integrity by individual Tibetans who chose to carry their nation’s flag (take note Doctor Sangay) anyone with an eye for detail could not fail but notice indications that this campaign had been engineered by Lobsang Sangay and his advisers as a public mechanism to promote what has been a recent re-branding of the Tibetan issue. At this stage it’s useful perhaps for those with little knowledge of Tibet’s cause to offer a brief breakdown.

In essence Doctor Lobsang Sangay and his Administration have inherited, and become very enthusiastic advocates of, a strategy first proposed by the Dalai Lama in which Tibetan independence is abandoned, in favor of improved cultural, social and local governmental autonomy. Known as the Middle Way policy it has proved a singular failure,  a reality conceded by the Dalai Lama during a television interview. Despite being forcefully and consistently rejected by China’s regime, this proposal, formalized into a written document; the Memorandum On Meaningful Autonomy For Tibetans continues as the central strategy of Doctor Sangay’s Administration.

Now before the suicidal compromises of that proposal are considered China’s authorities have to be ‘encouraged’ to continue with what have previously been fruitless  negotiations. The Chinese leadership has made a number of thoroughly inflexible demands while remaining deeply suspicious of, and hostile towards these proposals, claiming them to be no more than a disguised attempt to restore Tibet’s sovereignty. This has resulted in the exiled Tibetan leadership jumping through an endless series of hoops in an effort to assuage Chinese suspicions and prove that it is acting in good faith. Within this context there is for Lobsang Sangay at least, no place for Tibet’s rightful nationhood and independence, as those issues are far too toxic and would mean the demise of ongoing efforts to seek negotiation with China.

Image:graphic by @tibettruth via original photo from mogru tenpa

This then is the background, the corrosive forces operating behind the so-called ‘Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign’ which explain the words of appeasement from Doctor Sangay, remarks that trample across the common political aspiration for independence expressed by decades of Tibetans protests in occupied Tibet.  In light of these circumstances was it any surprise that organizers of the meeting in New Delhi chose not to display on stage a single Tibetan flag, a symbol of Tibetan national identity, was it considered an action too negative for Chinese consumption? Did such considerations equally inform the timorous wording of the orchestrated slogans, which were made available by the exiled Tibetan Administration to participants?
The on-stream message of the event was tightly focused upon saving Tibet’s culture, protecting language, appeals to China to act compassionately, and requests for international and media support. Clearly the campaign was no display of political solidarity with the quest for Tibetan independence, but part of continuing restructuring of the Tibetan cause, imposed by an elite desperate to satisfy Chinese demands.


Meanwhile inside occupied Tibet the resistance to China’s illegal and brutal occupation continues, Tibetans face torture, forced labor and Chinese bullets to demand Tibetan independence, while in exile a handful of prominent Tibetans seek surrender with China and mobilize Tibetans onto the streets to support what has proved an inane and vacuous policy of appeasement. The people of Tibet deserve so much more than this cynical betrayal, they have every right to expect a genuine solidarity movement, in unison with their just struggle for an independent Tibetan nation.

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