No matter how devoted to the cause of Tibet supporters of Tibetan national freedom may be, the distracting currents of confusion, resulting from conflicting statements issued by Tibet’s, now only spiritual leader, continue to generate puzzling diversions. Take the latest comments, reported April 22 by Voice of Tibet, in which the Dalai Lama is claimed to have made the following request
‘Instead of independence, I plead other freedom fighters to adopt middle way’:
For anyone not familiar with that term, ‘middle way’ refers to a set of proposals put to China by the Tibetan leader, in which he abandoned aspirations for Tibet’s rightful independence, in exchange for seeking a form of autonomy under China’s national and regional laws. Here’s the confusing part. In 2009 during an NBC television interview the Dalai Lama conceded that his ‘Middle Way’ proposals had proved a failure, which he again repeated during a BBC interview in 2012 , where he affirmed that:
“Our approach [has been] more or less failure to get some kind of cross understanding with the Chinese government and some kind of improvement inside Tibet. In that aspect [it has] completely failed,”
This somewhat contradictory circumstance is difficult to understand, a situation in which inside occupied Tibet courageous Tibetans are resisting China’s vicious occupation to demand independence for Tibet, yet in exile their spiritual leader is asking them to forgo that struggle and embrace a policy, which he himself has conceded has proved a singular failure. Beyond this troubling contradiction however lie even darker waters, the consequences and challenges of which can only be fully understood or felt by Tibetans themselves, arising from their deeply profound and historically established faith and reverence towards the Dalai Lama.
In making such an appeal the Tibetan leader is unwittingly placing a colossal burden upon the shoulders of those who are actively seeking Tibet’s national freedom, as his words speak directly to the heart of each Tibetan, forcing an impossible dilemma upon individuals to honor and respect the wishes of the Dalai Lama, at the expense of surrendering Tibet’s just cause, for a condition in which Tibetans would remain under China’s draconian grip, with at best cosmetic improvements and limited religious or cultural freedoms. It is nothing less than asking Tibetans to give up their decades old struggle and endorse a ‘solution’ which not only has been consistently rejected by China’s Regime, but one in which the very author of that proposal, the Dalai Lama, has admitted has failed.
What is going on behind the scenes which may help to explain this remarkable appeal? Is it simply the words of an enlightened Buddhist who wishes to see an end to the suffering of his people and feels the surrendering of their struggle would best serve that objective? Alternatively, are his words constructed to send a positive signal to China, in a bid to encourage negotiations between his representatives and their counterparts from the Chinese government? Without doubt the ongoing self-immolations and violent oppression inside occupied Tibet have focused minds within the exiled Central Tibetan Administration, yet as their compatriots defy the tyranny of China’s paramilitary forces, to demand national independence, such an appeal not only undermines their efforts and sacrifices but generates confusion for a people who would follow their leader over the edge of a precipice.